What if Victor hadn't folded...

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felneymike
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Re: What if Victor hadn't folded...

Post by felneymike »

I found some Victor's from 1992 in a charity shop today, and it wasn't entirely in colour, there was still some black and white work (most likely reprints i suspect). Also the "articles" seemed rather naff to me, they where less informative than the typical advert, so no wonder it collapsed.

They also had odd Victors from the early 80's... so of course i actually bought those ones instead (one with it's free gift!). Though they came out a lot cheaper than the prices on the bags so i might just go back for the 90's ones tomorrow!

STARBOY
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Re: What if Victor hadn't folded...

Post by STARBOY »

Lew / David - Sorry I should have been more specific, by Direct Sales I meant via specialist shops (a la Diamond Previews - not by post) - Most customers to shops like Forbidden Planet etc average about late 20s early 30s ( so a lot of old gits over 40 in that statistic). My idea would be for DCT to try something a bit different (I agree Alf Tupper is not going to sell a lot - although as David suggest I think a nicely produced reprint book may sell.). I think the main idea should be for DCT to get to a new audience (Comics UK is by no means a proper sampling of comics fans this site is mostly proffessional artists/writers, collectors and avid fans) Possibly try out a few new direct sales only comics in the Slave Labor mould (DCT already have Jamie Smart doing strips in the Dandy who is a SL cult artist - also Steve Bright who I read was doing something for Slave Labor as well ,and of course artist like Lew plus some adventure stuff) - Comics like Jack Staff and the SL stuff do well so if done properly it could work - I'm sure its not easy but it seems less hassle and expense than going down the newsagent route which seems restricted and costly - just an idea I just feel UK comics are contracting so much now (although stil healthy) that DCT will NEVER be able to produce any adventure or more adult (ie slave labor) themed books .

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johnfreeman96
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Re: What if Victor hadn't folded...

Post by johnfreeman96 »

STARBOY wrote:Lew / David - Sorry I should have been more specific, by Direct Sales I meant via specialist shops (a la Diamond Previews - not by post) - Most customers to shops like Forbidden Planet etc average about late 20s early 30s ( so a lot of old gits over 40 in that statistic). My idea would be for DCT to try something a bit different (I agree Alf Tupper is not going to sell a lot - although as David suggest I think a nicely produced reprint book may sell.).
Direct sales is one option, but DCT could resurrect some of its characters by digitising its back library, in much the same way that Marvel and other are. While this isn't too everyone's taste -- and personally, while I'm a 'champion' of digital comics as an extension of the way to reach your audience, I still love comics on paper! -- the response to this would deliver a huge amount of valuable data in terms of which characters DCT own still have a market value, either as collections or for wider marketing.

I believe the Commando web site in particular shows some of the things DCT are experimenting with to see how to best approach their digital presence, in addition to their existing Beano and Dandy web sites: however, they've barely begun to scrape the surface with what could be done in that arena.
I think the main idea should be for DCT to get to a new audience (Comics UK is by no means a proper sampling of comics fans this site is mostly professional artists/writers, collectors and avid fans) Possibly try out a few new direct sales only comics in the Slave Labor mould (DCT already have Jamie Smart doing strips in the Dandy who is a SL cult artist - also Steve Bright who I read was doing something for Slave Labor as well ,and of course artist like Lew plus some adventure stuff) - Comics like Jack Staff and the SL stuff do well so if done properly it could work
Reinvention of strong and well-loved characters must surely be something DCT have considered, but it seems to me that they're also extremely practical when it comes to something that has fallen out of favour: it's dropped.

While the editorial team have a great love of the DCT material, the reality is that as a commercial company that wants to stay in business, you have to focus on what is definitely making money and now, more than ever, is not a good time to experiment. Comic sales dropped by something like 16% in the last quarter almost across the board (see my sales stats here http://www.downthetubes.net/resources/c ... sales.html. This is an issue facing not just comics but almost every publication genre - womens' titles, mens' mags, specialist magazines etc. Why? because more and more people are reading their news or seeking specialist news services on the web and print sales are declining.

