Issue 1

From the ashes of the DFC rises... the Phoenix.

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Matt_Baxter
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Joined: 14 Jan 2012, 21:34

Re: Issue 1

Post by Matt_Baxter »

This is my first post on Comics UK: I've found my way to the site via Lew's excellent blog.

So, firstly disclosure: I'm a contributor to The Phoenix. I draw the editorial characters who appear every week. So you could say I have a vested interest in this thread!

Secondly, I'm amazed and delighted that the comic is generating this kind of debate. It's fantastic that theres a genuine interest in The Phoenix and, from what I can see, a desire to see it succeed. And I'm dismayed in equal measure that many of the recent posts are concerned with distribution problems. It's not great that there have been hitches, but it WILL get sorted. If you missed an issue (most commonly Issue 1 by the sound of things), I'm pretty sure the subs supplier will be able to help.

Here's my take on the problems being discussed.

The Phoenix is an indie, in the true sense of the word. It's run by a tiny, dedicated team: you can count them on one hand, and they do everything from commissioning the stories, to helping with story development, to designing the pages, to writing editorial, to dealing with retailers, to promoting the comic ...everything. Being indie means their budgets are small so they have to be resourceful. They have a small amount of start-up capital. Bear in mind that most of their mainstream comic competitors are published by the likes of Topps, Pannini, BBC etc. with all the budgetary clout that the corporate world brings.

As a result, like any indie, they have had to start small. WHSmith? Forget about it. The financial outlay and associated risk makes that kind of retailer currently out of the question. 'Currently' is the important word there. By starting small, building a fanbase of children (OK, and some grown ups too) who love the comic, they will get there eventually. To extend the indie analogy to the music world: you've got to play the Kentish Town Bull & Gate or the Northampton Roadmenders for a while before you can graduate to the G-MEX!

So, ultimately what I'm saying is: give The Phoenix a chance. Give it a bit of time to find it's feet and to iron out these glitches. By taking a subscription, even a £10/five issue taster, you'll be giving it investment and therefor the opportunity to grow, to convince the big retailers and to find it's audience. It's a brilliant comic, which complements the good stuff for kids that's already out there (Beano, Dandy etc) and is leagues ahead of the dreary remainder clogging up the comic shelves of Tesco. But I would say that, I'm biased!

Cheers
Matt

Phoenix
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Re: Issue 1

Post by Phoenix »

Hi Matt, and welcome to comicsuk. If you read the posts on this thread again I'm sure you will realise that we do appreciate the comic, starting from the unusual and innovative introduction to itself that we have all seen on line, via the tasters themselves right through to the final product, which looks thoroughly professional in its design and presentation. I suspect that there are a good many people on this site who would consider the fact that I am buying it a recommendation on its own.

You will also see that our main beef concerns the lack of availability of The Phoenix in shops. We do appreciate that initially Waitrose may well be the only outlet you are using, so those people who do not live anywhere near a branch of Waitrose will clearly need to take out a subscription and, in fairness, I don't think these people will actually object to doing so. However, despite the fact that we all thought that there was a clear intention on the part of The Phoenix to send copies of the comic to all branches of Waitrose, starting this availability on January 7th with issue 1, the fact is that apparently no branch, big or small, anywhere in the country had any copies yesterday, January 14th, of issue 2, because the symbiotic link that existed for issue 0 was not put in place for issue 1, and still doesn't appear to be in place. I would suspect that most of the responsibility for this situation, in particular the fact that Waitrose don't even have the title on their computer system to allow them to order copies across their stores, is down to the people at the comic.

A minor beef is that people who took out a subscription after January 7th seem to have received issue 2 as the first comic of their subscription, instead of the issue 1 they were expecting, and despite the fact that issue 2 was not even due out until the 14th. Being put in the position of feeling the need to buy issue 1 at the full price of £2.99 in order to make sure of getting it, as I had to, does look, to me at least, a bit like sharp practice.

We do, of course, appreciate that there are teething problems, and we do expect that things will get sorted out in the very near future, as you say. You can believe me when I say that we do support this comic and wish it well. There are complaints on this thread but none relate to the comic itself. It looks to me as if you have a winner on your hands, and I personally wish The Phoenix well.

Matt_Baxter
Posts: 7
Joined: 14 Jan 2012, 21:34

Re: Issue 1

Post by Matt_Baxter »

Hi Phoenix

Thanks for the reply. :D

Yes, I'd read the entire thread and, as I say in my first post, I'm delighted with the positive support. In fact, I'd be very interested to read what others think of the all-important stories. I think the content is amazingly good. What do you reckon?

