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Monday, May 30, 2011

All the news that's fit to print

Recent times have seen the demise of comics news mag Wizard in the USA and the prestigious Comics Journal making its move to digital. Therefore it's heartening to see that here in the UK we can still support print editions of comics-dedicated magazines. (Update: The Comics Journal still exists as an annual in book format, but the regular magazine is no more.)

Comic Heroes reached its sixth issue recently and despite carrying a £7.99 price tag seems to have found a loyal readership. This issue comes packaged in a card envelope as usual, and this month the "free" gifts are the regular Sidekick comic (previewing upcoming comics), a DC Comics promo poster, and, great news chums, a set of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fridge magnets with artwork by Kevin O'Neill.

As we've now come to expect, the contents of the 132 page issue show the variety of comics out there these days, with features ranging from the X-Men to Fables, with spotlights on Italian artist Lorenzo Mattotti to writer Matt Fraction.

If your tastes are solely devoted to UK comics there's a few items that should be of interest, including Gary Millidge talking about his forthcoming biography on Alan Moore... Rob Power talking about Battle Picture Weekly and Pat Mills saying how it rebooted the increasingly lifeless boys' adventure comic scene of the 1970s.

There are also extensive reviews and a section giving practical advice to aspiring inkers. All in all another great issue.

Another magazine that appeared recently was Multiverse No.2. Slimmer than Comic Heroes and, at £2.50, substantially cheaper, it still packs a lot into its 52 pages. Very nicely designed by Barry Renshaw and published/edited by Mike Conroy, Multiverse offers us a bit more depth to the news stories that websites might perhaps only cover superficially.

The majority of items in Multiverse focus on American comics. That's understandable. The mag is only sold in comic book stores, not newsagents, so it's targeting that demographic of teen to adult readers. Although it'd be nice to see an item on current British mainstream comics I'm not sure if Multiverse's readers would warm to it. Unlike Comic Heroes, there aren't any nostalgic features on old comics in Multiverse, because its aim is to focus on current developments which is fair enough. No one would wish the two magazines to be too similar, and I find that Multiverse and Comic Heroes compliment each other and are both essential reads for anyone interested in comics.

As good as online comic news sites are, it's useful to have the information in print. (Not to mention it being easier on the eyes.) When it comes to having a relaxing read, digital still can't compete with paper just yet.

There are two main attractions with digital. A) the news is free, and B) they can immediately post their opinions and interact with like-minded fans. (Or, given the number of arguments on the net, not so like-minded.) However, the really important stuff, such as a well-written article one can relax and enjoy, is still presented better in paper format in my opinion.

Thirty years or more ago I was a regular subscriber to fanzines such as Bem and Comic Media News. Eventually all those fanzines faded away, so it's good to see two professional comics mags still holding their own. Remember the fates of Wizard and The Comics Journal and give your support to Multiverse and Comic Heroes.

Comic Heroes is available from WH Smith and other newsagents. Multiverse is available from comics specialist shops such as Nostalgia & Comics.


Brad Brooks said...

Lew, mate, I don't want to rain on your parade, but The Comics Journal aren't leaving behind print. They've gone annual and turned into a book. See

Also, I tried to get work writing for Comics Heroes. They turned me down. I'm still bitter :D

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks for the correction Brad. Even so, that's the first issue in two years isn't it? Presumably they'd still be running it as a magazine if the demand was there?

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