Tomorrow sees the 100th issue of The Phoenix, the weekly children’s comic, published. This represents quite the milestone, as The Phoenix is the first independent British comic to hit 100 issues in over 40 years.
The British comics industry is defined by the weekly comic. Starting with books like The Dandy and The Beano, weekly comics have been part of the British psyche for decades and decades. Initially aimed mainly at a younger audience, publications like 2000AD pushed the tone of their stories towards an older readership, and built up their own community of writers and artists – many of whom have since gone on to redefine American comics also.
The Phoenix reaching 100 issues is an incredibly big deal for weekly comics here. Although we have the high tradition of buying and reading weekly comics for ourselves and children, print comics have been on the fall for a long time. This recently culminated in The Dandy being cancelled almost entirely, while sales of The Beano have fallen dramatically over the years.
That The Phoenix has printed 100 issues is notable – but that it did so whilst remaining independent is astounding. A complaint levelled at The Beano has been that the content is now primarily designed to advertise things to the readers, and the number of cancelled publications over the decade has risen and risen, with nobody seemingly able to get a comic off the ground and keep it running. The Fickling family, who run The Phoenix, have managed to do something which people thought impossible.
Featuring creators like Neill Cameron, Kate Brown, Zak Simmonds-Hurn, Laura Anderson, Robert Deas, Zoom Rockman, Jamie Smart, Adam Murphy, Sarah McIntyre, Daniel Hartwell, Karen Rubins, John and Patrice Aggs, Garen Ewing and Gary Northfield, The Phoenix has been keeping a high quality of work up throughout their publication run – and you’ll find many of the creators talking about the comics in-depth through the Phoenix Presents feature we ran right here on The Beat.
So, personally, I’m absolutely thrilled to see The Phoenix hit this milestone. Although technically a few years older than their demographic, I love the stories and characters who have come out of the publication thus far, and I’m excited to see who’ll be next to arrive. Hurrah! Somebody pass me some cake.