What ARE British comics?

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What ARE British comics?

Post by Mbast1 on Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:43 am

I know a little about British comics, but can anyone (everyone?) give me some reading to do? I don't know what I'll be able to find, but I think it would be fun to compile a good list of British comics, and overview of what's available, or what brought them to the present. Besides 2000AD, what else would work? What would be truly representative of British comics?
Thanks!

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Re: What ARE British comics?

Post by tony ingram on Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:55 am

That's a difficult one. Where to start?

OK, historical overview:The first British comics began to evolve in the late 19th Century, originally as political satire sheets for adults but later as humorous picture strips for kids, so there was already a thriving comics industry here by the time of the first world war.. The two single longest running comics in Britain Beano and Dandy, began life in 1937 /38 respectively and are still running; both are juvenile humour titles, the closest American analogue I can think of probably being some of the stuff Harvey Comics used to put out, though there are differences. Aside from the obvious cultural differences, most British comics of the 20th Century were weekly anthologies, and that's stll the most popular format for the juvenile market. There are a surprising number of adult collectors of Beano and Dandy, and their various now defunct stablemates from DC Thomson & Co.

In the 1940's, comics were mostly produced for young children, with older kids reading 'story papers', illustrated text story anthologies such as Rover, Wizard and Hotspur. Over time though, the story papers also evolved into comics, and this is really where the traditional boys adventure comic came from. There were numerous publishers, but the largest were DC Thomson of Dundee (who published everything I've mentioned so far from the Beano onwards) and IPC, a company formed from the amalgamation of several other companies. IPC's Fleetway imprint published 2000AD for its first two decades. Later, in the 70's, Marvel UK opened up shop and quickly became Britain's third largest comics publisher, though for most of the first decade of their existence most of their output was reprints of American material. I should also mention Eagle, the now legendary 1950's title from Hulton Press which set new standards as far as artwork and production values went, and which introduced Dan Dare. Eagle was revived by Fleetway in 1982, but was a very different title by then.

Actual titles worth checking out: well, there are a lot, but you've already mentioned 2000AD, which gave most of the best creators of the past thirty years their start. 2000AD celebrates its 35th anniversary with the issue which will go on sale in the US on March 7th (a week after its release here), which may be a good place to dive in. Other significant titles include the long running war digest 'Commando' (50 years old and still running, and available now in print or digital form. Check out http://www.commandocomics.com/ )) and a number of partic ular titles no longer with us but which contained material really worth seeking out in its collected form. Battle, for instance, was a long running war anthology which gave us 'Charley's War', a war story which should be read by everyone with an interest in good comics and/or in history, even if they aren't fans of war comics; the series is currently being collected in a series of oversized hardcovers which can all be found on Amazon. Battle also gave us 'Johnny Red' (the story of a British pilot working with a Russian unit in WWII) and Darkie's Mob (a well written but very grim war story with a central mystery to it), both of which are available in the same format. Going back a bit, in the 60's and 70's IPC created several notable characters almost but not quite in the superhero mould, including The Spider (a high tech thief turned crimefighter whose adventures were mostly written by an American named...let me see, now...Jerry Siegel) and the Steel Claw, both of whom have also been collected in the same format as the others I mentioned. The 70's also gave us the amazing Countdown, TV21 and TV Action which contained some of the best comics art I've ever seen.

In the eighties and early nineties, mostly due to writers like Alan Moore and Garth Ennis, comics for mature readers began to take off again. Moore broke new ground in 2000AD with stuff like The Ballad of Halo Jones, and over at Quality with V for V endetta in Warrior (a magazine well worth searching out for its other content, too) but Ennis made his name in the adult oriented anthology 'Crisis', published by Fleetway, which aimed to both entertain and educate with stories like Third World War (a rather grim tale set in Ethiopia in the then-near future) and Troubled Souls (which dealt with the troubles in Northern Ireland) as well as the now largely forgotten superhero strip New Statesmen; later, Crisis switched from bi-weekly to monthly publication and became more experimental, branching out in some very unusual directions and also incorporating translations of European material by people like Milo Manara.

