Beano-1§ A raft of stories from the UK about how — get this — children love comics, in the wake of a study with hard numbers behind the surge. Sales are booming and growth is foreseen, says The Scotsman in a story called “Comic effect works its magic on children”:

Research by consumer analysts Mintel shows that the pre-teen market, catered to by classic comics like the Beano and the Dandy, has seen a surge over the past four years.

Experts predict sales of comics are set to increase by a further 21 per cent to reach £165 million by 2013 following the success of new titles launched on the back of TV programmes such as In the Night Garden.

Mintel senior analyst Mark Brecchin said: “It seems that the humble comic is standing the test of time and even today they provide an ideal treat for children. The market for this traditional favourite has gone from strength to strength due to a host of new launches, price rises and the fact that publishers now bring out more issues per title each month.

The Herald has more:

Sales of children’s comic books have rocketed, despite the lure of modern hobbies and pastimes.

The pre-teen market – which includes classic comics such as the Dandy and Beano – has experienced a surge of more than 70% in the past four years.

Comic sales have seen a massive 72% increase since 2003, and were worth £136m this year, thanks to new titles such as Dr Who Adventures.

Sales of women’s magazines increased by just 15% in the same period and teenage magazines declined by 61%, according to research by consumer analysts Mintel.

The UK England doesn’t have an overly robust native comics industry — especially given all the talents living there — but they do have a strong tradition of kids comics in general interest magazines, like the Beano and The Dandy, which present the kind of “national comics magazine” prevalent in Europe — especially Disney-themed magazines — but absent in the US. (Disney Adventures was a sort of attempt in this direction, and Nick magazine continues the tradition; however, comics are a small part of these magazines, compared to Beano.)

And why have comics might have surged over a five-year period? People quoted in the articles suggest it’s because of more licensed comics based on popular TV shows and so on. The Telegraph version of the story has even more info:

Dr Who Adventures magazine by the BBC rocketed from a standing start to top the chart as the most popular children’s title in 2007, with a circulation of 155,000, Mintel found. Comics based on American cartoon series The Simpsons have also proved very popular. Bucking the trend for television-based children’s magazines is The DFC, an old-school comic for eight to 12-year-olds which includes an illustrated version of Philip Pullman’s tallship tale The Adventures of John Blake.

The same piece mentions, however, that Beano has declined from a six-figure circ five years ago to a mere 64K today.

By the way, is it just us, or the does UK Dennis the Menace look a lot like Naruto?


  1. One or two minor points, “England doesn’t have an overly robust native comics industry — especially given all the talents living there — but they do have a strong tradition of kids comics in general interest magazines like the Beano and The Dandy which present the kind of “national comics magazine” prevalent in Europe…”

    The Beano and the Dandy are published in Dundee in Scotland, not “England”.

    Secondly, there was a time when IPC (based in London) and DC Thomson (based in Scotland) would have merged or even dropped titles that fell below 250,000.

  2. Beat me too it. Sorry to be paedantic (and I’m English by the way) but the two paper quoted are also Scottish. One of them gives you a massive clue towards that fact. To be fair The Beano and The Dandy are UK, or British comics that happen to be produced Scotland BUT using England in this case is incorrect.

  3. The title says UK. She also seems to be referring to the readership (again UK) more than region of origin.

    Scottish comics readers: even more anal than regular comics readers?

  4. Ai yi yi, you’d think with a live in English guy, I would get this straight. To be fair, he did identify Dennis the Menace for me.

    But I will never say ENGLISH again!

  5. “Scottish comics readers: even more anal than regular comics readers?”

    Bold man to say that! Particularly when I point out I’m English and it still bugs me. Rod’s comment clearly quotes the line were the error is made. I’m sure it’d bug you if (and I’m using the following only as an example) all American’s were consisteny refered to as ”You Californians” or said to be from California on a regular basis.

    Anyway I accept that this is derailing the topic some what before its even started BUT it would be nice if people just made the effort to reference the countries of the UK correctly.

