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Friday, 17 September 2010

Will The Beano go digital?

Nestling among recent trade reports about Beano and Commando publishers DC Thomson is news that more changes are in the offing for its comics output, including, perhaps, digital editions.

DC Thomson is one of hundreds of companies that will be exhibiting at the Brand Licensing Europe event in London at the end of this month, and a company profile reports the company will be making a concerted effort to promote its various comic brands at the gathering, working with its UK licensing agent, Start Licensing, which highlights The Beano, Dandy's Bananaman and the recently-launch Jacqueline Wilson magazine on its web site.

"At the show we will debut our plans for The Broons – best known amongst Scots - but arguably one of the biggest character brands never to have been licensed," says Tim Collins, who heads up the company's commercial development for children's entertainment.

Collins joined DC Thomson late last year and handles the management of their licensing, TV, syndication and digital project teams. Joining him soon is John Paul Murphy,  a former marketing chief for Edinburgh’s Winter Festival, who has been appointed the company's brands marketing manager, and who has been tasked with developing the company's brands across all available 'channels', including traditional publishing, digital, events, sponsorship, promotions, advertising and licensing where appropriate.

Of major interest to comic fans are the company's plans for possible digital publication, which
Collins describes as "One of our big opportunities.

"We have access to five million pages of comic book material from the 1930s to current publications,"  he notes.

Could this mean DC Thomson is finally looking to develop digital editions of its titles such as The Beano and Commando? It certainly seems to be ramping up to take on the challenges of the online world, with a new direct-to-consumer sales department, a new telephony system and a new e-commerce website, which HoldtheFrontPage recently reported would complement its established relationships with suppliers to assist with subscription services and orders.

New licensing plans for The Beano, both kids and adult themed products, will be revealed at the show, Licensing.biz reported last month, along with a new vision for Commando, which celebrates its 50th anniversary next year. DC Thomson says it is looking to licence the brand into a wide range of adult gifts and stationery.

With longtime staff members such as Editorial Manager Ian Lamb about to retire, it seems big changes are set to follow the 'changing of the guard'. But DC Thomson has not given up on print, despite the announced cancellation of Classics from the Comics (see earlier story).

"We are expanding our children’s magazine publishing business," says Tim Collins, "so are on the look-out for new properties as well."

• DC Thomson Official web site: www.dcthomson.co.uk

• Start Licensing: www.startlicensing.co.uk

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