Review – The Blame by Jon Aye

A collection of short stories from Jon Aye.

Jon Is currently taking part in the digital Hackney Comic & Zine Fair.

Find him on twitter

I enjoyed this. A quick read that I think I could go back and spend some more time dealing with the bigger ideas it touches upon.

I often see these kinds of comic zines or this style labelled as experimental, but I’m not sure the label fits as well as alternative would. I feel there’s too much in the history of comics, I was immediately reminded of the cartooning on Dick Tracy as soon as I looked at this. The story approach is similarly easy to follow and parse, with its brevity seeming at points both dreamlike and histrionic, by which I mean there are strips where each line is designed to be dialogue delivering drama rather than naturalistic speech so it all seems like high drama pounding out the beats.

There are a couple of nice one pagers that amused me, such as the one below.

But there were a couple of strips that I found much more interesting, that got me actually thinking. They both deal with current society in its post-Thatcherite state, one obliquely and one more directly. Specifically ‘Disaster!’ and ‘Problem Solving’.

They’re both still short snippets, respectively four pages and one page, but together there is a personal thesis about post-Thatcherite UK society that I think bears expanding upon. It’s not so much that the thoughts are necessarily in depth in those stories but the combination of the two coming at the subject manages to make it so that we get a more rounded understanding of that thesis. It’s an interesting way to experience opinions without having to commit to reading a long heavy storyline exploring the subject.

I particularly like the approach to sci-fi in ‘Disaster’, it’s a very New Wave of Science Fiction attempt to look at matters, with a good use of ‘disaster’ as metaphor. I’d personally like to see that idea expanded as I think that world has some legs, but it doesn’t need expanding for the story to work as it is.

UKPLC also touches on current affairs in a nicely timed and confidently cartooned way. I like the visual approach and the somewhat abrupt approach to timing in the strips. Not all of the ideas work for me, either they’re a bit too pat  or didn’t have that much of a new idea (‘Writing’ and ‘New Name’), but the work itself is strong and individual whilst still feeling part of a contemporary comic scene.

SHOP! Warglitter

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Warglitter does a perzines (my favourite), fanzine and esoteric (witchcraft and tarot for example) zines.

She has an engaging writing tone that I enjoy a lot.

you can also find her here: website twitter instagram facebook

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SHOP! – Adam Yeater

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Shop here

find him here – instagram facebook

Extreme and trashy. Pulp to 900%. For sure it’s full of gore. Adam’s currently cracking comics out in a blaze, focussed on Blood Desert, check it out below

Blood Desert- NUKE- Full Color Magazine #1

he’s also got a great range of other comics, mini comics and zines to try out. Top of my list is The Lottery

THE LOTTERY- Trade Paperback

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SHOP! – The Comix Company

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Header image by Aaron Lange

The Comix Company is run by Dexter Cockburn, publisher and maker of underground porn comix. Featuring some great cartooning and lots of spunky action. He also publishes other creator such as Aaron Lange above.

You can also find Dexter Cockburn here –

twitter facebook (dexter cockburn) facebook (dexter J cockburn)

(any of the social media accounts may be currently suspended because social media isn’t keen on allowing porn cartoons)

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SHOT WAD 3 - Dexter Cockburn Digital Comix

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SHOP! – Strip for me (Douglas Noble)

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Douglas not only creates his own fascinating comics, he often works with a raft of other interesting creators including Sean Azzopardi, Jon Paul Milne and Olivia Sullivan who all produce amazing work of their own.

you can find him here: twitter instagram facebook

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comixology

What We Know About Falling Apart

Sean Azzopardi

Black Leather #1

Jon Paul Milne

Get The Human Face

Olivia Sullivan

Mutton Chops

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zine library! zineopolis

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with a whole online collection of zines available to look through, this is an exciting online journey as well as being a physical resource in the University of Portsmouth

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Check out the work of Jackie Batey, one of the curators, on twitter

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SHOP! – Fraser Geesin

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you can find him here – twitter instagram facebook

Fraser Geesin’s humour hits a spot with me, drifting from nonsense to satire it aims squarely at humanity and hits the mark

physical comics

The Cleaner is both funny and dirt cheap, there’s not much more to ask than that

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digital comics

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SHOP! Comic Scene

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ComicScene does a good job of representing the current UK Small Press comics scene as well as more mainstream comics entertainment news – it’s like an online comic fanzine that also publishes a great set of books all about the history of UK and US comics and some fine comics of their own.

you can also find them here:

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SHOP! The Phooks

The Phooks is a project I’ve followed for almost two years. It’s a site focussed on the sales of small -press and self-published photobooks and zines aiming to build a community of buyers and sellers.

It’s expanded to included interviews with creators and some campaigns aiming to fund the publication of books.

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SHOP! – Dan White

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Dan White’s Cindy & Biscuit is a fun and inventive series and 184 pages for £4 on digital is an absolute bargain.

Dan’s other series Sticky Ribs has received praise for its macabre and unsettling nature. It focusses on horror but remains accessible, not the least because of Dan’s great design and cartooning chops.

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SHOP! – Robert Wells

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Rob’s work is always funny. He’s got a (terrible) gift for (terrible) puns and a great sense of humour whether drawing or writing.

Below is a selection of images from the comics you can currently order from Rob’s webstore (up above). I’ve read almost all of them and enjoyed every single one.

Love Her Madly and other stories

Department of the Peculiar (written by Rol Hirst)

Malty Heave (with Phil Elliott)

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zine library! Fanzineteca / Uzinefanzine

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A list of all the zines in their collection with a little precis for each one.

There’s also a physical exhibition on at the moment at the Casa das Artes Bissaya Barreto.

This is a typical entry and an interesting sounding zine

MONDAY, MARCH 15, 2021

Brevary

A “road zine” by Bruno Pires. Beautiful typewritten texts reminiscent of the fanzines of the 80s and 90s, accompanied by excellent photographs. Brevário could also be a “perzine”, that is, a personal zine, where the author put some pieces of his experiences.

A very beautiful fanzine in an edition of just 50 copies. A pleasant surprise for a “first” fanzine. We want more …

This one also has a lovely little write up

This is the most recent and is one I’ve read and enjoyed myself, I can recommend Peter Bangs zines.

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SHOP! – Lucy Sullivan

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It’s been a year since the publication of Barking, Lucy’s debut graphic novel – if you want the long version of what I thought about it, go read my review. TL-DR version, it’s an ambitious approach to the medium that hits the mark and delivers an impressive view into the altered reality of a hurt mind.

also find her here – twitter instagram facebook

webshop – comics

webshop – prints

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zine library! Salford Zine Library

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SHOP! Livor Mortis Zine

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Livor Mortis Zine is a DIY zine maker fascinated by decay and urban landscapes. He’s not just an individual maker, he’s a frequent collaborator so there’s a wide range of works to be found. His lo-fi approach and obvious sense of humour come through in his work.

NOTE – I have collaborated with Livor Mortis Zine on a zine

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SHOP! Street Noise Books

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An interesting and diverse range of books from some very experienced creators, including some ones highlighted below that caught my interest.

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zine library! Glasgow Zine Library

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They’re currently running Glasgow Zine Fest, 1st – 30th April

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SHOP! Zine Gang Distro

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An Australian distro with some great looking zines in stock

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SHOP! Stay Kind! distro

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(twitter – @staykinddistro)

Stay Kind! publish their own zines including perzines and various themed anothologies

As a distro -here are their own words

Stay Kind! is especially interested in publications related to racial justice, gender and sexuality, youth voice, animal rights, violence intervention and prevention, mental health, and personal narratives, as well as educational and informational publications.

Here are three titles that took my fancy

Ima Eat You! May 2016

I love a perzine and this includes something about Bravenet which, in reality is just a boring web service provider, but with that and the cover made me think of how you could use it as a great name for people confronting their own self-limiting learnt behaviours and I was off on a thought.

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no salvation no forgiveness

the blurb totally caught my interest

It’s an elaborate fantasy about trapping Brett Kavanaugh in an elevator and forcing him to listen to me. It’s about being sad and weird and victimized in high school and growing up to be even sadder and even weirder and more victimized and being really, really fucking angry about that. By julia eff.

