Tuesday, 6 October 2015

KID KLASSICS: IT'S DEAD, JIM! REALLY, IT'S DEAD...



What is?  The British comics industry, that's what!
Remember all the comics that newsagents counters used to
strain under, week by week, the product of IPC and DCT?  I'm
talking about real comics, not puzzle or activity mags with a smat-
tering of comic strip content - actual comics that were filled to the
gills with strip after strip, for only a few pence, published by mighty
empires devoted to producing weekly periodicals for kids all over
the country (and abroad).  Companies who were in competition
with each other, vying for whatever pocket money wasn't
spent on sweets and toys.

That doesn't exist any more.  It has expired, turned
up its tootsies, fallen off the twig, shuffled off this mortal coil,
is pushing up the daisies - dead!  What remains today is nothing
more than the equivalent of a craft fayre or car boot sale, where
anaemic and emaciated survivors cling on by their fingertips, try-
ing to be all things to all kids, but sadly ignored by the majority
of them.  Circulation figures today are generally so poor that,
in the industry's heyday, a comic would have suffered
cancellation long before it ever sank so low.

Don't be misled by those who say otherwise;  those
whose self-interests lie in talking up the current situation.
We're talking about comics - weekly, published paper comics,
devoted mainly to humour and adventure strips for the entertain-
ment of kids and teenagers, at a reasonable price.  We're not talk-
ing about on-line cartoons, or collected editions in book form.
Comic strips can be published in a variety of mediums, but a
book is a book and a website is a website, which - although
they might feature comic strips - are not in themselves
'comics' in the traditional sense.

So, to reiterate - the industry of traditional, weekly,
published paper periodicals called comics is, sadly, dead.
The BEANO and 2000 A.D. do not constitute an 'industry'.
No amount of wishful-thinking, or reinterpretation of the facts
can change that.  However, whether it's an immutable condition
is by no means certain.  Perhaps, some day, that once-mighty
industry can be resurrected, and, if so, those of us who love
comics - real comics - printed paper comics - will
welcome their return.  What else can I say?

  Roll on that day, eh?   

31 comments:

I've got a small 'un said...

Ah your tired old "no British comics industry" bullshit, and all just because you screwed up your own career. Pathetic! You fucked up your career, indeed your whole life, but you won't take any responsibility, hence why a person at nearly 60 years of age writes unendingly about his primary school teachers mucking up his life haha! Pathetic!! You're just jealous of those still working, the proof is there of the industry. Get a life, move on you pathetic worm. You're such a comics fan aren't you, collecting illegal scans instead of the comics. Then while you don't actually say you own it, you insinuate it with the title of the post for your stupid, clueless followers. You're a joke. And you're NOT a comics fan! You're talking rubbish as per usual (for reference, see the rubbish about you "not wanting" to be a cartoonist, or getting paid more for lettering etc etc blah blah) You bitch that there's no UK comics industry yet that whole industry is well aware of you and you're trolling ways, your lies and exactly what you wanted to do and how you screwed up your own career, and doesn't want anything to do with you and that's the real reason you deny its existence. So childish. You have been proved a liar so many times I've lost count but of course you edit your comments and posts after the fact to try to hide that.

Kid said...

You gotta laugh, eh? And he calls me a troll and a liar. So much for care in the community. Such vitriol, such hate - such a pillock!

Paul McScotty- Muir said...

Well that's you told Kid!

I would say that the weekly comic industry whilst not quite dead is terminally ill , and I think most folk would agree with that so I don't understand that guys rant , I mean 2 weekly titles as you state is not an industry. I think the weekly publishing format has long had its day and is not wanted any more by kids, they don't relate to that they like specials, collected books or monthly titles - I seriously doubt there will ever be a new UK weekly title again. To be fair I think anyone with a self interest in any industry (if by that you mean working in it) would "big up" their industry, it is their career after all why not be positive after all.

I would add that there are a lot of good UK comics out there that wont get a place in the racks of W H Smiths so it's not due to lack of talent just changing times and W H Smiths don't really help things that much by stocking comics all over the place and stuffing those awful pre packaged toys masquerading as comics into shelves ( supermarkets don't even stock that many actual comics now -if any). There

Still can't get over the rant of "Ive got a small un's" (seriously that's the name he chose?) text, that is one seriously strange person.






