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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

CLiNT

Launched on a wave of publicity thanks to its celebrity connections, CLiNT tried to mix comics with a lads' mag sensibility at a time when lads' mags were losing favour; sales of the latter had been falling for a decade and circulations were collapsing with double-digit year-on-year drops in the latter half of the 2000s. (Not, I might add, because the Noughties were more prudish than the Nineties, but because of the rise of broadband, making online porn more widely available.)

The publicity centred on the inclusion of stories by Jonathan Ross and Frankie Boyle. Ross's love of comics was widely known and Turf had already received a huge amount of publicity back in April 2010 when the comic was launched in the US. Ross had already announced that he was leaving the BBC, the last episode of his chat-show being broadcast in July.

Boyle was centre-stage on the cover of the first issue alongside ChloĆ« Grace Moretz (Hit Girl) and Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass) from the Kick-Ass movie, released in the UK in March 2010. After quitting Mock the Week in 2009, he joined Channel 4 where the 6-episode Tramadol Nights was broadcast  in November / December 2010.

A third star, Jimmy Carr, featured in early issues—interviewed in the first issue, compiling questions for a Q&A feature and, for issue 9, penning his first comic strip, the one-off 'Beat My Score'.

Of the celebrity strips, Ross's Turf was the hands-down winner. This straightforward story of vampires in 1920s New York was beautifully drawn by Tommy Lee Edwards, who had worked with Mark Millar on Marvel 1985 in 2008, the artwork benefiting from CLiNT's magazine-sized pages.

Boyle's 'Rex Royd', co-written by fellow Scot Jim Muir, was a far more cerebral take on superheroes than anyone expected from two comedians. Deliberately obscure and non-linear, the strip suffered an instant negative reaction, based on only the opening 11 pages and never seemed to recover, managing only eight episodes over the whole run of CLiNT's two volumes.

The bulk of the magazine was supplied by Mark Millar, the paper's creator, co-publisher, editor and public champion. Millar had a lengthy CV in comics, beginning with Saviour (featuring a character whose looks were based on those of Jonathan Ross), 2000AD and Crisis before he made his US debut co-writing Swamp Thing. His rise during the 2000s was meteoric: The Authority, Superman: Red Son, Ultimate X-Men, The Ultimates, Ultimate Fantastic Four, Fantastic Four, Civil War... but as well as these mainstream successes, Millar also produced his own Millarworld creator-owned material, including Wanted (filmed 2008), Chosen (optioned), War Heroes (optioned) and Kick-Ass, the latter filmed in 2010.

Soon after the release of the Kick-Ass movie, Millar announced that he was planning to launch a new British monthly magazine. He had also inked a deal with Marvel's Icon imprint to produce two titles, Nemesis and Superior, both of them creator-owned and available for publication in his new British title.

CLiNT didn't take off in the way Millar hoped for, although his statement in the debut issue that "I think this mag is going to be massive and maybe change the world in some way, possibly even slightly for the better," was meant ironically. Copies are available on eBay, but the first issue is not "worth millions"; nor were kids "crying out for a monthly like CLiNT," it seems.

Millar made much of his celebrity pals in publicity, but the celebrity content eventually faded away, and whilst much had been made of the magazine championing new talent, very little was on show. Instead, a number of Image Comics' reprints (The Pro, Who Is Jake Ellis?, Officer Downe and Graveyard of Empires) appeared through 2011.

CLiNT suffered from other problems. A feature listed on the cover as 'Huw Edwards' was, in fact, a comic strip titled 'The Driver' which included a photo of the news reader and the legend "Huw Edwards presents". It is easy to see why readers, including the reviewer at Den of Geek, thought Edwards was another celebrity involved in the comic. "Rounding off the strips is CLiNT's own answer to Future Shocks short tales, with Huw Edwards' Space Oddities. Yes, BBC's very own newsreader fronts these self-contained tales..." read the Den of Geek review. It would appear that Edwards was not in the know and any mention of Edwards disappeared from the CLiNT website shortly after issue 1 appeared.

