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great news for comics in the uk!

Yesterday a bunch of us from The DFC gang met up in David Fickling's Oxford office to find out what's happening with some of the amazing comics that appeared during the DFC's 43-week appearance. And the news is good! While The DFC as a weekly magazine has been shelved for the time being, readers are going to be able to read whole collections of their favourite strips, in individual books. The first three to appear will be Dave Shelton's Good Dog, Bad Dog (which ran in The Guardian), Kate Brown's Spider Moon (which ran as a play by Playbox Theatre company, photos here), and artist Adam Brockbank (who designed many of the beasts in the Harry Potter films) and storyteller Ben Haggarty's Mezolith.

David Fickling was hugely excited at the meeting, saying he was gearing up to become the lead comic book publisher in the UK, and wants David Fickling Books to take on the huge comics industry in France and elsewhere. So here's the deal: He says it's going to be a struggle, because as of yet with the top retailers, no real comics market yet exists in the UK, so we're really going to have to push to create one. He's going to print 5,000 hardback copies of each of the three books, and we really need to sell all of them so we can afford to go on and bring out more books. So if you want a Vern and Lettuce book in the second round (and boy, oh boy, do I!), please get ready to support these three books and convince everyone you know to buy them, and get everywhere you can think of to stock them! We'll have an overarching DFC Library launch, and then fab events at the launch of each, with Good Dog, Bad Dog being the first to come out in March, then Mezolith and Spider Moon in April and May. (You can even pre-order them on Amazon here!)

Just as we were all meeting, Tilda the office manager, came in with a letter than had just arrived in the post, from a DFC reader named Samira who, even after all these months, was still dead set on seeing her favourite comics in print, whatever it took (Thanks, Samira!):

Here's a few photos from the DFB headquarters yesterday:

David and Will Fickling; editor Hannah Featherstone, Adam Brockbank and Will

Lauren Bennett (the fab publicist I've been working with on Morris the Mankiest Monster) and me; Ben Haggarty

Clare Hall-Craggs, publicity director at Random House Children's Books, and the very messy table at the end of the meeting

Front-line soldier Matilda Johnson; Lauren and Dave Shelton

After the meeting, Ben, Dave, Adam and I went for a cosy drink with our former DFC editor Ben Sharpe at the Eagle & Child pub around the corner (famed as a meeting place for the Inklings). Then I got to ride back to Paddington on the train with Dave Shelton, which meant I got to look through all his sketchbook, yay!!! If you haven't seen one of Dave's sketchbooks, you have a Big Something in life to look forward to. You can get glimpses of them on his blog, but it is really something to see the real things. How he packs in so many perfect little drawings that closely together is beyond my comprehension.

a page of Dave Shelton's sketchbook

I went straight from Paddington station to the Institute of Contemporary Arts (by Trafalgar Square) to hear a DJ set by Woodrow Phoenix (DFC creator of Donny Digits and Horse of a Different Colour). I was so full of news and excitement from the meeting and Dave's sketchbook that when I saw Bridget Hannigan, Ben Dickson, Pat Mills, Paul Gravett and Peter Stanbury at one of the cafe tables, I plopped down and started babbling about it all a mile a minute. When I went cross-eyed and had to stop for breath, Paul introduced me to the guy sitting next to me, who turned out to be none other than comics legend Scott McCloud! If you're at all into comics, you will know him as the author of what have been come to be seen as the most definitive comics handbooks written so far, and created in comics format, Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics and Making Comics:

Paul Gravett, Woodrow Phoenix and Scott McCloud

Scott said he'd flown to London from L.A. just to do a talk the next day at the Skype headquarters (whom, ironically, are known for their video conferencing). He's currently working on a huge 400+ page graphic novel and says the book will come out in a couple years if he manages to do a page every two days. (Here's his website.)

Here's Woodrow censoring Paul's rather saucy old record cover. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you see it), Woodrow didn't let Paul play any of his records. [Edit: News just in from Woodrow in India. Apologies, yes, he did let Paul play one record]; Ben Dickson, Bridget Hannigan, Peter Stanbury

Just before Ellen Lindner and Stephen Betts from Comix Influx showed up, manga artist Asia Alfasi unexpectedly swung by our table and we had big hugs and discovered we were both going to be going up to the Hi-Ex comics festival in Inverness, 27-28 March, along with my studio mate Gary Northfield (creator of the DFC's Little Cutie). Hooray! Stuart's also planning to come, we're really looking forward to that event.