In terms of the distribution issues, all I can say from what I understand and observe (I'm a designer/illustrator, not a member of the team) is that the tiny Phoenix team is as dismayed with the present situation as you are. They are working their flipping cojones off to get 32 pages of comic produced every 7 days (no filler, no crappy space-filling games, no ads), so to be slightly let down by corporate supporters and mailing suppliers is very frustrating for them too. But as I said previously, it WILL get sorted. Their is good will out there. See The Times for proof: they don't offer front page editorial space (not ad space) to just anybody!

In the age of the despotic Mr S Cowell, when entertainment is marketed to within an inch of it's life and available in every retail environment everywhere worldwide, perhaps we've forgotten about what it means to be indie. You wouldn't drop your favourite new garage band because their single isn't available in Sainsburys!

If you're passionate about supporting something small, home-grown and independent, you perhaps roll with some of these frustrating glitches and assume that they'll be solved. The comic isn't Unilever or Microsoft, with that kind manpower to slickly deal with every eventuality. If the team work any harder, they'll blow a gasket. I think I've spotted steam coming out of their ears already!

Anyway, I am genuinely pleased that you're clearly behind the comic and the frustrations come from a real desire to see it succeed. I think it will. It deserves to.

MB

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Re: Issue 1

Post by Phoenix »

Matt_Baxter wrote:I'd be very interested to read what others think of the all-important stories. I think the content is amazingly good. What do you reckon?
I will be better able to answer your question, Matt, when I receive issue 1, as only after reading that will I proceed to issue 2. However, what members on this site think of the comic is not really terribly important. The opinions you really need are children's. Only if they like it will it survive, and they need to see it, flick through its pages, like it, and then badger their parents until they disgorge the necessary £2.99. As far as the publishers' needs are concerned, there will not be anything like enough children taking out subscriptions. They wouldn't have the money for one thing, and they would probably not even know about the subscription facility even if they could afford it. The Waitrose outlet just has to be up and running by next Saturday at the absolute latest, and the availability should certainly be extended to all their stores, not just the major ones. Fingers need to be pulled out at 9 o'clock sharp tomorrow morning.

Raven
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Re: Issue 1

Post by Raven »

Phoenix wrote: A minor beef is that people who took out a subscription after January 7th seem to have received issue 2 as the first comic of their subscription, instead of the issue 1 they were expecting, and despite the fact that issue 2 was not even due out until the 14th. Being put in the position of feeling the need to buy issue 1 at the full price of £2.99 in order to make sure of getting it, as I had to, does look, to me at least, a bit like sharp practice.

That's what troubled me a little. If a sub starting from issue one is what you chose and paid for, then surely that's what they're obliged to send you. If they send issue 2 instead, they know people are going to be obliged to pay for issue 1 separately, which does come across as a bit dodgy. You don't want to be told you can buy it as a back issue as you've already paid for it.

felneymike
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Re: Issue 1

Post by felneymike »

While I can appreciate that everybody's working extremely hard, I think the lack of a short "We know there's problems, bear with us" news update on the website was a bit of a ball-drop. One person on another forum had a go at people for "not making the effort" to phone up the office and ask what is happening, rather than "making assumptions". Surely it's less work for both sides to put a quick update on the website?

Unfortunately I suspect a lot of the people who will have read about the comic in The Times but not seen it in the shops "on schedule" will not give it a second chance. They may even go as far as seeing it as some kind of scam. I know that's completly illogical, but I've seen my mum merge four largely unrelated things in my life related to Japan into one "Japanese thing" which is scamming me because I once didn't clarify if a meeting needed pre-booking in a phone call and so couldn't get in.

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ogtec
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Re: Issue 1

Post by ogtec »

I'm not sure why there are now thoughts of sharp practice by the Phoenix' publishers. Surely it is clear it was just a mistake on the web-site?

If they were in the business of trying to trick people in to buying back issues they'd have those back issues available on their website. The fact that this week the subs start from issue 3 (as mentioned earlier) indicates, to me at least, that this was an honest mistake on their part.

For what it is worth, I'm in the same boat. I expected to pick it up in Waitrose; found I couldn't so subscribed. Frankly I didn't even expect the sub to start with issue 1 post-launch so I was surprised that option was available.

