Lew Stringer was kind enough to leave a comment that clearly shows the attitude of editors to comics in the UK. A lot of people don’t check out comments so I didn’t want this ignored.
PLEASE note, I am not having a go at Lew but the comic bosses (I have enough enemies for two life times!);
“Firstly, UK comic bloggers. How many of you out there are calling for more UK originated comics?”
That’s a fair question Terry. Personally the reason I don’t really do that on my blog is because I already know the answer from speaking to editors. Here’s the kind of information I’ve been told:
We’d all like to see a return to the glory days of British comics, when we were spoiled for choice, but the whole set up is different today.
1) Retail giants now dominate the outlets. In the past, when comics were selling hundreds of thousands each issue, retailers were content with a percentage of cover price. These days they have their cut PLUS they effectively charge rent just for shelf space. The nearer your title is to the front of the display, the more they charge. And it’s not cheap.
2) Retailers are so used to comics being merchandised tie-ins now that it’s extremely difficult to sell an originated title to them. That’s why The DFC was subscription-only, and that didn’t quite work out sadly.
There are other factors too. My feeling is that most of the current generation of kids are simply not in the habit of buying comics on a regular basis. Sure, you could SHOW them a comic that they’d think was brilliant but would they buy it every week (or month)? Today’s kids are used to a complete package for their entertainment, such as a DVD or game. (In this regard, complete comic albums may be a better option.)
As you said elsewhere, some children do buy the Panini collectors editions but I understand the sales figures for those comics are lower than you’d need to finance an originated comic. (True, Spectacular Spider-Man is all-new and successful, but, you know, that’s Spider-Man. A brand new superhero – or a revived IPC one – wouldn’t have the same appeal.)
That said, there ARE two new comics on the horizon. STRIP MAGAZINE launches in October 2011, and THE PHOENIX in January 2012. No doubt other publishers will be looking to see how those two fare.”
My response, which I’m hoping doesn’t read as too terse toward Lew!
Sadly, those are excuses publishers/editors have been giving for years and it simply does not wash. Editors and publishers are operating and earning so badly then I have a good suggestion:STOP PUBLISHING. And, yeah, of course there’s the excuse that its easier to publish reprint material because then those villainous thieving bastard creators won’t leech every penny from you. sob sob boo hoo.
DFC is a point about how to get great strips but publish it with the intentio9n of cutting your own throat. When they did the “available for one week onbly” in Tesco stores the stores sold out, people were asking for more and other issues. “Sorry -you have to subscribe” so all those customers were lost. You cannot spend money publishing a comic, refusing to send out press releases and keeping it a secret subscribe-over-the-internet-only comic and believe you are going to succeed. I was told several times “We don’t issue press information or need to promote issues”. What about the huge reaction from Tesco customers? “They have to subscribe online”.
I have, in thirty years talking to editors and management heard every possible excuse. Every time I’ve countered with an arguement that destroys their excuse its “That’s the company policy”.
How can Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, Russia -countries half or a quarter the size of the UK publish new comics and keep in business?
I’ve now written directly to the top people in eight UK companies associated with publishing comics/graphic novels -no more sit on their arses editors- THE BOSSES. We’ll see how serious they are about UK comics.
Creators in the UK, particularly who were bemoaning no more UK originated Panini work in May should get together. They have “known names”. Publish their own comic. That’s what the guys who created Image Comics did.
Creators need to make a stand because if they don’t I doubt there will be any working in ‘UK comics’ in ten years.
I do believe that editors and publishers have no idea about what they are doing. Marvel and DC in the US are going the same way -they add insults to fans to make it worse. WHY are European comics going strong? WHY are European publishers looking at the UK to publish in and use as a stepping stone to the US?
Because they can see the idiocy going on and the market. Unlike UK/US sales they ain’t losing -their profits are INCREASING.
That alone answers any “but its not like the old days” excuse. One of the top guys at Fleetway/IPC retired and told me “We could still be selling great comics. Its just that no one wants to do that or be the one who says he has an idea!”
Your comments are appreciated now we need comments on WHAT to do!