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Living Southerners December 2017

again – the blurb sold me, and the bit of interview you can see on the page below (from the zine)

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and the intro that you can also see because it’s so specific and I love that in a zine

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you can also check out their instagram and facebook

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zine library! Scarborough Zine Library

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I love a zine library!

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SHOP! Colossive Press

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NOTE – I have been published and distributed by Colossive Press – I won’t be highlighting those publications

I have loved Colossive Press’ zines since I first saw Croydon Spaceport (a hugely enjoyable and funny zine about the UK’s first failed spaceport) and High Precision Ghosts – one of the most interesting formats for a zine I’ve ever seen.

With the Cartographies series they’ve really found a fascinating format to show case creators.

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SHOP! Shelflife (Cardiff)

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Shelflife Books and Zines

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SHOP! Good Comics / Good Zines

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LDN by RAMZEE

personally recommended by me

Petrichor by Gareth A Hopkins

Novelty by Mohar Kolra

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SHOP! Cafe Royal Books

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SHOP! Domino Books

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I like Austin English’s approach to curating his store, it’s eclectic and personal and carries a great breadth of interesting comics. It’s unfortunate that postage from the US is so expensive as it makes it very prohibitive to get anything over to the UK, but what can you do?

If you’re in the US – go for broke!

Check out this interview on The Comics Journal, a lovely long one, where he lays out his thoughts very clearly

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zine library! Denver Zine Library

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SHOP! Pluto Press

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zine library! Sherwood Forest Zine Library

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online zine library

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SHOP! Almost Normal Comics

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Web store

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SHOP! pen fight

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https://penfightdistro.com/

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comix economix – an interview with Avery Hill’s Ricky Miller

I think the true nature of what makes Avery Hill a truly worthy publisher comes not from the work that they publish, but from the approach that they take.

It seems to me that the two most important things to be taken from this whole interview would be these comments, “..we had a responsibility to sell as many books as possible and make some money for the creators…” and “…we put a massive amount of our time into the company and don’t take any money for that…”

It’s that approach to creator first commerce that I admire. It seems to pervade their whole ethos and, I think, informs much of their editorial aesthetic as well – people first. At the heart of what they do is the belief that people matter and so should be shown respect.

Untitled Ape’s Epic Adventure Steven Tillotson

ZL – Hi and thanx for agreeing to this interview!

Having looked around, you seem to have entered your 15th year as a publishing company and it seems like a terrible year to be in business, especially the business of comics. It made me think though, did you believe you’d last 15 years when you started, do you feel like you’ve accomplished more than you ever thought you could?

RM – It’s actually 8 years that we’ve been an LTD and a couple of years of making zines before that.

I think when we started, we probably saw it going a few years and our major aim was to have a nice row of a few books on our shelf which wouldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for us.

I Love This Part Tillie Walden

To some extent that’s still the philosophy of what we do, although as we’ve taken on more overheads, we’ve had to make a few more decisions based on business reasons rather than other reasons. We didn’t have any idea that one day we’d be doing print runs in the thousands rather than in the tens and that we’d actually have books winning awards! The day that Tillie (Walden) got nominated for an Eisner for I Love This Part is still one of the most mind-blowing things to have happened.

ZL – I don’t know if you want to, but that sentence ‘…although as we’ve taken on more overheads, we’ve had to make a few more decisions based on business reasons rather than other reasons. ‘, really cries out for unpacking a bit! 

It’s very open to interpretation and I’d love to dig out some detail. 

A Projection Seekan Hui

With comic companies so often being so negative, I’d normally be inclined to read that as, ‘we’ve started screwing creators and shipping production out to the cheapest printer we can find’. However, in my experience, creators seem incredibly positive about working with you, both in terms of the value you add to their work and your treatment of their works as published. 

So, my assumption about what you’re saying here is that the kind of projects you take on has changed rather than the treatment of creators or is it something else entirely?

A Quiet Disaster Alex Potts

RM – It’s more that we now think a lot more about how commercial a project is before we take it on. This hasn’t led us yet to do a project JUST for commercial reasons, every book we’ve put out we believe in from a creative point of view and it’s a book we’d love to read ourselves, but we’ve probably had to not pursue a few projects where we just didn’t see it making any money at all. In the past we might have gone ahead with that type of project just for artistic reasons, but we’re trying not to do that anymore. It means saying no to some books we might love to do, but in the long run it’s best for us and also for the creators.

ZL – For me, the whole idea of taking on ‘overheads’ seems damn scary! It’s sort of the difference between being in zine publishing and book publishing. Which is a loaded statement for sure.

Artifical Flowers Rachael Smith

What I mean is, for me zine publishing doesn’t require much money up front and doesn’t really expect to do more than break even or even just net back a bunch of reading through swaps. Book publishing carries the expectation of income to fund new publications, carrying back stock, selling in bulk and at discount, handling returns and all sorts of other time consuming and expensive upfront costs and gambles.

Does that seem like a fair view or am I over simplifying matters horribly!?

RM – The main thing is just not totally overstretching ourselves. We’ve so far not had to do anything financially that we couldn’t see a way of surviving if everything went wrong. We always pay invoices immediately, especially for staff and smaller businesses that we deal with and being responsible is really important in that we don’t want anyone else to hurt from mistakes we make.

On A Sunbeam Tillie Walden

Our biggest costs are always by far print costs. Reprinting something like On A Sunbeam is a massive cost. Our latest reprint of that cost £20K+, but that’s a book that will always sell and it’s just a short-term cash flow problem rather than a risk.

Breakwater Katriona Chapman

ZL – Do you miss the simplicity and immediacy of zine publishing. I don’t mean that as a ‘would you prefer to go back to zines’, more of a question of whether you appreciated having the opportunity to approach publishing in that manner and whether that had its own appeal and does that appeal still exist for you?

RM – I don’t really miss the zine aesthetic, I was never particularly into it. Dave might feel differently on that score as he was very much the one who produced all of those early zines that got us started and I was just a contributor for most of that. I like buying and reading zines more than I did making them. I’d encourage every creator to self-publish something at least once as it gives you a great education in the whole process of making, selling and marketing a book. 

Butter Tubbs Donya Todd

ZL – In the face of all that complexity, what is it about the process that keeps you going and motivated, what emotional aspects of it reward you, as I presume you’re not rolling in money from this, it’s publishing and comics after all!

RM – I’m more interested in getting as big an audience for what we do as possible and I get most of my enjoyment now from figuring out the business side of things and seeing how far people like us can get without any insider knowledge, connections or experience other than what we’ve managed to gather as we go along. I see our logo as something of a metaphor for this, that we’re bunking over a fence into the publishing industry. 

Days Simon Moreton

ZL – We’ve dived quickly into depth here without really getting any history for context, which is terrible in an interview! So, to step backwards for a minute, how about you tell us what background you have with comics?

RM – Dave, the AHP co-publisher/co-owner, and I have been friends since school and definitely bonded through comics (as well as music). We both started reading lots of Marvel UK stuff when we were very young. I was particularly into Transformers and used to do my own Transformers fancomic when I was about 14. Then when we met at senior school we were reading some superhero stuff (it was the early 90s so mainly the Image guys pre and post them leaving Marvel) and then the DC mature readers titles that became Vertigo, like Sandman, Animal Man and Shade. Also a few self-published titles, such as Strangers In Paradise, Bone, Hepcats and A Distant Soil. Cerebus was probably the biggest one for us though (until it went off the rails) and I’d say that a lot of the stuff that Dave Sim used to discuss, with regards to creator ownership and self-publishing, still massively resonates in how we think about Avery Hill.

We both drifted from comics when we went to uni and then Dave got back into them when we were in our late 20s and leant me Y: The Last Man and Fables, which got me back into them as well.

Deep Space Canine Comic Book Slumber Party

ZL – I’m always interested to see Dave Sim mentioned because of how his place in comics seems to have shifted from Cerebus as a comic and more to what he did when publishing it and what he wrote about publishing itself. I could do a whole discussion about the value of the comic, but that’s a whole other interview!

What I am intrigued by is, how a publisher took what Dave Sim said and got inspired by it when you consider how anti publishers and pro creators doing it all themselves his writing was. So, at what point in Avery Hill’s history did he influence you and what impact does he still have on your approach to creators and publishing?

Victory Point Owen D. Pomery

RM – I think the main thing is the stress on creator freedom and ownership. We don’t take any rights from creators in terms of licensing, image, etc. And they’re totally free to tell their story however they want. The way he worked directly with comic retailers as well is really important and how he built his audience from the ground up pre-social media.

