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

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