  6. Fear not, people. Heidi has just received a painstaking lecture from yours truly. She is now well and truly clued up, and the matter is settled.

    BTW, it wasn’t that Heidi thought Scotland was part of England or anything silly like that; rather, she didn’t realise that DC Thompson was based in Dundee.

  7. I have to admit that after a stopover in Heathrow a number of years ago, I picked up some reprints of old comics and got hooked. It also makes Alan Moore’s Albion series make a LOT more sense if you know those DC Thomson comics.

  8. colin (pt 2): Fair enough. It is a common if inaccurate colloquialism in American to conflate the two, which may be irritating i’m sure. (Although many ‘fly-over state’ residents may well think US entertainment really does only come from and for CA and NY!)

    I am curious what the Beano mags look like nowadays–page count, what kind of paper quality/color use, point price.

  9. joecab, Albion is based on Fleetway characters – no longer in print, published by IPC. The Fleetway characters are similar to the DC Thompson character’s – in the same way that Marvel and DC characters are similar.

  10. Hey I was a character in Albion 3, Joe.

    Not anal at all, Mike, I grew up reading DC Thomson’s Sparky, but as I got older I preferred the English comics. As a matter of fact I worked for IPC as a comics artist and writer because DC Thomson were a bunch of Scottish meanies.

    Just so you get an idea how non-anal and non-parochial it all was (I think the glory days are gone), the two greatest DC Thomson cartoonists were both Englishmen, Dudley D. Watkins and Leo Baxendale. But on a good day at DC Thomson, and at Fleetway, you might bump into Hugo Pratt, and of course other Spanish, Argentinian and Belgian cartoonists were all sending their work in.

    Just to muddy the waters even more, one of England’s favourite cartoonists was Donald McGill, a Scotsman who moved to England via Canada. His seaside postcards are a national English treasure.

    It’s complicated.

  11. As a well timed addition here, anyone who doesn’t know about the UK’s newest children’s comic The DFC (as it’s pretty much a subscription only) that’s mentioned above can buy a special issue THIS WEEK ONLY at all Tescos stores in the UK for 1.99.

    It’s only there until Tuesday, kiddies. If they sell enough they might consider changing the way they do the comic.

  12. DC Thomson are indeed a Dundee-based publisher but their comics are distributed all over the UK, which is what the sales info took into account I presume.

    As for formats of British comics; most are full colour glossies these days, with page counts usually from 32 to 52. (Panini’s Marvel reprints have 76 pages.) Most children’s comics come bagged with a free plastic toy, which means their bulky format makes shelf displays a mess. “Comics” such as Doctor Who Adventures only actually feature about 6 pages out of 36 that are comic strip. The rest are lightweight feature pages, pin ups, and “activity pages” (puzzles, cut out masks, etc).

    I’m surprised to hear that comic sales are up as it goes against everything else I’ve heard within the industry, so I’m not sure the story is accurate unfortunately.

    Click on my website/blog for more info on the UK comics industry past and present.

  13. The comics industry does seem to be returning back to its heyday and rightly so, though the cost these days have to cover the plastic freebies that are packaged with many comics now.

    The comics industry is starting the transformation over to the digital age and as much as people like the look and feel of paper, or maybe not, it won’t be too long before digital distribution of comics become the norm.

    We currently publish a number of digital comics under our Blue Pilot Software company and are licensing the technology to other content providers. Our comics at present are squarely aimed at the children’s market. It actually surprises the number of adults reading and interacting with them as well.

    What the digital model offers over the current model, is cheap digital distribution, a digital comic never has to leave the shop shelf to make way for newer issues, added digital content, i.e. we have colouring in of each panel as well as an interactive toy or game with each issue.

    As more and more adults have access to digital devices such as Apples iPhone, and their children have access to these same devices it shouldn’t take long when we start seeing more and more content being delivered in this manner.

    Philip Orr
    Infurious Comics
    Blue Pilot Software

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