Friday, 29 August 2014

WOW! Let’s Celebrate; Comics, Graphic Novels and Magazines! Stew Magazine 3D Review; Editor Interview with Ali Fraser

Creator and editor of Stew Magazine Ali Fraser finds time to answer a few questions about children's books, magazines and of course making Stew.


What was your favourite children’s book as a child?

Without doubt, it was Anthony Buckeridge's series of books about Jennings and Derbyshire. The gentle, funny stories about two public school boarders captured a world very different from my own, one that seemed idyllic - no parents, but benevolent adults (the teachers) reassuringly there yet in the background, plus tuck shops and lots of scrapes and adventures.

What was your favourite children’s magazine/comic/annual as a child?

Look and Learn was pounced on the moment it came through the letterbox ( that is, if one of my teenage brothers hadn't got to it first, which I think is testament to the magazine's ability to be aimed at a pre-teen market, yet be interesting enough to appeal to older readers). I loved its mixture of articles and vivid illustrations. Friends would read comic strips, about Batman and so on, but for me those storylines were tediously improbable and relentlessly similar.

What is your favourite children’s book as an adult?

It's usually the last good one I've put down, but off the top of my head books I would recommend include Patrick Ness's The Knife of Never Letting Go and Wonder, by RJ Palacio.

Do you read comics/graphic novels as an adult? If so which is your favourite?

A graphic novel seems to me to be a contradiction of styles - a short-form way of storytelling stretched into a long-form shape, and as such they've never appealed to me. Obviously I look at comics and children's magazines for professional reasons but there's none I'd elbow my children out of the way to read.

What do you think is the purpose of comics/children’s magazines in today’s society?

Unless you're living in North Korea, I'm not sure they should have a purpose, which sounds a bit doctrinaire. Clearly they need to be entertaining, or children simply won't look at them, and it would be nice if they weren't patronising or shallow, which unfortunately many are.

Why did you choose to format Stew magazine the way you have?

I love printed matter and I think children do, too. The digital world has enriched and widened their options; I don't believe it's replaced more traditional media. Besides, I wanted to set myself a challenge in producing a physical magazine, which is so much more complex than creating an online title.

How did you decide which features will appear in each issue of Stew magazine?

It's quite arbitrary - I choose topics that interest me and that I think will interest older children. Often I'll run an idea by my daughter Ellie, who's 10; if it grabs her imagination, then I'm probably on the right lines.

How many people work on any one copy of The Stew Magazine, and for how long does it take to produce?

A number of very talented illustrators and writers contribute to each issue, and currently they generously offer their work for free. The number of subscriptions is increasing with each issue, and I hope to be able to pay fees before long. When that happens, these people who are supporting Stew in its early days will be the first to be offered paid commissions. At the moment, though, I'm the only person who works on the magazine. Ideally there would be an assistant editor - pages should always be seen by a second pair of eyes - and a commercial manager, who would explore and develop the numerous ways in which the magazine can grow. Though the magazine is only bi-monthly, it takes up all my time (I even dream about the things I haven't done for each issue).

1 comment:

  1. Really interesting to see the ongoing influence that Look and Learn had on you, Ali. I'm also quite tempted by the idea of a pastiche North Korean comic strip...


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