Archive for April 2009
DFC, the ill-fated comic that was shut down in March after just seven months, will be relaunched independently next year, publisher David Fickling has vowed.
The weekly comic, which had 3,000 subscribers, folded after parent company Random House ordered its imprint companies to jettison any “non core business”.
The aim of the full-colour DFC, a weekly comic that featured contributions from author Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials trilogy, was to try to restore the genre to its glory days, when hundreds of thousands of youngsters bought The Beano, The Dandy and The Eagle.
But David Fickling told delegates at the Federation of Children’s Book Groups conference that he is determined to bring the comic back.
“As far as I was concerned, it was maddening to close it so quickly,” he said.
“But this is not good night for DFC. We are coming back. We are going to come back next year independently.”
Mr Fickling told the conference, held at the Worth School in West Sussex, that planning and launching the comic was one of the most thrilling projects of his career.
“It is very difficult sometimes to speak to those parts of the community who you know would adore books and love stories,” he said.
“That was part of the enterprise, to reclaim the comic story-telling part of our cultural heritage of stories for children.
“I wanted it all: to have books and to have comics. I think the way to reach those people isn’t to preach at them, it is by example.
“I wanted the comic to be an example.”
When Philip Pullman, who wrote The Adventures of John Blake for the comic, heard of the closure, he told Mr Fickling that the “story must continue”.
“Don’t let the closure of your comic stop your great enterprise,” he said.
Mr Pullman, whose adventures were illustrated by John Aggs, said he’d leapt at the chance to work on the comic.
“I’ve always loved comics, and when I first heard about the DFC, I leapt at the chance of being involved,” he said at the launch.
“The chance to work in this wonderfully fluid and exciting form was too good to miss.”
The 36-page comic, which also included Charlie Jefferson and the Tomb of Nazaleod by Garen Ewing , Mobot High by Neill Cameron and The Boss by Patrice Aggs, stopped after issue 43 when a buyer could not be found.
It was unique in its genre for having no adverts and quickly gained a reputation for its high quality stories and illustrators. It assiduously avoided any gender bias and looked to attract readers beyond the eight-12 market.
Although it was subscription-only, Mr Fickling had hoped eventually to sell the comics in shops.
At the conference, he was unable to give anymore details about the planned return of the DFC.
Fiction aimed at young adults is keeping the publishing industry alive, one of the country’s top publishing gurus has claimed.
Barry Cunningham, founder of Chicken House, said fiction aimed at teens and young adults was one of the only areas in children’s book publishing that was burgeoning.
Speaking at the Federation of Children’s Book Groups annual conference, he told delegates that publishers had a duty of care when releasing books for this niche market.
“It is an area that has a very wide variety – from brutal realism, vampires and fantasy,” he said.
“We are finding that publishers are publishing two or three editions of the same book: for children, adults and for movie goers.
“It is probably the only kind of category registering any growth and it is probably saving the publishing industry.”
Young adult books are those that are aimed at teenagers, but which have been read and enjoyed by adults. Among the titles that fit into that genre are John Boyne’s Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and the Harry Potter series.
Mr Cunningham, famed for discovering JK Rowling while working at Bloomsbury, was speaking at an event in which he introduced two emerging authors signed to Chicken House, Sharon Dogar and Rachel Ward, whose recent works Falling and Numbers have been tipped for success in both the children and adult sectors.
Aimed at the mid to late teens, both books have teenage protagonists. They are aimed at teenagers, but are also picked up by the adult book-reading market.
But the Frome-based publisher warned publishers not to take advantage of the market and flood it with the wrong kinds of book.
“It’s dangerous from my point of view,” he said at Worth Abbey School, in Turner’s Hill, West Sussex.
“I believe absolutely, fundamentally and obsessively that they are children’s books. They describe experiences that are emerging from a teenager’s point of view,” said Mr Cunningham.
“These are not books that happen to have teenagers in them. They are not there for adults, essentially. While it is lovely to have books that the whole family can enjoy, they are not for grown ups.
“We have to make sure that our publishing colleagues don’t see this crock of gold and pool anything into it.
“We are about great books for young readers.”