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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Comic Clippings - 1 April 2007

Back in September last year I tried to put together some sales figures for Beano and Dandy based on sales and readership figures released by D. C. Thomson. I've just spotted the sales figures for July-December 2006 and they're down again. Although they don't offer the same readership breakdown now -- all figures are combined for the two titles -- we can still take a reasonable stab at what the sales figures are like based on the combined sales figure: 112, 980, down from 128,196 for the same period last year and slightly down on the 116,174 figure for the first half of 2006.

Traditionally, the fall in sales has been uneven across both titles with Dandy slipping slightly more rapidly in the past year or so. However, Beano has accounted for 66% of the combined sales for the past two sets of figures, so if we use that as a guideline, the figures for Jul-Dec 2006 would be: 74,567 for Beano and 37,283 for Dandy. The fall is around 2.3%, far less than the past 18 months. Please remember that these figures are estimates.

The latest figures for the UK's best-selling comics look something like this:

The Simpson's Comic (Titan).................... 134,631 (Jan-Dec 2006)
Doctor Who Adventures (BBC)................. 107,557 (Jul-Dec 2006)
Viz Comic (Dennis Publishing)................... 94,364 (Jan-Dec 2006)
Toybox (BBC)............................................ 90,997 (Jul-Dec 2006)

Of these, The Simpson's Comic actually went up in sales from the Jan-Jun 2006 figure (128,691) and Doctor Who Adventures is a new title. Both Viz and Toybox are down on the earlier figures.

To echo the warnings they used to issue at the end of Crimewatch, I don't want you to worry unnecessarily. A lot of titles are still comfortably profitable and we're not about to see the end of the British comics industry. It's a very different industry from when I was growing up and reading comics in the Sixties and Seventies but it's still alive and kicking. Only recently, Lew Stringer was able to list 13 titles that were primarily new material and a further 7 that contained some new material. (You'll have to scroll down the discussion to get to Lew's list, to which Phil Rushton adds another title in the message below Lew's.) (And I'm not just pointing the discussion out because it starts with a mention of the two IPC war libraries reprint volumes I edited.) (Honest.)

My diary bit: have I mentioned that the Look and Learn Picture Library now has over 15,000 images? Another 500 or so should be appearing during next week. The website is about to have something of a makeover so I hope you'll pay it a regular visit over the next couple of weeks. I can promise you lots of exciting new things to look at.

Thanks to the cold I was suffering, which has just about cleared up after three weeks, I've been running behind on my extra-curricular activities. I see I've not managed to blog as much in March as I managed in January and February. The good news is that the introductory material for the next Trigan Empire book is finished -- approximately 6,000 words in all. This one relates three stories from 'The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire' which we've called 'The Puppet Emperor', 'The Five Labours of Trigo' and 'Menace from the Deep'. Long-time comics readers might remember the first of these was the strip that was running in Vulcan when it folded into Valiant and was finished off by condensing 24 pages into 6 horrible black & white pages in the Vulcan Mini-Comic. The other two have never been reprinted.

The next two books I've been involved in are out this month: Storm: The Collection volume 6 and Storm: The Collection volume 7. I've only got small scans of the covers but they should give you some clue as to what they'll look like. I've got to confess that we're now getting into the best period of the Storm series when it took a huge leap in quality. Martin Lodewijk was able to take back the characters he had created and took it in a whole new direction. Don Lawrence leaped to the challenge and produced some of the best artwork of his career. The combination of story and art is truly wonderful.

Next up for me is 'Karl the Viking' and I've got four weeks to finish four volumes. So if I start slacking off on the blog, you'll know why.

Some random news:
  • Bryan Talbot is interviewed in 'Artist in Sunderland' by his son, Robyn, at John Freeman's Down the Tubes news site (31 March).
  • Only just spotted this series of articles on Alberto Breccia by D'Israeli written back in January.
  • The long-awaited Hookjaw book from Spitfire now has a release date of 27 April.

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