Monday, June 29, 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 57: The Mighty Phoenix Comic

For a lot of comic-loving parents, they will have a particular memory of "Their" comic, the comic they grew up with, stuffed rolled up inside a back pocket while riding their Raleigh Chopper off to some bit of scrubland, to scrutinise every page, thrill at the stories, marvel at the art and perhaps even doodle their favourite characters and strips in their spare time.

I wanted C to have that memory, probably a bit too early on in her reading journey if I'm really honest, but casting around for kid comics when she was really tiny had me coming up empty handed.

Then I found a copy of "The Phoenix Comic" in our local library and let her have a flick through. Back when we started reading it, it hadn't been going that long - born from the ashes (very Phoenix-like in fact) from the sadly departed / way-ahead-of-its-time "The DFC" but retaining a solid collection of awesome comic folk from that glorious tome, turning out a new kid comic that has gone from strength to strength, establishing itself as a firm favourite with kids across the land.

When C first started reading it, she was drawn to the 'funnies' - Strips such as Bunny vs Monkey and Evil Emperor Penguin. Later when she started solo reading, she started to get her teeth into strips like Von Doogan (brain-melting puzzling stuff with the sharpest art you'll ever see) and Pirates of Pangaea, mashing up dinosaurs and pirates in a truly glorious way.


At first we used to pick up our copies from Waitrose, who had the foresight to stock The Phoenix amongst all their hideous licensed character mags and plastic tat mags for kids. We used to re-arrange the shelves in Waitrose so that the Phoenix Comic was always brought to the front and spread out a bit, just so it would catch the eye of other kids.

I remember going to a launch evening for a stack of David Fickling-published titles, and listening to the man himself talk about The Phoenix Comic and what his aim was. He grew up reading comics like Eagle, and just like me, wanted kids to have something that awesome in their lives on a weekly basis.

Of course, putting together a weekly comic isn't easy - yet over the years we've been reading it, we're constantly surprised and delighted at the sheer variety, diversity and brilliance of the stories and strips that find a home within its hallowed pages. "Old timers" on the comic like Jamie Smart, Neill Cameron and Laura Ellen Anderson constantly come up with the goods of course, but newer folk like Robert Deas, James Stayt and Kate Brown are bringing awesome stuff in too (in fact Gorebrah is another huge fave with C and I'm constantly in awe of James' ability to work in weird pop culture references into his strips).

The highlight for C was getting to star as a background character in Neill Cameron's hugely successful "Mega Robo Bros" comic strip, after she cheekily cornered him at a book event and demanded that he included her as one of the schoolkids in Alex and Freddy's school (I think she did so quite politely and charmingly, and we were utterly delighted that awesome Neill made good on his promise and did indeed work her into a climactic battle scene in the school playground, complete with her weirdly patterned but very distinctive turquoise rain jacket).

We've met a few folk from the comic over the years. David and Tom Fickling are as charming as you can imagine, and extremely protective and passionate about The Phoenix (rightly so). Tom even turns his hand to writing stories for the comic itself. We were also delighted to meet Lorenzo and Robin Etherington at a separate event, great guys whose work just blows us away.

Oxford feels like a good place to be if you love comics, as two of the mightiest comic empires snuggle up to each other in this awesome city (my own childhood comic of choice, 2000AD, is published just down the road from the Phoenix offices).

Many parents have asked me how they can start their kids out reading, and some have even asked me how they can start them off reading comics - and this is where I inevitably point them.

Stand by for a LOT of review links...!

Links to Original Reviews and Articles: 

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th May 2015 - "Troy Trailblazer and the Horde Queen (Book 1)" by Robert Deas (David Fickling Books / The Phoenix Comic)

The Phoenix Comic by various lovely artists / illustrators (Phoenix Comics)

ReaditDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th January 2016 - "Tamsin and the Deep" by Neill Cameron and Kate Brown (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Comic of the Week - Week Ending 13th July 2018: "The Phoenix Colossal Comics Collection Volume 1" (David Fickling Books)

Happy 200th Issue to the best kid's comic on the planet. The Phoenix bumper 200th edition ROCKS!

ReadItDaddy's Comic / Graphic Novel of the Week - Week Ending 7th February 2020: "Gorebrah: The Mightiest Chef in the Universe" by James Stayte (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Comic / Graphic Novel of the Week - Week Ending 4th January 2019: "Mega Robo Bros 3: Mega Robo Revenge" by Neill Cameron (David Fickling Books)

Bunny vs Monkey Year 1 (The Phoenix Presents Series) by Jamie Smart (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 3rd June 2016 - "Mega Robo Bros" by Neill Cameron (David Fickling Books)

The Phoenix Presents "Corpse Talk" by Adam Murphy (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Comic of the Week - Week Ending 19th October 2018: "Bunny vs Monkey Book 5" by Jamie Smart (David Fickling Books)

The Phoenix Presents - Gary's Garden Book 1 by Gary Northfield (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 6th February 2015 - "Pirates of Pangaea - Book 1" by Daniel Hartwell and Neill Cameron (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 10th March 2017 - "Evil Emperor Penguin Strikes Back" by Laura Ellen Anderson (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 2nd October 2015 - "Evil Emperor Penguin Book 1" by Laura Ellen Anderson (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 15th December 2017 - "Mega Robo Rumble (Mega Robo Bros 2)" by Neill Cameron (David Fickling Books)

Fantastic comic creating fun with The Etherington Brothers - The Story Museum, Oxford

ReaditDaddy's Comic of the Week - Week Ending 1st June 2018: "The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship" by Philip Pullman and Fred Fordham (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 15th April 2016 - "Von Doogan and the Great Air Race" by Lorenzo Etherington (David Fickling Books)

Long Gone Don Book 1 by Lorenzo and Robin Etherington (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Comic of the Week - Week Ending 7th September 2018: "Corpse Talk: Queens and Kings" by Adam and Lisa Murphy (David Fickling Books)

The Phoenix Presents "Von Doogan and the Curse of the Golden Monkey" by Lawrence (Lorenzo) Etherington (David Fickling Books)

Bunny vs Monkey Book 2 (The Phoenix Presents Series) by Jamie Smart (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Graphic Novel of the Week - Week Ending 5th January 2018 - "Tamsin and the Dark" by Neill Cameron and Kate Brown (David Fickling Books)

Bunny vs Monkey Book 4 by Jamie Smart (David Fickling Books / The Phoenix Comic)

The Phoenix Presents - Star Cat Volume 1 by James Turner (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week ending 3rd April 2015 - "Tales of Fayt - The Mystery of the Crooked Imp" by Conrad Mason and David Wyatt (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 30th November 2018: "The Funniest Book Ever" by various Authors / Artists (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 27th April 2018: "Looshkin Book 1" by Jamie Smart (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Comic of the Week - Week Ending 11th October 2019: "Claire: Justice Ninja" by Joe Brady and Kate Ashwin (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Comic / Graphic Novel of the Week - Week Ending 4th October 2019: "Looshkin: The Big Number 2" by Jamie Smart (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Picture / Comic Book of the Week - Week Ending 6th January 2017 - "Long Gone Don Book 2" by The Etherington Brothers (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 5th August 2016 - "The Phoenix Presents: Lost Tales" by Adam Murphy (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 18th August 2017 - "Corpse Talk: Ground Breaking Scientists" by Adam and Lisa Murphy (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 23rd March 2018 - "Corpse Talk: Ground Breaking Women" by Adam and Lisa Murphy (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 28th August 2015 - "Corpse Talk Season 2" by Adam Murphy and Lisa Murphy(David Fickling Books / The Phoenix Comic)


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