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Matthew Craig On The Latest UK Version Of Manga Pamphlets
posted July 7, 2010

I know this probably isn't exactly what Matt Seneca had in mind, but here in the UK, we have a company, DC Thomson, who produce a number of digest-format comics that would, given the right material, qualify as manga pamphlets.

COMMANDO, a 40-year mainstay of the British comics market, puts out four new (or mostly new?) 64-page black and white graphic novellas every month for ?1.35 each. Several hardcover collections are available, featuring classic strips and themed anthologies.

The BEANO and DANDY digest lines (now called "Fun Size Comics" and reprint-only, I've just discovered) feature strips aimed at kids, with characters such as Dennis the Menace & Gnasher. What's amazing here is that they actually use a limited-colour palette. Very basic, but bright and breezy.

(they also put out prose novellas under the People's Friend banner, just in case you have an Aunt Agatha)

The paper used is, shall we say, delightfully retro, but that's what keeps it cheap, I think.

Here's the Commando website, and ahoy-hoy! If they aren't running a webcomic right the hell now:

I myself only pick up the occasional Commando, although I tend to enjoy them when I do - more so than when I was a child. I buy the collections, as well. The format clearly works well - low panel count, open, clear storytelling - but I do think they could do more with the format. The Beano books are more conventional, in terms of panels and pacing - there's a clear middle ground between the two.

There have been other such titles in the past, such as the science-fiction anthology STARBLAZER, which fell by the wayside some time before the turn of the century. Again, I never quite got into that title as a child, despite enjoying British TV shows in that vein. One might expect there to be a gap in the market for such things, as with girls' comics, but if there is, it's clearly hiding behind stuff. Or even STUFF.

If I had my way - if I had one comics wish - it would be to have my own line of Commando-format comics. I mean, forget yer tankōbon or your "slimline" formats (pfft) - 64 pages? Some colours? Approx ?1.50? God on a bike, what I could do with that...

Still. If wishes were horses, we'd be up to our necks in poop.