No escape from the Gutter-snipe

I had a bizarre experience this morning in the shower.

No, it was nothing perverse, you sickos.

I listen to BBC Radio 4‘s The Today Programme while I perform my daily ablutions. I’m not the only one; it is the most-listened-to early morning news programme in Britain. There is a gravitas to the programme that might be hard to qualify to non-Brits but, suffice to say, it is serious radio (albeit with light-heartedness) about current events.

Which is why it was so odd for them to include, in their review of the day’s papers, a mention of an article in The Times talking about The Flying Friar, Rich Johnston’s new comic. I stopped washing myself, so stunned was I by this mention of comics on such a renowned radio programme. It was even more bizarre that the article was in The Times; usually, The Guardian is the funky paper of choice for articles about the ninth art – last Saturday, their Weekend magazine had a journalistic piece by Joe Sacco, which you can read here. (Warning: large pdf.)

Of course, media-whore Rich talks it up in his latest Lying in the Gutters. And well he should; it’s quite a coup. However, I don’t know if it will actually do any good, particularly. I don’t know the numbers, but I would guess the pre-orders were quite low, and a news article doesn’t necessarily equate to people buying the comic. How many people, especially the conservative readers of The Times, would venture into the alien world of the comic shop to look for a book that will most likely not be found in the shop, as the few copies ordered will have gone?

I’ve always admired Rich’s shameless pursuit of media coverage, even though I don’t like it. It’s part of the job, and Rich was shilling his wares in the world of self-publishing long before he gained a certain notoriety for his rumour column: anyone remember The X-Flies? No, didn’t think so. Anyway, coming from an advertising background, Rich obviously has no soul and no qualms about how he goes about his business, so good luck to him. Let’s just hope it doesn’t go to his head …


  • Rich Johnston 31 January 2006 at 11:18 pm

    I understand that a fair few UK comic shops got calls about it. To the extent that Diamond UK had make a large reorder before the book shipped… a reorder that has now been eaten through.

    Times, Guardian, Express, Today Programme… it’s surprising what kind of publicity one can rattle up when one tries.

    Guess I’m surprised more people don’t. Flying Friar ships on Thursday in the UK

  • David 1 February 2006 at 4:21 pm

    That sounds impressive, Rich; I stand corrected in my assumption that the publicity wouldn’t have much of an effect.

    Best of luck, and hope it does well for you (even though I won’t be getting it, sorry).


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