Read All About It - Join The Comic Club

Issue 56

How often have you either popped into your local newsagent to buy a magazine and found that they haven’t got it, or it’s sold out, or possibly tried to go online only to find that you can’t actually buy the magazine online because the publisher doesn’t do that sort of thing?

Thankfully, there is a way around this problem. Go to Unique Magazines. John Porrett is the driving force behind this fascinating business. If you go onto his website you will find over 3500 different magazines. If for some reason the magazine you’re looking for isn’t there (unlikely), give him a call and he’ll go and source it for you.

Every single magazine can be ordered from his company’s website and mailed out to you. And that’s what thousands of customers do in 106 different countries. If you take a look at the responses from customers on Google, you will find a typical message reads along the lines of…”I live in Australia and couldn’t source my favourite hobby magazine. I discovered that Unique Magazines in NE England could find it for me so I ordered a copy. Four days later it was delivered through my letterbox here in Melbourne. I took out a subscription and, for the last three years, the magazine has arrived like clockwork, on time, every time, every month.” It sounds crazy. People from all over the world are buying their magazines on line from a company based in Swalwell in Gateshead. John started off in the magazines business in 1992 as a stock controller for Mills newsagents and convenience stores.

He rose to become the company’s commercial director. However, by 2009 John decided to concentrate all of his efforts on developing Unique Magazines. Within two years, Unique Magazines had notched-up sales in excess of £1 million.

He arranges some magazines to be sent to customers directly from the publishers, but over 60 per cent are sent out from John’s premises in Swalwell. But the time has now come for John to let his team of 10 staff concentrate on running Unique Magazines while he begins work on another equally fascinating venture. The Comic Club. Many of you reading this will have been brought up in an era where there wasn’t a plethora of social media distractions like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. The internet really only got going to any great extent in the mid-1990s and mobile phones were a luxury for the few. Satellite TV appeared in 1990 but it’s only over the last fifteen years or so that we’ve seen the number of channels increase rapidly. So, how did we entertain ourselves? Thankfully, if you were fortunate enough to have supportive parents, you got to read comics and books. “The earlier we can encourage children to start reading, the greater chance they have of doing well at school,” said John. “Reading is a habit.

Okay, technology certainly has its place in the learning process, but a child sitting with a parent or grandparent reading an interesting and stimulating comic, can make education hugely engaging. It’s a case of getting the right balance between technology and magazines so, here at Unique Magazines, we’ve devised a way for children to receive a monthly package which contains two magazines and an activity journal that are relevant to their age range (7-11). The journal encourages them to search for material and make some notes. The magazines are sufficiently informative that they can be kept and used for future reference.”

A brand new Comic Club website is being launched this month which will allow parents and grandparents to subscribe to the Comic club on a recurring monthly payment of £9.95. The Comic Club will become something that children and parents will look forward to receiving through the post “We’ve already had terrific feedback from local authorities, schools and help centres,” added John. “As well as making the packages available to parents and grandparents who want to encourage children to read, we also see the Comic Club as being a help those children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds who perhaps don’t normally get a chance to read a comic or book. Schools see the Comic Club as a way of tempting children to read and become inquisitive.” It’s acknowledged that children benefit from family engagement and spending time with a parent or grandparent. Sitting together and enjoying a comic will help the child with their reading, writing and creativity. It also helps them develop good social interaction skills. So, what sort of magazines will be delivered as part of the package? There will be comics like Horrible Histories, Eco Kids, Brilliant Brains, Whiz Pop Bang and National Geographic Kids, all of which feature stunning photography and thought-provoking articles. The activity sheet will relate to the content of the magazines. The Comic Club website ( will also be a mine of fun and information.

There’s a Kids Zone which has loads of videos and fascinating articles. There’s a Parent Zone which features useful articles on topics such as healthy eating and keeping active. Parents will find Ask the Teacher to be a valuable resource to ask educational related questions. But what made John decide to launch the Comic Club?

“My grandchildren are the same as other children; they love techy gadgets, but they’ve been read to from an early age which has certainly helped with their overall development. I always notice that when they have a fun and engaging comic in front of them, they start to interact and ask questions. Why can’t all children have that sort of opportunity? Consequently, I have devised a cost-effective way to help children learn AND have some fun. The mantra of Unique Magazines is “Always looking to make a change and make a real difference.” I’m putting those words into practice.”

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