Earlier this year I was mourning the loss of the British comic (in the traditional sense), so imagine my excitement when on Friday 30th May, a brand new one was finally released!
The DFC is a spanking new weekly anthology comic (collecting strips both serious and funny), and is the brainchild of David Fickling (note: there is no official definition of DFC as yet, but with this piece of information in mind, it is likely to simply be the Dave Fickling Comic). You won't find this title in the local newsagent though... apparently people such as W.H. Smith's wants so much money for the privilege of putting your mag on their shelves, that the venture is simply no longer financially viable... David and Co therefore have taken distribution into their own hands, and the DFC is a subscription only comic, arriving on your doormat each and every Friday -- the perfect way to start the weekend!
So what's it like? Well for me it was a step back in time. If you are a child of the 60s, 70s or 80s you'll no doubt remember a time when kids were given a bit of credit. The anthology comics of our day (titles such as Action, Battle, Valiant, Lion, Warrior, Tiger) provided us with intelligent stories that continued to build over the months, and although they were predominantly aimed at a (male) teenage market, they were written well enough that Dad would often have a crafty read once you were tucked up in bed! Let's never forget that Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta (arguably the best ‘graphic novel ever written) started life as a continuing story in Warrior.
Aimed at 8 - 12-year-olds (boys AND girls), the DFC has tapped into this 'old school' approach, bringing a delightful selection of quality, varied strips, all written and drawn so well that this fortysomething thoroughly enjoyed every one of them to! The main stories are:
John Blake -- This is without doubt the flagship story for the DFC. A real coup for them too, as it's written by Philip (Golden Compass) Pullman. It is already building into a fascinating story, revolving around a ghost ship that sails the Pacific.
The Super Animal Adventure Squad -- delightfully silly story of crime-fighting animals doing battle against the evil Dr Nefarious! Younger kids will love this.
The Boss -- is shaping up to be a 21st-century 'famous five', as a bunch of school kids try to thwart the bad guys…
Monkey Nuts is by far the funniest story -- it actually made me laugh out loud! My all-time favourite 'funny' comic is Sergio Aragones’ Groo, and the Etherington Brothers certainly capture much of that same fun and madness in this story of good guys 'Monkey' and 'Robot' (who is an unwanted coffee vending machine!), and their efforts to defeat the Amazing Amazing! with some exceptional gags (both visual and written) en route..
Vern and Lettuce is top-quality fun about a sheep (Vern) and a rabbit (Lettuce). Again, sure to be a firm favourite of all the younger readers.
The Spider Moon looks to be an intriguing mystery, set to unravel throughout the summer. As it stands we're still not exactly sure how and why yet, but Bekka looks to be the only person who can save her doomed world and it's all somehow tied in with her sea diving exam. This one has me hooked!
Mo-Bot High follows new kid Asha on her first day at a new school, where she finds playground fights take on a completely new meaning…
Good Dog Bad Dog is the continuing story of two cop dogs (Bergman and McBoo) on a mission to rid the world of crime! Very original and very funny!
Add to this the odd irregular strip, jokes, quizzes and general madness and this is a real find. The production quality is also well worth a mention… This is nothing like the poor black and white newspaper quality comics we used to live on… beautiful, full colour pages on heavy stock paper, and a cardboard cover are the order of the day here... all wrapped up in a striking red and yellow striped envelope – you wont miss it when the postman calls that’s for sure!
It's difficult to liken this little gem to anything that has been before, the great mix of both dramatic and funny strips aimed at boys and girls evokes memories of a classic era (60s - early 70s) Buster. But whereas that title (and most other comics of that era) was aimed at a working class readership, the DFC has a definite middle-class air about it (imagine the stories of Buster mixed with the brain of the Eagle!). The audience this comic is aiming at are the kids (and parents) who are enjoying the new book revolution, the Harry Potter/Alex Rider/Young James Bond etc readers. And when you think what a massive market this is, it's amazing that it's taken so long for someone to tap into it with a comic.
The other thing I love about the DFC is the fact that it has morals (giving it yet another wiff of bygone days). Its sole aim is to bring quality storytelling to our youngsters -- there is no product placement, not a single advert and no tacky bits of 'free' plastic stuck to the front - just cover to cover stories and beautiful artwork. Something I really admire and I hope they will continue with it. In these days of 'dumbed down' culture, it's a breath of fresh air to see something produced for kids that is this good - and it works just as well with adults.
At £3 a week, the DFC is possibly straying from 'pocket money' territory, but if it helps to get kids interested in reading (and keeps ‘em quiet for an hour or two in the process!) that's got to be a bargain, right?!
If you've got little ones in the 8 - 12ish age range (or even if you don't!), why not give the DFC a go? You can buy a single issue to try (and all back issues are still available -- a service we only dreamed of when we were kids!).... but a six-month subscription is where the smart money is, bringing the price down to less than £2 an issue.
DFC may stand for Dave Fickling Comic, but in this household it's definitely Dad's Favourite Comic!
You can find out more about the DFC including how to buy\subscribe here