Desolation Wilderness Claire Scully

ZL – As a random question, have you ever considered reaching out to Gerhard and seeing if he’d want to be published, can you imagine a comic just filled with his illustrations of different environments!

RM – I’m not sure if he’s ever written a comic, but I’d definitely love to see a nice book of his drawings!

Escape From Bitch Mountain Comic Book Slumber Party

ZL –  Just to tack a further wide open question on there, what do you think the legacy of that generation of self-publishers has had on comics now? I personally feel it did a lot to re-introduce diversity of subjects and approach back into comics and spurred what I’d class as the book market side of comics.

RM – I’d love to read an Easy Riders, Raging Bulls type book on those creators and that time. I’m sure it would be fascinating, although equally male-centric. I’m not sure that many of today’s younger creators have read much of that stuff and I don’t think any of them are making enough from self-publishing to turn up at shows in limos like Sim used to. I think we have to look at it more in the context of an Image style business model nowadays, where books like Saga, The Walking Dead, etc kept some of that ethos, albeit with some work-for-hire aspects that Sim would frown on. The most influential on today’s market from that time is definitely Jeff Smith’s Bone, which blew the doors off of the middle-grade market. The lasting influence there is massive.

Follow Me In Katriona Chapman

ZL – Going back a bit to something else you mentioned, specifically publishing your own Transformers fan comic, and I can’t leave that stone unturned! What was it called and was it something you did for yourself and your friends or did you put it out to the wider world and are there still copies available to buy or maybe a link to read it somewhere?

RM – Thankfully it was pre-internet and I don’t think it will surface. It was done through a Transformers fan club and was an incredibly ambitious prequel to the whole Transformers saga called Pathformers that (shockingly) I abandoned after about 6 issues. Sadly, a lost masterpiece of the form.

Goatherded Charlo Frade

ZL – Do you think that early experience had an influence on setting up and beginning Avery Hill?

RM – I don’t think I would have thought of doing Metroland if it hadn’t have been for the Transformers comic, but I always enjoyed writing and drawing so I’m not sure.

A City Inside Tillie Walden

ZL – I’m a nosy person that’s very interested in how people get to a point, not just what they do, so I’d really like to know what was the trigger that finally persuaded you to publish your first book?

Also, when setting up the company, what was the initial impetus to make Avery Hill exist? I just think it would be interesting to know whether the original dream has been met, but also, digging into that a bit deeper, what moment persuaded you that it was possible to go out and publish comic books?

Finally, to heap in the questions like an avalanche, what did you think you’d be able to achieve, in what timescale?

Metroland 1, 2, 3 & 4

RM – Dave wanted to start a zine called Tiny Dancing and I decided to contribute a comic to it called Metroland, which I used to write and draw. As we got more into that world we found loads of other comics creators who were much better than us, like Tim Bird, Owen Pomery and Simon Moreton and decided we should just publish their stuff instead. So the first book we put out that wasn’t by one of us was Grey Area by Tim and the The Megatherium Club by Owen. Simon’s collection, Days, was the first big graphic novel we ever did.

Grey Area Our Town Tim Bird

We had absolutely no background in publishing, no contacts, no financial backing and not much of an idea about the small-press scene. We didn’t really expect it to go anywhere and thought it would just fizzle out at some point. There was definitely no grand plan. We often compare ourselves to those small record companies that start because they like a band, like Electric Honey, Jeepster, or Factory Records. I like the idea of doing something where no one can tell you “No” and taking control of what you want to do. Neither of us would be remotely interested in working for another publisher (I’d maybe consider running Marvel for them…).

Internet Crusader George Wylesol

ZL – I’m going to jump around because that’s how my head works sometimes and because I realise it would be good to get some context.

I know many people don’t really want to talk about numbers, particularly sales and income, but I’m not one of them! Forewarned is forearmed I fully believe. So, what were your initial expectations for sales and break even for published comics and on what did you base those? Was there a network of people you could reach out and did you reach out to them?

Zebedee and the Valentines Abs Bailey

RM – From the point of view of the books making money, we didn’t start out with that intention and the print runs and costs were never going to generate a meaningful profit. We were fan amateurs doing our best to publicise work by people we liked (and we had to like both their work and the person themselves) and that was very clear to all of the creators as well. However, at a certain point it got big enough that we realised those terms had changed and that we had to take it even more seriously and that we had a responsibility to sell as many books as possible and make some money for the creators. A lot of companies can start as hobbies and then grow beyond that and it’s really, really important to notice when you have crossed that line so that you don’t start failing to deliver to the expectations of your creators. We feel a deep responsibility to the creators for the amount of work they put in. We want the final book to look as good as possible and sell as many copies as we can.

Ismyre B Mure

ZL – I don’t want to derail this set of questions yet, so I’ll come back to some of those points in a bit, if that’s alright? I’m wondering if you ever achieved those initial numbers, or blew them out of the water, or did you find yourself still sitting on a fair amount of dead stock?

RM – We made some mistakes in the early days in terms of print runs. Everyone does. It’s rare you have “just enough” books, which is what everyone is trying to aim for. You either get stuck with a load or you go to a 2nd print after a short period of time because you printed too few.

It’s Cold in the River at Night Alex Potts

ZL – What did you do to decide on those initial numbers, was it based on a marketplace assessment, segmented by a target audience, more of a finger in the air informed guess, or the more hopeful, ‘well if I sell this amount it’ll cover all the costs and it doesn’t seem that unreasonable to expect these sales figures’?

And the punchier question, how much better have you got at making those estimates now that you’ve been at this for so many years?

I would guess there’s no great problem thinking you’ll only sell 500 and suddenly finding 5,000 ordered. Of course, I’m just assuming that, so feel free to re-educate me!

Tower in the Sea B. Mure

RM – It’s all finger in the air as in those days we had no clue what print runs other publishers were doing. A few people took us under their wing and gave us some idea. I’ve always been interested in developing out the business side, so I always ask people questions. All of the published data is close to useless for comics as so many aren’t sold through tills. We’re a lot better than we were, but we’re still pretty conservative and get taken by surprise a lot. Storage is expensive, printing is expensive, shipping is expensive…it’s an expensive business.

We have UK and US distributors who sell our books directly to bookshops and to comic shops, either directly or through Diamond. All books are returnable, so each month we’ll get a hit on books that come back. A while ago we got notified of 650 books that were returned and unsellable again due to slight dings or scratches on them, so they have to go to be recycled and we lose all of the money on those. They pay us on a 4-6 month lag, so it takes that long to get any money back on most books. Which means cash-flow is king. You need a pipeline of good sellers to be able to stay afloat if you don’t have big financial reserves as you’re always paying for the next book out of the money from the previous book.

Maleficium Edie OP

ZL – Heading back to your earlier point about starting as amateur publishers, could you expand a bit on what expectations you set yourself at first and how realistic those sales or rather, your measures for sales, were in the end? How much of the continuation of publishing over the time was linked to your expectations shifting to meet reality and what emotional effect that had upon you?

There’s also the flip, in terms of how creators’ expectations have been managed by you in this process. Have you ever had to sit a creator down and go ‘Slow down, you’re thinking mountains and we’re thinking hills’?

The Rabbit Rachael Smith

RM – It’s all emotional with us. If the creator is happy, we’re happy. If the creator is delighted, we’re delighted. If the creator is not happy, we feel awful. A lot of that is managing expectations at the outset. 

The main focus for me for the past few years has been putting everything possible in place from a structural perspective to make sure that we can do as good a job as possible. That’s distribution, printers, marketing, PR. and sales. It’s all about sales when it comes down to it. Every job we do in this company is about sales. A friend of ours, Gareth Brookes, who makes graphic novels and some years ago we published a couple of zines by, said something the other day which really resonated with me. He said that we’re “too professional” and I knew what he meant, in that we can give the impression that we’re bigger and more successful than we are in reality. That’s because we put a massive amount of our time into the company and don’t take any money for that (we have day jobs). We also hire three contractors to work on sales, marketing and publicity who are all great at their jobs and we punch way above our weight.

Marble Cake Scott Jason Smith

ZL – This is a tricky one to slip in, but I wonder after how much emotion and anxiety you expected to be involved in the process and whether you were prepared for how much there actually was?

