Exciting news about the IPC copyrights

The British comics internet was buzzing yesterday with news that Rebellion, who publish 2000AD, have bought the whole IPC list of comics from Egmont (covering all comics and characters first published after 1970 – the earlier material is owned by another company). The most detailed report is the Down The Tubes one, but it has also been announced on the BBC, Bleeding Cool, and even on Wired, so there are lots of excited people!

The quotes from Rebellion’s Ben Smith make it clear that both reprints and new stories are now possibilities – though of course with such a wide range of material having been bought, there’s no telling what will be the company’s main focus – or initial focus. The list that has been bought includes boys comics such as Roy of the Rovers, Action, and Battle, but also humour comics (which aren’t a big part of the announcement but have been part of the excited internet discussion, with calls to look at Oink and at the Ken Reid material in particular). And of course on this site our particular thoughts are on what it could mean for the girls comics – which were even specifically mentioned by Rebellion owner Jason Kingsley, very hearteningly.

If you had a say in the matter, what would you want to happen with the girls comics material in this haul? Clearly, reprinting specific stories would be an option – after all, Rebellion are already bringing out a reprint of “Moonchild” and “Four Faces of Eve” from Misty (published on 8 September). What stories would you choose to bring back as reprints, across the IPC list of girls titles? I think you’d have to make sure they weren’t chosen just for nostalgia reasons – they’d have to be really great stories that stand the test of time and don’t look dated, even though clearly there is a ‘bringing back classic comics’ element to this sort of publication. What would be your top five picks, and why?

What about other uses of the material? Merchandising, using some of the lovely design and images? Dare we think about re-worked stories, or characters extended in their life span? Would Bella, or Fran and her zany fixing, still work with new artists? Translations into other markets and languages? I would love to hear your ideas. Who knows, maybe they can happen!

[Edited to add: Down the Tubes have published a useful summary of the titles and characters that are now owned by Rebellion.]

47 thoughts on “Exciting news about the IPC copyrights

    1. Good question. Spain have been publishing their own Patty material for a long time now, I believe – so they must have some rights, surely. Ruth B can probably answer if she is reading?

  1. I would ask them to reprint Tammy’s “Cora Can’t Lose” in its entirety so we can finally see the lost ending. The trouble is, would the artwork for the last episode still exist?

  2. I imagine a reprint of “Worlds Apart” would be hugely popular. “Winner Loses All!” and “The Sentinels” from Misty would be huge too. “Merry at Misery House” might be too long to reprint. They’d probably have to split it over several volumes.

  3. If they rework Bella I hope they get rid of her scruffy overalls and pigtails and give her a more diverse wardrobe.

      1. Maybe more trendy pigtails? Anyway, Bella’s pigtails got so short I wondered what the point was of putting her hair in pigtails.

  4. Land of No Tears, Olympia Jones, Worlds Apart, Winner Loses All, The Sentinels, the original Bella story, ET Estate, The Sea Witches, Dracula’s Daughter, Fran’ll Fix It, The Forbidden Garden, Fran of the Floods, Tears of a Clown, Waves of Fear, Pandora’s Box, Song of the Fir Tree, Slave of the Clock, Glenda’s Glossy Pages, Girl the World Forgot and The Human Zoo are some possibilities.

    1. Good list! It’s hard to stick to just a few, isn’t it 🙂 I’m a bit less convinced by Pandora’s Box and would include Alice in a Strange Land, but it’s a great starting point. Misty’s A Leap In Time is also a very striking story that I think would do excellently.

      1. Spider Woman, Curtain of Silence, Mark of the Witch!, Cult of the Cat, The Fairground of Fear, Slaves of War Orphan Farm, Molly Mills and the Comic Capers, Concrete Surfer, Dance into Darkness, Katie on Thin Ice, Battle of the Wills, Thursday’s Child, My Terrible Twin, The Four Friends at Spartan School, and Girl in a Bubble are possibles too.

  5. If the original conclusion to ‘Cora Can’t Lose’ has been lost maybe Juliana Buch could be commissioned to draw a new one. It’d make an interesting competition if readers were encouraged to submit their own ideas for the way this story ended, with the winner being awarded the finished artwork.

      1. But Juliana would need a script to work from. It’s unlikely she would remember how the original ran, and the writer is not known because Tammy had dropped her credits.

        1. Someone would have to write an ending, yes. Maybe she might remember the general way it finished even if she couldn’t be expected to remember lots about it?!