DB said...

Without resorting to the abuse of the previous commenter may I point out that there are still lots of comics in newsagents? May I direct your attention to the blog "Down The Tubes" which posted about this very subject only last week.
http://downthetubes.net/?p=25954

Kid said...

I admit to exercising a little bit of editorial licence in replacing the alias he picked with one of my own, McScotty. It's a racing cert that he lives up to my choice of appellation for him. My definition of a comics industry is based on what it used to be at its height, and that just doesn't exist any more. I don't think that there's a British comic today which sells over what would've been the cancellation point of comics of the past, so that says it all, really. There's loads of periodicals in WHS, of course, but they don't quite live up to the definition of comics as set by IPC, DCT, Odhams, Hulton, Marvel U.K. (in the '70s), etc.

******

DB, Down the Tubes prefers to portray what passes for the U.K. comics industry today in an optimistic way - I prefer to do so in a realistic way. On an individual basis, comics sell a fraction of what they once did. My post covered the difference between the reality of what constitutes an industry and the 'wishful-thinking' that others seek to promote. Having said that (and having just read the DTT article), it seems to me that a lot of what John Freeman says doesn't completely disagree with my own view.

TC said...

Of course, it is not just the UK weekly comics. The medium is moribund and obsolescent in the US as well. Even today's best sellers, with the big name characters (Superman, Batman, Spider-Man), have sales below what would have been even marginally adequate in the 1960's-1970's. And even today's sales figures are artificially inflated, because of collectors and speculators buying multiple copies of each issue. (BTW, I believe that is one reason why the publishers keep putting out variant covers.)

It may just be that advances in technology produce new alternative media for entertainment. Comic books helped kill off pulp magazines. Now, TV, video games, and the internet may be killing off comics.

DC and Marvel exist now mainly as IP, to be mined for more profitable media and merchandising (movies, TV, games, toys). And the parent companies may decide to shut down the publishing companies. Surely, they can retain copyrights and trademarks as long as they use those characters and titles in those other media. And if they want to publish comics to tie in with the latest movie or whatever, they can always make a licensing deal with some other publisher. For many years, that's what Disney did with their cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. I see no reason why they couldn't do the same with the super-heroes.

But if you point all of that out, you are a "troll." Even on your own blog.

Phil said...

Ok then....if it wasn't for the invective perhaps we could have a conversation. I would even disagree with the Kid. Sure two publishers isn't a lot but it's still an industry. The old publishers are gone and there's a lot of reasons why. Technology, competition ...kids don't read comics any more and that's common all over. Wish I could tell you why since it's still the best way to learn how to read.

I've got a small 'un - and it's shrinking said...

Well you've just proven all my points haven't you. Republishing an old post so you can edit the name to that childish "joke". You've just proven what a liar you are and how you manipulate the truth. Time to share the evidence with the world on my site. Your time is at an end Robson, everyone knows what a pathetic, childish troll you are. Act your age and catch a grip. We'll have fun laughing at what you've had to resort to here to try to prove your false points. If your "investigation" finds the site you're more than welcome to come along and be laughed at. The whole industry and the whole UK comics fan scene already does. You're a washed up joke.

Kid said...

I'm used to being called a troll on my own blog by now, TC - it's the first resort of the feeble-minded when they read something with which they disagree. In this case 'though, the person is obviously nursing an obsessive grudge against me and is clearly a bit of a nutter. He doesn't seem to realize that his pathetic attempts to wind me up just make me (and everyone else) laugh at him.

I'd say you're spot on with your assessment of today's U.S. comic industry, by the way. It must be making money for someone, but it's clearly not what it was.

******

Phil, my point was that when Britain had two mighty publishing empires producing dozens of weekly comics between them, then we had an industry. That doesn't exist anymore, especially with only two weekly comics (that actually qualify as comics) selling less than 40,000 per issue on sale. However, you're always more than welcome to disagree with me. As you know, I ain't the insecure type.

******

H'mm, 'Tiny' doesn't seem to see that he's got things backwards.

I've got a small 'un - and I touch my toes for the boys said...

