That Was the Comic Week That Was: 2000AD “Ultimate” launch, the perils of polybagged comics and the passing of a girls comic pioneer

Boo Cook's stunning spine art for 2000AD - The Ultimate Collection
Boo Cook’s stunning spine art for 2000AD – The Ultimate Collection
A little later than planned, here are some items you may have missed on our site and beyond last week. Just in case you missed some of our British comics coverage…

• Our most popular item last week was without doubt discussion about British Comics sales, although news of the launch of 2000AD: The Ultimate Collection this Wednesday almost pipped that item to the post. Here’s our review of the first collection, which looks great.

Sainsbury's Lancaster 19th August 2017 - Recommended Reading

News stand sales can make for depressing reading, despite continued promotion for comics by some retailers like the current push in various Sainsbury’s stores which include a prime spot for Beano, unfortunately clipped out of the picture above.

There's a TOXIC comic in here somewhere...
There’s a TOXIC comic in here somewhere…
Branding and a free gift. MEGA gets it right
Branding and a free gift. MEGA gets it right
DC Superhero Girls issue One
DC Superhero Girls issue One
Our own concerns about polybagged comics perhaps not helping sales are enforced by the way the current TOXIC comic package makes the gift more important than the magazine – so much so that you can’t even see the comic at all, unlike rival MEGA (whose sales are rising). Someone needs to have words with the marketing department at Egmont – although they are doing a good job with the new DC Superhero Girls, on sale now, even if it does only include a measly eight pages of comic strip.

At least it is getting strong promotion, not only in the comics rack but also close to tills, but at £4.99 for the launch issue it’s not cheap. (I’m told the regular issue will be riced at £3.99, depending on the “free” gift included).

How Comics Work - Cover

• Not many reviews this week, but we did rave about The Beautiful Game, a modern Roy of the Rovers style football strip from Indian publisher Campfire written by award-winning author Jason Quinn; and Tony Esmond enjoyed himself at this year’s Safari Festival in London. We’ll definitely be getting to the fantastic-looking How Comics Work by Dave Gibbons and Tim Pilcher, out next month. It’s rightly being described as a “masterclass taught by Britain’s first Comics Laureate”, crammed with insider tips and some smashing tributes to comic creators such as Frank Bellamy and Frank Hampson.

• There are plenty of events coming up to please downthetubes readers, including the first Annual Thunderbirds Day. But in terms of comics, comic creator Jessica Martin’s latest book, A Star Is Drawn will be launching exclusively at ICE Birmingham 2017 next month (Saturday 9th September 2017). The event has a fantastic line up and is well worth checking out. For more about ICE Birmingham visit www.thecomicsshow.co.uk

 LICAF 2017 Banner 2000AD editor and writer Steve MacManus

• The full Lakes International Comic Art Festival programme has now been released and we’ve continued our “Kendal Calling” interviews this week as we edged closer to this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival with chats with Dutch comic creator Aimée de Jongh, former 2000AD editor Steve MacManusPeter Milligan, currently writing Dan Dare for Titan Comics and Kid Lobotomy for the new IDW Black Crown line, British cartoonist Lew Stringer. Each interview includes their top tip for creating comics alongside information on their current work.

A panel from the potted biography
A panel from the potted biography “Adele Leigh – Growing Up” featuring a young Bruce Forsyth and the singer, from DC Thomson’s Judy in 1964, art by David Slinn. © DC Thomson

• The passing of Sir Bruce Forsyth has been mourned not only by fans fo this TV shows, but those of us who enjoyed his many appearances, a number noted here, including his front page strip on later issues of Film Fun.Girl Logo

Artist David Slinn also drew our attention to the passing of Lady Cudlipp, who has died aged 97, the third wife of Hugh Cudlipp, who the Daily Telegraph describes in its obituary (registration required) to him as “the editorial genius behind the postwar Daily Mirror”, and her as “a talented journalist in her own right”.

As Jodi Hyland, she edited Girl magazine in the 1950s before becoming assistant to the editor of Woman, then the biggest-selling magazine in Britain. It was her decision, it appears, to drop the comic’s first lead strip “Kitty Hawke and Her All-Girl Air Crew“, modelled to some degree after “Dan Dare”, the big hit of Eagle. The strip was the story of the adventures of a group of women running a charter aeroplane company in the (then) present day and was felt to be too masculine and was replaced by “Wendy and Jinx“, best friends at Manor School.

In 2007, Steve Flanagan reported on his Gad Sir! Comics blog how, speaking on an instalment of BBC4’s Comics Britannia, “Boys and Girls”, Lady Cudlipp, commented “I thought from the very beginning that Kitty Hawke was wrong … I said, no, this is not the thing that girls of today want … You want stories about animals, or something like a ballerina.”

“Jodi probably insisted the Reverend Marcus Morris [the founder of Eagle and Girl] should ground the whole crew before Girl itself crash-landed,” David Slinn notes. “Along with the new ‘Wendy and Jinx’ cover feature, ‘Robbie of Red Hall’ began her long-running adventures and, within the year, the ‘Belle of the Ballet’ stories – drawn by John Worsley – started.”

The editorial changes helped the title achieve its 650,000 weekly sales. Girl, first published in November 1951, ran until October 1964, when it was merged with Princess.

Thank you for reading downthetubes. Your support is very much appreciated! Thanks also to the downthetubes team – Jeremy Briggs, Tony Esmond and Richard Sheaf among them this week

Want more British comics news? Here are some great sites

• 2000AD and Beyond | Bear Alley | Blimey (by Lew Stringer) | Boys Adventure Blog (by Richard Sheaf) | The Forbidden Planet Blog |

• Want new comics? Please check out Forbidden Planet – using this link helps support downthetubes

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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