The show must go on – prepping a small press outfit for Bristol
Today, with the annual Bristol comics gig bearing down on us (this very weekend), we have a special guest post from a good friend of the blog and a serious fixture on the UK Indy comics scene, Richmond Clements, who takes some time out of busy convention preperations to give us an insight into what goes on as one of the UK’s best small press outfits tries to bring together new issues (stressful enough) and to make sure it is all done and printed and crated ready for one of the major calendar events in the Brit comics diary (even more stressful! This is why convention bars were invented). Over to Rich:
(Rich cosplaying the old Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) schtick at Hi-Ex, pic from Joe’s Flickr)
The week or so just before a convention is always a fun one for small press publisher. And by ‘fun’, I of course mean ‘Horribly stressful and not at all fun in any way.’ At FutureQuake we’re able to breathe easy at the moment, having printed up our new issues a month or so ago, but it was not without it’s stresses.
Our latest issue of Zarjaz, for example, was a themed issue, with each story being connected to another. Because of this, there was not the option of dropping in a spare strip, which is something we have done (if we are in the lucky position to have a spare strip, that is) on other occasions.
No, with the small press you have the double-edged sword of Not Paying Anyone for their work.
The good thing about this is, of course, that you don’t pay anyone for their work. The bad thing is, because you don’t pay anyone for their work, you are not really in any position to complain (too much) when they deliver later than you have asked them to.
So you’ll have your deadline looming and you’ll be waiting not very patiently by your email for those last few pages of strip to be delivered by some artist who is probably utterly oblivious to your concerns.
But that’s artists all over, isn’t it?
So this lackadaisical, indolent pencil monkey eventually delivers the pages and you spend the next couple of hours getting them lettered and onto a disc to get to your printer.
‘What’s that? Printer?’ I hear you ask, ‘I thought this was small press? Using a printer sounds a bit… professional..?’
And to that I ask the following questions. Yes? And? So? What? It ain’t a crime to make your stuff look good!
Which is in NO WAY putting down all the many guys and girls who go through the same process as those who use a fancy printers- the only difference is that they go through it the night before the con, bent over a hot printer or photocopier until 3AM and armed only with a long-arm stapler.
You can spot them by their bleary, bloodshot eyes and empty expressions, unlike those who have spent the previous night in the bar- they are know by their bleary, blo… never mind.
And at these two ends of the small press, you will find some of the very best comics you will ever read. From the professional sheen of Murky Depths to the handcrafted but no less brilliant Mothman from small press dynamo Ben Clarke, or from Paul Scott’s masterful Omnivistascope to the so-wrong-it-has-to-be-right Fetishman, I can absolutely guarantee that, pound for pound, you’ll get more entertainment and pure imagination-and love- from any of these books than from a hundred of your superhero mags.
So, if you’re one of those folks who walk past the small press tables at a convention just the little too far away to speak to, and with your eyes carefully fixed in an unfocused glaze as you stare at that magical spot a few inches above the heads of the people behind the tables (yes, we can see that you’re ignoring us deliberately), why not stop at one of the tables- any of them, and buy a small press book or two? Or three?
You will? Excellent!
Richmond Clements is a comics creator, editor, reader and co-founder and organiser of the exceptionally fine Hi-Ex Comics Con in the Scottish Highlands (which returns next spring, hurrah!). Check out some of his hard work at the FutureQuake Press table at this weekend’s Bristol Comics bash. You can also keep up with Rich via the Hi-Ex blog which, as well as giving details of the convention, regularly posts reviews of science fiction and comics titles.