You're the one who manipulates the truth and cries victim despite being the bully. The fact you're not publishing my posts before editing the name shows what you do. We're all having a great discussion at my site, you're renowned for being a troll, a bully, a washout who blames everyone but himself. That's why you constantly spread these lies about the industry. You have such a narrow view of what a comic is as that's the only way you can justify your stance. Give up. Move on. Take responsibility for your actions. Pathetic. This stupid little, sexist, homophobic blog with its illegal scans and Google search-posts is all you have, you keep your little corner of the Internet going, the rest of us will continue in the real world where you mucked up your career, where you failed as an artist, where you did not send a strip to Oink, where you edited writers' scripts to suit yourself when lettering, where you've trolled then edited your posts to cover it all up, where you lie and manipulate your clueless followers... the list is endless.

Kid said...

Bit of a broken record now, loser. The blog you speak of doesn't exist or you'd provide a link, but you can't do that without giving away your real identity and laying yourself open to a charge of libel. Go on then, I dare you - provide a link, pillock - then I'll provide the full story about you and your comments. There's a big thunder storm heading your way, idiot.

DeadSpiderEye said...

Here's a view on the "industry", still some denial evident from the contributor, Deviant Art etcetera, but otherwise it's a fair assessment: wanted...

Kid said...

That was certainly interesting, DSE. Tim Pilcher's comment was a bit puzzling. I'd hardly say we were spoilt for choice, like he claims. I suppose some people are optimists, some people are pessimists, and some people are - realists. (I fall into the 3rd category.)

DeadSpiderEye said...

Well I think you can chalk his comments up to an: if only, frame of mind but even he knowledges there's viable commercial outlets for the wealth of content he perceives.

Kid said...

Tim Pilcher didn't write the article, was just quoted on his view about comics. Not sure what he thinks about the outlets without going back and re-reading it.

Colin Jones said...

Kid, as one of your "stupid, clueless followers" I'll just say how much I look forward to your blog every day. And have you ever said your primary school teachers mucked up your life ? Do you know this gentleman by the way ?

Kid said...

I've never said that anyone has mucked up my life, and certainly never made such a claim about a primary school teacher. I believe I know who it is, CJ, and Blogger is currently investigating the matter. You can tell that the person is deranged and not quite in touch with reality. He seems to think that his comments will upset me in some way. On the contrary, they provide good comic relief for the blog. We're all laughing at him, yet he doesn't seem to see that he's the butt of the joke - the joke himself, in fact.

I've got a small 'un - and I'm looking for a boyfriend said...

I think you'll find the thunder is coming your way. Interesting you're deleting parts of my comments. Everyone has seen the posts about your teachers too but you go back and delete and edit to hide the truth. If you're so good you'll find the site, but then again it's part of the U.K. comics industry so you're probably in denial. You're such the big man yet can't find it? Says it all.

Kid said...

I freely admit to omitting parts of your comments and if you had a brain you would realize why, instead of presuming that I have anything to hide. Let me explain it to you, thicko. Your comments are libelous because they aren't true, but because I operate comments moderation, I can't seek legal redress against you if I decide to publicly publish your libel myself. If and when you repeat your lying accusations on another public forum, then I can pursue you with the full rigour of the law. I have absolutely nothing to fear from your childish attempts to unsettle me, so - "You threaten me, fellow? Do your worst, blow your pipe there 'til you burst!"

You're a pathetic joke. If you're not a child, you clearly have the intellect of one. The site you speak of exists only in your own head, but if it's real then I have your sorry @rse! Bring it on, saddo - you'll lose.

Kid said...

Oh, and you're right - everyone has seen my posts about teachers - and they know you're talking bollocks! Well, you've taken your best shot and failed to score. You've now become boring, endlessly repeating your warped fantasies. So - back to the oblivion whence you came. But thanks for the laugh.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

This is why I have always disliked (most of) comic book fandom and pursued a life as an International lover rather than a comic book geek – fandom is just so full of ridiculous accusations and rants from (quite frankly) some ridiculous adults about comics - how embarrassing to get so upset over such an issue especially when there are so many real problems in the world to get genuinely irate over . I assume this negative reaction is from a previous clash despite your blog stating that the WEEKLY comic book industry is dead and it’s not what it was in the 70s re sales of content (which is all100% true) “anons” reply was just a personal attack on you, your career and something about a primary school teacher?

