Thoughts on the Small Press industry in the UK

It has been a good while since I last posted on here, various distractions and other occupations meant that I didn’t have time (or the energy) to devote to keeping this blog updated. I have also been working on some digital art – for some GPS-based games I have been writing and coding, nothing much more serious than that. It isn’t much fun for me to try drawing anything with a stylus on a computer, but I can see how it has its attractions for those people who are more practised and skilful at digital art. Nothing like smearing ink over a page or knocking over a bottle of India ink over your last finished panel…! But I did manage to produce some acceptable graphics that won’t be too closely scrutinised by the players. Anyhow, not wishing to digress any further, I came across this blog on Broken Frontier which resonated with me particularly over the last few months, since the last Comiket fest at the British Library.

http://www.brokenfrontier.com/state-small-press-nation-self-micro-comics-publishing-uk-growing-faster-potential-audience-part-1/

http://www.brokenfrontier.com/state-small-press-nation-self-micro-comics-publishing-uk-growing-faster-potential-audience-part-2/

I self-publish all my own books on a rather small scale and also don’t do much about marketing them – I sell them at Foyles (but they rarely grab attention since they are stored sideways in cramped shelves, and my books do not have any lettering on their spines). A lot of the observations in Andy Oliver’s articles above coincide exactly with my own, and it is a concern that we are not reaching the wider public, and for sure, the lack of curation doesn’t help (although I cannot propose any fairer alternative). Like articles and other stuff on the web, there’s a lot of white noise out there and filtering out the wheat from the chaff is getting increasingly difficult with time. Moreover, some of the chaff out there know how to market themselves extremely well. Perhaps I’d never properly understood or appreciated how crucial marketing really is to selling a product. It is something that I am also astoundingly bad at, and it is no good pretending it doesn’t truly matter.

It doesn’t help that I suspect that I don’t write or draw comics for people who usually read and enjoy graphic novels. I don’t have a target audience in mind or if I do, they’re most likely the sort of people who spend their time browsing in the Fiction or Poetry sections of a bookstore, steering clear of anything to do with comics, god forbid!

I haven’t spent much time pondering over my next issue of Cabaret Voltaire, because I have so many issues of The Street Dancer’s Romance to sell and with only one comics festival under my belt this year, it looks like I have to be a bit more organised about attending these festivals and fairs in 2015 to sell more of my stock. Thought Bubble in Leeds 2015? Have wheels, will travel!