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  1.  (3041.1)
    Just wanted to bring people's attention to a new British weekly comic (!!) for kids called the DFC, and see if anyone's heard of it/read it? :)
    It's in The Beano weekly format, but with a bigger range of story types, from funnies to fantasy epics and dramas, with a sort of 'episodic' structure (think of a kid's TV channel, but in comic form) and ongoing stories.
    The big pull is a strip written by Phillip Pullman, but there's lots of other cool stuff... my partner and fellow comic artist/writer, Kate Brown has a strip in there called 'The Spider Moon', Emsie (who's been pretty silent on the forum!) has an upcoming strip too... anyone who has been to a British con will also recognise The Etherington Brothers.
    It's been a bit of a quiet launch, because it's only being distributed via subscription to start off with, but it's got major backing (David Fickling Books - Random House), and a good feel: it's comic from cover to cover, there's no advertising, good production on heavy matt paper, it's 100% syndicated-character free, no segregation of story type or style, and the publishers are planning on collecting the stories as full graphic novels as they go.
    I have a feeling that if this continues apace, it's going to do more than a little remodelling of the comic book industry over here - in a good way.
    •  
      CommentAuthorGreg SBB!
    • CommentTimeJul 20th 2008
     (3041.2)
    it's only being distributed via subscription to start off with


    Seems a little bizarre, what's their reasoning?
  2.  (3041.3)
    I like this. And the art on The Spider Moon looks sublime.

    Just hope it makes it into enough young hands to get itself a following and make a difference. Are the Beano and Dandy still around? I grew up with the Beano and Dandy (and Whizzer/Buster, too). Last time I saw the Dandy I think they'd done away with Desperate Dan, or at least relegated him from the front page, the crazed bastards. Keeping it advertising-free is a good move, too. Last Beano I saw was one big fluorescent ad for refined sugar.

    Can't be a bad thing if it gets kids into reading comics, and reading in general.
  3.  (3041.4)
    @Greg by the sounds of it this isn't being positioned as competition for traditional newsagent's bottom-shelf comics or anything like that. This is something that would (I imagine) be bought for kids by people who are into their comics. That has to happen, right? Comic readers are bound to have children occasionally.
  4.  (3041.5)
    This bit of additional effort earns them big points if you ask me.
  5.  (3041.6)
    @ Greg SBB
    Basically, when you're doing a weekly like this, you make such a loss just getting things into stores for no guaranteed return, that the marketing team didn't think it was worth it. I know they offer very generous creator contracts, and they're putting the fair treatment and good pay of their creators (who all own their projects) above aggressive marketing.

    So basically, they're aiming for the sleeper-hit effect, with subscriptions slowly rising in the low thousands (I know they're already in the thousands), people passing the comic round, schools ordering copies, and demand slowly rising until they can't keep it out of the shops because the shops are asking instead of the other way round. I think the first few requests have started coming in from shops, so after only 7 issues the tactic seems to be working as planned... but a bit like Freakangels, anything that doesn't rely on the standard 'stick it on the shelves and hope' model takes a big risk.
    •  
      CommentAuthorGreg SBB!
    • CommentTimeJul 22nd 2008
     (3041.7)
    @Paul

    Cheers for that, I'm genuinely interested. I can see the wisdom in that approach, I guess it just initially seemed a little backward when you have someone like Pullman involved (as well as some genuinely top comics talent). I guessed they might want to avoid the WH Smith model but was surprised they weren't attempting to place displays directly in children's bookshops to catch Pullman's audience.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeJul 22nd 2008
     (3041.8)
    Darn. When I saw DFC I thought we were going to be talking about the Dysfunctional Family Circus.
  6.  (3041.9)
    @StefanJ
    Haha! XD That's one thing about the DFC actually, they never reveal what the acronym stands for, and readers can send in ideas that get illustrated at the beginning of each comic. I've clarified the topic title a bit.