OK for fairness why you (Kid) wrote this post and raised this issue again I have no idea (I assume no UK comic has just ceased publication at time of writing this) but this is a blog mostly about comics and nostalgia and as far as I know you have every right to blog about what you want as long as its civil , and it was until “anon” brought this down to gutter level. For the record “anon” (as a “stupid, clueless follower”) I disagree with Kid on this (and other issues) I think the UK comic industry is still alive (very different but still alive) there is work out there for creators in amongst all the pre - packaged mags with comics in them. However it is a fact that as it stands the weekly comic is all but dead (not the Beano or 2000AD) and it is a statistical fact that the sales of comics now are nothing like they were in the 60s - 70s – so what is really the issues here “anon” cause that all Kid said here ! (I hope you were sent straight to bed without any supper by your mummy for that wee rant).

Mark Carter said...

Yeah, but other than that, do you agree with I've got a small 'un or not? Time to get off the fence, Kid!!

Kid said...

Well, you don't have to be Ellery Queen to detect that 'I've got a small 'un' is someone with a chip on their shoulder, with nothing better to do than try (and fail) to wind me up. He seems obsessed with this blog, McScotty, and is still submitting comments repeating the same things over and over again. Like I said 'though, he's now consigned to the oblivion that he's so desperately trying to escape from but never will. On the subject of industry, there are far fewer freelancers getting work in comics, and most of those who do don't get nearly enough as they once did, so I guess our main point of difference is the definition of 'industry' as it pertains to comics.

******

I agree with him, MC - he HAS got a small 'un. But I only know that 'cos he sent me a photo of it.

Nik Holmes said...

I take no offence from your comments, and really believe there is always room for debate here if people can stay away from insults and personal vendettas, but I have two points I'd like to raise. These are the same two issues I always feel need to be discussed when articles such as this appear around the internet -

1 - The British Comic Industry is NOT dead. The British Comic Industry of yesteryear, yes. Dead, gone, never to return. But so is the music industry and film industry of yesteryear. Formats, markets and most importantly sales have changed a hell of a lot over the years, but if we are to use the sweeping term 'British Comic Industry' and discard the key element 'Of Yesteryear' then one must look at the situation NOW and not 40 years ago. This month we have the Lakes Comic Festival in Kendal and next month we have ThoughtBubble in Leeds. Any visitor to these events can tell you there is a thriving comics industry alive and well at these events. Is it the unstoppable beast of an industry older readers remember? No, of course not. But it is British, it is Comics and it is an industry. These events are swarming with fans, and unlike many other comic cons today the people are not there for the movie and TV stars which usually fill the place. There is nothing but comics, and comics at their best!

2 - If we are going to discuss the pathetic number of comics being produced on a weekly basis, you have to move on from the survivors of yesteryear and mention The Phoenix! Yes, three titles is still a sorry number but it is still an improvement on two. And what The Phoenix does is astounding. No ads, no free gifts - just page after page of top notch strips by top UK talent, many of whom work tirelessly to promote comics as an art form - visiting schools, attending book fairs. All stellar work, and all hugely in demand as can be seen from the sell out events I have attended over the past few years.

So please, continue with your posts, share your opinions and personal thoughts on the matter. But can I just ask that for future purposes, remember that it is merely the Comic Industry of over 30 years ago which is dead and that The Phoenix, and it's writers and artists, work tirelessly to keep something a lot of people still love alive.

Kid said...

Well, I appreciate the distinction you make between yesteryear and today in regard to the word 'industry', but I just cannot view three comics that sell in very low numbers as an industry, even if the word is, technically, applicable. To me, 'industry' suggests large corporations tirelessly turning out seemingly endless numbers of a particular product for the masses, and your idea of industry (from my point of view) is akin to a few people working in a back room, creating low selling products for craft fayres and jumble sales. Once, dozens of comics were on sale every week in newsagents across the country, now a few of them deign to stock a couple of copies of The Beano. Even The Phoenix is unknown to the casual reader, and not all Waitrose premises, I am led to understand, even stock it. Do the contributors work hard at their contributions? I would hope so, but the subscription department certainly doesn't, going by the tales from those who have tried to obtain one. Uncashed cheques, no replies to queries from those wishing to buy the comic, etc., stand testament to how not to run a business.

