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Friday, December 09, 2011

Comic Cuts - 9 December 2011

Some good news just arrived — always nice to have on the run-up to Christmas. There is to be a French-language edition of Eagles Over the Western Front. Look and Learn Ltd. has just signed a deal with a publisher in France, who will do their own 3-volume collection of the strip. The deal also covers the three introductory pieces I wrote for the volumes. So watch out for Aigles sur le front occidental — well, that's what Google translate comes up with — in 2013.

Fired up with enthusiasm, I've now stitched together 14 pages of 'The Crusader', the fourth strip that will be appearing in the C. L. Doughty collection Pages from History. I still have half a dozen pages to scan, but they're so huge (four times the size of the printed page) that it involves rearranging the office to get them on the scanner. I'm hoping to have them finished over the weekend. I'm still hopeful that I'll have the book on sale by February.

It's that time of the year when I usually take a look at the sales figures of Christmas annuals. I didn't manage to put together any numbers last year because figures aren't always easy to come by; hard data is often hiding away behind paywalls and even what used to be freely available online (such as the Bookseller's Top 50 bestsellers) are now only available to subscribers. You can still see a Top 20 on their website. The Beano Annual 2012 managed to creep into the Top 10 sellers at the end of November with a weekly sale of 16,878, bringing overall sales to around 88,560.

The second highest selling annual is the Moshi Monsters Official Annual, which, in the same week (w/e 26 November) sold 16,166, bringing the total to around 86,530. The following week (w/e 3 December), the Beano Annual managed to keep its place in the Top 20, while Moshi Monsters had dropped out. I don't have figures, but I imagine Dr Who Official Annual 2012, Peppa Pig Official Annual 2012 and Top Gear Official Annual 2012 probably make up the rest of the Top 5 annuals.

Just for comparison, here are the Top 5 best-selling annuals for the equivalent week in 2009.

1 Beano Annual 2010 (19,633)
2 The Official Doctor Who Annual 2010 (15,424)
3 Hannah Montana Annual 2010 (15,363)
4 Ben 10 Alien Force Annual 2010 (13,893)
5 Peppa Pig: The Official Annual 2010 (13,065)

Peppa Pig still seems to be going strong, as is Doctor Who. The other two also have annuals out this year, but sales of all four are below 12,000 for the week. Maybe this indicates a general fall in sales or a move to buying online... most likely a mixture of the two.

For old fogies like myself, one of the most obvious signs of decline in annuals is the number of pages. The Beano and Dandy annuals are 112 pages, putting them top of the chart when it comes to value for money. The Moshi Monsters annual, for comparison, is only 64 pages, as are the Doctor Who, Peppa Pig and others annuals. Compare that to, say, the first issue of Strip Magazine, which runs to 68 pages (including covers) and costs £5 less. Yes, a copy finally arrived!

What you get to your £2.99 is a full colour magazine with a good range of strips and articles. Where last week I described The Phoenix as the modern day equivalent of early Buster (although I should add the caveat that I was talking about the mix of stories, not the content), I would put Strip Magazine somewhere in the late 1970s, post the arrival of Battle Picture Weekly and 2000AD.

There are five serial strips plus one humour and two complete stories. Two of the stories are reprints: a newly coloured version of 'Hook Jaw' from the pages of Action and The Age of Heroes, published by Halloween in the US in 1996 and distributed, I believe, by Image. Artists include P. J. Holden (who is also interviewed in this issue), Keith Page (producing a prequel to the recently published Iron Moon graphic novel), Mike Penick, John McCrea, Graham Stoddart (a competition winner but not a newcomer) and Jon Rushby, who have a good mix of styles between them.

I'm going to reserve judgement until I've seen a second issue, but all the strips set off at a cracking pace and show a lot of potential. Issue 2 is due out on Wednesday, 14 December, so you might want to scoot down to your local comic shop and make sure you grab a copy of issue 1 this weekend. You can still find a preview of issue 1 here. The Strip Magazine blog is here.

Today's random scans. I ran, two weeks ago, a pair of covers by Peter Andrew Jones that formed a panoramic image. Thinking about his work, I remember that he was one of the main artists on Larry Niven's books but the other name I associate him with is Tanith Lee, so I've dug out a couple of her novels. I absolutely love Jones's use of colour in these and the Nivens. I will have to see what else I can find on my shelves.

We have an article from Jeremy Briggs to run tomorrow and I'll see what I can dig out for Sunday, although it won't be a full blown cover gallery as I've not had a chance to do any scanning this week. 'Great Expectations' will continue from Monday... if I can get my act together over the weekend. Fingers crossed.


Mike W said...

The Rupert Annual is certainly a lot thinner than it used to be.
Print runs tell an obvious story: over a million in the 40's & 50's, 150000 in 1995 & now it's down to 40000 in 2011. (Figures from The Followers of Rupert)

Richard Williams said...

Great to hear the news about the French Editions Steve, congratulations all round!!