Tuesday, June 14, 2005

BY THE ANVILS OF CROM

365 days and counting

CURRENT SOUNDTRACK: CONAN THE BARBARIAN, Basil Poledouris, 'Riddle of Steel'.

Managed to get myself together enough to get back on track with work-work, barely, though still plagued by a viral infection that's like kryptonite to Kal El. Not got to the comic-work (the first pays the bills, the second keeps me sane). Not yet anyway. But a mate kindly put his entire collection of movie soundtracks all on a 2gb dvd for me, so I no longer have any excuse for saying I have nothing to listen to while drawing. Hence the above tunes dying to played at full blast. Makes you want to pick up a broadsword, never mind a dip pen.

2 colin and customers

Anyway. After the Bristol comedown I decided that this was the year all of us part-time comic book people could do something with our work and make the outside world take notice of us. The quality of the comics at Bristol was amazing. We went with four boxes and came back with three- all filled with other peoples stuff.

30 the next big thing

Regardless of the quality of the material it is as always up to the individuals to be motivated enough to push it. They don't have to, obviously. Not everyone wants to rule the world (just me?). But with so many titles never more in the public eye we can help feed some oxygen to this reborn baby called British comics.

uk comics nation banner

So, after a few drunken chats a few of us concocted a plan, and one that in the last few weeks has grown considerably. The first, involving over sixty publishers, has already taken place: an intial press pack mailing to select journalists and reviewers at the Guardian, Independent etc of a selection of Brit Comics, took place on the 9th June, a date chosen to sit between the Sin City and Batman Begins premieres, and the height of the media coverage. This marked day one of a 365 day strategy to raise the profile of Brit comics across the nation. Hence the banner above, if you were wondering.

4 shane zens out

The point is to go beyond just the niche within a niche market of back street comic shops and industry mags, because they already know we're there to some extent. It's about re-educating the general public about UK comics. It's making them more available and taking the opportunities on the internet and local press and galleries and schools and libraries to get them out there. One persons breakthrough will lead to others. It is also about building on relationships that have grown between creators over the years at conventions and marts. People like Shane Chebsey above who has for years continued to push the value of indy press above and beyond the call of duty. His www.SMALLZONE.CO.UK has been integral in shaping the success of the UK small press scene, and likewise with AUK is leading the way in this latest project.

33 weeklies on canvas

The second part of the Year of Comics is riding the back of any successful articles and approaching comic shops/book shops etc regardless with a nationwide Independents Day, provisionally scheduled for late August, where creators will be involved in their local community to promote their own work and comics generally by their example. This benefits a retailer as the creator will generate more publicity and interest in their shop, getting involved with more pro-active activities attracting more customers while raising again awareness of their indy comics. The success of the AUK cartoon workshops in BORDERS are an example of how this can benefit everyone. Everyone can discuss with their chosen store how they want to go about it. Several publishers who have spoken to shops and are up for it.

When specific shops are confirmed and activities compiled they will be announced closer to the time. Over the coming months the list of creators and publishers involved in this excercise will no doubt grow, feeding through the conventions and into next summer.

71 leah and john

As for AUK itself, REDEYE proved extremely popular again with the new design (thanks to Ben Dickson) and the squareboundness of it all. Obviously a step forward. Also had a lot of welcome constructive criticism on how we can develop it further from readers and pros. As such the editorial staff (me, Leon and Matthew) held an extensive post mortem over some wine and an episode of Doctor Who and have set out the next two issues: Issue 5 will be available in October, to be followed by a Christmas special edition at... erm, Christmas.

61 daley and alan grant

REDEYE will be charting the development of the Year of Comics project, and as ever wants to have everyone involved. For more info go to redeyemagazine@yahoogroups.com for the discussion and helpful files.

72 ian edginton signs redeye 4

Over the next month or so the sites will again undergo a massive overhaul for the autumn assault. Major computer problems meant several projects were delayed, but you can see what will be out when online at www.enginecomics.co.uk and www.accentukpress.co.uk. And for more expo pictures click on a photo.

In the meantime I'm off to polish the broadsword for the AUK GM tommorrow and iron me shirt.

See you sunday for the next update.

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