Once, many freelance contributors could make a good living from British comics; now that number is drastically reduced, and quite a few of them have to seek work outside of the field. Certainly, if we are going to be pedantic (and I have been known for it), 'industry' perhaps still applies (emphasis on perhaps), to what we have today as far as the strict definition of the word goes, but in terms of 'spirit', well - that departed long ago. As for top U.K. talent working tirelessly to promote comics by visiting schools and attending book fairs, that's something that, back in the day, they wouldn't have had (or likely even wanted) to do, so in itself speaks volumes of how desperate the comics situation now is.

As far as comics go, the word 'industry' is now applied to something that is barely a shadow of its former self and is therefore, in my view, not fit for purpose in describing the remnants of a once mighty entity. In real terms, it's really nothing more than a small business, however worthy that might be in hanging on to.

Essentially, I think we're not too far removed - we differ mainly on what constitutes a realistic concept of 'industry', that's all.

Nik Holmes said...

Indeed, I don't think we disagree at all. I'd simply like to see a more positive point of view from someone with an obvious love of the industry, and while I appreciate statements such as 'It's Dead Jim!' are merely tabloid sensationalist headlines to draw readers into your piece, some mention of the good work being done is always, it seems to me, absent. Always. I obviously cannot speak for those who have been unable to obtain copies, I have no experience of that. The subscription we have had for years now has never failed to deliver, nor had that of the hordes of readers at the sold out Phoenix Comic Con this year. Copies are also available in Waterstones and Travelling Man. They attend many events, at which cut price subscription packs are readily available as are back issues. Their collected volumes are also easily obtained. In fact, I feel the 'problem' some older readers may have with The Phoenix may purely be that the Phoenix are going out of their way to appeal to children, and not comic fans. No nostalgia fuelled tug at the collectors heart strings, for obvious reasons, but rather presenting themselves alongside children books as a viable form of entertainment beyond the more apparent items such as video games (which have been around so long now they can no longer be accused of being the new kids on the block, but rather a mainstay of todays children AND yesterdays) So if you are not a child yourself, or as in my case a parent, then perhaps the whole thing could easily pass you by. This again is why it seems to go unheralded by some, I imagine.

As for the Jumble Sale/Craft Fayre comment, I know you jest and are merely keeping events fun but to dismiss Thought Bubble and the like in such a way (perhaps even unconsciously, as you don't actually state this is what you are referring to) does little justice to the amazing work which goes on there.

Kid said...

If you mean that mention of the "good work being done" is always absent from my posts, then I'd good-naturedly suggest that you haven't read enough of them. And surely you wouldn't be able to recognize my "obvious love of comics" if I never said anything positive? Usually, I keep my posts separate, in the sense that the 'negative' ones are negative and the 'positive' ones are positive. However, even when I was pointing out the negative aspects of The Dandy, I usually mentioned that the comic contained exceptions to the content I was criticizing. Can't be fairer than that.

The title of my post had an element of tongue-in-cheek humour about it, but it was in direct response to certain people's claims that the British comics industry is "alive and well". We can disagree on whether it's 'alive' or not, but it's incontestably far from 'well'. As for The Phoenix, it's a little-known comic that appeals to its fans (as you say, mainly kids), but its impact on the British comics scene is, let's be honest, negligible. It's still not visible enough.

My jumble sale/craft fayre comment was in direct reference to the state of the comics 'industry' today. Remember when we had a coal mining industry in this country? Well, I believe there are still a few places where coal is mined in Britain, but it can hardly be fairly or accurately described as an industry in the sense that the word has come to be understood. It's the same with comics. So few people buy them these days, comics are now a niche market. I no longer earn a living from working in comics, so I don't feel the need to 'talk them up' in the way that some of those involved do, but my observations on the state of play today certainly don't spring, as some people seek to suggest, from any kind of bitterness or frustration at the industry "turning its back" on me. I've been offered opportunities to resume my 'comics career', but decided, for the moment, against it. Comics are produced in such a different way nowadays to what I experienced, that I doubt I'd get any satisfaction from being involved.

Anyway, don't know much about Thought Bubble, but if it wants my attention, it has to attract it, not assume it's a given. Interesting that comics never used to rely on 'groups' to promote them, they simply sold in multiples of thousands. It'd be nice if they could return to that self-sustaining situation once more.

Hope that doesn't appear too negative - don't mean it to be.

Nik Holmes said...

