“Why on Earth would you start a weekly paper comic for today’s children?” Tom Fickling, Editor and MD of Phoenix Comics gets nostalgic and shares his thoughts on the future of this weekly classic.
“We often get asked this question by people and it seems a reasonable one. After all, isn’t everyone under the age of 15 playing Fortnite, watching hours of YouTube or catching Pokemon? Well of course they are doing all those things, but actually there is a lot to be said for the old technology of paper and print, the humble weekly comic.
That’s because even though print is old it’s still the very best at delivering amazing stories to readers of all ages. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. I’m a massive geek. I love Playstation, and iPads, VR head sets and even Google Glass. When I look back and think about what experiences I’ve had that have really stayed with me throughout my life, I always go back to stories. And so many of the stories that have really meant something to me have been found in comics.
I used to spend hours in a very hot attic reading my Dad’s old Beanos. I’d read and read and read, and then go back for more the next day. I also had a weekly delivery of one comic or another. I’d wait hungrily by the door for the sound of the postman and then catch my comic as it dropped through the letter box before it could even hit the mat. My brother was the same. As was my sister. In fact I used to read her comic too. It was called Bunty and my favourite strip in it was the Four Marys. If it was a comic, I’d read it!
As far as I can tell, today’s children love comics as much as they ever did. I know this from personal experience. I know it from the countless school shows I have done, the amazing letters we receive at The Phoenix and the wonderful quotes from readers, parents, teachers and librarians. Things like:
‘Apparently it’s better than Xbox!’ And…
‘My kid will prioritise reading over gaming or YouTube. I didn’t think that was possible!’
There’s something about a weekly comic that is yours to cherish. Not an expensive device that has to be limited in some way. Nobody minds you reading. You can take your comic with you everywhere you go and you certainly never need to charge it!
Even though the world marches onward, getting ever more technical, automated and advanced there’s still room for the traditional things to enrich and delight young readers. So the humble paper comic is old tech. It doesn’t have flashing lights, augmented reality or addictive gameplay loops. Yes, it’s old school, but still an absolutely cutting edge story delivery device.”
Long live the weekly comic!
The Phoenix is not like other comics. It is published by a small team committed to story excellence. David Fickling, the founder of The Phoenix, (and Tom’s dad) started Horrible Histories, published Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy and more recently Book one of The Book of Dust. The stories they tell are high quality, inspiring, challenging when they need to be, frequently hilarious and packed with amazing information to get children more engaged with reading and learning about the world. They are packed full with fantastic non-fiction such as the Corpse Talk series, a chat show interview with the zombie of a famous person. It could be William Shakespeare, Martin Luther King or someone not so well known like amazing French swashbuckler and opera singer, Julie D’Aubigny.