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Friday, 23 September 2016

UK Comics –Waiting For Investment

 If you are not an investor looking to get into comics publishing I'd give this post a miss!

UK 'entrepreneurs' missed out. They can see the movies and know that comics sell but if it isn't labelled with "YOU will make £1 million first year" and similar business catchphrases for idiots they are not interested.  The idea they have is to jump into a business that will make a lot of money and then sell it and move on.  Nothing long term which means they are not really businessmen  –people wanting to give no long term commitment to a business.

India I have tried.  Over and over again but despite the fact that companies there had the facilities for economic (cheap) quality printing the idea of even moving out of the comfort of the “same-old-same-old” just didn't appeal.  I've always respected Indian businessmen and how they can take nothing and build it into a business franchise, however, when it comes to moving into comics they appear to be stumped.  No ideas.

Europe seems dominated by high quality printed Franco-Belgian series, US reprints (proving there IS interest in the super heroes genre there) and Manga.  But the reaction is the same from publishers "Why on Earth would we do business with the English?"  I could point out that Olivier Cadic did just that and has established the Cinebook publishing house in the UK successfully –though publishing only Franco-Belgian comic albums.

China I have tried but not even received responses which may be due to a language problem or simple lack of interest.  This is a great pity since, as I have written a number of times over the years, China has the businessmen, the financial back-up and access to some of the best quality printing and packaging going (as will be see if people check their trades and graphic novels and see where a lot are printed).  My last posting on this was here:

If any country had the businessmen who can see an opportunity and make something of it then that country is China.

Terry Hooper Scarf

United Kingdom Comics and Industry Overview

The first major point is this: the UK has no actual “comics industry” and this has been true for a number of years.
The “Big Two” of IPC/Fleetway and D. C. Thomson no longer exists –in fact, due to years of bad management and equally bad editorship, Thomson’s sales do not even compare with some small, independent publishers sales.

I would like to present here the last ever Annual Report on The British Comics Industry (ARBCI) I ever produced which was in 2007 –an up-date of the 2006 ARBCI.  It will give a good over view of the situation.

It has been repeatedly said that the idea of successful  comic book publishing in the UK is just that –a dream.

However, the person claiming this has no idea what he/she is talking about.  Between 1990-2006 I produced an Annual Report On The British Comics Industry [ARBCI].  When I first began the report was around 70% accurate: by 2000 the reports were up to 90-95% accurate.  Sadly, the ARBCI predicted the quick demise of Neptune/Trident Comics, Mindbenders, Dark Horse UK and others between 1989-1992.

The problem was that these companies had all decided that the buzz-phrase “comics aren’t just for kids” meant that only adults ought to be catered for and catered for with specific genres that might only interest between 7-10% of those buying comics.  Also, the material was published for news stand, yet anyone interested in the strips they contained could quite easily pick up the full U.S. version of the comic –in one go and for much cheaper than waiting a couple of months and spending much, much more.

Even Fleetway/Egmont with its new and trendy titles such as REVOLVER and CRISIS, though very good (I contributed work to both) were again aimed at a very small percentage of the comic buying market in the UK.  This would not –not- have been a problem had they also been focussing as much time, attention and originality on comics for other age groups.

Sadly, the major problem is that, during the late 1960s, comic fans began working in companies and rather than focus on maintaining regular quality and following standard industry guidelines, the “new brooms” began to produce comics they liked.  Interestingly, this is the same situation that occurred in the U.S. at the same time.  By the early 1980s the U.S. market was on the verge of total collapse.

What did the U.S. publishers do?  They offered British creators being paid low fees (for scripts I was paid £35.00 per strip page while the artist received £275 per page) much higher rates.  British creators therefore jumped onto the DC or Marvel ships –and both companies saw their industry go through a rebirth.

In the UK the situation was grimmer.  Editors and management decided that TV had quite literally killed comics as a viable form of entertainment –yet comics were still selling high numbers in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.  Again, the problem was the inflexibility of management and this bordered on the verge of “headless chicken” territory.

Say a comic, a weekly, sold 155,000 copies at 5p a time (1 shilling in old money).  That was £775,000 a week.  However, if the sales dropped by 1% to 153,450 copies  [ or £767,250] that title was cancelled or merged with another.  Therefore, the profit from 153,450 sales per week were lost.

 In 1954, the EAGLE was selling 750,000 copies per week, but by 1969 this was down to 25,000 copies per week.  Arguably, this is one of the worst drops in sales I have heard of though the reason may well be in the fact that Frank Hampson and the Reverend Morris were no longer in control and those in charge seemed to have no idea how to keep the comic relevant to the changing times.  EAGLE had become a not too very good comic.

Interestingly, in 1963 the Audit Bureau of Circulation [ABC] was created and we can focus in on one particular title to see how sales varied between 1964-1971: the LION

                 1964                 313,097

                 1965                 266,135

                 1966                 260,409

                 1967                 265,549    [merged with CHAMPION]

                 1968                 259,268

                 1969                 234,954

                1970                 236,714    [merged with EAGLE]

                1971                 205,766

This was a drop in sales of 107,331 in a nine year period.  However, these were still pretty reasonable figures bringing in a profit –printing used was not expensive.  The truth is that, from 1967/68 on those in charge of companies lost interest or faith in their own product.

Over the last ten years I have talked to businessmen and women in various fields who just cannot believe this was the policy –and when they are shown the documentation to prove it there is either  stunned silence or “tutting” followed by the words “morons” or “idiots”.  There is absolutely no logic for such cancellations –the  comics’ printing cost nowhere near what they were being sold for.  Profit was literally cut off from the company.

With these cancellations the dogma set in: ”comics are dying out –not worth investing money in”.  This from the people who had cancelled the titles making the profit!  Off course, then one company purchased another and the new management continued the dogma –because the old hands were still on board safe-guarding their jobs and not being willing to even attempt to do a serious re-launch.

We saw IPC-Fleetway split up and eventually Roy Of The Rovers, 2000 AD, Dan Dare and much more were sold off at a very cheap price for a quick profit. 

I can recall on an edition of BBC 2 ‘s (TV) The Money Programme, a senior member of D.C. Thomson’s staff stating that “in ten years the comic will be a thing of the past” –that was around 1984.  Thomson still publishes yearly comic annuals as well as its Pocket War Library, Beano and Dandy.