There seems to be a lot of opportunity to build up a large amount of guilt around having your expectations for success and having to reconcile that with reality and having to deal with the creator’s own sense of worth and expectations of what makes that work worthwhile?

RM – I didn’t expect any anxiety. I expected to care, but not anxiety. The way we work, we get emotionally invested in every creator and we don’t want to let them down in any way. A lot of them we’d consider good friends. I feel massive amounts of guilt when we take tough decisions, but everything we do is done with good intent and never about our financial gain. There have been some lows, especially in the early days where we probably made some mistakes due to lack of experience or lack of resources. If a book doesn’t sell enough it’s always our fault and we just have to try harder. We do the best we can.

Mimi and the Wolves Alabaster Pizzo

ZL – I think emotional investment is probably the least thought out part of anyone’s initial business plan, it’s almost always ‘Where do I get the money to make this?’ What advice would you give about remaining emotionally healthy when getting into publishing?

RM – I don’t think it’s taken a massive toll on us; we can sleep at night and I can look every creator in the eye because I know we’ve cared about each book and done our best. I’d say you just have to be very honest and aware of your capabilities. You also need a business model where you and the creator share success, so you’re all working towards the same goal.

Parsley Girl Matthew Swan

ZL – I’m thinking not just about being a publisher, but also considering your creators’ emotional wellbeing now. At the start of becoming a publisher did you begin by managing the creator’s expectations, or did you start to realise they needed managing?

Or, have you been lucky to work with creators that are already realistic? I hope you’ve never found yourself dealing with a creator whose work you thought had gone successfully into the market where they were devastated that it had been a failure, and I wouldn’t want to open old wounds for anyone.

I am intrigued though about what you do when something goes very badly or very well, what challenges does that offer you as a publisher, particularly a publisher that has managed long term relationships with a number of creators.

Permanent Press Luke Healy

What happens, say, if they’re disappointed in responses or sales, but you’re proud and can see that they could go on and achieve more – what do you feel is your role in that situation?

RM – A lot of the time we’re the creator’s first experience of working with a publisher, which is a responsibility that we take seriously. I like to think that we’re a really good publisher to start a career with as we’ll look after them as much as possible and also not rip them off or keep any rights that we shouldn’t. We’ve worked with a number of creators who have gone on to bigger publishers and we always feel great about that. It’s a feather in our cap and means we’ve done our job right. It also helps the sales of their books with us if the creator is then being marketed by a bigger company.

Seasons Mike Medaglia

ZL – You don’t take submissions of work so how do you find new creators to work with? Do you actively search out creators on social media or through word of mouth from other creators or did you start this with a hit list of creators you wanted to publish? Basically, how does a work or creator get on Avery Hill’s radar and how do you think about prioritising that work for publication? Is that approach to do with being curators as much as publishers, about carving a space in comics that looks like the shape of your tastes?

Walking Distance Lizzy Stewart

RM – We’ve always had a very loose list of creators that we’d like to do a book by at some point. A few of those we’ve managed to tick off in recent times, such as B. Mure, Lizzy Stewart and Kristyna Baczynski. We like the process of curating what we do; seeking out the creators in various places. We follow lots of people we like on social media and Patreon and always seek out new creators at shows. If they’ve self-published it’s a big bonus as then you know they can get a project completed and also understand a lot of the production side of things as well. Getting submissions ends up taking lots of time and 99% of the time we’ve had to pass on the projects, so it’s not particularly fun for us. We’ve also now got such a large roster of existing creators that we really want to leave space for them to come to us with new projects as well.

Retrograde Orbit Kristyna Bacynski

ZL – I noticed that you hired outsiders to fill non-editorial roles and seeing how considered your other decisions have been, I’m presuming that’s because you valued the editorial role most? Would that be fair to say?  

RM – I think having someone freelance as an editor would be a loss of control over the relationship with the creator that I wouldn’t particularly enjoy. I think so much of what we do with Avery Hill and what makes us different is that it’s locked into mine and Dave’s taste and aesthetic and it’s that influence that we bring to bear on the creative process. It would be hard to relinquish that input and those decisions to someone else and then having to just market and sell something we didn’t feel like a tiny bit of ourselves had been involved in. That’s pretty much why we don’t publish works in translation that other publishers have put out or why we don’t really like taking finished projects.

Something City Ellice Weaver

ZL – How much editorial input do you have in any work that you produce or does that vary depending on the creator?

RM – It varies greatly. There are some creators that basically just want us to proof-read it and then there are some that want input at every stage of the process. I’m happy with either scenario really, we try to work however they’d like to work. Ideally they would rough out the whole book in a way that’s legible and I’d then go through and make suggestions on structure and pacing and anything I don’t think is right in the story. Then they go off and start drawing it and I’ll give input as and when required. Then feedback on dialogue and any bits that might need redrawing if they haven’t come out right. Mostly I just make suggestions and leave them to determine if they agree with what I’m saying. I like to make it clear it’s their book and their vision and I’m just asking them questions to make sure they’ve thought about all of their decisions. Just because I don’t like something or don’t think it’s the right decision, it doesn’t mean they should change it. It’s their work and they have to be happy with what ends up on the finished page.

Swear Jar Abe Christie

ZL – Philosophically, what do you aim to achieve through your input? 

RM – Really I think we consider ourselves more project managers than editors. We’re there to help them get it done and make sure they’re happy with the results. We’re enablers, and that can take many different forms; mainly it’s about keeping them confident in their ability to complete it and helping them where necessary. It’s more people skills than anything.

Terrible Means B. Mure

ZL – Considering what’s going on in the comics market are you worried about your future sales or are your sales firm outside of the direct market of comic shops thanks to your use of book distributors? To add to that thought, what are your opinions about the future of print comics both here in the UK and in the US as well? 

RM – I think the direct market is definitely on its last legs, but there’s still a place for specialist comic shops in whatever comes out of it. I feel like in the UK, where shops are a lot less reliant on Diamond and already use multiple distributors and wholesalers, we’re in a good place to weather what comes next. Although obviously the full repercussions of Covid on top of all of this are still working their way through the system. We sell a lot of books through bookstores and directly through our online store so we’re prepared for whatever happens. But the relationships we have with a lot of comics stores are vital and without them I’m not sure what the wider industry would look like in this country. I don’t think the answer is just to become a small part of the wider book industry, we still need our specialist places to champion this medium.

The Beginner’s Guide to Being Outside Gill Hatcher

ZL – What do you think your company’s legacy has been in the market place and in creators lives so far?

That’s a slightly loaded question I know! But I think this is one of those issues of appreciation.

Tom Spurgeon used to say that he thought comics has this built in attitude towards believing everything that has not got a run for 100’s of issues behind it is a complete failure. I’m with him in believing this is completely wrong headed.

To put it in personal terms. You’ve also introduced artists who are now published with other companies and have therefore then gone on to create more work.

If you sit back and reflect upon that, how does it make you feel about your efforts?

What We Don’t Talk About Charlot Kristensen

RM – I’m proud to see our creators go on to greater successes. Publishing the first books of people like Tille Walden, Zoe Thorogood and Charlot Kristensen will be a great legacy. I hope we’ve given them a good experience and platform to jump off from and that they’ll come back one day when they have a personal project they want to do that doesn’t fit anywhere else. I think the way we do things has also influenced publishers like Good Comics, who put out great books. I’m not sure beyond that at the moment, we’re still going and I think will only get stronger, so the full extent of what we’ve done isn’t clear to us yet.

The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott Zoe Thorogood

ZL – Do you see yourselves continuing to grow in terms of output and staff numbers or do you feel you’ve reached a good balance of what you can achieve within the limits of your energy levels?

RM – We’ve just hired someone to do the bookkeeping which means that I don’t have to do it anymore and to me that’s the most exciting thing to happen this year!

The Flood That Did Come Patrick Wray

ZL – Right – to lighten things up and spread some love. Which three creators would you recommend people search out if they were fans of Avery Hill books?

RM

Casey Nowak 

Patrick Kyle

Sophia Foster-Dimino

ZL – What’s the last (non-Avery Hill) comic or zine that you read that made you really think about what it was talking about or how it was using comics?