          1. She might even have the original artwork. Trouble is, there is nobody we know of who can find a way to contact her to see what light she can shed on the Cora ending.

          2. Somebody on the comicsuk site recalled seeing an ending to Cora in Girl that went: Cora does win the trophy she’s putting off vital treatment for. Her father is very happy, and also tells Cora they will still love her, winner or not. Cora becomes less obsessed with winning and lets her friend Sheila win some races.

            However, there is nothing in Girl that corroborates this. It could be faulty memory or something. Still, I guess it counts as better than nothing.

  6. I have already pre-ordered my copy of Four Faces of Eve/Moonchild, so excited for that and now great news that there may be more on the way.

    It’s hard to stick to 5 but what I’d like to see reprinted would be:
    The Sentinels
    Winner Loses All
    Battle of the Wills
    Worlds Apart
    Fran of the Floods

    Being more familiar with DCT I’m sure there are plenty of other great stories, I’m forgetting.
    I would say merchandising could be fun too, such as mugs, t-shirts, maybe card games (I imagine a Fluxx type game could work).

    As for new material, I’m sure there are plenty that could updated, not IPC, but I always though DCT Valda could continue today. For IPC Bella, Pam of Pond Hill and No Tears for Molly I’m sure could be re imagined (like recent Archie comics) and Misty could tell new creepy short stories

    1. I don’t know if Pam can be what she was without Bob Harvey. His artwork really brought off the humour and character of her strip. And what sold Bella for me was the way John Armstrong brought off the gymnastics. It had such an anatomical, graceful style that will be extremely hard to match.

      1. Bob Harvey was great on the Pam stories, and in both Pam and Bella there was just a single artist throughout the life of the character (unlike Molly Mills). So in both cases it would feel very odd to have someone else drawing it.

        1. Still, the new generation would not be so familiar with the originals, so they would accept new artists more readily.

    2. Very hard to stick to five, indeed. I think those are all great choices, certainly. I am pleased to see the love for Battle of the Wills, which I think is a great story (though I think it wouldn’t be in my top five, quite).

      Merchandising – I’d like bags, mugs, t-shirts. There are Bunty tea-towels and oven gloves but I think that might be going a little beyond the nostalgia that suits the IPC girls titles!

  7. I will cheat and suggest my top five double-back albums (ie selections of paired titles that could be printed in the same reprint collection):
    * “Combing Her Golden Hair” and “Children of Edenford” – two mystery-focused Phil Townsend stories
    * “The Forbidden Garden” and “Spell of the Spinning Wheel” – two fantastic Jim Baikie stories
    * “Worlds Apart” and “The Sentinels” – two parallel universe stories
    * “Curtain of Silence” and “Concrete Surfer” – two sports stories, each with a twist
    * A selection of spooky stories from Misty / Tammy / Jinty’s various storytellers, showcasing a range of the great art in these titles

    With very honourable mentions going to Cult of the Cat, Creepy Crawley, Land of No Tears, The Human Zoo, Pam of Pond Hill, E.T. Estate, Winner Loses All, Battle of the Wills, Fran of the Floods, Girl In A Bubble, Olympia Jones, A Leap In Time…

    I don’t actually know “Cora Can’t Lose” myself, ie I haven’t ever read it, so I’d have to read it first to see how I felt it stood up nowadays as a story.

    1. The theme was overdemanding parents who kept pushing their daughter too hard and putting her down because she wasn’t winning sports trophies as they used to do. She put her life at risk to win their respect by not getting treatment for an injury while grabbing all the trophies she can. Readers would still find the themes all too familiar. But what makes the story really stick is the lost ending, which got cut off because of a strike.

      1. I see the penultimate episode is on the Comics UK forum here. A cliffhanger indeed! I feel like Cora should have collapsed valiantly either just as she was about to win, or just as she won – and then the whole story would come out, of course, and she would get the life-saving operation she needs. Her parents are doubtless struck by guilt and so forth in terms of what very nearly happened – they could easily have driven their daughter to her death. To my mind it might be neater if she narrowly didn’t win the cup.

        1. Yes, I would have liked that ending better too, with Cora narrowly missing the cup because her injury finally caught up with her. On the other hand, Cora put so much effort into winning it, including putting her life on the line, that it seems a shame that she wouldn’t win it in the end. Maybe she does win the final event, but collapses immediately after, before she receives the trophy. After her treatment, the sight of the trophy in the house leaves a nasty taste in the mouth and parents feeling guilty every time they see it. A sort of monkey paw punishment for the parents in that they get what they want with Cora, but not in a way they like.