Egmont, sadly, produces what we call “advertising comics”, basically promoting toy and other related merchandise, but with outlets in over 20 countries world-wide has the greatest potential and, in Scandinavia does produce new material and reprint old Fleetway material.

Panini, operating as Marvel UK, is making its mark on the UK market, mainly with UK reprints for the news stand.

Thomson, Panini and Egmont are quite capable of revitalising the UK market. This is not as impossible as some might think. The case is that they have no interest in doing so.

Where the big mainstream companies started cancelling titles the British Small Press and Independent comic publishers have flourished –many selling out of their titles quickly.  The print runs may only be in the hundreds or 2-3,000 but they have cornered the niche left by the larger companies.

Shane Chebney, who owns and runs the Small Zone mail order service trading in Small Press and Independent comics, mainly from the UK, told me (9th November, 2005) that in the last year his sales have risen by 20%  -while mainstream comic sales in shops are said to have dropped.  An indication of a recession in the US market looming for 2006 and a perfect opportunity for the UK to build its industry up.

Although the U.S. has its own Independent publishers, as does Europe, the UK appears to be unique in not only the number of publishers but the selection of material they publish.  In Europe, where the same doom and gloom had settled, there has been a strong publishing revival: there were companies that weathered the storm and continued with established comic characters as well as new ones –Standaard Uitgeverij, Dupuis and Casterman shine out.

There is also an international market that can be catered for, whether via comic album series or monthly comics.

Firstly, there needs to be a comic that takes kids from Beano and Dandy onto the next stage of 11+ years comics. The one reason Panini is doing so well is that kids can latch on to U.S. comics from W. H. Smith or local newsagents because they have not yet discovered the comic book speciality store!

A mix of humour and action would be the ideal 11+ comic.  There are still many active long time comic artists who were ‘retired’ early and whose ability to stick to deadlines is proven. All three companies referred to have old characters that could be revived and lead into the new generation of characters.

Obviously the idea of sales of 150,000+ are not likely these days and even the oft quoted “must have” sales of 65,000 per issue [a figure referring to the number of copies printed and not achievable sales even in the late 1980s] is not likely.  The number of copies printed needs to be re-assessed along with format.  If a UK printer cannot handle the printing for a fair price then there are plenty of foreign printers who will.

There must be 100% support by company heads for the Managing Editor who would oversee the whole potential comics line.  Someone who is a “penny-cruncher” would be useless in such a position; the job calls for 100% commitment and no doubts.

The Small Press and Independent comics in the UK have shown the way but I feel we need to look at how the European comic industry/comic buying population varies with the UK’s, because this shows some very significant findings.

BELGIUM has a population of 10,152,000 (est. 1999) and within this population those aged 1-14 years of age total 17%, or 1,725,840.  Those between the ages of 15-59 years total some 61%, or 6,192,720, of the population.  These are, of course, the prime ages for comic buyers, though, as they get older, these buyers do not necessarily stop buying comics or comic albums.  The age group of 60+ years totals some 22% of the population, or 7,918,560 people. And the population growth rate for 2000-2005 is 0.1%.

Unlike the UK, there are five official languages in Belgium; Flemish (Vlaams) at 55%; Walloon (a French dialect) at 32%; German at 0.6% and bi-lingual totals 11%.  Despite this the country has a fantastic array of comics for both young and old.  Of course, French, German and Dutch publishers can export there without costly reprinting in a foreign language.

Standaard Uitgeverij is a Flemish language publisher, part of the larger DutchPCM Group. It publishes some of the biggest series in the country includingSuske & Wiske –the adventures of two 11 year olds.  Created by Willy Vandersteen in 1947, the duo have had

some 272 comic albums published to date and in many languages, including English editions by Intes International.  Another series of comic albums created by Vandersteen  (taken over by Karel Biddeloo in 1968) is De Rode Ridder (Red Knight),currently at album no. 188. The Kiekeboe series stands at no. 91. A football series,F. C. Kampionen (The Champions F.C.) by Hec Leemans stands at no. 20.  Other titles include the Napoleonic adventure series Bakelandt with 82 albums in the series.

And there are others aimed at pre-school to adults with cover prices ranging from E 3,60-4,50.

Castermans, of course, is the home of Tin-Tin and looking at the company’s 2002 Catalogue is like being a child in a toy shop –the variety!  The company has a large number of album series for 7-10 year olds and a similar variety for 12 years and upward and that includes adults for whom there is a very large selection.

France has a population of 58,333,000 (est. 1996) with 1-15 year olds taking up to 19.6% or 11,433,268 of the population. The 15-65 year olds comprise 65.5% or some 38,208,115 while the over 65’s total 14.9%, or 8,691,614.

 Casterman’s, as noted, publish in other European countries and beyond.

Dargaud is another publisher. Set up in 1959, the company caters for all ages and its material can be found translated and published all over Europe; the range of genres and quality puts U.S. companies to shame.

SEMIC is part of  Semic Sweden and has, since 2000, revitalised its publishing out-put by using new and old material and even broke into the U.S. market –no small achievement since English is not its prime language.

Netherlands has a population of 15,575,000 (est. 1996) with the 1-15 years age group comprising 18.4%, or 2,865,800.  The 16-65 years group totals 68.4%, or some 10,653,300 while the those over 65 years equal 13.2% or some 2,055,900.

Again, the Netherlands has a very healthy comics industry catering for all ages and publishing both new and imported material.  Companies include Arboris,Big Balloon BV and so on.

Germany has a population of 82,177,000 (est. 1999) with 1-14 year olds comprising 16% or some 13,148,320.  The 15-59 year olds comprise 61% or 50,127,970 and the 60+ years old group 23% or 18,900,710.

Having lived in Germany as a child and on- and -off thereafter, I have a fair knowledge of the companies there.  In fact, prior to its selling off the Youth division, I did some work for the oldest publisher there, Bastei Verlag. Other companies included Kauka Verlag (Ralf Kauka having been called at times “Germany’s Walt Disney” –he created characters such as Lupo and Fix & Foxi), DisneyEhapa, Carlsen, Hethke and Editions Quasimodo.

