Here’s a post written by cartoonist Jamie Smart, whose work is seen regularly in comics including The Beano, The Phoenix and the now-departed Dandy. Following the wake of the latter’s cancellation, Smart’s written a piece about the need for there to be accessible all-ages comics available for every generation. It’s considered, on-point, and definitely worth reading.
After detailing his own experience in the comics industry in Britain, Smart makes the point that there aren’t fewer all-ages comics because there are fewer creators – there are fewer all-ages comics because there are fewer places for creators to create visible work:
The loss of children’s comics isn’t because we don’t have the talent. We do, we have too much talent, not only the established artists but the indies and the ferociously talented younger crowd emerging. The loss of comics is a social thing, it’s a medium being forgotten as people grow out of it. It’s a business thing, as comics are priced off the shelves by the more lucrative magazines. And it’s an ideas thing.
We need better ideas for how to sell comics.
He notes the Phoenix Magazine as an example of one group of people who are pushing for more all-ages comics, and the hard work they’re putting in. He also lists three points which he thinks will drastically help the situation: hiring more female artists (all-ages comics have a tendency to be aimed at boys rather than girls, and having more female creators will help redress that balance); more outlets for the vast range of creative talents in the UK to showcase themselves; and more connectivity between publishers and creators.
He speaks frankly about the aftermath of the widespread news reports when the physical copy of The Dandy ended last year, which was a massive deal@
When The Dandy announced it was to stop printing last year, in a strange way it was actually really good for British comics. Not because we lost The Dandy, of course, but because people started TALKING about the comics they loved as kids again, and artist started asking what they could do. It also raised a crucial contradiction which children’s comics always slam up against: adults who decry the loss of their favourite childhood comic, despite never buying comics for their own kids.
It’s led to some interesting discussion on Twitter and elsewhere, and hopefully maybe some of that will work its way over to this comments section as well. Smart knows what he’s talking about, and – speaking as somebody who is getting more and more immersed in the British comics community every week myself – there is NO END to talent over here. This is an important conversation to have not just in the UK, but in America and other markets as well – if we’re not constantly inspiring children to take up and love comics, then what are we even doing this for?
Smart links to his own long-term ambition in the post as well, which I’ll link to now. It’s called Moose Kid Comics, and is currently planning out contributors and a submissions policy. Go take a look!