Titles to look out for, which can often be found cheap; Crisis, Star-Lord (classic sci-fi title from the 2000AD stable), Warrior, The Daredevils (Marvel UK magazine with Moore's Captain Britain as its lead strip, which was overall possibly one of the best magazines they ever put out, and rather more 'grown-up' than it sounds), Marvelman (lovely 1950's title in the vein of Fawcett's Captain Marvel, simplistic but fun), Revolver (late eighties adult oriented anthology) and for more recent releases, Bryan Talbot's Grandville, the stunning but unusual Alice in Sunderland (also by Talbot) and Comm ando. There are several dozen more I should mention, but is that any good as a starting point?





Last edited by tony ingram on Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:34 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: What ARE British comics?

Post by tony ingram on Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:06 am

Thinking about it, I think if asked to list my personal top ten of the British comics past and present, I would pick (in no particular order):

2000AD
The Daredevils
Warrior
Doctor Who Weekly/Monthly
Action (precursor to 2000AD)
Star-Lord
Countdown/TV Action
Valiant
Eagle
Battle Picture Weekly
Vulcan


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Re: What ARE British comics?

Post by tony ingram on Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:29 am

I should also mention the various sub genres of British comics, since there's a lot of variety. I've already mentioned (briefly) the.juvenile humour titles which traditionally account for a lot of the market, titles like DC Thomson's Beano, Dandy, Sparky and Topper or IPC's long running Buster, Whoopee!, Whizzer & Chips (there are literally dozens, if not hundreds of these) and the traditional boys adventure comics like Hotspur, Warlord, Victor, Battle, Valiant, Speed, The Crunch, Bullet and Tornado (many of these, though not all, were war themed), as well as sci-fi titles, but there was also a long tradition of comics telling sports stories, or more commonly adventure stories with a sporting theme, in titles such as Tiger, Roy of the Rovers and more recently Striker! Then you have the often ignored but often surprising area of girls' comics, from traditional romance based series' like the 1950's classic 'Romeo' to IPC's spooky and often brilliant 'Misty'. And of course, thetre was Marvel UK, which from 1979 broadened its remit from just reprinting American materal to creating characters and worlds all its own, eventually launching a wave of US format titles in the 90's shortly before Marvel in America filed for bankruptcy and sadly sold Marvel UK off to Panini, who have since continued to use the brand name but are now restricted to reprint material again. Then, we have the smaller publishers like Harrier Comics and Valkyrie Press who, from the early 80's on, mostly produced American format (though often black & white) titles like Redfox, Swiftsure, and Bryan Talbot's amazing 'The Adventures of Luther Arkwright'. Then there are the varioused licensed comics based on TV properties and toy lines like Action Man (these make up much of the current juvenile market) and the more recent adult oriented magazines like CLiNT, which features a mix of UK originated material and US reprints of stuff like Mark Millar's Kick-Ass.


Last edited by tony ingram on Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:32 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: What ARE British comics?

Post by Mbast1 on Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:15 pm

tony ingram wrote:I should also mention

WOW. That was incredibly thorough. Thank you, very much. Now I have tons of stuff to track down! I may be spending a bit of time on Ebay.

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Re: What ARE British comics?

Post by tony ingram on Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:35 pm

If here's anything specificv you're after, let me know; I deal in old British stuff myself, as do a nu mber of associates of mine. If you're ever in the market for eighties/nineties 20000AD, I've several hundred I've yet to go through properly and list on the auction sites...

Have fun, there's a lot of stuff out there!

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Re: What ARE British comics?

Post by Mbast1 on Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:51 pm

tony ingram wrote:If here's anything specificv you're after, let me know; I deal in old British stuff myself, as do a nu mber of associates of mine. If you're ever in the market for eighties/nineties 20000AD, I've several hundred I've yet to go through properly and list on the auction sites...

Have fun, there's a lot of stuff out there!

Thanks. I don't know a whole lot about 2000AD, to be honest, but it's the one I think is most known by Americans. I would love to have some individual ones, or even runs of interesting stories.
What auction sites to do post on? I wouldn't mind seeing what's there, too.

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Re: What ARE British comics?