Woodrow and Scott; Woodrow and Paul fighting over who gets to spin the next disc


( 38 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 11th, 2009 10:12 pm (UTC)
By day I'm a mild-mannered cartoonist. But if I was introduced to Scott McCloud I'd become... FAN-BOY! With the ability to stutter uncontrollably and laugh nervously!

Dave Fickling FTW!
Nov. 11th, 2009 10:42 pm (UTC)
I didn't even have time to get nervous! But then I went a little red after he left. XD
Nov. 11th, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)
This is fantastic news all round!! I think I'm falling in love with Mr. Fickling XD

REALLY want a Vern & Lettuce hardback comic :)
Nov. 11th, 2009 10:42 pm (UTC)
Yay!!! Thanks, Fehed! :-)
Nov. 11th, 2009 10:27 pm (UTC)
The DFB.
Great news. The challenge is going to be to get young DFC subscribers who have already read the material to buy it again. I can't say I'll be buying all three books as they didn't all appeal to my two, but I will pick up the collections of those strips that did (Vern and Lettuce, Crab Lane Crew, Lil Cutie, Mo-Bot High, Mezolith, The Boss, and a few more) but not those that didn't.

As for those photos; does Paul Gravett have a portrait of himself in the attic?
Nov. 11th, 2009 10:44 pm (UTC)
Re: The DFB.
That's okay, just buy the ones you like! I think everyone has favourites and will want those; maybe some people will collect the whole series, but we'll see what happens.

And I confess, I have never visited Paul's attic... ;-)
Nov. 12th, 2009 08:02 am (UTC)
Re: The DFB.
I have to say, Paul is looking particularly sharp at the moment, though I'm inclined to suspect something more mundane than a portrait in the attic...
Nov. 12th, 2009 08:16 am (UTC)
Re: The DFB.
Ha ha! You are right...
Nov. 12th, 2009 11:54 am (UTC)
Re: The DFB.
Ceanskies wrote: " have to say, Paul is looking particularly sharp at the moment, though I'm inclined to suspect something more mundane than a portrait in the attic..."

He's sold his soul to The Devil?
Nov. 12th, 2009 11:57 am (UTC)
Re: The DFB.
Ha ha, no one ever said that! You read too much. ;-D
Nov. 12th, 2009 01:55 pm (UTC)
Re: The DFB.
I had in mind something a bit more positive than that :)
Nov. 11th, 2009 10:31 pm (UTC)
damnit, why do I miss so much cool stuff? *sigh*
didn't even know about the London thing....and sobs, would have loved to see the DFC crew again. I feel so out of it these days.

And ohmygod Scott McCloud! i would have gone a bit gaga XD
Nov. 11th, 2009 10:32 pm (UTC)
and the good comment needs its own post...so
WOOOOOOOT!! go David, go! Can't wait to see more DFC goodness. ^__^
Nov. 11th, 2009 10:47 pm (UTC)
*Hugs*! You wouldn't BELIEVE how many times your name came up in the meeting: 'Who knows what goes on at this festival?' 'That would be Emma...' 'Who can we talk to about such-and-such' 'That's Emma again'.
Nov. 11th, 2009 10:48 pm (UTC)
hahah. I'm glad I was there in aura ^_^
Sounds like it was a rush of enthusiasm!! I'm so pleased. woooot! *hug*
Nov. 11th, 2009 10:35 pm (UTC)
hooray! there are seveal of the comics i would love to get collected versions of! T-T
Nov. 11th, 2009 10:47 pm (UTC)
Hooray! :-D
Nov. 11th, 2009 11:04 pm (UTC)
YOU'RE ON! shame not coming out in time for christmas. or i would just do a bag of DFC for all my young friends this christmas!
Nov. 11th, 2009 11:21 pm (UTC)
Ha ha, me too! At least if V&L comes out for next Christmas, you know what I'll be stocking up on...
Nov. 11th, 2009 11:38 pm (UTC)
Blimey. Scott McCloud, eh? I would have thought you Mc-people would instantly spot each other. Mc-dar or something.
Nov. 12th, 2009 07:33 am (UTC)
Ha ha, you'd think! I was being a bit self-absorbed at that point, a good recipe for total obliviousness.
Nov. 12th, 2009 12:37 am (UTC)
I want the book
I want to read a Vern and Lettuce book!!!! I have only seen a small portion of their strips. I hope it becomes a reality.

