Wednesday, May 8, 2013

'Outtake' from the forthcoming Comic Archive.

I have a few bits that I wont be able to include in the next Comic Archive, so instead of the sitting on the hard drive, they will be up here and on FB.

Dez Skinn on 'Vulcan'
In my first Comic Archive book, I stated in an article on Valiant comic; "It was probably an attempt by the publisher to get in on the ever-increasing amount of American imports appearing on the newsstands in the UK." ...I was referring to the reprint title Vulcan. Dez Skinn read it and sent me the following piece on how Vulcan actually happened.

American imports numbered around only 10,00 copies of each being imported PER MONTH, hardly an attractive market for the world's biggest publisher of the time (IPC). But Vulcan wasn't really even an IPC product. In his spare time Sid Bicknell put it together editorially for Europe, with Jan Shepherd as art editor.

It came about because Syndication International was making an absolute fortune for IPC by selling Fleetway strips abroad, even though their success was foolishly never costed into the viability of titles. So some bright spark had the idea of selling an entire comic to foreign publishers, instead of individual strips. The big gimmick being the low cost price to each because they'd all be printed at the same time (in Italy I think). So it was an early co-production for various countries (hence all the words, including the cover masthead were in black, so the fifth (language) plate could be changed easily when printing all at the same time for different languages without need to change any of the colour plates. They'd print off from the full four colour plates for everybody including a black artwork plate, giving it a print run beyond a million, then overprint different languages from a second black plate, a different one for each individual territory. This
way you could have a full colour comic, even in a territory which could only support a print run of only 25,000 or so. Very cost effective).

Because it was so cheap (and nasty, on horrible flimsy paper which usually fell apart at newsagents), it was an easy job to run-on copies in English for the UK with a ridiculously low breakeven, provided it sold well enough abroad to keep going. I seem to remember the German edition, Kondor, proved very popular. But it wasn't liked in-house, not being a "proper" comic, with no fulltime staff or any origination, and on that awful cheap paper!.

Everybody felt it undermined their work, being a cheap little reprint, the thin end of the wedge, and Sid and Jan weren't very popular for agreeing to do it. now you know!

Visit Dez's excellent site for the lowdown on all his titles.

1 comment:

  1. I once had every issue of Vulcan, purchased as they appeared in the shops. However, I needed to replace a few and wrote to IPC for back issues, giving the dates. (Sent a postal order to cover costs, of course.)

    I received a terse reply saying that my letter made no sense as the dates weren't right. Years later, when I discovered that the comic had appeared first in Scotland and later in England, that reply made sense.

    I must have been giving Scottish dates, but the girl dealing with my letter must've been going by English ones.

    Obviously, she was unaware it had gone on sale in Scotland first.

    I liked Vulcan, and I still have the Holiday Special and Annual.