Monday, 14 December 2015


I'll address the subject of digital comics in detail later, but
for the moment, lets examine his fatuous claims about Annuals.
I'll just note that, as far as I'm aware, nobody has ever claimed
that 'comics aimed solely at kids are the only ones that count',
so we can dismiss that bit of misdirection from the off.
Aren't Annuals comics, he facetiously asks.  Well, no, they're
comic Annuals.  A comic Annual is a book which contains comic
strips and/or comic pictures.  If just containing comic strips made
something a comic, then a newspaper with comic strips would be a
comic, wouldn't it?  But it isn't, is it?  It's a newspaper.  Some news-
papers contain comic sections.  Unless it's a pull-out section which,
when pulled out, becomes a self-contained comic unit, it remains
a comic section within a newspaper.  (Which is not a comic,

The SUNDAY POST once had something called The
FUN SECTION.  (Don't think it's called that now.)  It was
printed on both sides of one page and, when cut out and folded
over, it was a comic of a sort, but not what would be considered
an actual comic in the same way that The BEANO and DANDY
were.  Americans sometimes referred to comic strips within news-
papers as 'the comics'  "Pop, can I read the comics?" they'd ask.
However, even Americans knew the difference between a comic
mag (or comicbook if you prefer), and their use of the word in
this context was as a shorthand description of what were
 technically, 'comic strips'.

I think it's a bit greedy for the 'other side' to want it all
ways.  In their view, it seems that the word 'comic' is multi-
applicable.  Not only is it a periodical containing comic strips,
it's the comic strips themselves in whatever volume or container
they're presented in.  So, according to them, while The Beano is
a comic, so also is a single page from The Beano.   An Annual is
a comic (even if it contains nothing but text stories?), as is any
periodical for children in a newsagents.  A one tier comic strip
or single gag panel in a newspaper is a comic, as would be,
by implication, a chalked line-drawing on a pavement.

So a book (in their view), whether it prints previously
published comics or completely new material - or a DVD con-
taining scans of comic strips or complete issues, is a comic.  See
the difficulties inherent in not recognizing the distinction between
'carton' and 'content'?  In a previous post, I referred to the word
'comic' being used in more than one sense in people's minds (i.e.:  a
specific way and in a looser, broader way), but recognizing the fact
is not necessarily to endorse its validity.  The Beano is a comic due
to its content and carton, and any periodical for kids that bears
even a superficial resemblance to it is now regarded and
referred to as a comic - but does this make it so?

It depends, I'd say.  Certainly, there's a case for saying
that if something comes to be regarded as belonging to a par-
ticular category over time, then that's what it becomes.  'Though
equally (if not more so) there's a strong case against it, otherwise
a tomato would now be classed as a vegetable as opposed to a fruit.
Popular perception can only go so far, after all.  So all those kids'
magazines in newsagents might be described as 'comics' for the
sake of convenience (or as a result of ignorance), but does this
supersede or negate the more specific idea and application
of the word?  Not necessarily so.  

Another excellent example (above) of how he tries to
second guess what his perceived opponents would say and
then argues against his own straw man constructions.  The only
thing I'd say about the San Diego Comic Con is that although it
might reflect the state of the comics 'industry' in America, this is
Britain we're talking about.  Note that I'm not saying quite the
same thing as he's suggesting.  I'm certain there'd be plenty of
things there for U.K. comic fans to see.  His assumptions
are consequently presumptuous.

Another thing to remember is that people go to these
things to meet creators and buy back issues from their youth.
That's hardly an indication of the current state of the 'industry'.
And his oh-so casual dismissal of the importance of the TV and
movie presence is fatuous, as they draw a large part of the crowd.
If they didn't increase the attendance, what would be the point
in combining the events into one?  Doesn't suit his purpose
'though, so it gets brushed quickly under the carpet.

There's a reason why a lot of comics and periodicals
came with bagged toys.  It's because the publishers believed
that the product sold better that way.  If true, that means quite
a large proportion of those buying them weren't buying them for
the comics so much as the toys.  However, I note that the brand-
new THUNDERBIRDS comic has a bagged toy with every issue, 
and (contrary to his claim) there's still loads of periodicals with
bagged toys attached.  H'mm, little bit of a flaw in his argument
there, eh?  If so many 'comics' need such a boost, can the
'industry' be as healthy as he claims?

(As for small press comics, someone claiming to be the
U.K.'s largest independent comics publisher has enormous
difficulty selling his products.  If someone who's as devoted
to comics as he is struggles to shift his stuff, what does that
say about the state of the 'industry'?)
Are there loads of goods on offer as is claimed?  I'm
quite prepared to accept his word on the matter, but I'd
bet they're a mere drop in the ocean compared to previous
decades.  A lot of the small press stuff doesn't make much, if
any, money for its creators, and is done for the love of it more
than anything.  So even 'though it might add to what's available
to potential consumers, unless it's making pots of money and
paying page rates that its creators can live on, while it may
indicate there's still an interest, that doesn't necessarily
prove there's a healthy industry.  Sad, but true.

As for the music industry changing and evolving, yes
it has, but I don't think that's an entirely convincing com-
parison, and here's why.  There are people who like to buy
and collect 'physical' copies of music, whether it be 'records',
cassette tapes or CDs.  Downloading music may allow people to
listen to it and even burn onto a blank disc, but for many, it's just
not quite the same thing.  I'd much rather buy a CD that I can look
at and handle, than have stored in a digital 'Twilight Zone'.  There's
a certain kind of joy to be had from actual possession of an 'official'
physical product that is absent from any other form of it, official or
otherwise.  When you purchase a digital comic, it seems to me that
you're only buying a 'read' of it, not the actual comic itself.  It's
like me buying a copy of The Beano with your money, and
saying that you can pop around to my house whenever
you want to read it.  No thanks!

Some industries do indeed change and evolve, but
they sometimes evolve into a completely different type of
industry that bears little more than a passing resemblance
to the original, even 'though it retains the same name.

Comics were once part of the mighty publishing industry,
 a sub-division within a larger entity.  If they were no longer pub-
lished (in a physical way), but only appear on a computer screen,
isn't that a rather different kind of industry?  An actual, physical
comic is a product - come the day when that product doesn't
physically exist, then does the industry that produced it?

Imagine for a moment that FORD developed a different
method of travelling from one place to another.  Instead of a
combustion-powered vehicle, they sold you a four-seated device
that, when you started it, transported you to your destination in a
heartbeat.  (Yes, fanciful I know, but never say never.)  Would
this new way of travel still be part of the car industry (after all,
it does the same thing), or would it be something different?

I don't read comics online - it just doesn't have any kind
of appeal to me.  While trying to locate a particular back issue,
I've occasionally downloaded a digital copy of it as a temporary
fill-in until I can acquire the real deal  (or an official reprint).
That only applies to old comics by the way, not new ones,
which I've no interest in reading in a digital format. 

And now it's time to look in greater detail at what
constitutes - in real terms - an 'industry'.  Unfortunately,
however, and contrary to my stated hope, it'll have to wait 'til
next time as  I have a responsibility to go out and mingle with my
public and spread a little of my greatness amongst them.  (I'm such
a caring individual, I really am.)  Hopefully, I'll tie up all the loose
ends  and dispel any perception of seeming contradictions in my
reasoning or assertions in the next instalment.  Of course, there's
always the chance that you've all long since p*ssed off over
to 'Steve Does Comics', but I'll allow you to come
back just the same.  I'm that kinda guy!

See you next time, discerning Criv-ites.

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