Looking back on 2013: A Good Year for British Comics?

downthetubes 'Christmas Card' 2013

Here at downthetubes.net we think it’s been a great year that’s included the 100th issue of The Phoenix and has been named one of the top comics of 2013 by TIME Magazine, and we’ve been able to enjoy a growing number of live comic events, from the as ever quite brilliant Thought Bubble to newcomers, the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (both back next year).

Top Gear‘s Richard Hammond helped boost the sales of The Beano and 2000AD continues to grow in popularity (and, we hope, sales) on both sides of the Atlantic. Egmont launched its Classic Comics archive and DC Thomson’s Commando continues to enjoy strong sales, both physically and digitally.

Independent comic publishers such as Improper Books, SelfMadeHero, and Blank Slate have delivered some great titles throughout the year. We even saw the success of a completely new imprint for the mainstream – Titan Comics – whose Death Sentence title has exceeded all expectations in terms of sales.

revolutionary-war-01.jpgNext year, Marvel Comics returns to the characters first created by Marvel UK in the 1990s with a limited series, Revolutionary War, which may see more British characters active in the wider Marvel universe through the year.

We’ll also be able to celebrate 50 years of Doctor Who comic strip – the longest running licensed TV-inspired comic strip in the world.

On the downthetubes.net forum, we’ve enjoyed some great ‘events’, including our popular Twelfth Doctor Challenge – and Modesty Blaise and Dan Dare competitions, too. All of which, together with your visits and contributions, has helped boost our visitor numbers steadily through the year.

While there have been some downbeat moments, such as the passing of former Eagle editor Bob Bartholomew, along with mixed fortunes for STRIP Magazine, 2013 has been a pretty good year for British comics and creators. Let’s hope 2014 is even better – and you’ll share any news of your success on our forum!

My thanks to everyone who has been part of downthetubes in 2013 (readers, creators and publishers), but especially Jeremy Briggs, Alex Fitch and Matt Badham, for bringing you as many British comic stores as we can in our meagre spare time!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

John Freeman
• British Comics News: downthetubes.net
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• Read Crucible – an SF adventure on iPad: http://bit.ly/186AlWZ

• downthetubes ‘Christmas card’ character from The Really Heavy Greatcoat, drawn by Nick Miller



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.

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