Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Saturday 23 January 2021

Sussex Author Reveals The Secret World Behind Britain's Comic Book Boom

A Sussex-based author fought censors, do-gooders, powerful unions, and corrupt business tycoons, and now the man behind Britain's comic book boom has told his story.

John Sanders was the mastermind behind the heyday of the British comic book industry, under whose sharp eyes famous (and infamous) comics such as 2000 AD, Action!, Battle, Tammy, and Jinty were launched - capturing the hearts of minds of millions of children across the country.

In this memoir, King's Reach, he reveals, for the first time, his story and that of the medium and characters that would go on to dominate global culture, including the world-famous comic book lawman Judge Dredd.

From within King's Reach Tower on the banks of the Thames, John oversaw the output of Britain's biggest comics publisher, IPC, over a quarter of a decade - and now he has told his side of the story.

Sanders fought corporate battles to expand the UKs' comics output, faced down the government, Mary Whitehouse, and the media in censorship battles about the controversial Action! and ultimately came up against business tycoon Robert Maxwell. 

This is an absorbing and sobering insight into the changing face not just of publishing but of Britain itself, as the dark days of the 1970s give way to the massive changes of the "80s and beyond.

Leading an industry that at its peak sold 10 million comics per week, Sanders launched over a hundred new titles, faced massive social change and strove to keep comics relevant to generation after generation.

From his unique position, Sanders foresaw both the battle for kids' attention between the written word and computers, and modern-day efforts to use comic books to reach reluctant readers: 

"It surely was one of the great errors of the education system in the twentieth century that most teachers rejected comics," he writes, "even scoffing at them when all that their young charges wanted was a different dimension to their reading, something that would help them take their first steps to more serious reading."

King's Reach: John Sanders' Twenty-Five Years at the Top of Comics is not just a book for fans of comic books, but for readers keen on behind the scenes boardroom blow-ups and people interested in a fascinating part of Britain's cultural history.

by: Mike Cobley


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