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Sunday, April 26, 2009

When Knockout met Valiant

Great News, Pals! That was always the tag-line when British comics merged and they usually trumpeted the event in the departing paper. Sometimes it was a small toot, tucked away in a corner but when Knockout was folded into Valiant in February 1963 it was heralded with a 4-page supplement, the centre pages in colour. The merger was a big success -- Valiant's launch in 1962 had not been as spectacular as Fleetway had hoped, but the circulation of the merged paper soared. I don't have precise figures, but certainly over 300,000 copies a week and maybe approaching 400,000. Valiant continued to sell well until around 1970/71 when it many Fleetway comics slumped; it was around that time that the comics were hit by industrial action and disappeared from the newsstands for often weeks at a time. By 1974, sales had dropped by a third.

I don't have comparative figures for D. C. Thomson's boys' titles but I wonder if they suffered nearly as badly? It may be that the comparatively steady sales of Thomson titles is what inspired Fleetway to adopt more of a Thomson look and feel to many of their future launches; or maybe it was simply because Fleetway were attracting a lot of ex-Thomson staff.

But that was a decade away... back in 1963, here's how Knockout announced that it was merging with Valiant...

(artwork © IPC Media)

4 comments:

Mike W said...

Great memories. I got Valiant each week in the 60's - Steel Claw, Kelly's Eye, Mytek the Mighty, Legge's Eleven, The Wyld Brothers, etc. & my brother got Hurricane each week - which later merged with Tiger. Happy days...

Anonymous said...

I was very disappointed with Valiant before it mweged with Knockout and feel that Knockout from July 62 to Feb 63 (roughly the period that Kelly's Eye was running) contain some of the best stuff from Fleetway during those years. It was more like Valiant than Valiant itself those days (if that makes any sense!)
Jim Sieroto

ARCHAVIST said...

Those circulation figures were massive.

ЯR [comicology] said...

Looks, Fleetway would have better served themselves if they would have concentrated on aligning their efforts into one title to last long, rather than spreading the efforts on multiple offsprings.

A lesson to learn for all aspiring publishers.

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