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Football Comics

Football Comics

On this site I have drawn a distinction between football magazines and football comics. (My definition is that magazines are aimed at adults and comics are aimed at children/teenagers)

Comic strips existed in post war newspapers but the stand out launch in British football comics was the "Tiger- The Sport and Adventure Picture Story Weekly" on the 11th of September 1954.This first issue featured for the first time "Roy of the Rovers" and was an immediate hit. Derek Birnage edited the comic. Roy of the Rovers became synonymous with the Tiger comic and during the 1960's Tiger had a circulation of over 300,000 copies. Tiger survived for 1555 issues and incorporated a number of titles including 'Champion' (1955), 'Comet' (1959), 'Hurricane' (1965), 'Jag' (1969), 'Scorcher' (1974) and 'Speed' in 1980 before being incorporated itself into 'Eagle' (second series) (1985).

As an aside Roy of the Rovers final appearance was in the BBC's Match of Day Magazine in the May/June 1997 issue.

IPC launched "Shoot magazine , a football magazine for children on 16 August 1969 exactly a year after Goal (for grown ups!) and by 1971 both Shoot and Goal had 220,000 weekly sales each." Goal" slowly declined whilst "Shoot prospered and "Goal" was officially incorporated (closed) into Shoot on June 15th 1974.

According to the British Library "Striker" launched on 10th of January 1970 and ran until 4th March 1972 when it was incorporated into "Inside Football". The striker comic strip reappeared in the "Sun" newspaper and ran until 28th August 2003 when it launched again as a stand-alone comic. It managed 87 issues and on the 12th of May 2005 rejoined the "Sun" newspaper.

Scorcher Comic was launched by IPC on 10th January 1970 inspired by the success of football magazines like 'Goal' and 'Shoot'. Scorcher was a departure in that all the content was entirely football based. Strips included "Bobby of the Blues", "Paxton's Powerhouse","Lag's Eleven", "Billy's Boots" and "Kangaroo Kid".

From 3rd July 1971 Scorcher merged with "Score" (originally "Score and Roar"), then finally with "Tiger" from 12th October 1974. Eventually the Scorcher and Score was dropped from the title, with "Tiger and Speed" becoming the new name from 1st November 1980. "Tiger" disappeared when it merged with the" Eagle" in 1985.

Stiker also launched on January 10th 1970-published by City magazines Ltd.

On the 25th September 1976 the star of "Tiger" struck out on its own with the "Roy of the Rovers" comic and lasted for a commendable 17 years until 20th of March 1993.

"Match " magazine was launched on September 6, 1979, at a cover price of 25p. The original editor was Mel Bagnall. Kevin Keegan was the first cover star of Match and supported the magazine with his column, Learn To Play The Keegan Way. The first issue came with an 80-page sticker album and included columns by Tottenham star Ossie Ardiles, Manchester United's Steve Coppell and Nottingham Forest manager, Brian Clough.
On its launch in 1979, the magazine initially failed to catch the dominant circulation of its main weekly football rival, "Shoot". In the mid 1990s, under editor Chris Hunt, it overtook Shoot to become the biggest selling football title in Britain, with its weekly sales peaking at 242,000 during this period. This not only marked the highest point in the magazine's sales history, but the high watermark of the British football magazine market in the 1990s.In the face of such market dominance by "Match", during this period many of its rival titles either closed or, in the case of "Shoot", changed frequency to monthly.

In February 2008 it became apparent that "Match" would once again face fresh circulation challenges when it was announced that the BBC would be launching Match Of The Day magazine into the weekly football marketplace and "Shoot" declared their intention to return to weekly publication, although this didn't last long as Shoot closed in June 2008.

Match's 2009 average weekly circulation of 100,007 is 11.5% down on its figures of 12 months earlier. While "Match" remains the biggest selling teenage football magazine in the country, its circulation seems unlikely to again reach its 200,000-plus heights of the mid 1990s, particularly in the face of stiff competition from Match Of The Day magazine.

A number of notable football journalists have started their careers at Match, including Mark Irwin of The Sun, Hugh Sleight of Four Four Two, Paul Smith of The Sunday Mirror, Ray Ryan formerly with The News of the World and Rob Shepherd.

"Football Picture Monthly" started in June 1986 and ran until 2003.It was published by D C Thomson and was produced in a small pocket sized format.