If publishers such as DCT fail to establish their own strong digital presence they will lose readers forever. Meanwhile, smaller, nimbler indie comics publishers are embracing the web with aplomb: the number of digital UK based publisjers isn't huge but it is growing and some of them, such as Oran Utan and Markosia are sensibly developing an electronic portfolio as well as a print one.
I'm sure its not easy but it seems less hassle and expense than going down the newsagent route which seems restricted and costly - just an idea I just feel UK comics are contracting so much now (although still healthy) that DCT will NEVER be able to produce any adventure or more adult (ie slave labor) themed books .
There's no reason why DCT couldn't do 'adult' books but that isn't its market. It needs to capitalize on its huge and popular comics library and reinvent its brands for modern audiences, just as comics continue to reinvent themselves. They do seem to be making moves toward this and, at last, recognising the huge advantage in not keeping their creators anonymous.

I'd say that Victor could easily be resurrected online - although personally, I'd have thought titles like Starblazer may find a stronger online following, as would Warlord -- with a view to then promoting collections and other tie-in merchandise etc. DCT just has to have the will to do it. It has the resources...
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Lew Stringer
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Re: What if Victor hadn't folded...

Post by Lew Stringer »

STARBOY wrote: Comics like Jack Staff and the SL stuff do well so if done properly it could work - I'm sure its not easy but it seems less hassle and expense than going down the newsagent route which seems restricted and costly - just an idea I just feel UK comics are contracting so much now (although stil healthy) that DCT will NEVER be able to produce any adventure or more adult (ie slave labor) themed books .
I could be wrong but I'm not sure if Jack Staff sells in the numbers that DCT would be interested in. I don't think Paul makes a living out of it but I could be mistaken.

Secondly there is a definite resistance in comic shop circles to British comics, just as there's a resistance here (from some) to American comics. (No, I don't know why people can't just enjoy both either.) See how poorly Wildstorm's Battler Brittan did in the direct market for example. (Orders of around 5,000 copies I believe, and that's with a "fan fave" writing it.) A comic shop manager raised only on US product won't have a clue who Batytler Britton or Alf Tupper is, and neither will most of his customers, so will order accordingly.

It'd be great if DCT or Egmont would try it, but a publisher has to be confident there's a market there to begin with. Ok, instead of reviving old characters they could try new ones. Superheroes even. But any DCT accountant looking at the sales figures of non-Marvel, non-DC independent comics isn't going to be very encouraged. Richard Branson's Virgin Comics didn't fare well it seems.

(A few years ago Thomsons advertised their annuals through Diamond. They didn't do it again so I'm guessing orders were very low from comic shops.)

Bookshops might be a better option. DCT's appeal is with the public, not the comic shop crowd. Depending on how well these Commando books go (and they seem to be doing fine) perhaps that will encourage them to get into brand new graphic novels? Or Manga? I can't see it happening but you never know.

Lew
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colcool007
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Re: What if Victor hadn't folded...

Post by colcool007 »

I think at the moment, we are experiencing a boom in terms of comics that the majority of fans here enjoy. We have seen it all explode from one or two books into a dazzling array that actually fills shelf space in Watersons. Only 5 years ago, you would have struggled to find one GN in there, now it is a whole sub-genre.

The main problem is that the core audience of any comic is kids and they are notoriously fickle (I know that I was) and they have too many pulls on their attention and spending power that a static comic would really need to have something special to get them to part with hard-scrounged cash! :lol:

I agree with Lew in that going into most comic shops (Area 51 in Bristol and Black Hole in Dundee, you are the glorious exceptions) and they resist having any UK comic based product near their displays of Marvel, DC or Dark Horse.

I think that DCT are a sleeping giant in terms of being able to produce either an adventure or a mature comic that would be economically viable. But if the sales aren't there, then I would be very surprised if they are even thinking in that direction. After all, comics based on WW2 or the British Empire need to be told in either a post-irony way or they need to have something extra that keeps people coming back like Garen Ewing's Rainbow Orchid.
I started to say something sensible but my parents took over my brain!

David McDonald
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Re: What if Victor hadn't folded...

Post by David McDonald »

Why is there the resistance to British comics in Comics shops?
The hand full of comic shops here in Ireland stock 2000ad, but it’s nearly like they are been kind in stocking it. British comics in comic’s shops seem like the backward cousins of American comics that the shop owners are slightly ashamed of.