    @GregSBB
    Yeah, I think that's the only weak link so far. I seem to remember stuff like that being planned, but perhaps they're waiting for a particular moment.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJul 23rd 2008
     (3041.10)
    Robot Girl looks great.

    Presumably part of the reason for the subscription-only model is that the main focus is on the eventual graphic novel releases.
    • CommentAuthorKradlum
    • CommentTimeJul 23rd 2008
     (3041.11)
    A friend is working on this but I found out about it too late to subscribe and they don't seem to be offering back issues. I would have subscribed for myself/my wife just for the Philip Pullman story. I'm glad to hear they will be collecting the stories as graphic novels.

    I heard DFC stood for David Fickling's Comic (the publisher).

    As a kid my nan got me Buster each week and my brother got Whizzer and Chips. I'm not sure why neither of us were Beano or Dandy fans, although I seem to remember that the Dandy was still in broadsheet format back then (I might be misremembering). From there I moved on to Battle and then 2000AD. American comics were a mystery to me until I came to London, where fortunately I was at uni with a couple of guys who worked at Comic Showcase and they pointed me in the right direction.
    • CommentAuthorKradlum
    • CommentTimeJul 23rd 2008
     (3041.12)
    Ooh! I just found they are offering back issues on their site! I'm going to get up to date and then look at subscribing. Thanks for bringing this back to my attention Paul!
  7.  (3041.13)
    @Kradlum
    Ah Yeah, I was going to mention they've started selling back issues, but it seems you've found out! :) Technically it does stand for David Fickling's Comic, but they don't make a point of it.
    @Kosmopolit
    That may be part of the reason, but if so I haven't heard it mentioned. There's been the prospect of a version for older readers (probably teens) dangled around as well, but I don't know how far in the future (or at all) all this is, since for the most part it's second hand knowledge.
    • CommentAuthorKradlum
    • CommentTimeJul 23rd 2008
     (3041.14)
    I'm suprised they didn't do some sort of exclusive distribution deal with Forbidden Planet, as well as the subscription method. The best way to get kids to buy a new comic is to get their parents to see it. I'm guessing it was heavily advertised somewhere, but I didn't see it. Then again, I don't watch much any commercial kids TV so they could have been advertising it 10 times an hour and it would have passed me by.
    •  
      CommentAuthorTony Lee
    • CommentTimeJul 30th 2008 edited
     (3041.15)
    Rejoice children, because in just three weeks or so, you can start reading The Prince Of Baghdad in The DFC, a 14 week, 4 page strip that takes a 13 year old boy from Harrow into the magic of the Arabian Nights.

    Written and lettered by me and drawn, inked and coloured by Dan Boultwood. For those not familiar with our work together, we did the Eagle award nominated Hope Falls last year for Markosia, and The Gloom is currently weekly on web-comic The Chemistry Set....

    It's much fun. We've already finished book 1 and we're blocking out the next two of the trilogy.

    And at some point soon I'll be announcing my other tale with The DFC, St Spooky's School For Girls, art by Rob Guillory - where Mallory Towers meets Harry Potter...
    • CommentAuthorKradlum
    • CommentTimeAug 5th 2008 edited
     (3041.16)
    My back issues haven't appeared yet. Ok, it's only 2 weeks since I ordered them but this is internet age. By the time they arrive I'll have to order a bunch more back orders in order to catch up again to make a subscription!

    [edit]Guess what was waiting on the doormat when I got home?
    •  
      CommentAuthorcurb
    • CommentTimeAug 5th 2008
     (3041.17)
    Hmmm.. I just became an Uncle. I might have to check this out and start saving it a backlog of good comic shit for when the kid's old enough. I'd try and get her hooked on 2000AD, but there's stuff in there that I'm not sure her parents would approve of. Phillistines.
  8.  (3041.18)
    @curb:
    But isn't that exactly what uncles are for?
    • CommentAuthorKradlum
    • CommentTimeAug 6th 2008 edited
     (3041.19)
    A quick review from me.

