Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Observer Graphic Short Story Competition

It's that time of year again.... Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night, and the Observer/Jonathan Cape/Comica Graphic Short Story Contest, which happily appears to have become an annual event. I think this competition is a great idea because it encourages people to work on new comics, and generally stimulates comics activity in the UK. It would be fantastic if more such competitions took place.

Another interesting thing about the contest is that it gets people talking about comics, gets the artists discussing what's good and bad about working in the medium, and whether a "graphic short story" is actually different to a comic strip. There's an example of this debate here on the Drawn site, which also features last years winning entry "Away In A Manger" by Catherine Brighton. And things really heat up here on the Guardian website - check out the comments section.

Below is my own favourite entry for the 2007 competition: Adam Cadwell's "Spilt Soda".

There's a nice, varied panel of judges this year, which includes Marjane Satrapi, so it'll be interesting to see the type of work they choose.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Get set for....
Handmade & Bound

Artists’ books, comics and zines.
Saturday 8 November 2008
St Aloysius Social Club,
Phoenix Road, London NW1
(nearest tube Euston).
12-6pm. Free entry.

The Evenings entertainment...
DJs and bands, including
The Slim Reaper and Her Magic Powers.

For further information: handmadeandbound@googlemail.com


Tuesday, 21 October 2008


Having just printed a new comic, The Bedsit Journal issue 3, it's now time to do something I really don't enjoy at all : sell the damn thing.
Every self-publisher knows how this goes: turn up at the bookshop/comic shop/record shop, wait until the shop assistant isn't busy, then give them your spiel ; "Hi, I've been doing this comic, it's an underground/alternative kind of thing, it's kind of satirical/humourous, and has sold OK in (name your most well known stockist), would you be interested in, erm, selling it?".
Well, I HATE doing this stuff, but without a distributor, it has to be done. Otherwise you'll never get those boxes of comics out of your room. Hell, even WITH a distributor, you probably have to do some of this stuff.
Anyway, this time, for a little mutual moral support, I teamed with Paper Tiger editor, and fellow self-publisher, Sean Duffield. We met up in Brighton library, that sanctuary for the homeless and unemployed. Here though we had our first setback, as Sean realised he'd left all his receipts - which he needed if he was to collect any money from the shops - at home. Under this dark cloud we headed to our first destination....

BORDERS in Brighton is one of those tricky places for self publishers. Their official line is that everything they sell has to be approved by the chain's head office. In practice though they do sell locally published small press comics. The thing then is to try and navigate your way in. Sean is pretty good at this stuff.... he hates approaching the shops as much as me, but he seems to maintain enough "personal authority" to see it through i.e. he doesn't just wilt straight away. As it turned out, the person who deals with small press was away that day (aren't they always), but Sean, who is currently being stocked there, was able to get the floor manager to take some books and write out a proper invoice. And at least I was able to get the name of their small press guy, who I plan to contact soon.
Our next stop (and my bag, still full of comics, was feeling pretty heavy by this time) was based on a tip from Jimi Gherkin...

RED MUTHA.... only it was nowhere to be found. The address we had was just for some garage which seemed to contain a few workshops. A couple of phone calls revealed that the shop had moved to a busier location, unfortunately on the opposite side of town to where we were. And off we trudged... But before we reached it we hit...

PUNKER BUNKER, a basement music shop in Sidney Street, run by the great Buz and Em. If only all shop owners were like Buz! He's so friendly and encouraging, actually taking 14 comics from me at just 25% of the cover price Sale Or Return (less than most other places).

Also in Sidney Street is DAVID'S COMICS, who are also pretty cool about taking small press. Unfortunately they all go in the same box next to the till, rather than on the shelves, but it's better than nothing.... some comic shops don't take self published stuff at all. They took 10 copies, and my bag was feeling a lot lighter, as we finally entered...

RED MUTHA, which turned out to be a pretty interesting clothes shop near the bottom of Trafalgar Street. Laura, who works there, is very friendly, and Sean left them some Paper Tiger's, and I arranged to come back with a selection of different comics. It was encouraging that a clothes shop would want to try selling comics and zines, and they seemed pretty clued up. However, I've heard since then that they aren't displayed very well.... to the point where people have taken back their comics. That's a shame.

By this time the shops were closing, and I'd run out of Bedsit Journal 3's. We grabbed a drink in one of the few cafes still open and talked comics, music, films, for the next hour. As I strode back up the hill towards home, hoping my back would stop aching soon, I figured it was definitely better to team up with a friend for this comic selling business.