 These companies were publishing in the hey-days of the 1960s and 1970s, however, in the 1980s both myself and others were looking at Carlsen and taking guesses at how long it could last as a publisher. It looked as though it was doomed to vanish from the scene.  Despite this, Carlsen stormed back with a vengeance and its publishing out-put looks fantastic.

Sadly, Bastei only publishes reprints of its old ghostly stories title.

A shining example of what can be achieved are the efforts of IP & Paul who, with little publicity launched a full colour, glossy comic based on a role-playing game.  

Helden/Heroes had an initial print run of 10,000 copies and the publishers were told that they were over-estimating and that they would have thousands of copies left on their hands –this from those in the industry who “knew better”.  The title sold out so well that the publishers were caught unaware; yet the initial sells were only via the hobby market.  The title sold out and was later translated for the American (not British) market where it was quite successful and several other foreign language versions appeared under license in Europe.

In 2003/2004 the follow-up, Dorn: Der Morgenstern/Thorn: The Morning Star appeared and did well.  The people at IP & P were not, it must be emphasised, comic professionals but proved that the right comic aimed at the right readership can be a success beyond what you plan.

It is very interesting that Dutch, German, French and Belgian companies get “many orders from the UK” –and some specialist shops will order regularly from European publishers simply because the UK market has “nothing to compare with these comics”. 

Canada has also revitalised its comics publishing industry after a very poor period –though publishers such as Aardvark Vanaheim and Vortex weathered this.  Indonesia, Australia and many other smaller countries are also revitalising their industries.

Between 1999-2005 I was consulted by publishers and groups in countries such as Singapore, China, Russia and India on how to develop and maintain a healthy comics industry as well as putting together comic packages for them.

So why is it that the UK, where the comics industry was created and from which some of the best writers and artists sprang, has such a restricted industry?  Why has someone decided and passed along as industry dogma that the UK “cannot” have a fresh and revitalised industry? In all seriousness I have to say that anyone within a publishing house that says this needs to have a change of career.

The population of the UK is 58,744,000 (est. 1999). Age group 1-14 years comprise 19% or some 11,161,360, while the core comic buying age group of 15-59 comprises 60% or some 35,246,400. The 60+ age group comprises 21% or 12,336,240.

The UK’s population is almost five times that of Belgium and bigger than France or the Netherlands and yet we publish not even 1% of what these countries do.

Other European countries with very strong comic industries supplying a good variety of material are:~

 Spain, with a population of 39,134,000 (est. 1996) with 1-14 year olds comprising 16.5% or 6,457,110 of the population; 15-65 year olds 68.6% or 26,845,924 and 65+ age group some 14.9% or 5,830,966.

Greece with a population of 10,490,000 (est. 1996);1-15 year olds comprising 16.7% or some 1,751,830 people.  The 16-65 year old group comprises 67.4% or 7,070,260 and the 65+ group totalling 14.9% or 5,830,966+.

Italy has a population of 57,343,000 (est. 1999) and the 1-14s group comprises 14% or 8,028,020 and the 15-59 year olds group some 62% or 35,552,660.

It is worth looking at this overall.

Population Age Group Comparisons

Country         Age group 1-14         Age Group 15-65                        Age Group 65+

UK                   11,161,360                  35,246,400                                  12,336,240

France              11,433,268                  38,208,115                                  8,691,617

Belgium           1,725,840                    6,192,720                                    7,918,560

Italy                 8,028,020                    35,552,660                                  13,762,320

Netherlands     2,865,800                    10,653,300                                  2,055,900

Spain               6,457,110                    26,845,924                                  5,830,966

Greece             1,751,830                    7,070,260                                    1,667,910

Germany         13,148,320                  50,127,970                                   18,900,710

                                                            Figures compiled by T.Hooper 2004

According to these figures the UK should be rivalling France and Spain in comic publishing but it doesn’t even rival Greece’s.
In 2003 I surveyed 1000 comic buyers at comic marts in Southern England and the survey revealed some interesting results.

Ages ranged from 13-20 years 8% (80 persons); 21-29 year olds 12% (120 persons) and the 30-65 year olds totalled 80% (a staggering 800 persons). Only those who were regular or semi-regular comic buyers were included –no casual buyers.

A display book with old British comic strips was shown and the following questions asked/answers given:~

[1] Were this material available now would you buy it?

     [All age groups]

     YES….80% [800]     NO….5% [50]   MIGHT….15% [150]

[2] As [1],but in full colour?

     [All age groups]

     YES….95% [950]    NO….2% [20]    MIGHT…3% [30]

[3] Same characters, new stories?

      [All age groups]

      YES…95% [950]    NO…2%[20]      “Not Sure”…3%[30]

Only 3% of those spoken to had no knowledge of these old characters and they were in the youngest age group.

To back up this survey, I posted polls to popular comic sites as well as on my own web sites. There were 500 responses all –all- in the 30-45+ age group.  All were familiar with most of the old characters and all responded that they would  purchase a new comic with these and 10% added that this was “yes beyond a doubt”. 

All of those surveyed stated they would buy a new comic featuring new material and commented on the lack of comics in the UK.

So, juveniles might buy, especially those into colour super hero comics, if it were aimed at them.  However, excepting the Panini reprints noted earlier, no such title has been offered in the last 15 years.

However, the main market, are the older 30-45 year olds who were brought up on British weekly comics. This older group being the main comic buyers is born out by information from the U.S., Australia and Europe.  These are also the people buying books and comics for their own children – a perfect opportunity to draw in the next generation of comic buyers.

I have had the opportunity of talking to parents, teachers and even a professor of English who all refer to the poor literacy rate in the UK. I was rather surprised when they all pointed out that “years ago kids had comics to give them a basic literacy level” –no one knew of my interest or work in comics!  Having interviewed comic creators and buyers as well as other people over the years I have had them all referring to having “learnt to read from comics”.

Comics are not just entertainment but they can be educational –as proven by the Japanese who use comic strips to inform and educate on everything from tax to hygiene. 

The problem is that the current dogma is that you must sell this mythical 65,000 copies per week.  As pointed out, this was not a reality even in the 1980s.

There is also the fact that comics have been put together and presented to a peer group of children for their views.  In the 1980s I tried this for Marvel UK. Changes were made and the comic re-presented to the same group. They rejected it and more changes were made to their specifications….at the next presentation the changes called for took the comic back to its first version!

