London Comic and Small Press Expo

Moon Fan Art

One of the things that really amazed us about Moon is how much people love doing their own doodles of him. Almost no convention goes by without some exhibitor or other handing us a sketch of ol globehead and over time we’ve amassed a small but wonderful collection of them. Since we’re having a little summer break from conventions we thought it was high time to share a few of our favourites from the last few months.

Sketch given to us at Kapow! Comic con in April. To my shame, I can't remember who it was that drew it, but I love the scruffy look of the shirt.

A somewhat vintage looking sketch from the stunningly talented Nusha Amini

Matt from Moo & Keo was drawing superhero themed lion cubs at LFCC and decided to add Moon to the lineup

This one's actually by Steve, just to prove that he does do convention sketches from time to time.

We’ll try to throw up another collection of fan art later in the year. If you have a pic of Moon that you’d like to share, send it to us at btbcomics@gmail.com and we’ll do our best to post it up!

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Small Press Big Ideas

Back in February, Steve and I were preparing to attend the London Comic and Small Press Expo in New Cross. It was the first con we’d ever done (we hadn’t even had the books printed at that point) and the plan was to have a nice quiet one in order to learn the ropes before hitting the bigger summer cons. Didn’t really work out that way in the end…

A few days before the con, an email went out from the organisers stating that one of their panels had been cancelled and they could really do with somebody to fill the spot. Being the humble, introverted souls that we are it took us all of 2 emails to decide that we were the people to fill that spot. I threw together some ideas stuff that Steve had talked about at the Fallen Heroes panel in Cardiff, mixed them with various pub rants the two of us had engaged in over the years and the Small Press Big Ideas Panel was born. This is the blurb for the panel:

With the falling cost of producing comics and the rise of the internet as a tool for marketing and distributing comics, it’s becoming more and more viable for creators to publish mainstream, commercially viable comics by themselves. These books share little in common with the more artistically driven labours-of-love that are traditionally associated with the small press so is it right that they are all classed under the same banner? We will examine whether there is a difference between a true small press book and a mainstream book that is printed in small numbers. Is it damaging creators and limiting ambition by creating an artificial underclass of comics? Is it time for up and coming creators to abandon the term ‘small press’ and just make comics? 

Now, I’ll be honest, when I first wrote that I wasn’t totally sure how true it was. I knew that we definitely didn’t feel that Moon fitted into the classic definition of Small Press but I wasn’t sure if that was part of a wider thing or whether that was just a personal preference thing. I figured that at the very least it’d be an interesting academic debate about the terms we use to define our industry. Besides, it was Steve that was going to be on the panel so if a lynch mob formed I’d have plenty of warning and would be able to flee the scene while he heroically, if unwillingly, sacrificed his life for the greater good.

London Comic & Small Press Expo 2011

What happened was that the panel ended up being the talk of the town. Steve argued our points superbly and the discussion got so in depth that the panel over-ran by over half an hour. After the show was over, the organisors came up to us and asked if we’d be willing to repeat the panel at Bristol. So here we are.

Ok, before we go any further, I should probably clarify what my actual stance on Small Press is. I have absolutely no problem with tradition Small Press books – by which I mean those labours of love that are produced in very small numbers, often using home printing equipment and sold almost exclusively at small cons. Some of the most interesting things I’ve read are exactly these kind of books; produced by hobbyists whose only desire is to share their work of graphic literature with people and hopefully pay for a pint at the end of the event.

Badger from Cute But Sad Comics is a perfect example of a true Small Press book and it's absolutely wonderful

But that isn’t what Moon is. We have a budget, we have a business plan, we have objectives for every event we go to. Our books are printed to a professional standard, they are 22 pages long, they have advertising, they have far more in common with a Marvel book than they do with many Small Press books. The only real thing that we have in common with the traditional Small Press is that we are largely self funded. Again, I’m not saying that this automatically makes us better than Small Press, but we are different and I think that’s worth acknowledging.

And it turns out that we’re not alone in that regard. Since LCSPE we’ve met creators from all over the UK (and beyond) who are thinking exactly the same thing. People who got into the industry to be considered ‘Comic Book Creators’ not ‘Small Press Creators,’ people who are after a lot more than a pint at the end of the con.

Barry Nugent's Fallen Heroes is a great example of an indy franchise with big ideas

We are living through an extremely exciting time for comics. The internet revolution that the music industry went through a decade or so ago is just starting to reach our shores. For the first time in our industry’s history we have the power to create, print, market and distribute our comics without ever having to involve an established publisher. All you need is a bit of start up capital and a willingness to throw all of your free time into it.

To me, trying to place a label like “Small Press” or “Big Press” or anything on your book is entirely redundant. We are in new territory here and while the old institutions do still exist, they are far from the impregnable fortresses that they once were. Comics are changing and if we as new creators have the will to do so then we can be a part of shaping that change. But to do so we have to think big.

Companies like UKomics have made it possible to self publish indy books that are totally indistinguishable from mainstream comics

Stop thinking in terms of Small Press and Mainstream Press and just make comics. Your book is what you make it, not what convention tells you it is.

Is that the sound of a lynch mob? I’d best find Steve.

Take care, chaps.

D
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For more on this topic be sure to check out the Small Press Big Ideas panel at this the Bristol International Comic and Small Press Expo this Sunday. Details HERE!

