Rebellion Publishing – owners of 2000AD, 2000AD Regened, and hundreds of classic British comic characters, spanning comics such as Battle, Buster, Cor!, Misty, Roy of the Rovers, Tammy and Whizzer and Chips – has committed to never include plastic toys or gifts with any of its comics or magazines.
The commitment to go plastic-free comes as some major retailers move to ban magazines and comics aimed at children that include toys or other promotional items made of plastic as “cover mounts” on their publications.
As newsagents and shops reopen and restock after the pandemic lockdowns, the publisher of 2000AD, 2000AD Regened and the Judge Dredd Megazine sees this as the chance to recalibrate the British newsstand towards a more sustainable future.
(Rebellion’s identification of 2000AD Regened as a separate brand is an interesting development, although we are informed that this doesn’t mean a new title is on the way with that name. Regened remains part of regular 2000AD).
Jason Kingsley OBE, CEO of Rebellion, said: “The environment should matter to us all so I am delighted that we are able to give a commitment to never give away plastic ‘cover mount’ gifts with our titles. This sends a strong message that our work to support and expand the British comics industry won’t come at the cost of more plastic waste – a particularly important message when we are increasing our all-ages offering with 2000AD Regened.
“We support quality comics that stand on their merits and I am very proud that we can rule out resorting to adding plastic free gifts to the covers of our titles.
“We have already moved toward greater environmental sustainability by using bio-degradable packaging, for example the Judge Dredd Megazine comes in a fully compostable bag that can be disposed of in any compost bin or council food waste scheme.
“As newsagents and shops steadily reopen after the last 18 months, we believe now is the time to make a change. It’s may be a small step, but hopefully other publishers will also stand with us and give similar commitments against producing plastic gifts with their titles.”
Cover mounts have long been a staple of British comics, free gifts used to “boost” sales and give newsagents confidence that the publisher was committed to continuing a title. But in the 1990s, as distribution systems changed, arguably to publishers’ detriment, they responded to demands, led by supermarkets with their growing market share of comic and magazine sales, to include cover mounts more regularly.
The move was seen as a means to revive a widespread decline in comic sales and since then, cover-mounted free gifts on every issue of a title have since become the norm in children’s magazine publishing, particularly on pre-school titles.
However, while the strategy may have worked at the time, it has led to a glut of unwelcome plastic bags and other plastic clogging shelves.
This also creates a barrier to browsers, meaning children are no longer able to judge a comic’s contents before buying and parents prioritising the “value” of the cover mount over the quality of the work inside.
Inspired by campaigns started by children calling for an end to free plastic toys, major retailers such as Waitrose have already committed to banning titles that include them from their newsstands. (Although it has to be said, they haven’t replied to any of our emails confirming they have indeed taken action).
The UK is a major contributor to the world’s plastic crisis, generating more plastic waste per person than any other country except the United State. Free toys and giveaway items add to this – they not only have a short lifespan but cannot easily be recycled.
A recent Greenpeace poll found that 85 per cent of people in the UK want the government to make retailers cut the amount of plastic packaging.
DC Thomson Media and Beano Studios, who publish BEANO and Commando, and David Fickling Comics, who publish The Phoenix Comic, also do not regularly use cover mounts as a sales boosting tool.
This item was updated at 1230 31/8/21 to clarify that identification of 2000AD Regened as part of 2000AD, not a new project