If the person putting the comic together has to resort to this type of market research then the project is defeated before it gets going.  Get your best package and then promote!

There is also the very useless “launch party”.  Editors and managers have told me since the 1970s that “you cannot publish a comic without a launch party”; basically, this is to get a bunch of journalists together to publicise your comic while eating and drinking –a lot, according to some ex-editors.

A launch party has never guaranteed a comic will sell. In fact, it is arguable as to whether they had any positive effect –kids who would buy comics rarely, if ever, purchased newspapers for reviews!

In 2005 there are so many outlets to get free publicity for your comic that the launch party is an out-dated waste of money. Many childrens’ television channels and programmes, etc., can be utilised for advanced and ongoing publicity –publicity outlay being really minimal.

British comic strip characters are still being published today in India and Europe and the potential from licensing  and merchandise agreements is well worth the initial outlay. In Summer, 2005, Wildstorm Studios, a subsidiary of DC comics, published a comic titled ALBION, intended to be a 6 issue mini series introducing “up-dated characterisations of classic British adventure characters.  This series is said to be the most over-hyped, disappointing series to date by people within the industry and comic fans.  

The writers being too young to know anything about the original characters produced a bland story that only sold because of the art by Briton Shane Oakley and Canadian inker, George Freeman. The option of going for proven former scripters was not even considered.

At the same time, Titan Books purchased rights to reprint books of adventures of characters such as THE SPIDER and STEEL CLAW.  Release dates of May, June, July, August, September  have come and gone but nothing has appeared.  The policy of IPC/DC has been to squeeze every penny out of reprint rights but put in  no real creative back-up.

It is widely believed that the two announced Titan books have been delayed over monetary payments required.  From start to finish IPC/DC/Wildstorm Studios have shown an inability to understand how to handle or use these characters –the UK comic shop market only has been offered the series thus by-passing 50-70% of possible readers/buyers at news stands, etc..

I do have ideas regarding this but the purpose of this paper is to show that the market is there. It is true to say that either a new company will come in and seize the major market share leaving established companies far behind or even struggling to keep what it already has in sales –as a consultant I’m aware of two such possible companies.

The alternative is for an existing company to make the decision and go for it. There is everything to win and little to lose. 

On Friday, 16th October, 2004, D.C. Thomson launched the new look DANDY [issue no. 3282],looking more like a Cartoon Network comic, the launch created a flurry of interest and used UK as well as European talent.  Thomson obviously realised that no one was catering for Afro-carribean readers and introduced “Dreadlock Holmes”.  In October 2005, the BEANO re-introduced classic adventure characters BILLY  & KATY THE CAT by Nigel Dobbyn.  A true adventure strip finally re-introduced to a British weekly.

In fact, the BEANO and DANDY 2006 annuals are a real joy and improvement with BILLY & KATY CAT, The COMET and General Jumbo (though not a patch on the Jumbo of old). It seems Thomson may be getting the point at last. However, consumer research, etc., for the new look DANDY , according to Comics International, had cost over –over£600,000! I’m told this is not a misprint.  It is an almost unbelievable figure and how it was justified I’d not like to even guess at -because sales never justified this.

The problem with British comics has always been that ethnic characters were either racist stereotypes or of no real importance.  This lack of characters for ethnic groups I pointed out to companies over and over between 1982-1994. Lack of interest meant that a huge potential readership was ignored in favour of all out Anglo-Saxon strips.

According to figures from the Government National Statistics Office, the UK population breaks down as:~

White                                                                                54,153,898     92.1%

Mixed                                                                               677,117          1.2%             

Indian                                                                               1,053,411        1.8%              

Pakistani                                                                           747,285           1.3%            

Bangladeshi                                                                      283,063           0.5%             

Other asian                                                                       247,664           0.4%             

All Asian/Asian British                                                    2,331,423        4.0%

Black Carribean                                                               565,876           1.0%

Black African                                                                    485,277           0.8%

Black Other                                                                        97,585            0.2%

All Black or Black British                                                1,148,738       2.0%

Chinese                                                                               247,403          0.4%

Other ethnic Groups                                                         230,615          0.4%

ALL minority ethnic population                                      4,635,296      7.9%

That is 7.9% or 4.6 million belonging to ethnic groups, generally ignored by most UK media and entertainment.   Looking at the Indian population, those up to 15 years of age total 33.8%, the 16-24 years of age group total 18.2%. 

Ignoring race, if we look at the figures released on 24th June, 2004, relating to age breakdown the 0-15 year olds comprise 20% of the population and the 16-64 year olds 18.2%, the main comic buying age group, comprises some 64%.  65 years old + comprises 16%.

This means that the UK has a potential 84% of the population at comic buying age and not being catered for.  This situation exists nowhere else in Europe.

Not only does the UK have the population to sustain a a good sized comics industry but it has the ethnic diversity to keep it fresh and draw in future readers.

In summary: anyone who says the UK cannot support a comics industry should not be involved in said industry –its defeatism through ignorance. 

A UK comics industry is achievable but will take between 3-5 years for a company to establish itself and expand.

ADDENDA: 4th September, 2007 –With Additional Notes 2016

Since this document was originally presented a number of things have happened.

Firstly, I’ve been employed as a consultant by comic publishers based in India and other countries, proving, perhaps, that they are prepared to use experienced people to adjust to changes in their market-place, etc..

Secondly, through movies and TV, comic book merchandise sales has rocketed and there are no mainstream companies in the UK producing original material from which they financially gain.

D.C. Thomson & Sons Ltd., are possibly the only UK company taking advantage of this boom, however, it is in such a small way that profit is negligible.  In fact (2015), Thomson has no real presence comics wise and sales of The Beano are similar in number to successful Small Press books.

Panini/Marvel UK help promote, via their reprints, sales of Marvel Action Figures, etc., but do not get the reward from original creations.  Again (2015), after Disney acquired Marvel any original UK material was stopped so nothing original is published in comics now.

Egmont are often referred to in comic circles as “producing toy advertising with a comic accidentally attached”  – though, in fairness, in must be pointed out that Egmont is not the only company doing this in the UK.  Egmont in Finland, for instance, produce a wider variety of material than Egmont in the UK.  In 2014 and in 2015, Egmont told me they are “not in the comic business –we produce merchandise publications”.