    First of all I took each comic out of its bright yellow envelope (all 9 back issues were mailed individually). The comic is 36 pages, all colour, matte, with high quality print. The cover is slightly stiffer paper. The first cover was a bit strange, it just didn't look right for a comic cover. I flicked through each one, and I have to say that the stand-out story graphically is The Spider Moon, great use of colour and layout.

    I've read the first 3 issues and I'm enjoying the main stories. John Blake is the Philip Pullman story (with John Aggs illustrating)- across the years a mysterious sail-boatschooner, The Mary Alice is spotted in fog all over the Pacific. Serena, an Australian girl on a round the world sailing trip with her family is swept overboard and rescued by John Blake a boy member of the crew of The Mary Alice. Nice pacing and use of colour, but I wonder if the use of panels is a bit advanced for a kids comic, I had to re-read a section as I had skipped an important panel.

    The Boss (Patrice and John Aggs) is a story of a crimebusting school class, in the fine tradition of Enid Blyton and British comics. The class are going on a field trip to a castle when they overhear 2 men plotting to steal something. I keep expecting to see a sausage on a fork popping out of the frame. Kind of what I'd expect from a serious story in The Beano.

    Monkey Nuts (The Etherington Brothers) is insane. An evil dragon in his base in the Bermuda Triangle is trying to find a diamond egg, but in a vision he saw a robot and a monkey would stop him so he has caused all the mad bad guys to descend on their country to destroy them. The influences here seem to be from classic Britsh comic artists (as opposed to most of the other artwork which is heavily manga influenced) - Rivet the robot reminds me of Ian Gibson's Stogie from Robohunter (or indeed any of his robots) while other parts remind me of Brendan McCarthy's work (Rogan Josh), and of course the monkeys bring to mind Jamie Hewlett.

    In The Spider Moon (Kate Brown), we are introduced to Bekka who lives on a doomed planet where the stars are falling. Bekka has to pass her diving exam so she can help her people, just as it looks like she is about to fail she encounters a whale. As I said before, this is the stand-out story in the comic for me (although there is one panel where the placing of the speech bubbles jars. I'm a traditionalist).

    Mo-Bot High (Neil Cameron) - Asha is starting at a new school and discovers a pair of giant robots fighting behind the bikesheds. A Modern manga style school story.

    I nearly forgot Good Dog, Bad Dog (Dave Shelton), a noir story about 2 dog detectives.

    There are various 1 page stories and 3 panel strips, a centrefold doodling page and 2 or 3 puzzle pages. These puzzle me as they seem to be aimed at younger children than the rest of the comic. In fact, I'm not sure what age the comic is aimed at. There's whiskey drinking and use of the word "bloody" in the Philip Pullman story and I noticed one of the later doodle pages is based around a trip to an art gallery with reproductions of Botticelli's Venus Rising and at least one Rubens nude.

    I haven't read kids comics for a very long time, and I haven't read 2000AD for about 10 years. The stories in DFC are aimed at kids but the maturity of the artwork and layout is quite high (i.e. it's not just a series of boxes running left to right and down the page like a "traditional" British kid's comic), maybe kids comics have matured in the time I haven't been reading them. I'm currently not a parent so I can't say what one might allow their children to read. If you don't mind your 8yr old reading mild swearing (some people might not even count "bloody" as swearing nowadays) or seeing historic, artistic nudes, and can afford the £3 (£4 outside the UK) a week cost (I think it's more like £2 with a 6 month subscription) then I'd heartily recommend it.

    I've subscribed, but my subscription can only start with issue 12, so I've ordered issue 11 but issue 10 is sold out :( (Paul, can your contacts find out if issue 10 is going to be reprinted?).
    •  
      CommentAuthorcurb
    • CommentTimeAug 6th 2008
     (3041.20)
    @Cat Vincent

    You're absolutley right. Here's the plan: I slip the 2000ad inside the DFC, and mum and dad remain none the wiser. For like, a second or so. But that's enough time for the niece to soak in some formative, ultra violent thrill power...