Oh, on the contrary, the majority of your blog is FILLED with positive remarks, and a visible enthusiasm which how I know you have a love for the medium. However it is nearly always ( I would have said definitely always, but that is obviously an over generalisation) the comics of yesteryear which receive this positive praise, and we were discussing todays comics. It is here that this enthusiasm is lacking and the negativity appears to run free. But that is to be expected, as this is your blog, documenting your thoughts and feelings and obviously todays comics just aren't something you have a passion for, for numerous reasons. I have indeed read a lot of your posts, and really was under the impression, mistakenly I guess, that there was a lack of positivity when discussing modern children comics. However I did a quick re - read by searching for Dandy flavoured posts on your blog, as I hate to think I was incorrect in my remarks. Obviously I was, you will know better than anyone what you have written of in the past, and admittedly I have only been following your blog for a few years. However, the first two pages of posts have very, very little to say of a positive nature. The compliments only seemed to appear regarding reprinted artwork and the odd comment regarding the work of Nigel Parkinson and Steve Bright, two artists working in a very traditional style. This is not an 'I knew it' remark, it is simply me trying to paint a better picture of why I reached the conclusion I did.
However I guess the main problem lies with my misinterpreting your blog as something of an authority on comics, whereas as you point out you are merely a fan (with a vast wealth of comic buying history in the past) discussing your own opinions and nobody elses. If there is nothing positive within your own experience of todays comics, then how could I, or anyone else, possibly expect you to pretend to be positive?
I believe we have reached a happy conclusion to our conversation, and I will continue to bear in mind that what you share here are simply your own, personal thoughts, feelings and opinions on the matter and not some kind of overarching, well rounded analysis of the current world of comics.

Kid said...

I think I could be forgiven for wondering whether 'to damn with faint praise' is the approach you're taking here, which would be a shame as I had high hopes for you elevating the discussion above the level of 'I've got a small 'un'. Looking past the flattering 'finery' of the first part of your comment however, what you basically appear to be saying is this:

My blog is not an authority, it is merely 'fan-boy' opinions based on my own limited experience of modern periodicals, and that my personal thoughts, feelings and opinions are far from being a well-rounded analysis of the current state of today's comics. (In short, because I don't work in the comics 'industry', my views as an 'outsider' on the subject are not worthy of serious consideration.)

To which I feel compelled to ask - in what way does that differ from anybody else's blog on comics? I also wonder why anyone would expect positivity in posts focussed on what I perceive to be negative aspects of certain comics. That's like opening a clearly marked box of Corn Flakes and expecting it to contain Sugar Puffs. However, suggesting that my opinion on The Dandy was a minority one dismisses in an insultingly off-hand manner the comments of those who agreed with my (extremely analytical) observations of its shortcomings. Also, losing half its readership in the space of a few months after its relaunch tends to confirm that my "own personal thoughts, feelings and opinions" were shared by those many former readers who gave up on it.

Yes, I agree that we have reached a conclusion to our conversation, and I will continue to bear in mind that your own personal thoughts, feelings and opinions on certain aspects of my blog are not some kind of overarching, well rounded analysis of the contents of Crivens! (Except for any flattering and positive remarks you made, which were 100% spot on. In my opinion, of course.)

Phil said...

I don't agree with the Kid on several issues. But I like that he posts mainly about comics which I have not seen in decades. If you want to argue you can but the first person who goes ad hominem loses and I tune them out.
Even the US comic market is about a tenth what it used to be, I assume the smaller British market is also woefully small. And it's not coming back, however comics are bigger than ever, conventions are full and comic book characters are better known than when I was a kid. I think the weekly comic is dead...but the Industry isn't! It's going to have to change to graphic novels sold in bookstores out issued at irregular schedules. Much like Tin Tin or Asterix. They got released as they were done. Know what I mean.

Kid said...

I sometimes wonder 'though, Phil, just how many of the crowds that attend comic marts are there mainly to buy back issues from their youth, or to meet the creators of the comics of their youth? If comics aren't selling as well as they once did, then they can't be 'bigger than ever', can they? My point about the industry, at least in Britain, was that it was geared towards weekly comics; if it shifts gear towards graphic novels, that's really a different industry - which proves my point. I hope 'I've got a small 'un' sees that people can have different opinions (and express them) on this blog without falling out or insulting one another.

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