Thirdly, the UK Independent Comic and Small Press scene has also grown proving that there are a great many comic buyers out there who cannot buy what they want from mainstream publishers.

Also, the Small Zone service operated by Shane Chebney has grown to an extent that he now operates from a comic retailer shop.  Small Zone has also had to add many more U.S. Independent titles to his stock because of demand. 

Ordering of titles from outside the UK using the internet has also increased in the last two years.

It is worth noting, again, that all of this financial gain is going outside the UK because the material cannot be found in titles published by  UK companies.

What has also happened since 2006 is that a new publisher of top quality colour comic albums has been established in the UK.  Cinebook The 9th Art is a company run by Frenchman Olivier Cadic and publishes European material not seen in the UK before,  with the exception of a title such as Lucky Luke.  Cinebook has outlets in book stores, can be found in Public Libraries and constantly promote via the international Comic Expo held each May in Bristol (event ceased in 2013 due to poor event management but a new event is being organised for 2016), BICS in Birmingham each year, the Frankfurt Book Fair and so on.

I have reviewed Cinebook publications and interviewed Olivier Cadic for CBO -future plans seem set to make the company a long term profit-maker.

In other European countries the industry seems to be developing well; in Germany the new ZACK comic has reached it’s 72nd issue.  Other success stories abound.

But in the UK there seems little new coming from publishers.

There is a great need to actually re-think school age comics; far less emphasis on photo-advertising stories and more in the traditional action, fun and adventure –even educationalists are advising that parents get their children to read more comics to help improve literacy while having a fun read; so it’s nice to see they have caught on to the fact that lack of comic reading pre-school and during school years has contributed to decreased literacy!

But there is also the need to latch on to a largely unexploited age group:10-16, and later, 16+ because, apart from 2000 AD with its low readership, no one is catering for these groups with original UK material.  Odd since British creators have more than once stopped US publishers going out of business.

Cinebook will, after 2008, be looking at new 16+ Age group material. (2015: in fact Cinebook is the biggest publisher of comic albums in the UK but no original British material is planned).

Simply put, what we need in the UK are new titles for three specific groups:

Pre-school  -one needs to only look back at titles from the 1950s-1960s for examples which were fun for children but taught them to read, spell and use their imaginations –and encourage reading comics when they get older!

School age (8-15) –from personal experience I can state that many 8 year olds read the Panini reprints of Marvel comics, though they are meant for older readers which shows there is a market there.

16+ years.  Super Heroes, ghost stories, action and adventure are the popular genres and in an industry worth many, many millions it is odd that no one from the UK publishing industry has “dipped their toes” in yet.

Richard Branson and Virgin Media have gotten into the comics with Virgin Comics, though it seems to be looking at the rich gaming movie market. Sadly, Virgin Comics release schedule shows which it considers the more valuable markets.  Comics are released first in the US, secondly in the UK/Europe and, lastly, Asia/India.  My predictions at the time were correct: Branson made the money he wanted then left the company to slowly die in confusion within two years.

A company could, quite easily, establish a publishing power base in the UK, gradually spreading out into Europe and North America –where the work of British comic creators is still  much respected.  So why not just revitalise the British comic scene and reap the long term rewards?

To actually publish a new title and lose money would be difficult in the extreme if you know what you are doing.

I think that there has never been a better time for UK publishers to stamp their feet and shout loudly “We’re going to publish comics!”

One has to ask “What happened?”

People at banks often say, if you are trying to get funding to produce a comic line: “Hmm. We don’t know much about comics. Mainly for youngsters isn’t it? It’s an ‘unproven’ commodity”

That person, basically in every bank, has no idea. A list of TV series and movies from just the 1960s and those in current production (2015) based on comics and super heroes in the main makes an impressive list that covers ten pages –and just looking at the amount of toys and other merchandise based on these is exhausting.

People in banks see this every day but cannot equate it with their work. Banks lose a lot of business and money through this ineptitude.

Website Comichron The Comic Chronicles had this to say (this excludes US sales):

“International sales (of graphic novels). Diamond UK sells about 10% again its U.S. direct market sales of comics and graphic novels to comics shops in the United Kingdom — so that’s another $45 million or so that publishers here realize. This may or may not expand out to the UK bookstore market the same way, given rights issues, but if it did, the United Kingdom could add $70 million…”

$45 million is £ 29,664,071.35. And the $70 million figure comes out at a grand total of £46,143,472.26.

You see, ‘not much’ to be made from comics.  If we look at action figures and video games as well as all the merchandising such as t-shirts, et al, Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and even Top Cow then we are looking at many, many millions more.

In fact, Franco-Belgian comics/graphic novels are worth millions in sales and merchandise each year. Comics are, quite simply, big business in most countries and characters and even expressions and catch-phrases from these can be found throughout popular culture.

Franco-Belgian comic albums for all ages have been published in the English language by Cinebook The 9th Art –which, in 2007, sold its millionth book. This makes them the largest UK  publisher of Franco-Belgian Comics.

But why has Cinebook been so successful? Firstly, Olivier Cadic started out with a five year plan and he stuck to it –choosing only titles he felt passionate about.  Cinebook also are the exceptions at conventions because they do not just sit back, arms folded watching the “punters” –they talk to and engage with individuals and even family groups.  They attend all the conventions, push book deals for schools and libraries.

I love to keep pointing out that there were many “critics” who kept telling me, as well as writing on their blogs, that “there is no interest in this European stuff. If they (Cinebook/Cadic) are lucky they may just last a year –two at the very most!”  Those critics are mostly no longer in comics having failed in their own publishing attempts.

Let me make this clear: if comics survive in this country then it will be down to the efforts of Cadic and Cinebook who are drawing in all –age readerships and, very importantly for the future, younger children.

There are now (2015) more conventions in the UK than ever before. But not just for mainstream comic fans. As CBO has reported over the last few years, the number of Alternative Press/Small Press events has grown dramatically.  London has a high number of these –some tied into music or other media as “events”.  In many cases, those involved in producing their own Small Press titles have no knowledge of comics history or in general: they are just doing what they like to do.

“Small, amateurish, not run by business people” is how you might describe the Alternative/Small Press and yet it sells more than D. C. Thomson, a ‘big’ publisher. Though many were sadly not present at the 2013 Bristol Comic Expo, the Small Press is the UK industry.

