Saturday, 12 September 2009
British comic reprints in The Guardian and The Observer
The decline of British comics is as much the result of underinvestment and the freezing out within the businesses concerned of many of those with the mental agility and sense of the market which could have found avenues to perpetuate them, as it is the result of the growth of alternative forms of entertainment for the target audience. Memorabilia magazine published an article in 2002 examining the place of girls' comics in the magazine world in what we might call the age of Bunty - the longest running of a generation of girls' titles, and published by D C Thomson between 1958 and 1991 - written by John Freeman (himself a comics editor, writer and designer of note) and which was reprinted on the very informative official fan site for IPC's gothic girls' title Misty here.
That The Guardian and The Observer are running this promotion at all shows how long ago the age of these comics is. The target audience is presumably those thirty- and fortysomethings who juggle mortgages with employment instability which defies the security promised by those adverts in Jackie, while battling to comprehend, let alone meet, the demands made by their children, inspired by today's globalized youth consumer culture. A dose of escapism into a remote comfort zone, when five pence a week bought you another thirty-six, thirty-two or twenty-four pages of turf in a shared world (though only sixteen if you were one of the hapless loyal readers of Polystyle's TV Comic after spring 1979) perhaps less universally accessible, and perhaps less immediate, than today's piped forms of information and entertainment, might be a tempting proposition. Jackie in 1975 looks like a product of a transitional age, fascinated by visual culture but in its heart wanting to converse with its readers through densely-composited text stories and the stark monochrome Helvetica and Roman of its problem pages. The rest of the week is dominated by boys' and humour titles, both more self-consciously visual forms.