It might make good business sense to have issue 1 available to people - and, with Waitrose dropping the ball on this I imagine there's going to be a lot of those around - and there really should've been something on the website about the distribution problems. But other than that I don't see that anyone has been conned or ripped off.

As far as I see it the people with the most to get angry about are the publishers themselves. I'm sure they are aware more than anyone that not having the product on the shelves after such good publicity is a disaster.

Lew Stringer
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Re: Issue 1

Post by Lew Stringer »

ogtec wrote: As far as I see it the people with the most to get angry about are the publishers themselves. I'm sure they are aware more than anyone that not having the product on the shelves after such good publicity is a disaster.
Exactly.

I agree with everything ogtec said in his post. After all, the publishers are the ones with the most to lose out of this.

A agree with Mike though that The Phoenix should put updates on their website about the situation. Perhaps they think it'd make them look incompetent to admit to the problems, but it would restore a lot of goodwill, which is the important thing.

Making subscriptions available from issue 1 should be a priority. That's the way partworks do it, and with The Phoenix having such limited distribution (basically being a subscription-only mag) it needs to make it easy for new readers to jump on board from the beginning of the serials.
The blog of British comics: http://lewstringer.blogspot.com
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Phoenix
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Re: Issue 1

Post by Phoenix »

ogtec wrote:I'm not sure why there are now thoughts of sharp practice by the Phoenix' publishers. Surely it is clear it was just a mistake on the web-site?
I think you are missing the point, ogtec. It is perfectly reasonable that anybody paying for a subscription to The Phoenix, when no issue has yet appeared in the shops, will assume that the subscription will start with issue 1. It is also reasonable for the subscription department to start all subscribers' subscriptions with issue 1 because they know full well that their product is not yet for sale in Waitrose, and that therefore they are currently the only source. In any case, they would have a record of anyone who had already bought issue 1 from them, and who then decided to take out a subscription.

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Digifiend
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Re: Issue 1

Post by Digifiend »

And you say you had an email saying that issue 1 would be the first issue of your sub - when it wasn't, it gave you justified grounds to complain. If they promise that it starts from a certain issue, it should start from that issue, not a later one. The only excuse would be if they were already out of stock, which obviously isn't the case.

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Re: Issue 1

Post by Phoenix »

Digifiend wrote:And you say you had an email saying that issue 1 would be the first issue of your sub - when it wasn't, it gave you justified grounds to complain. If they promise that it starts from a certain issue, it should start from that issue, not a later one. The only excuse would be if they were already out of stock, which obviously isn't the case.
Raven and FM have also had their expectations dashed, Digi, it isn't just me. However, let's accept the views expressed earlier today by insider Matt Baxter, a contributor to the comic, and give the organisers some breathing space. In any case, a man who knows what cojones are, and who furthermore can spell it correctly, deserves some from me, breathing space that is, not cojones, I'm hanging on to those. :D

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ogtec
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Re: Issue 1

Post by ogtec »

Phoenix wrote:In any case, they would have a record of anyone who had already bought issue 1 from them, and who then decided to take out a subscription.
Digifiend wrote:And you say you had an email saying that issue 1 would be the first issue of your sub - when it wasn't, it gave you justified grounds to complain.
In both cases I agree. My point was that saying it could come across as dodgy
Digifiend wrote:If they send issue 2 instead, they know people are going to be obliged to pay for issue 1 separately, which does come across as a bit dodgy.
Or could be interpreted (by some, not by Phoenix) as a scam
Phoenix wrote:They may even go as far as seeing it as some kind of scam.
Is seeing a conspiracy rather than a cock-up. I see cock-up written through this like through a stick of rock, nothing more.

All of us who've subscribed last week - whether or not Waitrose have no copies or are heaving under the weight of print - have been told that our subs start with Issue 1. Some would have only subscribed on those terms. That needs sorting and I don't think anyone would see that as unreasonable, even if it is the publishers that have to take the hit on this.

Phoenix
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Re: Issue 1

Post by Phoenix »

felneymike wrote:They may even go as far as seeing it as some kind of scam.
ogtec wrote:
Phoenix wrote:
They may even go as far as seeing it as some kind of scam.
Why have you applied FM's comment to me, ogtec, and since I never said it in the first place, how have you managed to present it as a quote?

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Digifiend
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Re: Issue 1

Post by Digifiend »

The third quote isn't mine either.

Phoenix
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Re: Issue 1

Post by Phoenix »

ogtec wrote:My point was that saying it could come across as dodgy
I don't think you have said or implied that anywhere, ogtec. Where do you think you did?

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