London Comic & Small Press Expo Photos

Afternoon chaps,

As you probably know, Steve and I were at the London Comic and Small Press Expo a week or so two back. I had intended to get a full report of the con up on the site sooner than this but as you might have seen from all the stuff happening around here, it’s been a wee bit busy!

The view of the con from the BTB stand

The event took place in Goldsmiths College in New Cross which is, architecturally speaking,  about as lovely a room as you could hope to have a con in. Beautiful building, fairly centrally located, cash machine on site, all of these things make for a good comic book convention. Though I must admit that the discovery of a Costa on the site did eat into the day’s profits by a fair margin.

Small Press conventions are famous for the interesting and eclectic nature of the people who attend them and this was certainly no exception with exhibitors ranging from the commercial to the down right outlandish. To a man though, they were all charming, helpful and extremely tolerant of the two newbies faffing about with Moon banners around their stalls. Special thanks should go to Mr Tim Harries who was kind enough to keep an eye on the stand when we couldn’t be about as well as being a thoroughly nice chap who produces very very funny cartoons.

The BTB stand (check out our very ethnic table cloth)

The day started off slowly, I mean, really freakin slowly. We actually had to go and ask somebody if the event had opened. Still, it took us a good hour or so to get over the embarrassment of having forgotten to buy a proper table cloth for the stand and having to use a rather hippyish sheet from my storytelling days in its stead, so maybe that’s not such a bad thing. 😉 It also gave us a chance to go and make friends and plan what we were going to say at the panel later in the event and we did manage to land a few sales which was nice.

Things finally picked up just after lunch and by the time Steve went off to do the panel the comics were flowing nicely. I won’t go into a tonne of detail on the panel itself as I think Steve’s probably better placed to chat about it but suffice it to say it was a memorable one. Meanwhile I sold a lot of comics, made some friends, sold more comics, got wrongly chewed out by a kid over one of the books plot points (something of a right of passage for me as a writer I feel) and attempted to sound knowledgeable while giving feedback to a very talented aspiring artist (with varying degrees of success).

Moon sketch by Steve. He declined my suggestion that the woman have Charlie Sheen's face

In the end we went home thoroughly happy chaps. The book had sold almost twice as many copies as we were aiming for, we’d managed to say some interesting things about our views on Small Press without being chased from the building with pitchforks and (most importantly) we’d met some Bunkerites face to face and found them to be the very best of people. Sure, Steve threw his back out and I had to carry all the kit home, but you can’t have everything your own way in this crazy, rock and roll(ish) business, can you.

Thanks to everyone who came out to support and bought a comic, we hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did making it…actually probably best that you enjoy it more than we did making it. Next stop BTB Launch Party and then on to Kapow. Busy busy times!

D
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BTB announced as guests for London Comic and Small Press Expo 2011!

This coming March sees the return of the London Comic and Small Press Expo and Beyond The Bunker will be there in force! Not only will you be able to be one of the first people on the planet to pick up issue 1 of Moon, you’ll also have a chance to get your greedy hands on a copy of Martin Conaghan and Steve Penfold’s comic book adaptation of Barry Nugent’s best selling, Fallen Heroes! Best of all, you’ll be able to meet the team, laugh at their silly hair and (if your so inclined) force them to sign your comics.

Fallen Heroes

When? – 12th March 2011
Where? – Goldsmiths University London
Why?  –  Because first edition Moon comics smell of awesome.

For more info and a list of exhibitors check out the LCSPE website!

Moon

 

Steve Penfold is shitting himself

Dan has failed violently to post up his Friday Film. It is now 4.30am on Sunday. I tried to give him enough room to slap it all up before I started posting up again so I’m just going to blog and I have insomnia so am trying to fill the time before morning.

It could be said that I am shitting myself due to the fact that we have less than 11 weeks to complete Moon 1 before we know that we have missed the printing date for Cardiff and London conventions. This involves completing 22 pages of colour, 6 more pages of pencil and pen. Get them print ready, sent to Florida (at present) via Ka-blam printers, printed and sent back in time to start selling.

It could be that I am shitting myself as I will be responsible for the design of the cover, thereby causing me to be responsible for its success / failure in numbers of sales. Or that I won’t be able to put in for the banners in the background or the printing itself if I don’t get enough work between now and January- and that January is typically a seasonal dip for all industries I occupy.

Part of it is likely that I’m actually scared of the potential success of Moon. A life coach (or Guru as I like to call him) that I had a fear of success and that I taught myself in a classroom as a child that if I hid my intelligence I would be more popular, beginning a lifetime of very convincingly proving to the world that I am stupid by (but not limited to) trying to cut my own hair with a bic razor, eating a map needed to cover the final route on a 200 mile journey en route, losing a brown beach hut among three rows of brown beach huts because it had been repainted white,  putting contact details on a CV intended for a job my Dad had lined up in Australia as Happily_underachieving@yahoo.co.uk prompting the receiver to enquire if it was a joke, turning my back on Dan during a firefight and most recently throwing away the bin lid with the rubbish without realising. Another is of course, the length of the last sentence.

However, most likely its because I’m going paint balling with my girlfriend in just a couple of hours. I genuinely don’t know what to expect on this one.