It is sad to write that the greatest stumbling block has always been those involved within comics.  The big UK companies were always about making money, paying low rates but pulling in lots of extra cash from overseas licensing.  But the books kept ticking over. 

 It is interesting that, now retired, some senior managers at IPC-Fleetway are more open and not towing any company lines.  A very common statement I’ve had repeated to me is: the bosses just said one day “Oh, Television is going to kill comics. Not much point to it” –and the rot set in. 

This was a bad situation worsened when the fan boys were allowed in as editors. Some, even today, relishing their reputations as being a tad more than “dodgy dealers”. A few good ideas but aircraft was still diving into the mountain at full speed. The 1970s are when UK comics finally started curling up their collective toes –statements about great new projects that never happened were quite common.

New bosses were not interested and new nothing about comics: it was a money grab/sale project.

Worst of all were the comic creators working in the industry. Comic events became more like pub crawls and (as noted by those involved themselves) and taking drugs when they should have been promoting their industry.  In fact, one lecherous top comic writer even took meet-ups as events to try to chat up and seduce certain artists wives!

Come the internet we saw the flamers –anonymous and even known trouble makers attacking other creators on websites.  These moronic individuals ran to publishers telling tales on other creators to secure their positions while publicly putting on a cheerful and friendly “nice guy of comics” face.

Attempts to get creators to back a campaign to re-start and rejuvenate the UK comics industry resulted in negativity on a grand scale.  Heading the campaign I was accuse of having a “Jesus/Saviour complex” –that was the politest name calling— and I was even very openly attacked in CBO comments page for daring to bring up Creators Rights and one artist famously stating those running companies were the bosses so creators should do what they were told –“who cares about creators rights??”

To be successful I think any new comic company would need to remove itself from message boards and fan sites.  Like Cinebook The 9th Art, a Face Book page is good to answer any fan questions and announce news –a back-up to a company website (not allowing commenting).

Allowing Creators Rights is a must but those working for the company are paid to do the work fairly and are not friends who brow-beat the boss on how it really should be done. It’s not a democracy. It’s a business.

Can a new comic company emerge in the UK and succeed?  Yes. But it needs the financial backer and a controlling editor who has “the plan”.

Wanga/Hexagon Comics in France has proven a market exists amongst all the Bandes Dessinnee and The NextArt Verlag in Germany has proven the same thing.

It is not a case of publish a comic and rake in the money. Publishing comics needs a long term plan and for the financial to be very patient –Cinebook did not achieve its success in just one year. Investment

Sample Art And Information

Comic Book Writer, Artist, Editor & Publisher -Black Tower Cg

On Leaving education in 1974 Terry went to work for H. Tanner & Son, a small printing firm based in Southmead, Bristol.  When he moved to Manston, Kent, in 1977, he began working as a paste-up assistant to Philips Printers; this involved designing and then laying out/pasting up newsletters, commercial flyers, etc., etc.. From  1980-84 he worked for Bennings Printers and Stationers, Keynsham, where he put together publications as well as advertising material until the company ceased trading in 1984.

During 1977 he also began writing articles on astronomy, meteorological phenomena, space exploration and other general subjects –something he has continued up until this date (2016) in the UK and Europe as well as United States. In the UK the main market has been the County Magazine trade.

During the mid to late 1970s,he was employed as a sales rep helping to promote toys such as The Micronauts, Atlantic Soldiers ,Action Force figures and sets and other products.  This involved visiting retailers, setting up displays, propmotional material and so on.  This led to his designing a series of toy soldier style sets for Hong Kong manufacturers such as “Dawn of Man” and “Space Frontier”.  Privately, this led to taking part in Games Workshop events and even war-gaming.

From 1982-84 Terry took over the running of Comic Haus comic store in Detmold, Germany, which was failing badly in the market.  he made the store a profit maker and was then put in charge of the Hameln Comic Haus, whose situation he turned around;both stores made such profits that the owner sold for a bigger profit!   

Between 1984-1994 he  worked freelance as a writer/artist/editor/agent in comics as well as comics journalism for MU Press, Blue Comet Press, Fantagraphic Books, Eros Comics, Dorne, Fleetway, IPC and others in the United States, UK and Europe.  During this period he also produced large numbers of single panel gag cartoons for agencies in Germany such as Boiselle-Lohmann and Baaske Agency –these going to magazines and publications around Europe.  Terry also worked as a freelance editor in comics and publications ranging from wildlife, astronomy and science fiction magazines.

From 1984-2004 Terry was also self publishing comics as well as publications on a wide variety of subjects under the Black Tower banner.

Terry was also very active in the UK Small Press between 1984-2004.  He published the news, reviews and interviews publication Zine Zone.  This eventually led to an international readership (going to 32 countries) and a change of title to Zine Zone International.

US publications Comics FX and Amazing Heroes credited Terry with spearheading the "UK Small Press Invasion" into the US in the late 1980s/early 1990s.  Terry later wrote for Comics FX and contributed work to a number of European Small Press publications.

Terry has also produced packages of comic work for companies in India and Hong Kong.  He has also been working as an industry advisor for smaller companies in countries such as India, Canada, Singapore and Europe, UK and the US.

Terry is also recognised as a British comics historian, having met and interviewed many of the creators who worked for comics in the UK, and also traced the history of UK publishers. Some of the interviews from 25 years featured in a 360 pages The Hooper Interviews book in 2009.

He has a good knowledge of current UK, US and European comics as well as those being prepared for future release.  As a talent spotter he helped various creators break into the comic industry such as John Royle, Jon Haward, Duncan Fegredo, Art Wetherell et al.

Lee Davis, as an introduction to an interview of myself in IMAGINEERS magazine, noted that Terry was “…a near legendary figure in the British comics industry”.

In the U.S. industry publication, AMAZING HEROES, Hal Hargitt described him as “…The hardest working man in comics!”.

Gerd Hamer, in a German comic magazine described him as “The father of European super heroes…”
Apart from writing and drawing comics he has, since 1986, been attempting to promote European comics and creators in the UK.  His interest is reflected in a collection of many comics from Russia, China, Czech & Slovak Republics, Poland, Hungary, Germany, Finland, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand and, naturally, British and American comic books.

