Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Dandy's demise. Is it a good thing?

I think, before I have to defend myself against a torrent of abuse, and ducking to avoid an angry mob hurling rotten fruit and spitballs, I should explain my reasoning to that.

When I first saw the news that The Dandy (In paper form) would be disappearing from the newsagents shelves, I was horrified. "It's the end of children reading anything for enjoyment. What is to become of the world? Will it end in an entire generation of illiterates?" A bit of an over-reaction you think? Well, perhaps you're right.

When I think about it. I haven't actually bought a copy of The Dandy for a very long time. One of my sons subscribes to The Beano, the other to NG Kids, and they are both continuing, at the moment anyway.  Perhaps my sudden interest was because one of my friends announced that he had just started a new story in The Dandy. I was so pleased for him, and then to see it may all come to an end. It must have been a devasatating blow. A bit like giving a child a box of chocolates, then telling him that you've eaten all but the coffee creams!

So of course, I was all for saving The Dandy, in it's beloved paper form. So why am I now starting to think it's demise might be a good thing? It's not because it will continue to appear as an online entity, although that is of course encouraging. It is because of the people and possibilities I have discovered in the wake of the news. I would not have seen for example 'The Phoenix' - (Quite ironic really, if you consider that the demise of the Dandy could actually result in more diverse comic publications rising from the ashes.). It's also caused a lot of cartoonists to consider the potential in starting up alternative paper comics - But it's more than just giving the ideas consideration. Artists are really thinking it through, weighing up the possibilities, working on solutions, and do you know what?  I think that in the very near future, there will be a handful of new and exciting publications to ensure that our children can continue to read and enjoy comics wherever they are. In their beds at night, or with friends in the school playground, a sneaky peek while teacher isn't looking , or sitting on the loo. Look out on Twitter for anything bearing the hashtag #awesomenewcomic because you can be sure that when something rises from the ashes, it will be there.

Friday, 17 August 2012

In house style!

You know what.  I think I'd prefer to avoid that.

Let the artists run wild with their creations the way they want them. Then let the children who read it decide which they like best. One page it's a light fluffy brightly coloured story, the next is dark and atmospheric.  Children are intelligent creatures, they'll let you know which they like best.  But that doesn't mean it all begins to look the same.

Think of a magazine like the old HEAVY METAL.  Every article a different style from the last - (Only probably with less tits and willies!)  Because I don't think a publication aimed at 10-14 year olds would be looked upon too favourably then.

Present stories in different ways. Some picture heavy, some text heavy - But ensure it is all GOOD. Well illustrated, well written, well put together.

Paper Comic Ideas - On The Shelf

Oh good, you're here! Now are you a creator of comics, like an illustrator or a writer, or is your interest at the back end of the production?  My guess is that most of those interested in creating a comic will be at the creative end.  That's the exciting bit, the bit where you get to really shine. YOUR pictures are there for all to see. It is YOUR words the children are laughing at, and showing to their friends, and it is YOUR name next to the title, or in the index - (At least it should be!)

I have noticed that in most high street comics, the artists don't even get their signature on a panel of their story. it's just a generic story, in the style of the publication. Is that right? Shouldn't the artists get some show of recognition for their hard work? I think they should.

Is it right that once you have created a story, or a character that it belongs to the publication? or should it remain the property of it's creator.  I know which I think is right - Do you?

Questions questions questions.

but enough of that. Lets' think about the boring end for a moment. This is a part I'm really struggling to get to grips with, and it's where any project will either suceed or collapse. Funding, and distribution.

When I ran ROCKET, The advertising had to be sufficient to fund the production and distribution. That way I knew that I had enough money to pay the printer for their work, and pay the postage on all the subscriptions. The cover price was almost irrelevent, so we'll come to that later.

SHELF SPACE.  We'd all like to see our magazine or comic in prominent postions in well known stores. Unofrtunately, that creates a problem. Talk to the buyers of these high profile places, and you'll soon find out that you will get very little of that cover price. if any!  Which is why it needs to be irrelevent.

The problem now is - How do you go about putting advertsing into the pages of a publication aimed at children? - I don't know the answer to that at the moment. Although I am playing about with some ideas that might make it more feasible. Your input on that would be most welcome

Thursday, 16 August 2012

ROCKET - Relaunch

An old title, but a new direction? Maybe?  a new audience? Could be!

So what? - Why? and Who?

With the hangmans noose being slung around the poor shoulders of the much loved Dandy comic (albeit only on the printed version - As it will continue in an online format) It's not even a quick trapdoor execution either, the poor thing will be left dangling by it's 75 year old rusty staples to be slowly strangled until 4th December when it celebrates it's 75th birthday  - A very special issue by the way, which will include a reprint of the very first DANDY - So you must buy it. What better way to celebrate a 75th birthday than to say 'Happy Birthday...Oh by the way, that was your final breath."

I thought I'd like to turn my attention to something aimed at a younger audience. So is ROCKET suitable?  Well, in all honesty. As it stands - NO it bloody well isn't.  For a start it was aimed at a crowd aged between 18-35 with a tendancy to purile humour and as blinkered a taste in music as it was possible to have. I loved it. But children would be bored by it and adults apalled. Well, there's a win win situation if ever there was one.

BUT. I like the title, and it could be young with the right illustrations and the right literary direction etc. Plus the fact I still have a couple of the original ROCKET tee shirts, and they still look brand new. apart from the fact they have faded, the logo has cracked up a bit, and I've managed to tear a few holes in them..... but apart from that, they look brand new.

Next question - WHY?
Well. Online comics are OK, maybe it is the way to go. Until you consider this. One of the main reasons for getting children to read is to draw them away from the distractions of computer gaming and the fun filled antics to be found on Youtube etc. So if the comic is online, there is only a single click back to the games and video clips. Then when they want to read in bed, you have to unplug the tower, and the monitor, and the keyboard, and the mouse,  nd lug it all upstairs, balancing it all on the bed so they can read to get to sleep, then you have to lug it all back downstairs again to get on with some essential twittering and blogging of your own.

My initial thoughts would err toward an A5 magazine / comic, whcih can be smuggled in with a school bag (shh naughty naughty) - But which has already been deemed (in secret of course) as OK reading matter by schools and parents.  I would want it to be funny, and maybe a bit risque (But suitable for the age range, say 10-14) so perhaps reference to bogeys, some toilet humour, farts etc.  But, ensuring that it is well written, well illustrated and generally a good value for money publication. Believe me, I can do that. It's where a seriously split personality comes in very handy.

I won't go into the other aspects at the moment. I have a few pages of rough notes scattered about with regards to printing, advertising, funding, how to fill up so many pages, how often it should appear, distribution and so on..... Notes and deletions,more notes, names, contacts and so on.

There you go. What do you think?