Also: what a sweet letter you all recieved!

And: Wow, Scott McCloud! I enjoy seeing the celebrities you run into on a regular basis (as you know). He's always appearing at random places around the world because some information-disseminating organization is flying him in to give a talk. With Scott McCloud, a video conference won't do. You have to have the man himself. He's mega-inspiring.
Nov. 12th, 2009 07:34 am (UTC)
Re: I want the book
I can understand that! Who wouldn't want to get Scott McCloud to come speak in person? :-)

Thanks, David!
Nov. 12th, 2009 12:54 am (UTC)
Cui bono?
Taking on the French comics industry? Why? Why not just do a deal with a French publisher?
Nov. 12th, 2009 06:41 am (UTC)
Re: Cui bono?
It's good news about the DFC library. We will buy all the DFC books and probably give some out as gifts. I agree that not everyone who was a DFC subscriber will do this.

What about 'john blake' we loved the artwork and story and that one really needs concluding. Will we see any 'new' stuff? When you buy a 'greatest hits' you often get new tracks so the hardcore fans will repurchase. Will they do this a bit with the DFC library? Throw in a few new or unpublished stories? Becuase although it's great news that the DFC still lives on what my boys are desperate for is new stories. I really hope that they update the DFC website again so that if the books do take off either a weekly or monthly DFC may be more viable and have a really solid fan base to start with.
Nov. 12th, 2009 07:41 am (UTC)
Re: Cui bono?
Yes, there will be new stuff! It will vary with each book, each one will have its own unique identity, while still being under the DFC umbrella. And just with the way books are laid out, they have big jumps in pagination; if someone's a page over 48 pages, the next possible number is 64 pages, so there's lots more space to fill. Also, a lot of things will need tweaked with some of the strips, to make them fit the formats and make them more accessible for translation purposes (that's mostly to do with lettering).

About taking on the French comics industry, I think David Fickling's being very ambitious and not only looking to create his own line of comics, but to create a whole new platform for comics in publishing, so the British comics industry can grow and grow and eventually rival their comics giant of a neighbour nextdoor. So that really includes lots of UK publishers in the breadth of its ambition, and hopefully David's foray into comics will be the match needed to set the bonfire blazing.
Nov. 12th, 2009 09:33 am (UTC)
Hey, Ms Disinformation! Paul played the second record of the set! And then went off to do his hosting thang. Hello from Delhi x
Nov. 12th, 2009 10:35 am (UTC)
Hee hee... oops, sorry about that! Hey, when do we get to read this India blog of yours?
Nov. 12th, 2009 12:01 pm (UTC)
These books look gorgeous. Hardback too, how continental and stylish!
Best of luck with this venture. We desperately need a market which is up to standard with all the hard work and talent on the UK comics scene right now. Bold projects like this are exactly what we need.

....I may have to hint at family members that I'd really like one of those books for christmas. I am lamentably poor right now -_-;
Nov. 12th, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks for that, it means a lot to have people like you being supportive about it! Yeah, I need to save up for Christmas, too, or at least start making things... eek.
Nov. 12th, 2009 02:10 pm (UTC)
Sarah - any chance (if you've time of course) of you putting one of your lovely photos and a brief news-bit on the SCAS blog, with a link to this more detailed post? If you've not time I'll try and do it this weekend, with your permission :-) Gx
Nov. 12th, 2009 02:22 pm (UTC)
Ooh, you are so right. Just did it! Thanks! :-)
Nov. 12th, 2009 02:40 pm (UTC)
Brilliant stuff, thanks Sarah.
Nov. 14th, 2009 10:57 am (UTC)
Promoting The DFC Library
Just read your posting Sarah,great news indeed and by coincidence I've just posted a plug plus ordering link on the Cloud 109 Blog.

I would strongly urge anybody else running a comics orientated blog to do the same, there's no such thing as too much publicity for this kind of enterprise.
Nov. 14th, 2009 11:00 am (UTC)
Promoting The DFC Library
Just read your posting Sarah,great news indeed and by coincidence I've just posted a plug plus ordering link on the Cloud 109 Blog.

I would strongly urge anybody else running a comics orientated blog to do the same, there's no such thing as too much publicity for this kind of enterprise.
(Deleted comment)
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( 38 comments — Leave a comment )