Secrecy surrounds the new comic strip created by Philip Pullman, author of the best-selling His Dark Materials trilogy of novels. The strip will appear at the end of the month in The DFC, the first new weekly comic for children in 25 years. Pullman is collaborating on an adventure story (with illustrator John Aggs) because The DFC is the brainchild of his editor, David Fickling, and also because he was himself inspired to read by The Eagle and other titles during the Fifties, the golden age of comics. He hopes The DFC will do the same for today's children, otherwise raised to be "hostile to print". Will it work? We sent 10-year-old Jacob Moreton from East Sussex to the launch of The DFC to find out. He met Pullman and was given an exclusive peak at the strip, under tight security...
"The lady said we had to wait in the room while she went and got the comic from the safe, where it was being kept. Someone had to be with my Dad and me all the time so that we did not copy or steal it. I was not thinking about doing that because I was so amazed to be seeing and meeting Philip Pullman that I was quite nervous. It meant so much because he is one of those people who have given me so much through reading, and he has created a whole world of his own.
"The new strip is called The Adventures of John Blake. It looks vaguely Japanese, like a manga strip, with rich colours. The story is about a man who finds a boy on a sailing boat in the middle of the sea. In the first episode, a scientist talks about mysterious sightings of him, and the rumour is that if you look into his eyes you will die within a year. Then, in the ocean, the boy and the boat suddenly appear out of the fog. It was exciting.
"Philip Pullman told me that comics had the best bits of films and books.
"He said: 'The pictures are great but you can fold it up and put it in your pocket, and the batteries don't run out.' When I asked him what DFC stood for he said 'disgustingly fragrant cheese'. I think he was joking.
"I read 'Doctor Who: Battles In Time', but I am not really a big fan of comics. They have too many activities and free gifts that are just a way of advertising, and you only get one or two actual strips. 'The DFC' has more strips. I particularly liked Super Animal Adventure Squad, because it made me laugh a lot. It's about a team of animals who are crime fighters, but in a funny way. The crime they are fighting is to prevent the Tea Time of Doom, in which cakes are walking out of bakeries. I also really liked Vern and Lettuce (pictured left) about a sheep and a rabbit.
"The launch party was at the British Film Institute in London. There was a magician, a samba band and face painting. 'The DFC' is being published by Random House. You have to subscribe to it (thedfc.co.uk).
"I was with the winners of a competition to do a workshop with the illustrators. I worked with a girl called Daisy from a place called Woburn Sands on a little story we made up about characters called Plib and Weird Woof Woof who get zapped by an alien.
"Afterwards, we let balloons go into the sky. Some of them had tags that let you have a free subscription. I wanted to keep one. Before we left, I asked Malorie Blackman for her autograph. She is another of my favourite authors. People like her and Philip Pullman can turn what would normally be just a bit of writing into something extraordinary."
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