        2. I know a few things about storyboarding. I wonder if I could draft a final ending to Cora? But of course they really have to check to see if the original can still be located or reconstructed.

        3. We know from the first episode that Cora has won every event for the trophy so far, so she obviously didn’t get disqualified for any unintentional spiking of her rival as she thought she had done. Perhaps she was mistaken – easy to do in her state. Or a complaint was lodged and overruled. Cora is all set to win the last event: cross country. She overhears some girls talking about what a drag she is about winning, which does affect her. One girl, who is new, is surprised to hear that Cora used to be a girl who was ok with losing. The girl who tells her wonders what made her change. This sends Cora off into flashback as to how it came about. So maybe the last episode would have had her finish that flashback and get onto the cross country event.

          It would be twist if someone does recognise Cora from the identikit the hospital issued in the penultimate episode. When confronted, Cora admits it and begs to be allowed to continue, but the sports teacher won’t allow it. She insists Cora go in for treatment. However, it would not have the dramatic impact of Cora collapsing just as she is about to win. Maybe during the melee the identikit comes to light and they put two and two together.

    2. I have been looking again at Worlds Apart, and am a bit torn. It is such a memorable and bonkers story – but of course it is absolutely built around stereotyping, and it doesn’t really try to challenge them. The first episode, in particular, absolutely leaps headfirst into fatphobia. Of course you could bill it as being ‘a product of its time’ but still.

    3. Another pair would be “Waves of Fear” and “Tears of a Clown” – two cautionary tales on the consequences of bullying.

  8. They’d have to choose the artists very carefully if they reboot Bella and Fran. The new Bella artist would have to be brilliant at gymnastics and the Fran artist really bring off zaniness and slapstick humour.

  9. If they reboot Bella I hope they have her compete at the Olympics at long last. Poor thing never got the chance; both her two attempts to do so failed. Or how about the Commonwealth Games? I don’t think Bella ever had a go at that.

  10. My feeling is that any reprint titles will have to attract the crucial teenage readership in order to be commercially viable, and bearing in mind that most of this material is at least thirty years old (and therefore absolutely ancient from their point of view) the most effective way of doing so might be to link it with things that are currently familiar to them. Thus stories that resemble the worlds of Harry Potter and the Hunger Games could be chosen in the way that Misty and Action originally went out of their way to imitate popular films such as Carrie and Jaws.

    1. It might be a bit tricky finding such matches with old material. Harry Potter and Hunger Games were not around at the time, so material then would not have resembled them. Bunty ran some stories with magic schools such as “Abracadabra Academy”, but definitely not Tammy, Jinty or even Misty. Having new material resemble those publications would be easier.

      1. I don’t think it would be that difficult to pick a couple of stories that have some Harry Potter flavour. “Pandora’s Box” has got a young witch who is learning how to use her powers, though rather against her will in some ways; or “The Girl Who Never Was” has someone coming from a world with no magic into a world where magic is used for everything. Of course it would not be quite the same, but there would be similarities.

        As for the Hunger Games, again not the same, but the dystopian futures of “Land of No Tears” and of “The Forbidden Garden” are in the right ballpark.

        Of course with new material it could be made a closer match – like Moonchild and Carrie – but then you need to be careful to not make it too close a match 🙂

        1. There was also “A Spell of Trouble”, about a girl who comes from a line of witches. Her cosy witchy lifestyle is threatened when a gormless cousin arrives.

  11. There’s no doubt that new stories (by the right scripter) could be tailored far more effectively to the specific interests of a modern readership, but then there’d have been no reason to acquire the IPC/Egmont properties in the first place. Personally I’d quite like to see a mixture of new and old material: possibly a Fantasy title in which a brand-new lead feature about trainee sorceresses in a Hogwarts-style version of St. Elmo’s is backed up by reprints from Misty and some of the magic-based serials mentioned above.

    1. End of the Line is the only John Richardson girls serial I know. They reserved him more for complete stories, covers and Wee Sue. He drew two serials for Scream, and must have done something in the war comics with a style like his.

    2. A great couple of stories. “End of the Line” stuck with me for a long time after I read it – I did see it in Misty at the time and it lived on in my memory. The artist is a little bit of an acquired taste in some ways – not as polished as some – but certainly very effective.

      1. Richardson only drew one complete story for Jinty, one of the “Is This Your Story?” stories. It is a bit odd he didn’t draw more for Jinty.

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