Outside of comics Terry has worked with companies such as Yorkshire Television and HTV to create ideas and programmes for TV, such as a Channel 4 “Carry On” Film weekend in 1999.  he has  also featured in documentaries on TV/Radio  news programmes in his capacity as a veteran naturalist and Police Consultant.

Terry is currently working on the comic and 3D animated series, The Paranormals as well as a series of short TV horror stories, Tales From The Grave.  Other projects are currently optioned for TV. He is also an historian specialising in Pre-Roman and Roman Britain, Celts and rediscovered ‘lost’ history. He has published numerous papers on wildlife and history between 1979-2004.

Between 1992-2007 he published an Annual Report On The British Comics Industry looking at trends and sales as well as predicting trends, carrying out comic buyer surveys and so on.  These began with 75% accuracy but by 1997 were between 89-97% accurate on predictions and trends.

Terry's publishing house, Black Tower Comics And Books (f. 1984) is the UKs largest publisher of Independent black and white comics.  It also publishes books on strange phenomena and wildlife.
Black Tower Comics cover various genres from horror, crime, super heroes, Science fiction, slice of life and psychological.

The following are a few selected pages by Ben R. Dilworth, Gavin Stuart Ross and Paul Ashley Brown.

Artists are flexible creators so new subjects can be tackled.

If you are interested in investing in comics in the United Kingdom or have any questions then please feel free to contact me.

Terry Hooper-Scharf

To view the wide array of Black Tower Books please check out the online store at

All artwork © 2016 Black Tower Comics and Books





英国企业家错过了。他们可以看到的电影,知道漫画出售,但如果它没有被标记为你会做£1百万元年类似的商业流行语的白痴他们不感兴趣。他们的想法是跳进一个企业,这将使很多钱,然后卖掉它,继续前进。没有长期的,这意味着他们并不是真正的商人 - 们想给没有长期致力于企业。


欧洲似乎是高品质的印刷法国 - 比利时系列,美国重印(证明没有在超级英雄风格的兴趣有)和漫画为主。但反应出版商一样为什么地球上就我们做生意的英语吗?我可以指出的是,奥利弗卡迪克做到了这一点,并已建立了Cinebook出版社在英国的成功 - 虽然只发布法国 - 比利时的漫画专辑。



英国BS3 2PY


二大”IPC / FleetwayDC汤姆森不复存在-in实上,由于多年管理不善,同样糟糕的主编,汤姆逊的销售甚至不与一些小型的独立出版商销售情况进行比较。



然而,声称此人根本不知道他/她在说什么。 1990 - 2006我公司生产的年度报告对英国漫画产业[ARBCI。当我第一次开始,该报告是在70%左​​右准确:在2000年的报告均达到90-95%的准确率。可悲的是,ARBCI预测海王星/三叉戟漫画,Mindbenders,黑马英国和1989 - 1992间的人的快速消亡。


即使Fleetway /埃格蒙特及其新时尚游戏,如REVOLVER和危机,虽然很好(我贡献的工作两者)再次瞄准漫画市场买盘在英国一个非常小的比例这不会-not-经出现问题了,他们也被集中尽可能多的时间,精力和原创性的漫画为其他年龄组。


什么美国出版商?他们给英国创造者被支付手续费低(为我支付了每带页面£35.00,而艺术家收到每页£275个脚本)要高得多。因此,英国的创造者跳上DC或奇迹 - 和船舶两家公司看到了其行业经历一次重生。

在英国,情况严峻编辑和管理决定电视已经毫不夸张地杀害了漫画作为一种娱乐形式可行的漫画 - 可是仍然高卖数在2050年代,60年代和70年代。同样,问题是管理的灵活性,这接壤的头鸡图的边缘。


 1954年,老鹰被卖每周75万份,但到1969年,这是下降到每周25,000份。可以说,这是最糟糕滴在销售我也听说过,虽然其原因很可能是事实,弗兰克·汉普森和牧师莫里斯不再控制和负责的人似乎不知道如何保持漫画有关时代的变化。 EAGLE经成为一个没有太多很好的漫画。





                 1967265549 [CHAMPION合并]



                1970236714 [EAGLE合并]


这是在为期九年的销售107331下降。然而,这些都还是蛮合理的数字引进 - 印刷用的是不贵的利润。事实是,从1967年至1968对那些负责公司失去了兴趣或信心在自己的产品。


有了这些取消的教条集:漫画正在消失 - 不是值得投资的钱这种由人谁已经取消使得利润的标题!当然,再一个公司购买另一个和新的管理延续了教条 - 为老的手仍然在船上的安全,守卫着自己的工作,不是不愿意甚至试图做一个严肃的重新推出。


还记得在英国广播公司2的(电视)的货币计划,DC Thomson的工作人员指出,在十年的漫画将成为过去的事情,也就是说大约是1984汤姆逊还是出版了高级成员的版本每年的漫画一年生植物以及它的掌上战争图书馆,尾牙和丹迪。






尽管美国有它自己的独立的出版商,象欧洲,英国似乎是出版商不仅数量,而是材料的他们出版的选择是唯一的。在欧洲,同样的危困已经解决了,出现了一个强大的出版复苏:有公司经受住了风暴,并继续既定的漫画人物,以及新的-Standaard UITGEVERIJ,杜普伊斯和卡斯特曼照出来。







比利时(1999 EST)的10152000人口,这部分人口中那些年龄在1-14岁总量的17%,或1725840。那些15-59岁年龄组的总人口的61%,或6192720这些,当然,主要年龄段为漫画的买家,虽然,因为他们年龄的增长,这些买家并不一定停止购买漫画或连环画册页。的60+岁年龄组共计人口的约22%,或7918560人。而人口增长率200020050.1%。


Standaard UITGEVERIJ是弗拉芒语的出版商,较大DutchPCM团的一部分。它出版了一些在全国两会11年孩子includingSuskeWiske -the险最大的系列。由威利Vandersteen1947创建的,两人有过

一些272的漫画专辑发表至今,在许多语言,包括英语版本由INTES。另一系列由Vandersteen创造的漫画专辑(接管卡雷尔Biddeloo1968年)是德骑着里德(红骑士),目前在专辑没有。 188. Kiekeboe系列已达没有。 91.足球系列,F C. Kampionen(冠FC)港灯利曼斯站在没有。 20.其他游戏包括拿破仑的冒险系列Bakelandt 82张专辑中的系列。






