I kind of knew it was going to happen at some point sooner or later, but it's still sad and sobering to learn that Random House feel they can longer go on financing The DFC. Issue 43 will be the last (issue 40 is due this Friday). Maybe at some point in the future there will be collections of some of the featured strips, and possibly even a new comic in another shape or form, but as it stands now this abrupt cancellation cuts off many serialised stories, some of them only a few episodes in, so I feel for those creators particularly. CLC will be just 3 episodes into a planned 12 forming Season 2 - I've drawn half of these, and am sure I'll complete the set, but not at the moment.
The saddest thing is all those kids lucky enough to have just discovered it, who relish Friday mornings when the comic arrives through the door, are now left with very little other options. - Beano and Dandy 'Extreme' are fine at what they do but are all full of adverts,- Simpsons comics are well done but the whole thing seems like an advert - kids have very little left that's not a TV, film or commercial tie-in. That was one of The DFC's greatest strengths - 36 pages and no adverts. Not to mention the incredible diversity of great stories.
Some will argue it was trying to be too many things at once - attempting to entertain too large a cross section from 8yr old girls to 14yr old boys. Yes, in a more buoyant time it might have existed as 2 or 3 different titles, more specifically targetted.
I was always somewhat frustrated by the subscription model they adopted - it relied on benevolent (and fairly well-off) parents to commit £12 a month on your behalf, rather than being something you could simply purchase, with coins, from a newsagent. But then how do you launch a new title onto the shelves when the very priviledge of being in WH Smiths swallows up 35% of the cover price? Or the stability of the shelves is not as predicable as a year ago (loss of Woolworths)?
While really depressed that this brave venture hasn't been able to gather the momentum and subscriptions it deserved, I'm proud to have been amongst all the other creators, and feel grateful to the editorial team for the opportunity and their honorable treatment of those slaving away on the drawing boards and computers. My own competance has come on leaps and bounds thanks to their encouragement, enthusiasm and deadlines.
On a self-concerned level, I'm now going to be seeking out more teaching work, and looking at refreshing and diversifying the comic skills I can teach (and their applications) - for example I've done a few Continuous Professional Development sessions with teachers, demonstrating the potential for comics in the classroom - I think I'll be offering this around more formally.
The worry is that schools are going to have the budgetry cutbacks that everywhere else is experiencing, and it's my challenge now to persuade them that a visiting comic artist represents a lot more than just 'a little treat' for the class.