A bigger problem was that CLiNT was displayed haphazardly in newsagents and supermarkets. Was it a lads' mag to be racked with Nuts and Zoo? Was it a comic to be racked with 2000AD? Should it be racked with that other 'adult' comic, Viz? It often found its way onto the top shelf but did itself no favours by parodying its top shelf neighbours with the feature 'Hot Mums', starring fully-clothed women, and oddities like an interview with the actor who dubbed Tom Cruise when his films were released in China.

The name itself may have been damaging to the magazine. It was based on an obscure bit of comic lore that British comics avoided the name CLINT and the word FLICK because, written in capitals and printed on poor paper, they risked the ink overrunning to create the words CUNT and FUCK. SFX, the science fiction magazine, often turned their title into the eye-stopping SEX with a carefully positioned photograph; CLiNT could not do this and, when it almost did—as with the cover for issue 3—one wonders what Quenting Tarantino thought of having his photograph under a headline that, at a distance, said CUNT.

After only a few issues, CLiNT ran into scheduling problems. New issues appeared every six weeks or so rather than monthly. After 15 issues CLiNT was relaunched with a new first issue and a new line-up featuring Millar's Supercrooks (drawn by Superior's Leinil Francis Yu) and The Secret Service (drawn by Dave Gibbons). It also introduced its first genuine original tale in 'Death Sentence' by Monty Nero and artist Mike Dowling (who was also drawing 'Rex Royd', which briefly returned for the relaunch).

Following its relaunch,  CLiNT continued to struggle with its schedule and, after only a few issues, Titan decided to pull the plug. Little effort was made to promote the title after the appearance of issue 6 in February 2013—the magazine's Twitter feed, sporadically active whenever a new issue appeared, failed to mention the publication of issue 7 or 8. Titan eventually issued a press release to Comic Book Resources shortly after shipping the final issue in August 2013.

The final—eighth—issue was, in effect, a magazine-length advert for upcoming Titan Comics titles hoping to benefit from the release of Kick-Ass 2 in cinemas. One survivor from CLiNT remained: 'Death Sentence', taken up by Titan Comics as a standalone title. The last issue of Mark Millar's CLiNT (as the cover title became from issue two) had no Mark Millar comics but did finish on an interview with the title's creator.

Its creators insist that CLiNT succeeded in what it set out to achieve and they are dropping it simply because they are moving on—Millar to further Millarworld titles and movies and Titan to Titan Comics—the simple fact is that CLiNT promised much but delivered little as a British newsstand comic. In time, it is likely to be remembered more for Millar's unequalled talents as a self-publicist than anything... or perhaps as the comic equivalent of a series of Celebrity Big Brother, with readers quite excited by the announced line-up but gradually drifting away as their favourite characters leave the show.

PICTURE STORIES

Kick-Ass 2 (1-15, Sep 2010-2012)
Reprints Kick-Ass 2 1-7 (Marvel/Icon Comics), Dec 2010-May 2012; Art: John Romita Jr.; Script: Mark Millar

Turf (1-10, Sep 2010-2011)
Reprints Turf 1-5 (Image Comics), Apr 2010-Jun 2011; Art: Tommy Lee Edwards; Script: Jonathan Ross.

Rex Royd (1-4, Sep-Dec 2010, 12-13, 2011, 2/1, 2012)
Art: Mike Dowling; Script: Frankie Boyle & Jim Muir / Frankie Boyle.

Nemesis (1-5, 2010-2011)
Reprints Nemesis 1-4 (Marvel/Icon Comics), May-Dec 2010; Art: Steve McNiven; Script: Mark Millar.

American Jesus (2-7, Nov 2010-2011)
Reprints Chosen 1-3 (Image), Jan-Aug 2004; Art: Peter Gross; Script: Mark Millar.

The Pro (5-9, 2011)
Reprints The Pro (Image Comics), 2002; Art: ; Script: Garth Ennis.

Superior (6-15, 2011-2012)
Reprints Superior 1-7 (Marvel/Icon Comics), Dec 2010-Mar 2012 Art: Leinil Francis Yu; Script: Mark Millar.

Who Is Jake Ellis? (8-12, 2011)
Reprints Who Is Jake Ellis? 1-5 (Image Comics), 2011; Art: Tonci Zonjic; Script: Nathan Edmondson.