RM – I only very recently started getting into manga and it’s totally reinvigorated me. My main favourite is 20th Century Boys which might be the best comic I’ve ever read. It’s an incredible lesson in storytelling structure and the art is some of the best I’ve ever seen. Working with creators like Tillie Walden, Charlot Kristensen and Zoe Thorogood who are heavily influenced by manga has really made me appreciate what that language can bring to comics and I think some of the most interesting things happening in the US and UK area mesh traditional UK/US comics and manga.

The Great North Wood Tim Bird

ZL – I’d like to thank you for taking the time to talk to us and for giving such honest answers. I hope you enjoyed the process!

RM – Thanks for the opportunity to talk about some of this stuff, it definitely made me think!

ZL – And finally – please plug away anything you want to plug!!

RM – You can check out all of our titles in our store!

https://averyhillpublishing.bigcartel.com

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the short list – Miguel Correia – Portuguese zinester

Miguel Correia

editor and publisher of Fanzine UltraViolenta

Find Miguel here

website           instagram         facebook

UltraViolenta is  35€ per 5 issues bundle on sale here 

How long have you been publishing zines?

Fanzine Ultra Violenta is an artistic fanzine founded and edited in Portugal by art director Miguel Correia since the beginning of the astonishing year of 2020.

This visual and conceptual exploration project brings together several artists, most of them from Portugal, but also from around the globe.

To this moment the collective consists of 28 artists and we believe that by the time the 12th edition is issued they will amount to 50.

So far there are five issues available and numbers 6 and 7 are already in the editorial stage. 

What do they include?

Each edition has a unique theme and compiles the works of up to five artists from different artistic areas. Each artist will freely interpret the chosen theme. On each edition the artist is given a textured and coloured sheet as a means to entice the creative process as well as to create an editorial guideline. There are no additional briefings or any other conditioning to the artists’ process apart from the given sheet.

The final results have been rather expressive and varied with compositions ranging from the punk and grunge culture to the urban graffiti culture, and even extending to the Dadaist movement’s manifestos. 

Themes for each issue have been 

Issue n1 -Fevereiro 2020-Theme: Eat

Issue n2 -Março 2020-Theme: Dream

Issue n3 -Abril 2020-Theme: Pandemic

Issue n4 -Maio 2020-Theme: Mutant

Issue nº5 -Junho 2020-Theme: Poison

Designers include Miguel Correia, Joana de Matos, João Tiago Fernandes, Nélia Costa, Vasco Cardoso, Inês de Carvalho, Pedro Marques ( Piteko), Vera Barbosa, Nevio Buzov, Isabel Nunes, João Cláudio Larraz, Ana Calisto, Marcelo Ribeiro, Luisa Maria Benito, Joseph Simão, Lara Teang, Luis Miguel Delgado, Arianna Picoli, Álvaro (Alph) Ferreira, Kali Kali, Ogata Tetsuo, Raquel Barrocas, Nuno Freire, Anna Klos, Elias Marques, Lydia Swinney, Sérgio Correia and Jorge Tavares.

What inspiration made you start?

This project takes us back to a pre digital time, a time where information was scarce and transmitting it was best conveyed through these fanzines, thus, making them the preferred method of divulgation of a given ideology by artists, music bands, photographers, writers and illustrators. Fanzines are mostly self-published and they are created using simple production methods in which artists make use of a myriad of different techniques. From photography, drawings, collages and cutouts to the use of risographs and even taking advantage of the iconic Xerox printers’ very unique expressiveness. All these were used to create a new form of transmitting art, a form that people could share between them and through which they could assert and discuss opinions on a given matter.

What inspiration keeps you going?

Fanzine Ultra Violenta’s goal is to encourage this form of artistic expression and to enfold the participating artists in a creative process of sharing and experimenting.

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the short list – Eduardo Cardoso – Portuguese zinester

Eduardo Cardoso

Publisher of Perseus and Atmosfera explosiva

Find Eduardo here

website facebook instagram   octodon   IUOMA

Thanx to Miguel Correira for organising and translating this interview a version of this interview in the original Portuguese can be found here

How long have you publishing zines?

I’ve been publishing zines for around 10 years.

 

What do they include?

They include collage, poetry, found poetry, etc.

 

What inspiration made you start?

Artist books. DIY and Mail Art publications.

What inspiration keeps you going?

The love for books and small publications. Mail Art.

 

Links:

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the short list – Rodolfo Mariano – Portuguese zinester

Find Rodolfo Mariano here

website         instagram

Thanx to Miguel Correira for organising and translating this interview a version of this interview in the original Portuguese can be found here

How long have you been publishing?

My first comic book/zine was self-published in 2012 while I was in art school, 12 pages of cheap drawing A4 paper, xerox printed.

My latest comic zine was printed and published last July, 36 pages, colour covers, professionally printed.

What does it include?

For a long while I’ve had my work featured in some zines made by other artists, small illustrations, covers, drawings and sketches… However my main activity, the heart and soul of my artistic work, was making comics using traditional media (pen, pencil, brush and india ink). 

What inspiration made you start?

At the time I was yearning for being able to design, print and publish my own comic books, my own titles and projects. Simultaneously I had another goal too, I really wanted to reach an audience because comics themselves tend to beg for having readers to whom books/zines/objects are small treasures. In Portugal there’s a tiny indie small press scene, which I’m still learning the ins and outs of, it was a very pleasant surprise back when I’ve started printing and selling my own books/zines getting to know such an awesome community. Since then I’ve been making friends and slowly growing my audience along the way.

What inspiration keeps you going?

I love the freedom to plan, create and publish my own comic books and be able to reach multiple audiences while growing as an artist and be part of a creative, open-minded, diverse community. Overall print as a medium with all it’s character and apparent limitless possibilities suits me and my creative process very well. There’s a long road ahead full of wonders, there’s no reason not to keep going.

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the short list – Matilde Horta – Portuguese zinester

You can find Matilde here

online store          portfólio          instagram

Thanx to Miguel Correira for organising and translating this interview a version of this interview in the original Portuguese can be found here

Queens of Portugal

is the first fanzine I did with my 15 year old sister. We decided to make a project based on the things we’re both good at: Illustration and History. The idea of this project is to explore and show in small condensed booklets some topics from the History of Portugal that people know less about (or just things we love and want to share). Also to teach kids in a very short and illustrated way. The first edition was a success and we even did a second edition that is currently sold out. 

Who published it?

Me and my sister Maria did it all and published it ourselves

How long have you published it for?

We first published it in February 2020.

What does it include?

The book is a compilation of both illustration and text about history.

What inspiration made you start?

I wanted to draw queens’ portraits and my sister loves history so we combined both!

What inspiration keeps you going?

Our inspiration is mainly fun and knowledge. Still, we love the feeling of teaching our readers in an easy going way. Keep on researching about history and keep illustrating cultural artefacts and things we know that are important for our country, culture and for what we are.

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the short list – João Oliveira and Guilherme Ferrugento – Portuguese zinesters

Find João here

website               instagram

Thanx to Miguel Correira for organising and translating this interview a version of this interview in the original Portuguese can be found here

João Oliveira and Guilherme Ferrugento, authors of

Spooky Action At a Distance I

How long have you been publishing it?

The first edition of the zine was published in January 2020. It will be an annual publication with the next one to be published in the end of 2020 beginning of 2021.

What does it include?

Einstein’s ‘spooky action at a distance’ theory referred to ‘quantum entanglement’, which states that the measurement of one particle will instantly influence another particle, regardless of how far apart they are.

The idea of the publication was for each one of the artists to produce an image on alternate days as a way to inspire each other to draw more. Each image could take no more than 20 minutes.

The images would then travel back and forth between Brussels and Coimbra through the magic of instant messaging.

The drawings were then selected amongst nearly a hundred made between November 2018 and June 2019.

What inspiration made you start?

We used to push each other to draw during Uni and when we went our own ways this was how we managed to keep inspiring each other despite the physical distance.

What inspiration keeps you going?

The ability to stay connected through our art and to take a peak at each other’s way of seeing and representing the world. 

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the short list – Portuguese zinesters

On our zinelove chat facebook group Miguel Correia has been regularly posting links to his zine UltraViolenta. On the back of what he was doing I tracked down a group for Portuguese zinesters and asked to join. Miguel politely said it was there to help build a scene with Portugal and, being the nosy sod I am, I got to chatting with him about what it was like there at which point he kindly offered to float out a set of questions to his group and see what came back.

