Monday, 11 May 2009

In the Red Eye Of The Storm


Well that's the Small Press Expo / Bristol Con 2009 over.

We're all feeling pretty shattered and shell shocked here. Our eyes are red, and our throats are raw, but we have emerged triumphant.

There's so much to tell I'm going to keep to bullet points for now, although I'll write more about all of these things in coming weeks.

There aren't any photos. This is because on the Saturday there was literally no time to take any. Really.

So here we go:

  • Cancertown sales just blew our minds. Around 150 copies were shifted on the day. We actually had queues at the table and poor Alasdair did not have time to bag them before handing them over. People were walking up and saying "I'm here to buy that Cancertown book I've heard about." Huge thanks to everyone who helped promote the book beforehand. Look out in the coming weeks for more news on the motion comic, what we are doing with digital formats, and more Cancertown books on the way.

    The Cancertown signing tour kicks off on June 6th in Canterbury at Whatever Comics. We'll keep you posted with dates here, and on our new website.

    If you want the book now, try our very own sponsor, Whatever Comics, Amazon or Waterstones.

    The storming foreword by comics god Bryan Talbot on an indie book from a new team certainly attracted a lot of attention in itself.

    Bryan's next book is Grandville an anthropomorphic steampunk detective-thriller featuring Detective Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard.

    Thanks to Geek Syndicate for the pre-con push, and to Rich Johnston of Lying In The Gutters who has ensured that we are having to send daily restocks to amazon (if it says out of stock, you can still order it and we will have new books to them the next day), and are waking to up emails from movie producers. Oh yes!

  • Layer Zero and Cages also sold very well. The interest in the anthology from both the reader side and the creator side is getting so big we are considering doing two books a year instead of one. In the next couple of weeks we'll be putting up ebooks of the stories.

  • We brought some limited edition ashcan copies of a preview story from Damaged Goods. These were incredibly popular and all snapped up very quickly. The story attracted a lot of attention, so it looks like we are on to a winner there. I got to have a good catch up with Richard McAuliffe, the evil genius who wrote this piece of nastiness about his first full length graphic novel, Snow, that we have just signed.

    And as if by magic, here is the promo text for it:

    Snow: A Reflection on Desire and Depravity by Richard McAuliffe

    “…a daughter of the coven will be her undoing.” they said.

    Once upon a time there was a land bound by winter, a land where bloodstains of the deepest scarlet and ravens’ feathers, of the blackest ebony, are fallen on snow of the purest white. Oh, you think you’ve heard this story before, somewhere? So how come the mirrors in the castle are refusing reflections? What is that howling noise out there in the darkness? Who has commanded the release of the Seven? And why is the Queen so disturbed?

    Snow is a dark and witty exploration of decadence challenged by duty. Building on a subversive deconstruction of classic themes, it’s a sensuous and disturbing story that rips the meat from the bones of what you know, right down to the last bloody scraps.

  • We raised some cash for Draw The World Together and raffled off the live multi-artist sketch jam piece at the end of the day.

  • It was Simon Wyatt who first suggested we could get involved with the Draw The World Together project, and he spent most of the day sketching his beautiful sketches on the stand. Preview pages of his graphic novel Unbelievable were available on the stand and his portraits of quizzical sheep seemed to go down a particular storm. There will be an ebook preview up of the book, due out later this year, hopefully at the end of this week.

  • Burke and Hare will be the next book we have out, and there was lots of pawing and cooing over Will Pickering's beautiful artwork. Although we did not have them at the show I saw potential cover designs on arriving back today, and they are gorgeous. Of course having been created by Rian Hughes (who is also doing the interior book design), creator of the famous Forbidden Planet logo, not to mention logo and graphic design work for DC, Wildstorm, Marvel and 2000Ad among of others, we expected nothing less. More Burke and Hare news in the coming weeks, including some previews, and news of a very special section in the back of the book.

  • Rounding out the previews on the table were pages from MILK by Stref, along with some original art for sale from his DC Thompson days.

  • Copies of the special edition of Fallen Heroes by Barry Nugent are like gold dust, and the copies we had on the table sold out.

  • As always we heard some fantastic pitches and saw some great portfolios. Rich Johnson was on hand to review the art side this time as well, and we were both seriously impressed at the talent on display. One of my favourite moments from this year's con was Stephen Downey asking me if I had been found by a young artist who had run home to get a portfolio together, after speaking to Stephen who told her she should show me her work. She caught me at the very end of the day, and on seeing her incredible use of shape and colour I knew I could use her on books right away. Two more great moments came when explaining to writers how the company works, seeing smiles start to spread over their faces, and being told "...this is exactly how I've always wanted to work with a publisher." So we must be doing something right.

  • We got to meet lots of people face to face we had only spoken to by email, and it was great to catch up. Creators working together on books also got to meet in person for the first time and get to know each other, and it is great to see how well everyone gets along.

  • Kev Crossley brought his breathtakingly beautiful portfolio along and sketched at the table for a while. He had also done the first rough sketches of Emer, the main character from Sidhe, and I always love seeing characters come to life.

  • We signed contracts with Chris Lynch for his staggering metacomics opus The Fictionalists, which goes like this:

    "Welcome to the world of The Fictionalists, seven storytellers trapped in the pages of a graphic novel. The Fictionalists are the only people who know the truth about the world, that nothing has changed here since the dawn of the first word, and that nothing ever is going to change. They have mastered the art of writing their will on to the world but rather than becoming its masters they have discovered no matter what they do, nothing ever lasts for more than a day. The story reasserts itself, forcefully if it has to, and all is as it was. The Editors are always watching"

    Chris first spoke to me about the idea at the Birmingham Con last year, and he has been performing complex alchemical distillation processes on it since then. This is going to be something very special.

  • Speaking of Contracts we also signed Alex Willmore and Lauren Anne Sharp as the artists on Kronos City, so that will be going into full production in a few weeks time. They have already delighted the writer, Andrew Croskery, with their character concept work.
I hope we'll have some announcements to make as a results of things talked about at the show very soon.

It was also great to catch up with GM Jordan of the Comic Book Alliance. He is working tirelessly to protect you and your rights as readers and creators. Get over to his site and support the cause.

Thanks to everyone who came and supported us, and the industry as a whole at the show.

Finally, the Eagle Awards are happening this year, although not at the show. More Information over at Ian Sharman's Cyber Hellfire Club site. You only have til the 22nd of May to get your Nominations in though.

HUGE thanks to Mal Smith of Fallen Angel for organising things - stay tuned for 2010, same bat time, same bat channel.

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