Will IPC’s John Sanders’ memoirs blow the lid on some British Comics secrets?

For British comic fans, the must-read memoir of 2020 is likely to be the fascinating inside story of one of British comics’ biggest movers and shakers – King’s Reach: John Sanders’ Twenty-Five Years at the Top of Comics. It certainly might ruffle a few feathers…

King’s Reach: John Sanders’ Twenty-Five Years at the Top of Comics

One of the key figures of British comics in the late 20th Century, in roles that included  Editorial Director, John Sanders masterminded the output of Britain’s biggest comics publisher, IPC, over 25 years – launching more than 100 titles, selling millions of copies every week, battling censorship and industrial disputes, and coming up against one of the century’s most notorious crooked business tycoons.

For the first time, he now steps into the limelight to reveal his story and that of the medium that would go on to dominate global culture, even as the newsstands it relied upon declined – and if it’s anything like some of the correspondence I’ve been fortunate to read between John and comics collector Peter Hansen – well, let’s just say the reactions from some are going to be interesting

Tammy Issue 1From King’s Reach Tower in London John Sanders oversaw the launch of hugely popular titles like Tammy, Battle and the revolutionary 2000 AD, all while fighting corporate battles to expand the UK’s comics output, facing down the government and the media in censorship battles, particularly over Action, labelled by the press as “The Sevenpenny Nightmare, and witnessing the effect of changing tastes on a decades-old industry.

At the head of an industry that, at its peak, sold 10 million comics per week, Sanders details how he strove to keep comics relevant to generation after generation and, with artists employed across the globe to service the voracious appetite of readers, he was in the hot seat for one of the biggest cultural shifts in living memory.

The story of British own-brand comics belongs almost exclusively to the twentieth century – the era in which they were born, flourished and died. The millions of children who read them were aware that despite their weekly publications being often derided by adults, the stories were finely crafted, and the pictures were commercial art at its zenith.

Now, resurrected by serious adult readers and by academics, comics are recognised as being an important marginal note in the story of English literature.

“The story of British own-brand comics belongs almost exclusively to the twentieth century,” says Sanders. “The era in which they were born, flourished and died. The millions of children who read them were aware that despite their weekly publications being often derided by adults, the stories were finely crafted, and the pictures were commercial art at its zenith. Now, resurrected by serious adult readers and by academics, comics are recognised as being an important marginal note in the story of English literature.

“This is a book written for those grown-up comic fans. But I hope it will be also read and enjoyed by the millions of people whose dreams were enlivened, and whose youthful years were made enjoyable, by comic book heroes they still remember with affection.”

King’s Reach: John Sanders’ Twenty-Five Years at the Top of Comics will be published by Rebellion Publishing in paperback on 9th July 2020 – pre-order it now from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Avatar

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: British Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News

Tags: , ,

Let us know what you think about this story

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: