Blank Slate’s new slate of books or Hope For the Future

Published On December 13, 2010 | By Joe Gordon | Comics

Kenny has been posting on the Blank Slate Books blog, mostly announcing the slate of graphic novels he’s planning to publish in 2011, but also talking optimistically about the state of comics publishing in the UK. As Kenny notes we’ve gone from despairing about the lack of independent comics publishers here, which has been a dreadful problem (especially given the huge and diverse pool of talent we clearly have in British comics), to having several which seem to be thriving and producing exciting, interesting works that are being noticed not only by the comics community but also by more mainstream media (such as the Guardian) and getting picked up by non-comics readers too:

We’ve also seen the UK comics channel expand with the fantastic efforts of Self Made Hero and NoBrow – which now sees the market and distributors primed to be more knowledgeable about comics in general – which can only benefit us all. We shouldn’t forget Fanfare or Knockabout either – Fanfare garnered 5 Eisner awards last year which is unprecedented for a UK publisher and Knockabout, long a dormant ‘giant’ of UK comics, have woken from their slumbers and now have editions planned of Maarten Vande Wiele’s collected Paris and the brilliant Pinocchio by Winshluss. All this activity is a bit of a surprise given the economic picture but a raft of publishers covering all ends of the comics spectrum is what the UK scene has needed for a long time. I think some of us who have worked in the business a long time have always thought it would emerge before this but barring some excellent attempts like Slab-O-Concrete it never really happened.

Now almost spontaneously there are a load of new publishers all working at it at the same time. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a time when it’s possible a coherent scene could emerge which is interested in producing comics of quality in the UK, without hoping the moment they got their break they would be on a plane to the DC offices. The surprise is that the major book publishing houses haven’t been the catalyst for this – they have access to the cream of the US production but someone like Cape who should be dominating and growing the UK market aggressively, seem to have paddled their canoe up the cul-de-sac labelled ‘would-be literary progressive’. So those who care about the narrative splendour of comics have decided to get on with it themselves,” Kenny Penman on the Blank Slate site.

It’s true, it does seem to be a very exciting time here at the moment; as I’ve been editing the guest posts for our annual Best of the Year I’ve already seen Blank Slate and SelfMadeHero titles cropping up and as you can imagine while I am editing these guest posts I’m also mentally making notes of the long and doubtless rambling list I’ll be writing up of my own favourites from 2010. And I can tell you Knockabout, SMH and Blank Slate are all figuring heavily in my list. And I’m not just saying that because Kenny is my boss – I think most of our readers know us well enough to know that when any of us on the blog post our thoughts on books and comics we give our honest opinions. I’ll be picking some works by these publishers because they genuinely were among the finest works I read this year. And while you know we do our best to try and bring you news about the wide world of comics and wonderful works from around the globe, I hope you’ll also forgive me for being so delighted that this year I can honestly say some of my best comics reading came from homegrown talent published by homegrown publishers who clearly enjoy bringing us interesting new works that deserve to be seen.

A look down at some of the artists on BSB’s 2011 slate has me equally excited for my reading prospects next year: Peggy Adam, more from Darryl Cunningham and Mawil and Oli East, Warwick J Cadwell, Line Hoven and more. SMH’s catalogue for next year has me similarly excited; I’m now getting the buzz of anticipation over some of our homegrown publishers that I normally get from perusing the catalogues of D&Q, Fantagraphics or Top Shelf. I think we’re going to be talking a lot more about titles from these publishers next year…

(Gungle, one of the forthcoming BSB releases for next year, by and (c) Warwick J Cadwell, borrowed from his blog)

As Kenny notes further on though, for this growth in Brit comics publishing to continue it needs two things: to expand internationally (which has already started with Darryl’s Psychiatric Tales being sold to US and Italian publishers) and to get support from readers. That means buying books from them; at the end of the day that’s how they stay in business and that’s how they keep on picking out great new works to publish for us to read. And I’m not saying buy them just because you should be supporting the homegrown talent who are trying to do something here, I’m saying buy them quite simply because they are good books by interesting artists and you’re going to enjoy them.

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About The Author

Joe Gordon
Joe Gordon is ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk's chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

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