An annual dilemma

13th November 2019

I probably won’t buy a Christmas annual this year. My teenage son, who was partial to the Dandy, is probably too old now (he may still surprise me). I was one of those annual buyers who would look for a bargain before Christmas (I think Asda offered 2 annuals for £7 at some point) and would hold off on the Doctor Who annual for £1 in January. I feel bad about that now. This year it’s been noticed there are no superhero annuals for Superman, Batman and Spider-Man and the annuals that have been published have dropped their picture strips (Doctor Who being a good example). Production of a six page picture strip probably being too expensive against a word search. So it’s just the Beano, the Dandy, their reprint editions, The Broons and Viz left standing with comic strips. I wonder how long annuals will last? Maybe this time of the year comic publishers might move towards launching new graphic novels with a longer shelf life beyond Christmas, like the new Roy of the Rovers book.? Or maybe revisiting autobiographies of the stars in graphic form, which seems to dominate the bookshelves at this time of year (John Freeman reported on his website that Lenny Henry’s autobiography has some comic pages in it)

Today I spoke to Phil of Phil’s Comics about his new Beano and Dandy Classic Comic Covers Book he’s done, and printed in Malta of all places. We will probably have a feature on it in the new year. First I have to print the second part of his article on comic free gifts. I believe we have space and I’m trying to tie up all the loose articles before the end of the year, including ones on Mental Health comics and Doctor Who comics. This may be a tall order, in which case readers may have to wait a little longer for the completion of said articles as we take a Christmas break (as last year) and are back in newsagents late February. We do sell more copies of the issue if on the shelf longer, which is great. It still amazes me that people you would think would know of ComicScene still don’t – but when they find it they are pleasantly surprised.

2000AD John Charles asked me for a copy of the issue 10 which GetMyComics now have and are sending out for distribution to WHSmith, McColls, Easons, International network, comics shops and subscribers. He offered to do a Dredd cover for us which I think is fantastic so am happy to oblige. He also only lives ten minutes from Adrian at GetMyComics so will probably get a personal delivery. I believe they know each other as GetMyComics also handles Technofreak. John directed us to Hal Laren for our recent 3D Judge Dredd promo and then we directed him to Ed Doyle for his Sentinel (a homage to Starblazer) comics cover by Ian Beadle who entered our Batman cover competition and whose work appears in our current 2000AD timeline feature. So all helping each other out, which is nice!

Took a trip to WHSmith today. I’ve taken to counting copies of ComicScene and other titles to see how we are doing. It’s probably quite a sad thing to do and along with less time on my phone and eating less junk food I should give it up (I’m thinking of setting up a healthy lifestyle programme for stressed comic creators if anyone is interested, if only to lose a few pounds!) Only four copies of ComicScene left and a week to go in shops for issue 9. I hope an issue with an Ian Kennedy cover, a new Pat Mills story and the free pull out Great War Dundee comic sells well overall. It has been one of our strongest issues of ComicScene so far and being able to share the Dundee Uni produced comic to a wider audience has been a dream. The content of Pats story ‘Ragtime Soldier’ is also quite controversial which appeals to me. As a variety of historians now unravel the true and quite shocking history of WW1 & 2 Pat’s planned storylines could rock the establishment boat quicker than you can say ‘Action’. If he gets a publisher to do more ‘Ragtime Soldier’ this issue of ComicScene could be a collectors item! I can’t see any of us getting a knighthood because of it though!

At WHSmith I found a rose between two thorns. The Superhero Collection is back. Published by Future it’s a colourful rehash of the magazine that came out this time last year with, from what I can tell, a few additional new features around future Phase 2 Marvel movies and DC TV shows. Beside it the Panini 80 Amazing Years of Marvel which I learnt from Lew Stringers blog was translated from an Italian version and has high production values which reflects a high £12.99 price tag. I left both on the shelf as Marvel was never really my thing but if it is I’m sure you’ll enjoy both titles if you have over twenty quid to spend. But that ComicScene is only £5.99 though…bargain!

I didn’t check how the Roy of the Rovers 65th anniversary celebration book is selling (it may be off sale now?) but I did see Scream 13th Floor tucked away on the top shelf just along from Viz. I quite enjoyed the 13th Floor Special this year and no doubt you can still pick it up in some obscure corner of the shops if you are willing to look for it. You have plenty of time to comfortably look around. As a frequent visitor (I probably bought the 13th November 1982 Eagle pictured here in John Menzies Stirling – which is now a WHSmith) the struggle to fight for space looking through the shelves of WHSmith or McColls magazines is not what it once was. We still sell the majority of ComicScene through their branches though, so still an important part of our sales mix unless we have a a Beano style jump in monthly subscribers. That would be a Corker!

Goodnight comic fans – see you next time!

Tony

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