Ramblings from the Small Press

Posted: Tuesday, December 14, 2004
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of Ramblings from the Small Press

Well is seems my team of reviewers and I have managed to caught up with the small press material for review. This must be the first time in a couple of years that we have managed that. The three of us verse all the small press publishers and we win! Ha ha, in your face!

Hopefully we haven't kept anyone waiting to long to see our view of their work. For creators out there this is a good time to send stuff before I head off for my Christmas break in a couple of weeks, and if Steve hasn't already gone off on holiday already I'm sure he'd be keen to get some more material to review over the New Zealand Summer Months.

This pause in things means I have to start padding things out, so I'll take the chance to reflect on the year here at SBC Small press and other random comic ramblings. Not as many interviews have appeared as I'd have liked, and almost no features to speak of. Let me know if there's a creator you want to know more about or any topic that needs investigation.

My efforts at producing an RSS feed for this section of SBC didn't seem to excite anyone, if you had pestered me I would have kept it going, honest! Regular visitors may have noticed all the small press links have be moved over to the nifty links database. This means you can add links yourself, so go on, give it a go.

The range of material being produced continues to prove that if you want originally, small press is the place to be. As the big companies try any gimmick to con readers out of there money apart from creativity, the small press community plays hosts to writers and artists who actually have interesting stories to tell. And just when I figure super-heroes are dead and buried, I get a self published book that shows there is life in the genre yet.

Some people see small press as the comics ghetto, but I think we may just be taking over the world. Ever notice how much the big companies charge for a comic when they use small press creators? The DC Bizarro are the prime example. Great collections of work by a range of creators in an overpriced collector only hard cover format. Love looking at it in the comic shop, but didn't buy it until I found it on special. Just why do they make it such an expensive item? My guess, they know the comics are worth reading, something they can't guarantee for most of their books.

Stephen Holland over in The Panel p#$#%d me off with the comment If I had my way, the term 'small press' would be made a criminal offence. I held my breath and read his full comment a few times. I get what he is saying - telling diamond you are small press sounds like it means not many sales. But that's a chicken and egg thing really. If 100000 people wrote requesting a comic, any small press creator would do what they could to get 100000 printed. If the readers of Previews are too dense to try something different, that's no reason that the creators should make carbon copies of the slop that sells. And hey, even the big sellers in Previews aren't really making any impact in the big scheme of things. By Stephen's logic there's no reason anyone would bother creating comics.. expect of course that comics are an interesting medium of story-telling that entertain and are challenging to create.

I have no problem if creators want to go work for one of the big name companies, but I reject outright that this has to the compulsory goal for comic creators. Personal expression is about communicating with others, not a business. Making small press comics is an end in itself, and can lead on to a measure of financial reward. Look at Harvey Pekar, doing his own thing and they make a movie about his work. I'm sure he is not super rich, but then neither are most professional comic creators.

An important aspect of small press for me is getting a chance to reader stories from people all over the world. Places on the map become that much more real when you have a comic from some one who lives there in your hand, and when you can see there world from that persons point of view. I know it sound a bit naive, but I believe that small press comics have the capacity to make the world a nicer place. Anyone one can make one, telling the world something interesting, entertaining or just weird, and that comic can travel anywhere in the world and make a reader pause ant think about what the heck they creator was on about. That brings us all together. So make comics, not war!

See what you get if we run out of material to review! You can avoid this. Pick up a pen, find a piece of paper, and start creating your own comic. DIY or die!

If you have a comment or question about Small Press then feel free to contact me