I asked a rough set of questions –

Who publishes their work?

How long have they published it for?

What do they include?

What inspiration made them start?

What inspiration keeps them going?

It turned out to be pure gold. We’ve got five great zinester interviews lined up for the week, all of which feature work that I would dearly love to own myself.

Hope you enjoy them all, AND if you are a Portuguese speaker you can visit these interviews over on Miguel’s site in it’s native tongue.

I’d like to give a thank you to everyone that has contributed to this and an even bigger thanx to Miguel for organising and translating these interviews. I hope you enjoy this work as much as I did and that you go an seek these peeps and their work out.

iestyn

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Small (press) oaks – Ken Eppstein

Ken Eppstein is a good man to know in comics. He works hard to be fair to all of the creators he’s published. I like his tastes as well, so I think you’ll find very good work, including his own, in the comics he’s published.

I like that he’s interested in quantifying rather than guessing what people need, researching and getting data in to inform his work. It’s an approach I admire. His recent surveys have been supported by Fieldmouse Press’s SOLRAD site.

 

Ken Eppstein

Find Ken here

website          twitter          instagram          facebook

 

 

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

You know, I think it was Curt Swan. One of the first books I ever owned was the hardback “Superman from the 30s to the 70s” collection. Still have it… Two copies actually! A nice one and my original copy with no dustjacket and a shredded spine. Lots of artists in there, but Curt Swan was the guy whose work was still in comic racks.

 

Which creators do you remember first copying?

I started answering this question by saying that it was probably one of the X-Men or Legion of Superheroes guys, but the more I thought about it, I’m pretty sure it was actually Jim Davis. I remember copying Garfield for a handmade birthday or Mother’s Day card or something. I can’t remember any specific copying before that.

Garfield
Garfield

 

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever had this thought. At least not phrased that way about a specific artist. I will say that as I worked with artists, writing scripts and seeing their interpretations of my work, I gained confidence in my own ability to do it on my own.

I did for many years think about artists I could never be as good as. Technically adept artists, mostly. I guess I still think that framed as a matter of technical skill, there are many artists that have a more sophisticated skill set than I ever will.  Most who have dedicated themselves to that aspect of the craft, in fact. I don’t, though, conflate that craftsmanship with “good” or “bad” anymore. As a teenager, I realized that some of my favorite musicians are technically limited but are still able to create works of emotional and cultural depth. I now think the same thing is true of comic arts, but for some reason it took me longer to get there.

 

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

Lynda Barry.  I took her five day “Writing the Unthinkable Workshop” last summer and all of my friends are tired of me talking about it. I went into that workshop a fan and came out an acolyte. She totally changed the way I create and the way I talk to other people about creating.

Lynda Barry

Which creators do you most often think about?

Other creator you mean, right? Because I’m pretty self-centered.

I don’t think I know. I care about a lot of creators.

Can you name the first three creative peers that come into your head and tell a little bit about why?
Bob Corby (of Back Porch Comics and SPACE): Maybe not so much my peer as my hero in terms of small press life. No one works harder for his community.

Bob Corby
Bob Corby

Timmy Wade, my coffee shop buddy who just recently hung together his first self-published comic after years of fretting about it. (Saphead comics.  Its not just good, its great!)

Saphead comics - Timmy Wade
Saphead comics – Timmy Wade

 

Pat Redding Scanlon who is my favorite current collaborator in a lot of ways. So talented and one of the few artists who live at the same intersection of punk rock and comic fandom as I do.

Pat Redding Scanlon

 

Outside of comics I’d say The New Bomb Turks, the first group of rock ‘n roll weirdos to take me in when I moved to Columbus. Also, almost entirely responsible for my garage punk record obsession.

Steve Anderson, my friend who has run a pirate radio station, written an excellent short story collection titled “1976,” guitarist and singer of the band I’m With Stupid, and filmed truly independent movies budgeted solely on beer and wit.

Bob Calhoun author of “Beer, Blood and Cornmeal”, “Shattering Conventions” and an upcoming collection of San Francisco true crime stories.

 

Bob Calhoun
Bob Calhoun

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

My most recent project, including works in progress are:

What Have I Done For You Lately #1: A zine with my current WIP and sketchbook selections.

How to Collect Comics The Nix Way #1: A zine about the creative side of comic collecting, featuring illustrations and short fictions inspired by comics purchased at a comic-con.

Currently working on an illustrated novel titled “On Tour With Roy Lee Hood” and a graphic memoir about opening my first comic shop “What The Hell Is A Rudy Goose?”

WIP - Ray's Short Childhood
WIP – Ray’s Short Childhood

I’m a writer, cartoonists, and publisher from Columbus, Ohio.  In addition to my own rock music and record store themed imprint Nix Comics, I’ve been a contributor to the Columbus Alive, Red Stylo Media Comics, Rocker Magazine, Roctober Magazine, WFMU Rock and Soul Ichiban, and the satirical comic website, The Outhouse.

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out and let us into your mind.

Surfers' Love Call

 

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The Short List – Russell Mark Olson SKRAWLLORD

Martin Simpson - SKRAWL 1 COV TITLE_small
Martin Simpson – SKRAWL 1 cover

SKRAWL can be found on Kickstarter

 

Anyone that’s followed zinelove or iesorno on any kind of social media knows I’m partial to a few creators including Phil Elliott and Nick Prolix who have both featured on the site and who I might have banged on about a bit…

When I saw Russel Mark Olson dropping hints about a magazine that would feature both, as well as his own work I was immediately interested, even more so when I saw the names of the others involved, many of them creators I was checking out on social media already. Then they blew through their Kickstarter goal on day one and added in Lucy Sullivan and Mark Stafford whilst also putting out a rallying cry dropping the names of some mighty UK anthologies that I love.

So, I thought I’d followed up with some questions to dig into it and flesh out their plans and ethos. You can see more details about the anthology and contributors at the end of the interview!

 

Interview!!

ZL – You mentioned that the SKRAWLLORDZ formed after meeting up and chatting at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival and I was wandering what it was at that meeting that galvanised you as a group to get together and put out SKRAWL?

RMO – Away from the con, we were sharing an Airbnb. While individually, most of us knew each other, none of us knew everyone. But we all knew of each other’s work. I took my laptop and a microphone along in the hopes that at some point during the weekend-long convention we’d get a chance to all sit down together and talk comics. The Friday night before the con we recorded over an hour’s worth of discussion on topics ranging from individual process to the ins-and-outs of printing. From that conversation, and many more over the weekend, we bonded and formed the SKRAWLLORDZ. For the particulars, you’ll have to ask the group’s chronicler, Pete Taylor. We kept in touch and over the coming months the idea for a joint publication developed. Looking back, it was a pretty natural progression. Put a bunch of comic makers together in a room full of chimps on typewriters and eventually the chimps type out a note to the comic makers reading “Make a damned comic together, morons!”.

ZL – You’ve mentioned Escape, Revolver and Pssst! as inspirations, what is it you see in these that’s common to what you hope to achieve with SKRAWL?

RMO – Firstly, the magazine format allowed these great publications to stay nimble, agile. To bring in topical work that could address issues quickly and not get bogged down in exposition. The format allows for comics, journalism, prose, and the kitchen sink to sit side-by-side without being a jarring read. These magazines could capture a moment in comics and culture so quickly and effectively. We’d really like to be able to bottle that lightning.

Secondly, we loved the freedom to think about short form and long form comics. That’s the beauty of anthology mags. Ongoing stories and one-offs. If say, Nick Prolix hit on an idea that we wanted to run with, he could produce 5-8 pages every issue of a single thought or storyline while still being able to focus on his personal body of work. If say, he decided that he wanted to change tack for one issue, the melting pot magazine allows that. If he wanted to run with a political space thriller and dropped it into an issue of Slang Pictorial and had to elbow out the residents of Bouveray Town, readers might be a bit confused. The mag allows for that freedom of experimentation and for quick directional changes.

Tertiarily, collaboration. In future, we plan on doing much more of it. We’re all cartoonists, meaning we write and draw, and can letter, colour, do product design, the whole kit-and-kaboodle. We’re all confident with each other to send scripts around, share inking work, do colours here, or letter there. Many hands make light work.