I don’t get it, British comics were the only thing available in Ireland growing up in the eighties, when we would go to whatever seaside town for a summer break I would pick up with considerable excitement American comics, notably Superman, and I remember the disappointment that I had reading them, not only did I realise how bad they were, but made me realise how good the British ones were. One exception to this was when I picked up a load of Charlton Horror reprints in a small town, Belmullet, on the west coast, next stop Boston! Great Stuff!

I’m not knocking all American comics, through 2000ad and following its creators I have read some great comics, from Swamp Thing to Enigma, to Frank Miller stuff to Will Eisner’s stuff. This is all top class material, the Spirit, one of the best. On the other hand so is the British material like Dan Dare, Jeff Hawk, all the 2000ad material, the new Battle collection from Titan contains material that American comics wouldn’t have dreamed of producing in 1976.

One a brighter note, while the newsstand adventure market has shrunk to licensed stories, titles like Jack Staff and Rainbow Orchid are following the European model for comics, into the bookshop. And at last Ireland has its own fledgling comics market as well, Mr. Amperduke by Bob '2000ad ' Byrne clamnuts.com is out now and well worth a look, as is Sancho www.20000-leagues.com a semi regular plus many others. Also published by a company about 20miles from me is and all Irish language (Gaelic) comic based on Irish legends and ST.Patrick. http://www.leabhar.com/

I’m not convinced on digital comics, I bought a copy of 2000ad in digital format, and I just couldn’t be bothered, I like to have the feel of paper between my hands.
I not foolish enough to dismiss them, they are probably the future, with Johns Roc comics and PJ Holden and Al Ewing adventures on i Player causing a bit of a stir.

Anyway after many digressions, that’s my rant over, this site is great, it’s like the pub for comics lovers, you can put the world to rights!

Cheers

David

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Re: What if Victor hadn't folded...

Post by Lew Stringer »

David McDonald wrote:Why is there the resistance to British comics in Comics shops?
My guess is it's because traditional British comics have always openly been aimed at children, even to the point of printing reader's drawings, or featuring photos of readers, free gifts, etc. In comparison, most American comics seem more "sophisticated".

This shouldn't matter to collectors or shop owners of course. A Ken Reid or Mike Western page is just as accomplished as Barry Windsor Smith or John Buscema page. But a lot of fans of American comics take their "graphic narratives" far too seriously, so children's comics are considered beneath them.

Fans of British comics tend to be nostalgia-driven. Fans of US comics are more interested in what's coming next because they're accustomed to a soap-style narrative.

Personally I've always treated UK and US comics equally. Each style has its attractions.

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johnfreeman96
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Re: What if Victor hadn't folded...

Post by johnfreeman96 »

Lew Stringer wrote:
David McDonald wrote:Why is there the resistance to British comics in Comics shops?
My guess is it's because traditional British comics have always openly been aimed at children, even to the point of printing reader's drawings, or featuring photos of readers, free gifts, etc. In comparison, most American comics seem more "sophisticated".
The reason comic shops don't stock British comics is that they are dependent on Diamond to supply and Diamond can't supply as quickly as distributors of British comics supply to newsagents. No comic shop is going to stock 2000AD when it arrives three days later (or more) than the newsagent on the corner gets it, they wouldn't make the sale.

Those same distributors don't consider comic shops newsagents so they won't supply them. Dumb, isn't it - but true.

Some comic shops have stocked British comics in the past - Nostalgia and Comics in Birmingham used to do it.

That doesn't prevent comic shops selling old British comics or collections and many do just that. What is surprising is the absence of back issues of British comics from many shops in favour of US comics, but then again if a dealer isn't familiar with the value of the material, again I can see why they wouldn't give over space. (and let's be honest, not a lot of British comics are considered valuable unless they're first issues or collectables like TV21 or early Beanos and Dandys). A retailer will stick with what they know, rather than go out on a limb.
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Re: What if Victor hadn't folded...

Post by Lew Stringer »

johnfreeman96 wrote:What is surprising is the absence of back issues of British comics from many shops in favour of US comics, but then again if a dealer isn't familiar with the value of the material, again I can see why they wouldn't give over space. (and let's be honest, not a lot of British comics are considered valuable unless they're first issues or collectables like TV21 or early Beanos and Dandys). A retailer will stick with what they know, rather than go out on a limb.

