I’ve had four hours sleep. I’m chugging some supermarket own brand energy drink called “Blue Spark” which tastes like bubblegum-infused battery acid. And I’m setting off to London Olympia for The London Book Fair in the London traffic.
In one hour, I am expected to moderate a panel called Rebels And Empires: The Future Of British Comics. I am looking forward to discovering that it has one. It is sponsored by the Children’s Media Conference, which doesn’t mean I’ve been paid, but it means that someone has.
Also on the panel (because, apparently, I have to have someone to moderate) are Tom Fickling, EIC of the Phoenix Comic, my youngest daughter’s weekly crack addiction. I will be asking him, on behalf of my daughter, when St Georgia is coming back.
There is Kieron Gillen, an old drinking friend who seems to have done quite well for himself over in America, so I have no idea what he’s doing on the panel.
There is Ben Smith, head of Books & Comics Publishing at Rebellion, publishers of 2000AD. I’ll be asking him the effects of Brexit making his British creators suddenly all 20% off to US publishers looking for talent.
There is Mike Sterling, head of Beano Studios, Britain’s remaining longstanding weekly kids comic book, running since the nineteen thirties.
And then there’s me, moderating the panel because Paul Gravett couldn’t do it. Another white man in a sea of white men.
Wish me luck. This could get messy.
Come on, traffic.
Comic book properties are everywhere nowadays, from cinema screens to supermarket shelves – and the popularity of comic characters shows no signs of abating. However, whether it’s superhero stalwarts like ‘Batman’ or ‘Spider-Man’, or more grown-up fare like ‘The Walking Dead’, the constant seems to be American characters, American companies, and – usually – American creators.
In contrast, the British comic market seems to have declined: from its heyday decades ago, when a variety of titles lined every newsagent’s shelf, one could wonder where the British comics have gone. But there are several companies willing to challenge that theory; companies ready to take on the American comics empires. It could be adapting their characters into British films, or creating new bespoke content for mobile and online; or revitalising and reinterpreting classic comics characters for the 21st Century.
Meanwhile, there are new opportunities with creators; whether it’s original comics, creator-owned, or even working for one of the US giants, talented writers and artists from the UK can make big waves in the comics world. With exclusive insight from industry specialists, producers, and creators, this panel will show the rude health of British comics, the opportunities that exist right now, and the exciting future that lies in store.
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