Fourth, the opportunity to invite some incredible talent to add to the mags. To give both industry stalwarts and up-and-comers a chance to explore, or maybe dust-off stuff that’s been sitting around for years which has yet been able to find a home. At the moment, everyone is UK-based. But it’d be great to run with the international ethos of LICAF and bring Europeans, South Americans–hell, the world— to SKRAWLEscape did that brilliantly. Something Pete said recently has really stuck with me. “I’m a fan of good comics. If it’s a good comic, we want it in SKRAWL.”

Lastly, they all had a bit of an edge. Hard to define, harder to capture. I suppose it boils down to risk. Risk in many forms. I think we’re all pretty comfortable with risk. Pssst!, Escape and Revolver were definitely happy taking risks.

Gustaffo Vargas The Oak Tree
Gustaffo Vargas – The Oak Tree from SKRAWL

ZL – As you’ve already blown through your first target and will definitely be putting out your first issue, what are your plans, if any, for the future?

RMO – The short answer: there will be more SKRAWL. The longer answer is a bit inchoate. We’re ironing out the details at the moment, but the things that we’re sure of, is that we have loved putting this together and want to do more. More contributors, more collaboration, wider reach. What we’re not sure of is output. Ideally, we’ll put out two a year. That might mean making the individual issues leaner, maybe 3 SKRAWLLORDZ per issue + guests, or the SKRAWLZ will do more collaborative pieces while guests can show off what they do best, or a combination of these things. We’re all involved in other projects, so we have to cut our cloth to measure, but we’re staying forward thinking. That’s not necessarily a hinderance. Ultimately, SKRAWL, as Pete said above, is about good comics. It wouldn’t surprise me if it naturally evolves. It probably will several times. But at its heart, we’ll do our best to take risks, explore, collaborate, and lift other voices.

 

ZL – I’m always banging on about money, so I have to ask whether any of you will be making anything from this anthology and whether your future plans include paying contributors or using additional money to widen distribution or anything else you may have thought of?

RMO – Possibly not the soundest business model, but almost all of the money will be going to pay our guests and cover print costs. Anything that’s left over we’ll be using towards the magazine. That may mean figuring out distribution channels (we’d love for SKRAWL to act as an ambassador for the UK scene (even though we do plan on widening our net and bringing in international voices), so possibly translated editions), convention representation, promotional materials, marketing, or plugging back into guest rates for the next one. Ideally, we’d get to a place of self-sustainability. But print markets are increasingly tumultuous, new and established magazines bite the dust daily.  We might move towards a subscription model if we can get a few issues out on a trackable schedule, but these are all questions that we’ll be deliberating on once the first issue is in circulation. It’s exciting, wild stuff. Possibly a little mad. But no one stays in comics for the money.

Russell Mark Olson - Goldhorn from SKRAWL
Russell Mark Olson – Goldhorn from SKRAWL

ZL – Last question, I promise, what do you hope Skrawl will bring to the current marketplace for comics and the history of comics?

RMO – Maybe it’s just because we’re in the shadow of Covid-19, but this “feels” like one of those Moments in Comics. Distribution has been partially/temporarily disrupted. Books have been canned, pushed back, mothballed. Artists and writers are roaming the prairies, tasting the dust, listening to the ground for the tell-tale signs of buffalo, dipping their tin pans in streams new. Retailers have scrambled onto their rooftops, their eyes scanning the horizon for the arrival of the airlift helicopters. When we started planning SKRAWL, Covid had yet to hit the news, but by coincidence, we feel we’ve tapped into something, a moment, which is bigger than your average occurrences. How SKRAWL fits into that moment, we’ll have to wait and see. But there have been anthology periodicals which have managed to be more than just a genre vehicle, more than just a single-topical-issue-mag-of-the-hour. This is possibly–as were books like those mentioned above or RAW or Rubber Blanket–a time capsule of what was going on in the UK indie scene at this point in time.

Let me add a caveat to that. The UK indie scene is massive and has talent of which no single mag could possibly hold. The last thing we’d want to do is self-proclaim ourselves to be the keepers of the keys. Lemme tell you. Give us a set of keys and we will lose them faster than a hot minute. But our camaraderie, and our combined network means that all of those creators currently delivering gold are an email away from joining in on the fun. I guess we’re all at a point in our careers where we’ve been around long enough to have a decent grip on the ins and outs of book production but aren’t so swamped with phone calls from the big leagues that has allowed us to confidently produce something which we feel is a good and necessary addition to the indie market. How does that sound? Time will tell. Finger’s crossed in twenty years from now an aspiring UK cartoonist will find a bundle of SKRAWLS in her local Oxfam for a tenner, and she’ll take them home, read them, and then feel inspired to call her friends and say, hey, let’s make something special. That or “Christ, people didn’t know how to draw back then.” I’d be happy with either. Being remembered is being remembered, right?

RosiePackwood-ascend
Rosie Packwood – Ascend from SKRAWL

ZL – I’m sure they will be inspired! On which note, tell us some more about the details of the anthology.

RMO – Continuing in the tradition of Escape, Pssst!, and Revolver , SKRAWL is a comic anthology magazine featuring cartoonists, artists, and writers primarily from the UK’s independent comic scene. The magazine was launched on Kickstarter on August 1st and met its goal in under 24 hours. With a long list of up-and-coming UK talent as well as established professionals, SKRAWL promises to be one of the most exciting comic anthologies of the year.

The core of SKRAWL are the SKRAWLLORDZ (Mark Hughes (Silverbeard), Russell Mark Olson (Gateway City; Tripwire Award Best New Talent 2018; Yancy Street Award Best UK artist 2018), Nick Prolix (Slang Pictorial), Martin Simpson (Needleman, Pipedream Comics Top 10 Indie Comics of the Year 2018), Pete Taylor (Silverbeard) and Gustaffo Vargas (Manu, Pipedream Comics Indie Comic of the Year winner, 2019)) who formed during last year’s LICAF. The magazine will also feature guest spots by their chums, including UK-indie royalty Phil Elliott (Tales from Gimbley), Rosie Packwood (Bun), Jessica Lucas (Yours, Yesterday), Matt Simmons (Bastard Galaxia), and the Cartoon Museum’s Artist-in-residence, Mark Stafford(The Bad Bad Place). To further accentuate the magazine-ness of the anthology, John Reppion (Conspiracy of Ravens) and Lucy Sullivan (Barking) will provide an illustrated short folk horror story.

The SKRAWL Kickstarter campaign offers backers the chance to get on board the publication either as a fully digital or print edition, with retailer tiers for comic shops and bookstores. The magazine will be US format, (a bit bigger and a lot wider than a US comic– at 280 x 210mm) perfect bound, and currently sitting at a page count of 84… but we’d like to expand outwards a bit through stretch goals.

The campaign can be found on Kickstarter. Funding began August 1st and ends on Thursday, August 20th at noon BST. Digital backers can get the full magazine for £5, while the physical magazine is £12 (plus shipping). Retailers in the UKand EU can take advantage of the retailer tier which offers 8 copies for £48 (plus shipping). For more information, please email skrawllordz@gmail.com.

Gallery of contributors

 

all art copyright and trademark it’s respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2019

Small (press) oaks – Daniel Bristow-Bailey

AC3_p04
Anxious Comics – issue 3 page 4

I first saw Daniel Bristow-Bailey’s work when he offered up free copies of his prose zine Dog. I ordered it on the strength of the cover, Dog handwritten above a very detailed drawing of a frog. It made me laugh, there was something oddly significant in that juxtaposition, couldn’t tell you why, but there was.
Shortly after that he started his Anxious Comics series, which is a fast paced, underground influenced mash series that has a lot of nonsense and yet some very powerful moments. It’s daft, but also on point and so, exactly what I enjoy.

He’s an eclectic creator and has a set of skills that make his work pop.

 

You can find him here

shop

Use the discount code ZINELOVE10 for a 10% discount on anything you buy. Valid until the end of 2020.

instagram                      twitter                      facebook

 

Screaming_p02
Screaming page 2

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

It would have been someone from 2000AD. I remember being very excited by Kevin O’Neill’s run on Nemesis and Simon Bisley’s painted artwork for Sláine. If I look at Bisley’s stuff now I find it hard to get past the grotesque anatomy, but as with people like Todd MacFarlane in the US he pushed past his technical limitations with a raw energy that appealed to adolescent boys. I don’t mean that as snootily as it sounds! Adolescent boys can be fierce critics.

