And the man with the “saviour complex” wrote….
“British comics” have been a mess for a long time now, as I have been saying and writing about for more than a decade. My final analysis of UK comics would have been my post of 19th May, Why Are UK Business Entrepreneurs Not Getting Involved In Comics? But things happen. That posting, by-the-way, can be found here:
Quietly, behind the scenes, I have been working on various projects and speaking to some former and current top people in companies associated with comics. The results are pretty grim.
D. C. Thomson, who I have no direct dealings with (I think we know how editors there think of me) and cannot even be considered a real comic producing company any more. This is a pity since I think Thomson could have been/still could be a major player in the comics field. But as the old saying goes “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” and it seems that bosses just do not want anything to do with comics.
Panini is owned by Marvel and not much more needs to be said. Any UK originated material is rare and, according to a source, now that Disney owns Marvel material not totally controlled by Panini will…disappear. I did warn about this several times over the last few years but no one listened. Some still have blinkers on.
IPC has, according to its top executive “not been involved in comic publishing over the last thirty years and is out of that market.” Or, as someone else from IPC put it to me: “We do NOT do comics. We publish magazines!”
Redan is limited to pre-school magazines.
Egmont, though publishing proper comics in Finland and elsewhere have no interest in publishing comics as such in the UK. In Finland, Germany and other countries it publishes Disney comics, Franco-Belgian albums and even books with characters such as Lee Falk’s The Phantom. The UK…toys attached to magazines.
Why not the UK? You’ll hear the same line over and over “There is no interest or comics market.”
I spoke to one of the former executives and said that this line was absolute nonsense. Cinebook The 9thArt have succeeded in a market where there was “no interest” and smaller publishers are still going. The response was exactly what I expected:
“Look, anyone who knew anything about the comics business is long gone –Gil Page was the guy that everyone expected Egmont to go to to continue a comic line. They put him out to pasture. Bloody ridiculous. There is a market out there but bosses have no interest in it through ignorance. Easier to say that there is no interest and leave it at that.”
I contacted JM, who had been in IPC/Fleetway for over thirty years before his unwilling ‘retirement’ and asked him about the “no interest” line. His response:
“You and I can both see these companies publishing what we used to call “gutter rags” –celebrity gossip magazines or “lifestyle” magazines. The lowest type of publication –who care if Katy Price has suddenly decided that she does not like looking plastic? One week it’s non-celebrities and how they have “gone too far” in exercising. The next it’s the same thing but ‘celebrities’ that have gone too far and are too fat. The next it’s ‘gone too far’ and are too skinny or not using a lot of make-up or use too much make-up! It is utterly mindless pap –but it makes the company money. Get a group of their editors and put a comic in front of them and they’ll stare blankly. Stick a copy of OK, Hello or some other glossy toilet paper in front of them and they will talk and talk for hours.”
I’m guessing that JM was far from happy with the way things had gone in the publishing industry. Though he made a valid point.
Others I spoke to said the same, but less angrily: easier to publish pap that “the chimps like” because it is all the editorial staff knows. They know nothing of comics. Therefore there is no market or interest.
There is, therefore, plenty of room for the Small Independent Pressers. Cinebook will, without doubt, be the only existing British comics company in the UK in ten years –probably sooner. And, please, do not start sending them portfolio samples because they are not looking for new projects and everything has been planned out in advance publishing wise.
You will not get the support of any bank –only if you succeed and then only to milk you for all the charges they can. Keep small, do not over print but be aware that out of a hundred small independent pressers publishing at the moment only 2-3 may still be going in five years.
Black Tower Comics has been going since 1984 and believe me it is a struggle!
Ignore the arguing and name-calling going on in comics. Get off of forum groups where you may spend more time dealing with flamers than people interested in your books –those people will contact you via your web site or Face Book page. If you want to succeed concentrate only on work –on your projects.
The alternative is to move overseas where you may find people with more interest in your comics!
Do NOT look to comic shops to support you by selling your books -you’ll get “I’d love to but none of my customers would be interested” 95-97% of comic shops in the UK are NOT run by businessmen but by comic fans. That is a fact.
Small Independent Publishers ARE the UK comics industry.
Gods help us –I need a coffee!