Which again goes back to my reasoning that comic shop retailers and fans consider UK comics too childish. That's why they know virtually nothing about them. They "moved on" from them as children, or never read them at all. It's a bizarre situation. They'll know American comics inside out but are practically ignorant of home-grown comic history.

Comic conventions also tended to overlook British comics (apart from the odd Viz panel or Sonic signing - both hugely popular by the way), until Kev F took over and brought in the Dandy / Beano audience. It made sense because UK comics often outsell US titles anyway. The lowest selling Marvel & DC only sell around 20,000 copies, - and indie publishers sell even less than that.

Nostalgia & Comics only stocked a few few UK titles by the way. Phil would have taken all of them but, as you say, they couldn't because they're not classed as a newsagent. (And reclassifying the shop would bring up all kinds of new legal headaches.)

These days the shop is owned by FPI anyway and there are no old British back issues on sale there. The only current UK comics they sell are those that, as you say, are offered through Diamond. (2000AD, Judge Dredd, the Panini and Titan reprints.)

Lew
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nottinghamian
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Re: What if Victor hadn't folded...

Post by nottinghamian »

It is quite frustrating that you cannot go into a comic shop, and buy Commando for example. This used to be available in every newsagent, now you rarely see it.

I'm faced with subscribing and getting 8 issues per month (which is rather too many)
or finding random issues in WH Smith if i'm lucky.

If there is one place I'd assume would stock Commando, I'd say a specialist comic shop. But no, that isn't the case. And the comic shop won't make any effort to stock it... I asked recently and was told "no".

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Re: What if Victor hadn't folded...

Post by johnfreeman96 »

Lew Stringer wrote:Nostalgia & Comics only stocked a few few UK titles by the way. Phil would have taken all of them but, as you say, they couldn't because they're not classed as a newsagent. (And reclassifying the shop would bring up all kinds of new legal headaches.)

These days the shop is owned by FPI anyway and there are no old British back issues on sale there. The only current UK comics they sell are those that, as you say, are offered through Diamond. (2000AD, Judge Dredd, the Panini and Titan reprints.)

Lew
It's surprising how few British comics seem to be actually offered to local comic shops by people who have them in their attic etc. Mark Braithwaite who runs First Age in Lancaster rarely gets offered any, just US ones. Weird
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Re: What if Victor hadn't folded...

Post by Lew Stringer »

johnfreeman96 wrote: It's surprising how few British comics seem to be actually offered to local comic shops by people who have them in their attic etc. Mark Braithwaite who runs First Age in Lancaster rarely gets offered any, just US ones. Weird
Perhaps more evidence of the division between collectors of UK and US comics? Someone who doesn't collect US comics might just think they only stock new American comics, so wouldn't offer old UK ones to them? Also, many comic shops just wouldn't be interested in stocking British comics anyway. Sounds like First Age is one of the exceptions.

There's also the greed factor. Numerous newspaper articles telling people that old comics are worth a fortune might discourage them from using a "middle man" (ie: selling to a shop) as they think they can become rich by selling them on eBay or somewhere. I'm sure they come back to Earth with a bump when they've tried in vain to shift tatty old copies of six month old comics for high sums.

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Re: What if Victor hadn't folded...

Post by Phoenix »

I'm spending half a day in Lancaster next week and I would like to visit the 'First Age' comic shop. Could you please tell me where it is, John. I do know the city pretty well but I don't go there too often these days and I haven't previously heard of this shop.

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Re: What if Victor hadn't folded...

Post by felneymike »

Hmm, i was thinking the other day about how some marketing genius could get a "proper comic" past the money men and Smith's accounting departments, produce a comic-strip heavy "Kids newspaper", which would have no rubbish gifts attached and would be flat, for the first year or so put news stories on the front written in simplified "newsround" style, as well as ones that affect kids such as a pocket money survey. Being "serious news" means that you could write stuff in a proper way and not insult thier intelligence with huge blue text at 'zany' angles. Eventually the news content could be pushed further and further back and made more and more irrelevant, and eventually be dropped completley once everybody is following the strips. (Which to 'keep the tone' of the paper would also be high-minded and well-written.

It'd cost a fortune to get started with, though. Anybody got an eccentric billionaire handy? they always turn up at the right time in comics!

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