 

Which creators do you remember first copying?

My mum, who should get most of the credit for teaching me to draw, always strongly discouraged me from copying directly, but I came pretty close to it with Moebius! He always makes it look so (deceptively) easy that it’s hard not to have a go oneself.

moebius_edena
Moebius – Edena

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

That’s an interesting question. Probably Gilbert Shelton. I started reading the Freak Brothers when I was far too young (got to thank my mum again for that) and that “underground” style with lots of fine linework and cross-hatching seemed to be achievable with the materials I had at home. I think the Shelton influence still shows in my black-and-white stuff.

Shelton_freakbros
Gilbert Shelton – Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

In terms of comics, I’ve recently discovered Al Columbia. I can’t remember the last time I found an artist who really disturbed me like his stuff does. Even the more restrained stuff has an evil, haunted quality. The book I’ve got (Pim and Francie, Fantagraphics, 2009) feels like a cursed object, like the Necronomicon in Lovecraft’s stories, or the video cassette in the Ring. It’s a great example of text, illustration and book design all working together.

I’ve been reading a lot of Nabokov. He’s one of those writers I keep coming back to. Sometimes I like to think about how you could do a graphic novel of “Pale Fire”. The first half of the book is a very long poem, written by one fictitious character, and the second half is a collection of footnotes to the poem, written by a second fictitious character, who has stolen the manuscript and is preparing an unauthorised edition of the poem. As the notes digress further and further from the text of the poem, another narrative emerges, that may or may not be “true”, so it would probably be impossible to do a graphic novel adaptation, but thinking about how one might do impossible things is often creatively rewarding.

 

Which creators do you most often think about?

Lynch_TwinPeaks
David Lynch – Twin Peaks

Aside from the people I’ve mentioned already, I think a lot about David Lynch. I’ve always liked his stuff but Twin Peaks: The Return (2017) absolutely blew me away. There were points I was watching that when I thought “I didn’t know you could do that with television”. I think whenever a work expands your ideas about what’s possible within a particular medium you know you’re in the presence of real Art with a capital A. I love the sense of mystery in Lynch’s stuff, which I think comes from his letting the subconscious take the lead in the creative process – he talks a lot about using ideas or imagery from dreams, or meditation. It’s a process I’ve consciously been emulating with “Anxious Comics”.

Can you name the first three creative peers that come into your head and tell a little bit about why?

Gareth Hopkins - NO NEW IDEAS

 

 

 

Gareth Hopkins, because I’ve just finished doing a page for his “no new ideas” project. It was great fun getting to paint over a copy of one of his pages. Gareth posts a lot of his process online and I’ve found it inspiring how he reworks and recycles stuff. His work has definitely encouraged me to veer more towards abstraction, and not to be afraid, in comics, of decoupling the text from the image – I think he was a big influence on my one-shot “the Screaming”.

Gareth Brookes. I’ve not talked to Gareth much about process but he seems drawn to ridiculously labour-intensive media, like embroidery or linocuts. As if making comics wasn’t hard enough already! But as I said before, there’s nothing like setting yourself an impossible challenge to get the creative juices flowing. Also, when I look at the spread of stuff he’s got for sale at conventions – a mix of self-published zines and two or three big hardback books published more traditionally, I think it’s where I’d like to be myself in a few years’ time, so I guess he’s kind of a role model for me right now.

 

Hannah Lee Miller
Hannah Lee Miller

Hannah Lee Miller is producing some lovely stuff. I picked up a copy of her zine about condiments at Catford Zine Fair and it’s one of those things that initially seems rather slight and inconsequential but is actually really, really good, it just doesn’t shout about it. Also, Hannah is, in my limited experience, infallibly enthusiastic about other comic / zine people and always ready to help out or lend support where it’s needed. An asset to the scene.

 

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

For a long time I tried to be self-disciplined and only work on one thing at once, but recently I’ve come to accept that I’m happier when I have several projects, preferably in different media, on the go at once.

The last thing I self-published was “The Screaming”, an experimental one-shot comic about dreams and mental health. I wrote about it in some detail for Broken Frontier.

Screaming_p08
Screaming page 8

I’ve got five pages in the upcoming anthology by Obsolete Comics. I’m really excited about this one as it looks like it’s going to be great, and hopefully represents the start of another small comics press. We can never have enough small comics presses.

I’ve also got Anxious Comics, my ongoing series – four issues out to date and the fifth long overdue! My long-term plan with that, if you can call it that, is to keep it going between other projects for as long as it needs to, or until I get bored. At some point it would be nice to do a collected edition.

I’m currently drawing a comic written by Steve Thompson, which he’ll be pitching to publishers soon I think. I like drawing other people’s scripts because it forces me to draw stuff I otherwise wouldn’t think of.

Looking to the longer term, I’m working on a script for a longer-form comic. It’s kind of a superhero thing. But not quite. I’ve got this character who’s kind of my own take on the super-violent costumed vigilantes like the Punisher and Deadpool that were popular when I was a kid, but transplanted to the “real world” of early-noughties London.  It’s pretty bleak. I think it’s funny myself but as with some other stuff I’ve self-published in the past it will probably cause people to express concern for my mental health.

Gareth Huntbegins
Gareth – Hunt Begins – work in progess

Bio: Daniel Bristow-Bailey was born in London in 1978. Growing up during the “dark age” of mainstream comics, he quickly became attracted to the alternative / indie scene and, encouraged by his mum and the bloke in the local comic shop, started drawing his own from an early age. Like many others, he drifted away from comics in his late teens, put off by their uncool image and lack of seriousness compared to grown-up art and literature, but came back to them in recent years as he realised that no-one was going to think he was cool or take him seriously anyway. As well as making his own comics, he draws other people’s scripts and sometimes writes prose fiction. He has a day job working as a mental health person in schools. He lives in Richmond with his wife and two children.

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out and let us into your mind.

Gerald
Gerald – work in progress

all art copyright and trademark it’s respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

 

 

Phil Elliott – other things I found along the way

Michel Fiffe

appreciation – http://michelfiffe.com/?p=1851

Interview – https://www.factualopinion.com/the_factual_opinion/2011/10/second-city-the-paul-duncan-phil-elliot-interview.html

First Comic Newshttps://www.firstcomicsnews.com/phil-elliot-interviewed/

Tom Murphy at Broken Frontier reviews In His Cups –http://www.brokenfrontier.com/in-his-cups-collected-tales-from-gimbley-review-phil-elliott-fast-fiction-comics/

Eddie Campbell

http://eddiecampbell.blogspot.com/2008/10/fter-writing-about-british-small-press.html

Eddie Campbell writes about the 80s small press (of which Phil was such an influential part) available on SEQUENTIAL and Kindle:

Dapper John: In the Days of the Ace Rock ‘n’ Roll Club

Kindle (all devices)
SEQUENTIAL (iPad only)
Ed Pinsent
Lambiek.net
Paul Gravett

 

Phil Elliott
Phil Elliott

See Phil’s work here

Patreon              Website           The Art of Phil Elliott – facebook page               twitter

 

all art copyright and trademark it’s respective owners.
content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

Phil Elliott – guest contributors – art page

Below are some interpretations of Phil’s style or characters, just for fun

Gimbley image is by Graham Cousins and was included in the Infinity #2 which came out in early 1984
Gimbley image by Graham Cousins and was included in the Infinity #2 which came out in early 1984

Deadface - Ilya - with added Phil Elliott pastiche
Deadface – Ilya – with added Phil Elliott pastiche

Gimbley - Robert Wells fan art
Gimbley – Robert Wells fan art

Gimbley - Mark Russell Olson fanart
Gimbley – Mark Russell Olson fanart

 

 

Phil Elliott
Phil Elliott

See Phil’s work here

Patreon              Website           The Art of Phil Elliott – facebook page               twitter

 

all art copyright and trademark it’s respective owners.
content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

Phil Elliott – A gallery

Part of the reason this has taken so long is the search for images or, more fairly, my reaction to looking at Phil’s work curated on the internet. Not only is there a lot, but it’s all damn good and i could lose myself in it completely.

Below is a gallery of every image I sourced for these articles, just so you can see them all in one place and realise the breadth of ability at work.