Thursday, 10 December 2015


Continuing the demolition of the unfounded fantasies of
(ooh, a really alliterative comic name springs to mind) someone
who, when it comes to 'clinically' considering the views of certain
individuals with a different opinion to him on the current condition
of the U.K. comic 'industry', doesn't let the facts get in the way of
telling a good fable.  You'll be astounded at his 'insight' into the
motivations of those he seeks to call to account for having the
temerity to hold a viewpoint not in accord with his own.

Why doesn't he spill the beans:  Just who are those who,
'through their own mistakes', no longer work in the field?  In
exactly what way do they 'blame the industry'  or 'attack anyone
successful in it nowadays' and 'claim the only reason they can't
get work is because there is none as the industry here in the UK is
dead'?  Let's have the names and details.  One can't make accusa-
tions of that nature without backing them up.  One can't rely on
unfounded gossip, baseless rumour, or wild imagination to
dismiss those with whom one takes issue on the matter.

Again, his presumption is simply astounding.  So some
people don't get work because they don't have what it takes or
have f*cked up, blaming everyone but themselves and resenting
anyone (which surely implies everyone) who works in comics,
causing them to want to tear down the 'industry' out of anger, bit-
terness and envy.  Any criticism, observation or assessment
is therefore invalid because it stems from a grudge.

Even if it were true that this was the motivation behind
some people's negative opinion, that doesn't in and of itself
necessarily mean their opinion isn't an accurate one - especially
if there are others who don't fall under that umbrella who think
the same. That's what this guy misses.  There are plenty of folk
who've never worked, never wanted to work, and never tried
to work in comics (but who love them) who also opine
that the 'industry' is either dead or dying.

You can't disprove or dismiss an entire argument on
the grounds that the motives of some people on the other
side of it are prejudiced, unless everyone on that other side is
in the same boat.  That's akin to saying you shouldn't listen to
what the ol' geezer who lives at number 22 says about global
warming, because he's a 'bit dodgy'.  Don't you see the utter
absurdity of such a position?  It's a perfect example of
 what's called 'playing the man instead of the ball'.

Oh, what a funny guy!  Nobody has said periodicals for
children don't exist - only that those ones which do exist don't
constitute an industry in the way the word was once understood
in relation to comics.  We'll get to the definition of what constitutes
a comic later, but here's something to consider:  Many of the publi-
cations in these photos will be fortnightly or monthly and will sit on
the shelves unsold until the next issues come in.  My local WHS
gets in a fair selection of PANINI and TITAN mags every
month, and  I can tell you for a fact that most of them are
returned to the warehouse with alarming regularity.

Photos of mainly unsold stock which gets sent back to
be recycled is hardly overwhelming evidence of a 'thriving
comics industry' in my famously humble estimation.

While contemptuously dismissing other people's definition
of a comic, he blithely bestows his own idea of the term upon
any periodical aimed at children.  His far wider application isn't
necessarily more accurate 'though, as many kids' mags are lump-
ed  together under that category merely for convenience when
being allocated shelf space.  In this, he is doing exactly the
same thing that he accuses his 'opponents' of. 

Now we're getting to the nitty-gritty - the definition
of 'comics' and 'industry', which I'll address in detail in
the next instalment.  Don't miss it - unless you have an
important appointment to watch paint dry!


DeadSpiderEye said...

I kinda feel I should raise a note concerning perspective: what I mean is, was there ever really a thriving British comic trade? That's a question that needs to be regarded in the light of comparison. If we make the comparison between today and say the late 60's - 70's, I think you would respond positively. Even in the 80's there was a comparatively vibrant scene, a slightly different emphasis to the decades that immediately preceded the 80's but there was even some expansion into different genres, but...

If you've been around, say Belgium or France or even sampled the Japanese scene, that relative degree of activity seem to look pretty poor in comparison. I do recall during the early 80's, casually walking into a provincial shopping mall in France, to be confronted by a shop stacked full of graphic novels, representing every genre you could think of. Up till then, I had absolutely no idea what the comic trade was like over there. The point I'm offering up for consideration is, is there an intrinsic lack of respect for the medium in British culture?

Now I'm not too sure how I would address that question myself but I think it's a distinct possibility. The other point I would address is, that there has been a marked contraction of genre fiction, across the whole of the publishing sector. That point is easily proven, go into Smiths and ask for a copy of The Princess of Mars or how about H Rider Haggard's She, a novel that is one of the top 10 all time best sellers. you might have better luck than me but I willing to bet you won't get either, neither will you be able to pick up Fleming, Spillane, Heinlein, Matherson or dozens of other authors. The reason for that is simple, the publishing trade has been rationalised down to a few publishers in the last two decades and that situation is reflected in the periodical trade. It's not quite a monopoly yet but what it does mean that individual publishers have more control over the market. Now if those publishers don't like comics, as I've speculated, then unless they're faced with aggressive competition, they ain't gonna publish 'em.

Kid said...

Extremely interesting comments, DSE. However, when I use the word 'comic', I'm specifically referring to the traditional paper 'carton' that holds comic strip 'content'. That's to say, sure, a graphic novel is a book containing comic strips, but it's a book and not a comic. Or, at the very least, it's a comic book - or even album - (as opposed to the one word 'comicbook' which I prefer to use for U.S. periodicals, just like Stan Lee). But you know what I mean. When I refer to the 'comic industry', I'm talking about regularly published periodicals (or even 'one-shots'), aimed at kids or teenagers. To me, graphic novels are a different-but-related product. However, if comics (the carton) disappear, then comic strips will probably survive in books, the internet, etc., but it will be 'comic content' industry as opposed to a 'comic carton' one. To some, that might be an arbitrary distinction, but I feel it's an important one to maintain - at least for the present. That's the trouble when a word is applied to more than one just thing - it leads to all sorts of confusion when categorizing things. If there were no weekly or monthly paper comics or magazines, and instead just graphic novels, comic albums, or internet comic strips, would that still be a 'comic' industry (in the sense that I use the word) or a different-but-related business entirely?

Now, I know that addresses only part of your comment, but let's see what others have to say in response to your points, especially the one about the publishing sector in general.

Colin Jones said...

My local WH Smith's closed in March 2014 but when it first opened in 1978 the whole upper floor was dedicated to books and I remember seeing things like REH Conan and the Foundation trilogy (which I bought as a box-set in Dec '78) but in the last decade the books were moved downstairs and confined to a smaller area with very little choice in the sci-fi/fantasy section so it was interesting what DSE said about the contraction of genre fiction. I don't really have a view on the modern UK comics industry or lack of one but as for comics sitting unsold on the shelves - a few years ago I was in Tesco and a member of staff was putting out new magazines so I asked "Do you sell all these ?" and she replied No, we send most of them back so that applies to all magazines not just comics it seems. However about 6 weeks ago I saw the Beano Xmas special on sale in Tesco but a couple of weeks later it was gone and no more have ever come in even though there was still ages till Christmas - it seems they just didn't order any more after the first lot had sold out. Also there are comics that my Tesco just doesn't sell like 2000AD and Toxic.

Kid said...

That's interesting, CJ. It could well be that more copies of The Beano Christmas Special are lying in the back somewhere. I was once looking for a DCT special (I related this before, so it'll be in a comments section somewhere on the blog) and when I asked about it, the woman in charge of the comics said she hadn't heard of it. When I asked if it was in the back, she replied no, because she hadn't seen it. I pointed out that it should be out on sale by now, and because of my insistence, she said she'd look where it would be if it was in. She went through to the back and returned a couple of minutes later with a pile of copies. Found it, she said. I dunno, the staff seem to regard comics as a nuisance.

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