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Friday, February 23, 2018

In memoriam: Robert Sutherland

I was sorry to hear this week of the death of Robert Sutherland, CEO of Redan Publishing. 

Robert was the publisher at Marvel UK throughout the 1980s, a time when many of us were starting out in British comics. He had the vision to see that the UK comics market needed to adapt to survive, and under his watch, Marvel UK shifted from superheroes towards successful licence-based titles such as The Transformers, Thundercats, and The Real Ghostbusters.

In 1990, he left Marvel to set up his own company, Redan Publishing, with his business partner Jenny O'Connor. Redan focused on the younger end of the market, primarily pre-schoolers, and built a highly successful portfolio of titles. One of which was Thunderbirds, launched in 1999. Previous Thunderbirds comics had been aimed at the 7 to 11 age group, but Redan's version was younger, concentrating on activity pages and basic photo-strips. It proved to be very successful, and was no doubt an entry point for many comics readers. 

I didn't know Robert well. I only met him once or twice, many years ago. Although perhaps not known to the average comics fan, Robert Sutherland was nevertheless an important and respected figure in the British publishing industry. Redan's successes in the market for early readers' titles has been impressively significant, and even today their Peppa Pig comic has sales twice that or more of most comics.  

The passing of Robert Sutherland has been met with sadness by those who knew and worked with him, and those of us who freelanced on titles he published over the last 30 plus years. Without his vision, the UK comics industry would have been a poorer place indeed. 

My sincere condolences to Robert's family and friends on their loss.

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