Wednesday, 20 November 2013

A school comics fair

I’ve been thinking recently about children’s comics, and the number of good books now available that are not widely known by children or parents. In the UK, regular bookshops carry only a fraction of the good children’s comics currently being published.

A curious thing has happened with comics in the past few decades. Many comics enthusiasts, creators, publishers, and traders, have been eager to escape the idea that comics are merely downmarket children’s literature. They have succeeded only too well, with the result that much comics publishing is now aimed at older collectors and connoisseurs. The books are more beautifully produced than ever, but more expensive, and much of the newer content, in aiming for greater sophistication, seems to lack the direct engagement, excitement, and humour, of past works.

Meanwhile fewer children buy comics at newsagents. There are some publishers of excellent comics for children but, with the exception of the best known titles, they seem to have a hard time getting their books into non-specialist bookshops, and comic shops attract mostly older readers.

Well, if we can’t get the comics into the bookshops, and can’t get the kids into the comic shops, a third option is to bring the comic shops to the kids, and that means into schools.

Book events in schools such as author visits and book fairs are now common events. I’ve had in mind for a while to try something similar with comics - a school comics fair. And next week, with the help of Gosh! Comics of Berwick Street, we’re going to hold the first one at my daughter’s primary school. I’m really looking forward to it, and from what I hear so are the kids!

Images on the flyer above come from the following good books:

Yoko Tsuno: The Prey and the Ghost, by Roger Leloup
Cat Burglar Black, by Richard Sala
• The Laureline and Valerian series, by Mézières and Christin
Lucky Luke: Jesse James, by Morris and Goscinny
Blake and Mortimer: The Yellow “M”, by Edgar P Jacobs
The Rainbow Orchid, by Garen Ewing
Moominvalley Turns Jungle, by Tove Jannson

Monday, 3 June 2013

The Secret of the Silver Horseshoe

A Romantic Picture Story of the Old Dover Road

An earlier post featured a story from the 1957 School Friend Annual, bought in my quest for comics to entertain my eight year old daughter. This story is from the annual of the year before, and Peggy, who loves dressing up, enjoyed it greatly.

’Twas on a summer’s evening in the year 1754, when a fair-haired village maid lingered for a moment at the gates of Elmswood Grange, in Kent - -

Read the whole story, through to the ‘happy ever after’ ending, below the fold.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Silent Three

This item was first posted last year on Air Force Amazons blog.

Jacqueline Rayner wrote a very nice piece for The Guardian last month about girls’ comics of the 1970s and 80s; a whole area of British comics publishing that has since been completely wiped out. The above title, School Friend, is a couple of decades older. Inspired by Ms Rayner’s article, I went looking for some old girls’ comics for my eight year old daughter to try. The first story in this annual, The Silent Three, has a character called Peggy, and so I had to get it.

We’ve been reading a few strips from it each evening, school stories, ballet, skating, circus, western, mystery and war stories, featuring girls from lots of different countries being loyal to their friends and thwarting rivals, and occasionally rescuing men from mortal peril, and Peggy has enjoyed the novelty immensely. There’s also one story with a princess, but we haven’t got round to that.

Here’s The Silent Three, a school mystery that involves dressing up with masks - just the thing for Peg! Click pages to enlarge.