SEMICSEMIC瑞典的组成部分,自2000年以来,振兴其发布出来,投入使用新的和旧的材料,甚至打入美国市场 - 没有小的成就,因为英语不是其主要语言。




经在德国生活作为一个孩子,在线和离型以后,我的公司有一个公平的知识。事实上,之前,其抛售青年师,我做了一些工作,为历史最悠久的出版商那里,Bastei酒店出版社。其他公司包括Kauka出版社(拉尔夫Kauka经叫在次德国的沃尔特·迪斯尼” - 创造的角色,如路波和修正和Foxi),迪斯尼,Ehapa,卡尔森,Hethke和版本卡西莫多。




尔登/英雄有10000份的初始印数和发行商被告知,他们被高估,他们将有成千上万留在那些在行业中谁更好地了解们的手 - 该副本标题卖完了这么好,出版商都措手不及;然而,最初的主要销售只通过嗜好市场标题卖完了,后来被翻译为美国(而不是英国)市场上,这是很成功的,其他几个外国语言版本在欧洲出现了许可。


这是非常有趣的是荷兰,德国,法国和比利时公司获得 - 和一些特色小店来自英国的很多订单将定期订购从欧洲出版商仅仅是因为在英国市场已经没有任何与这些漫画进行比较

加拿大也振兴了漫画出版业一个非常贫穷的时期之后 - 虽然出版商如土豚Vanaheim涡风化这一点。印尼,澳大利亚等许多较小国家也振兴本国工业。






 西班牙,与1-14岁儿童,包括16.5%以上的人口6457110人口39134000(美国东部时间1996; 15-6568.6%或2684592465岁以上年龄组的部分14.9%或5830966

希腊的1049万(美国东部时间1996年)人口; 1-15岁儿童,包括16.7还是有些1751830人。在16-65岁年龄组由67.4%或707026065岁以上组共14.9%或5,830,966+





英国11161360 35246400 12336240

法国11433268 38208115 8691617

比利1725840 6192720 7918560

意大利8028020 35552660 13762320

2865800 10653300 2055900

西班牙6457110 26845924 5830966

希腊1751830 7070260 1667910

德国13148320 50127970 18900710




龄在13-20岁之间8%(80人); 21-29岁的12%(120人)和30-65岁总额80%(达到惊人的800人)。只有那些谁是定期或半正规的漫画购房者都包括在内 - 无休闲买家。




     ... 0.80[800]... 0.5[50]......15[150]



     ... 0.95[950]... 0.2[20]...... 3[30]



      是的...... 95[950]... 2[20]“不确定”...... 3[30]





然而,主要的市场,是谁被带到了英国周刊漫画上了年纪30-45岁的年轻人该老年组是主要的买家漫画是由来自美国,澳大利亚和欧洲的信息诞生出来这也是人们购买书籍和漫画为自己的孩子 - 在新一代漫画购房者画上一个完美的机会。

我有说话的父母,老师和英语甚至是教授,谁指的都是穷人识字率在英国的机会。我非常惊讶,当他们都指出,几年前的孩子有漫画给他们一个基本的识字水平” - 没有人知道我的兴趣或工作在漫画!有接受采访的漫画创作者和采购商以及超过我有他们都指具有多年的其他人学到的漫画阅读









作家们太年轻,不懂得任何有关原始字符产生一个平淡的故事,因为艺术由英国人肖恩 - 奥克利和加拿大的墨辊,乔治·弗里曼,只有出售。甚至没有考虑去为证明前脚本编写的选项。

时,泰坦书籍购买权转载人物冒险的书籍,如蜘蛛和钢爪。五月,六月,七月,八月,九月的发布日期已经过去,但一切都没有出现IPC / DC的政策一直挤压每一分钱出来的转载权,但投入没有真正的创新后备。

们普遍认为,这两个宣布土卫六书已被推迟了必需的货币支付。从开始到结束IPC / DC / Wildstorm工作室都显示出无法理解如何处理或绕过可能的读者/买家的50-70%,在新闻中使用这些字符-the英国漫画店市场只有已经提供了一系列这样站等。



上周五,二零零四年十月十六日特区汤姆逊推出了全新的外观DANDY [发行编号。 3282],看起来更像是一个卡通网络漫画,推出创造的兴趣乱舞,并用英国以及欧洲的人才汤姆逊显然意识到,没有人迎合非裔加勒比地区的读者,并推出“Dreadlock尔摩斯 200510月,尾牙重新推出经典的冒险人物BILLYKATY由奈杰Dobbyn那只猫。一个真正的冒险带最后再介绍给英国周刊。

实上,尾牙和花花公子2006年年鉴是真正的快乐和改进与比利和KATY CAT,彗星和一般珍宝(虽然不是一个补丁的旧的珍宝)。看来汤姆逊可能会得到一点在最后。然而,消费者研究等,为新的外观花花公子,根据国际漫画,已经花费了-over-£60万!有人告诉我这不是印刷错误这是一个几乎令人难以置信的数字,它是如何合理的我不喜欢,甚至猜测 - 为销售不足取这一点。

英国漫画的问题一直是民族的人物要么种族主义成见没有真正的重要性或这种缺乏字符各族我一遍遍1982年至1994年之间的指出了公司。缺乏兴趣,意味着一个巨大的潜在读者赞成所有的出盎格鲁 - 撒克逊条忽略。


54153898 92.1

混合677117 1.2

印度1053411 1.8

巴基斯坦747285 1.3

孟加拉国283063 0.5

其他亚洲247664 0.4

所有亚洲/亚裔英国人2331423 4.0

黑色加勒比海565876 1.0

非洲黑人485277 0.8

黑色其他97585 0.2

全黑或黑色英国1148738 2.0

中国247403 0.4

其他族群230615 0.4

所有的少数民族人口4635296 7.9


忽略比赛,如果我们看一下发布于2004624日,数字,有关年龄击穿0-15岁儿童占人口的20%,16-6418.2%,主要漫画买盘年龄组,包括64%。 65岁的+包括16%。



总结:人谁表示,英国不能支持一个漫画界不应该介入说行业无知 - 其失败主义。


补遗:200794 - 随着其他注意事2016







____________________________________ All material is (c)2016 terry Hooper-Scharf and was accurate at the time of publication.

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