Officer Downe (10-11, 2011)
Reprints Officer Downe 1-2 (Image Comics), 2011; Art: Chris Burnham; Script: Joe Casey.

Graveyard of Empires (12-15, 2011-2012, 2/3-2/4, 2012)
Reprints Graveyard of Empires 1-4 (Image Comics), 2011-12; Art: Paul Azaceta; Script: Mark Sable.

Supercrooks (15, 2012, 2/1-2/5, Jun 2012-2013)
Reprints Supercrooks 1-4 (Marvel/Icon Comics), May-Oct 2012; Art: Leinil Francis Yu/Gerry Alanguilan (inks); Script: Mark Millar (co-plotter Nacho Vigalondo).

The Secret Service (2/1-2/7, 2012)
Reprints The Secret Service 1-6 (Marvel/Icon Comics), Jun 2012-Jun 2013; Art: Dave Gibbons; Script: Mark Millar.

Death Sentence (2/1-2/8, 2012)
Art: Mike Dowling; Script: Monty Nero.

Hit Girl (2/2-2/7, 2012)
Reprints Hit Girl 1-5 (Marvel/Icon Comics), Aug 2012-Apr 2013; Art: John Romita Jr.; Script: Mark Millar.


ONE-OFF STORIES

The Diner (1, Sep 2010)
Art & Script: Manuel Bracchi.

Emergency Pit-Stop (2, Oct 2010)
Art & Script: Mateus Santolouco.

Fall of the Fortress (3, Nov 2010)
Art & Script: Bruno Letizia.

Best Man (4, Dec 2010)
Art: Des Taylor; Script: Muriel Grey.

Someone Got to Eddie (6)
Art: ?; Script: Ian Rankin.

Treasure (7)
Art & Script: Baskerville.

Beat My Score (9)
Script: Jimmy Carr.

Kick-Ass Comics: The Untold Stories (2/3, 2012)
Art:

Homesick (2/7, 2012)
Art: Martin Stiff; Script: J. P. Rutter.

Chronos Commandos (2/8, Sep 2013)
Art & Script: Stuart Jennett.

Odyssey (2/8, Sep 2013)
Art: Garrie Gastonny; Script: Dave Elliott.

It Came (2/8, Sep 2013)
Art & Script: Dan Boultwood.

Razorjack: Deadfall (2/8, Sep 2013)
Art: John Higgins; Script: John Higgins & Mike Carroll.

(* Note: The stripography is quite probably incomplete as far as one-off stories is concerned and I'm missing a couple of artist/writer credits, so if anyone can help fill the gaps please let me know.)

8 comments:

DAVID BISHOP said...

So Clint published the traditional 23 issues for a British comic before being cancelled? How satisfying...

NP said...

Which British comics ran for 23 issues?

Steve said...

It's another piece of comic lore, usually applied to weekly comics. From memory both Jet and Thunder folded after 22 issues. Starlord, was another 22-issue title.

It hinges on how soon you can get firm circulation figures, lead times required by printers and how long it takes to plan a merger. It just happens to work out at 22 weeks, unless you try to relaunch, in which case a slow-starting title can last a little longer.

DAVID BISHOP said...

Tornado also got 22 issues.

As Steve notes, 22 dates back to weekly days. Judge Dredd: Lawman of the Future was fortnightly and that got to 23 issues [plus a special for mopping up leftovers].

So Clint's demise at 23 has a sort of symmetry.

JP Rutter said...

Hi Steve, good article.

My short strip 'Homesick' appeared in CLiNT Magazine #2.7 with art by Martin Stiff.

Martin's self-published 'The Absence' will be collected by Titan Comics sometime in the future.

Steve said...

Thanks, J.P. I've now added the story to the list.

Cheers,

Steve

Anonymous said...

Death Sentence was an indie title before Clint picked it up. I've got Monty Nero's self-published first issue.

Steve said...

Hi Anonymous,

So was any of the Death Sentence material presented in CLiNT reprinted from the earlier independent title?

I knew there wasn't much original material in CLiNT when I started writing this little piece, but now it looks like it was almost wholly reprint.

Regards,

Steve