Lunch with David Fickling of David Fickling Books

I went to a lovely lunch this past Thursday at Random House in honor of David Fickling’s annual trip to the States (of David Fickling Books). A small group of Random House people were in attendance, along with Jack Martin (NYPL), Barbara Genco (BPL),Caroline Ward (The Ferguson Library, CT), and Kathy Krasniewicz (Perrot Library, CT). I was lucky enough to get a prime seat right next to David and we chatted philosophically about how one doesn’t necessarily need to have daily interactions with children in order to understand what they like to read; there’s a certain inherent instinct that allows some of us to understand a child’s sensibility. The conversation was delightful and provocative, which was a nice respite from the nuts-and-bolts of my daily job (budget, circulation, statistics, finding out where everyone’s books are).

The important part of the afternoon, though, was hearing about the UK launch of David’s new endeavor, David Fickling Comics (or “The DFC”). You guys, this is really cool. And I don’t think I can do it justice describing it here. This is how David described it: it’ll be a weekly magazine, though “magazine” really doesn’t cover it, that will feature a number of different comic strips for a wide variety of ages. And the strips that David showed us were gooooood, including one written by a certain Mr. Phillip Pullman. Some were definitely for younger children (2nd – 3rd grade) and some were better suited for older kids (7th – 8th grade). What I appreciated, though, was that it wasn’t the content that separated the age ranges, which wouldn’t have worked. Instead, the art for the older kids is more detailed and it is much more text-heavy: in style, it is clearly for the older audience. On the other end, the younger stuff was much simpler, less cluttered…but still wicked smart and funny. In this way, I can see the younger kids challenging themselves with the older material and the older kids having fun reading the younger stuff. It really appears to be for all ages.

My only concern is the distribution and logistics of it all, which we discussed and brainstormed with David. The price he quoted was much better suited for the individual subscriber, and we all agreed libraries couldn’t afford it without a library rate (especially when you’re talking about 60+ subscriptions!). So there are definitely some wrinkles, but Random House and David Fickling didn’t get to where they are by giving up when some challenges arose. I’m confident that this will get off the ground in the States (no date is set yet for a release here, that I'm aware of), and I’m excited that there are so many innovators in graphic novel publishing right now (TOON Books, First Second, and now David Fickling). Good times, good times.

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