The first issue of The DFC – Britain’s first, subscription-only weekly comic, combining humour and adventure strips in one smashing package, has just arrived in the post — and it’s a terrific start for the new title.
While an anthology title is always going to engender favourites and not-so-favourites, I’m mightily impressed with the comic as a whole — and when I say comic, I don’t mean the kind of thing you generally find on the UK news stand masquerading as such, with three comic strips and the rest of the title full of cheap features and puzzle pages. The DFC is the kind of comic I grew up with — pretty much cover to cover comic strip action, combining some great looking adventure material with equally enjoyable humour pages. Where there are “puzzle pages”, they’re all geared to encouraging drawing, which is definitely a good thing.
The DFC never forgets its audience, either — two of the initial strips, The Boss (by John Aggs and his mum, Patrice) and Mo-Bot High (Neill Cameron) are set in schools, while the adventure stories set up or feature young protagonists, including the eagerly-anticipated Philip Pullman story The Adventures of John Blake, which is a really stunning looking first chapter. Neither have the editors forgotten this is a weekly comic, even though it’s inevitable many of these strips will be collected into books at a later date — all important “cliffhanger boxes” are used to talk up next week’s episode for example.
As a long time fan of James Turner’s Beaver and Steve webcomic, I was delighted to discover he’s one of the contributors, delivering a hilarious one page Super Animal Adventure Squad, who are starting out on a mission to prevent the “Teatime of Doom”. David Shelton’s Good Dog, Bad Dog is another lively gem.
Some of the strips are inevitably slower than others, such as Kate Brown’s gorgeous looking Spider Moon — but that said, it provides a “breather” sandwiched between strips that are positively frenetic in comparison.
The editorial also comes with a sense of fun, including a challenge to readers to come up with what DFC means (this issue it’s Dracula’s Favourite Cardigan). There’s a frisson of excitement to the introduction that definitely reflects the excitement I’d hope readers will have on receiving their copy.
My criticisms are really, really minor as an editor: the designer isn’t using the “I” in the comic font editorial pages correctly and I think the strips should perhaps have more of a border to them than they do at present as there’s a danger the pages can merge into one.
For someone who grew up reading comics that combined humour and adventure strips it’s great to see that format being given another try in The DFC. I’d say it is well worth while signing up for a subscription, especially when they’re offering quite reasonably priced “starting points”.
Oh, and the web site is one of the best complements to a print comic so far, and titles like The Beano and TOXIC have set that bar quite high.
With so much incredible British talent packed into its pages you’d be mad not to give The DFC a go — so subscribe now!
• Visit The DFC web site
• Subscribe to The DFC Comic
• Interview Feature: Alex Fitch presents a special report on the new kids’ comic The DFC published by Harper Collins / David Fickling Books, including David Fickling, Nick Abadzis and Philip Pullman’s speeches about the comic, recorded at the launch party for the periodical. Part One here; Part Two here
• Comics Bulletin
“To people who don’t take an interest in such things, well, The DFC looks no more impressive than the sort of thing my mates have put together. As a pertinent example, the Etherington Brothers used to put significantly more impressive looking stuff together back in their totally independent days when literally everything they did was hand produced. And when they did it cost less than The DFC.” Read the full review
• Review by Kenny Penman on Forbidden Planet International
“The DFC is not a cheap comic: it’s subscription scheme only circulation seems to me to be something that will surely stand in its way of building an audience, and it’s quality, whilst good, is a little variable and sometimes not as exciting as a kid’s comic should be. Given it has many continuing strips which probably need time to build tension I’m happy to forgive that for now (but will kids? Reportedly many in the test marketing found the fact the strips continued rather than resolved in a single issue a bit hard to understand) and wish it well.” Read the Full Review
• Artist Simon Guerrier
“All the stories are very different, which should mean there’s something for everyone here. It’s a shame they’re all part ones of ongoing series; it’d be nice to have an anthology series of one-off stories so that each issue offers something complete. And some of the part ones did feel a bit too prologuey, so it’s hard to judge the strips just yet. But this is a bold and exciting comic, and very much worth supporting.” Read the full review
• John Moore’s Guardian Blog
“The new DFC comic is a work of art, conceived with the noblest intentions – to entertain children without trying to sell them anything.”
• Jenni Scott
“For the older readers who perhaps are buying this remembering their own weekly comic, there are noticeable differences. [The DFC] is not gendered or particularly age-streamed – so it’s not a typical boys or girls comic of yore, and it certainly isn’t likely to fall into the formulaic stories of war or wee slaveys. The pace is rather more generous than the white-heat of the seventies, where commercial needs meant constant and even ridiculous cliffhangers.” Read the review in full
• Writer and Broadcaster Brian Sibley
“I’ve always believed that comics and graphic novels can provide a stepping-stone to books. As child, I was a voracious reader consuming the Eagle, Mickey Mouse Weekly, The Children’s Newspaper and Blyton and Buckeridge alongside Dickens and other classics. I hope The DFC will be part of many of today’s children’s reading – throwing wide the windows of their youthful imagination and possibly even encouraging them to prise open some of the locked doors of literature…” Read the full review
• Review by cartoonist Lew Stringer
“Overall, The DFC is a quality product. If it can be seen by enough kids, I’m sure it could work, but I do have reservations. The subscription-only method is an excellent way to circumvent retail giants and avoid their spiraling charges for shelf space. However it does make the comic invisible unless one chances across the website or hears of it through the media. I hear that publisher Random House are committed to it though, so hopefully it won’t go the way of similarly-ambitious Nineties weekly Triffik! and suddenly have the plug pulled leaving contributors in the lurch.” Read the Full Review
“Mr Fickling certainly has an eye for a good book (here’s a great one they publish). So we can be pretty certain he knows what makes a good comic. The talent he’s roped in for the project includes the likes of genius author Philip Pullman, John Aggs, Dave Shelton, James Shelton, Kate Brown, and the remarkable Garen Ewing.” Read the Full Review
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. 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 “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.
Categories: British Comics