Post by tony ingram on Fri Feb 24, 2012 6:14 pm

Mostly ebay these days, sometimes ebid. I'll be putting a few more up over the weekend. Both those sites, and also 26 Pigs, tend to be good sources of old British titles. Compare prices before buying though; some sellers charge very inflated prices for books which are really not that rare.

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Re: What ARE British comics?

Post by tony ingram on Sat Feb 25, 2012 12:24 pm

I forgot to mention this: Spaceship Away, a semi-pro 'fanzine' which is really more of an actual magazine, published quarterly since 2003 by Rod Barzilay. Rod started the mag in 2003 in order to continue the adventures of the Eagle's legendary Dan Dare in the style of the original 50's comic, even going so far as to employ artists from the original Eagle stable in order to duplicate the classic art style. It's an amazing piece of work, and highly recommended for anyone interested in classic British comics but not willing or able to pay the asronomical prices some early Eagle's now command.



http://spaceshipaway.org.uk

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Re: What ARE British comics?

Post by Mbast1 on Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:05 am

tony ingram wrote:Mostly ebay these days, sometimes ebid.

Ok, do you have any ideas of what would be "best" from 2000AD? Like, what numbers would have good runs?
And thank you for the warning, I know enough about American comics to not get ripped off, but I'd likely make mistakes on British ones.

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Re: What ARE British comics?

Post by tony ingram on Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:51 am

The majority of British comics after about 1980 and a lot of those after 1970 can generally be picked up for next to nothing if you look around; the exceptions are some short run titles like Bullet, Star-Lord and Tornado which have become quite collectible, though even copies of Star -Lord tend to be cheaper now than they were a few years ago, and also titles like Countdown, TV Action, Beezer and Topper which are hard to find in good condition (if at all) because of their larger size (they were the size of tabloid newspapers). The sixties stuff (like Valiant) tends to be more scarce and therefore more expensive. As far as 2000AD goes, the first 200 or 250 issues are generally harder to find and therefore often pricier than later issues; 2000AD issues from the early-mid eighties (arguably that comics' Golden Age and the period when a lot of creators who later became well known internationally were on the way up) are one of the titles most people would regard as well worth collecting, but happily, they aren't that scarce or, therefore, that expensive! After about issue 500, they are rather less collectible, and print runs went down so they're harder to find. Crisis, Revolver and Warrior are great magazines which are often rather harder to come by and tend to fetch higher prices.

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Re: What ARE British comics?

Post by alanultron5 on Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:19 pm

That's a fantastic exposition there Tony! well done indeed! Its such a subjective subject, but you gave such comprehensive insights for the uninitiated that really help anyone wanting some basic data on `British` comics! I'm printing it out to keep! Smile

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Re: What ARE British comics?

Post by tony ingram on Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:42 pm

alanultron5 wrote:That's a fantastic exposition there Tony! well done indeed! Its such a subjective subject, but you gave such comprehensive insights for the uninitiated that really help anyone wanting some basic data on `British` comics! I'm printing it out to keep! Smile
Aww, thanks Alan! Embarassed Embarassed Smile

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Re: What ARE British comics?

Post by ramonschenk on Fri Oct 19, 2012 10:38 am

tony ingram wrote:I forgot to mention this: Spaceship Away, a semi-pro 'fanzine' which is really more of an actual magazine, published quarterly since 2003 by Rod Barzilay. Rod started the mag in 2003 in order to continue the adventures of the Eagle's legendary Dan Dare in the style of the original 50's comic, even going so far as to employ artists from the original Eagle stable in order to duplicate the classic art style. It's an amazing piece of work, and highly recommended for anyone interested in classic British comics but not willing or able to pay the asronomical prices some early Eagle's now command.

http://spaceshipaway.org.uk

How many pages per issue are comics and how many text?

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Re: What ARE British comics?

Post by tony ingram on Fri Oct 19, 2012 10:41 am

Spaceship Away is almost all comic strips. Very little in the way of text pieces, generally.

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Re: What ARE British comics?

Post by ramonschenk on Fri Oct 19, 2012 10:44 am

Cool!

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