Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Borderline Press Blog #3 - Caption 2013

I think it would be safe to say that Caption proved to be a good thing for Borderline Press.

Despite disagreements as to when I last attended the small press convention (I thought it was 2004 – Caption is History; most of the others thought it was 2005.) much has changed about the longest running convention in Britain since the first time I came here, when it was in the city, at the architecturally superb Oxford Union and actually felt like some ad hoc convention held in the past. Caption in East Oxford is run down, lacking in new faces and pretty much an excuse to have a big small press pub meet…

If it was my first convention in 8 or 9 years, it was still something I felt a little trepidation about. So did Zombre editor, Will Vigar, who has a kind of Alan Moore-like aversion to large fan gatherings. We needn’t have worried because we knew about a tenth of the people there personally – as in we know them not just as friends on the internet – so we eased back into convention mode in a small room with a zumba class going on overhead. By the end of the day I had secured the deals to publish West, Verity Fair, and The Whale House (for 2015). I had advanced talks with a couple of people I’d communicated with via email. I sealed one deal, but I need to iron out the details before I announce it though. Plus I made inroads on three other 2014 projects, one of which became official last night – again, loose ends before any announcement – but expect one by the end of the week.

I also now have 12 definite and 3 ‘in negotiation’ which are likely to provisionally fill up my publishing schedule until December of next year! This means I now have to forget about signing things up and concentrate on making the business work. It is great fun, but it’s not all conventions and swanning about all over the country in search of a potential money-spinner; oh no… As I am largely a one man band at the moment, I am also chief cook and bottle washer and my wife expects me to housekeep too. I’ve traded the comfort of a 37 hour week for one that sometimes never ends and I pretty much love it. I’m sitting here at the moment writing this knowing that I have so many other things to do that are probably more important. But, you know, sometimes things like this are cathartic. And all work and no play makes Phil a grumpy old git.

The plan is now to have people at all the upcoming conventions. It won’t necessarily always be me, but many of the old Borderline team are still connected to this new project – Martin Shipp, Danny Black, Jay Eales, Mark Emerson, Selina Lock, Andy Winter, Terry Wiley, Andrew Cheverton, Kelvin Green and Dennis Wojda – and a few of them are going to be actively involved, either producing material for us, editing it, even doing some A&R or R&D or even some BMB (which as everyone knows is famous for being Buy Me Beer). Zombre editor Will is going to be at Demoncon, Thought Bubble and the Lakes up in Cumbria. I will be at some of these. If you want to talk to someone in person then there will be someone representing Borderline Press at every major UK event between now and February (beyond that our relationship with conventions will change slightly, but you’ll read more about that later in the year).

The website should be updated and expanded on very soon and at some point this blog will also migrate to What it will have will be this provisional publishing schedule:
  • Dennis Wojda's 566 Frames - October 2013!
  • Zombre - the zombie anthology out in November 2013 includes the following creators: Jay Eales, Nathan Castle, Peter Clack, Dennis Wojda, Joanna Sanecka, Daryl Hobson, Richard Worth, Nigel Lowrey, Tom Lennon, Baden James Mellonie, David Metcalfe, Richard Whitaker, Krzystof Ostrowski, Jason Brice, Mat Tait, Gord Drynan, Mitz Prime, Sunny Jim, Craig Sherbert, Sarah Hardy, Phil Buckenham, Kelvin Green, Frederik Jurk, Kim Winter, Si Spencer and covers by Tom Box. 
  • West by Andrew Cheverton and Tim Keable - February 2014
  • Terry Wiley's Verity Fair - February 2014
  • Were-beast anthology - Spring 2014
  • Ladies & Gentlemen by Richard Worth and Jordan Collver - June 2014
  • Robots anthology - August 2014 
  • Lancaster by Daryl Hobson & E.P. Rodway in September 2014
  • Robotz by Joanna Karpowicz and P. Hall - Christmas 2014
  • Santa Claus versus the Nazis by Ben Dickson & Gavin Mitchell - Christmas 2014
  • Christmas Ghosts anthology – December 2014
  • The Whale House by Andrew Cheverton & Chris Doherty - coming in 2015...
Plus a few more we don't want to risk losing by announcing them prematurely!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Borderline Press Blog #2 - Zombie Madness

There were a bunch of girls I used to fancy when I was at school. The thing was, even if they had a big neon sign above their heads that said 'Go on, ask me out!' that only I could see, I'd be so reticent that I'd never actually ask them. I've always had this fear of rejection...

Recently, I was talking to a teenager I know. There's this new thing amongst school kids and less old teens where they put 'Like for a rate' in their Facebook status and then people get rated on their looks and personality via their in-boxes from the person offering to do it. Jesus, I would never have done that. When I said to the person, aren't you scared that you'll get some rejection or people will think you're an ugly dullard, he said the following, "Rejection is rejection." He said this with an air of indifference - rejection is like having to go to the dentist, something we have to do (unless we want rotten tombstones in our gobs) and accept, because, you know, it's there.

One thing I've not had to deal with too much since the creation of Borderline Press is that R word. Most of the projects we either have lined up or are in advance stages of signing up have gone swimmingly well and there's been no need for me to have to grit my teeth and prepare for the 'sorry but I'd rather kill myself' rebuff. However, I have suffered some arrogance and ignorance. Would it surprise you to know that these things came from the USA?

I offered a young upcoming star, with no contracts or affiliations the chance of having his work reproduced for a wider audience. I explained the net profit deal that Borderline Press is offering everyone - whether they're pros or amateurs and he still wanted me to pay $100 per page of artwork that he drew three years ago and has no other publisher fighting to offer him a deal. To add insult to injury, he also wanted 70% of the net profit and virtually all of the reprint profit. I suggested, very nicely, that he publish himself and good luck in the future. I think he was lucky I spotted him; he might not be so lucky in the future and it's almost quite tragic that in ten or 15 years time he might look back on his greed and regret it...

I also offered a slightly more established small press or independent creator the chance of having his web comic collected into a very nice trade paperback collection. He admitted, when I first contacted him, that no one had shown any interest in his strip since 2007 when a now defunct company published the first issue. However, two offers of publishing it have been ignored and while I'd like to reproduce his stuff, it isn't likely to happen if he can't even acknowledge receipt of an offer. It's a shame because I think he would have benefited from a relationship with Borderline Press.

So that brings us nicely round to... Zombre, the working title for an idea Will Vigar gave me - a zombie anthology - that Borderline Press is going to be producing in the next few months and Will is going to edit!

It is, in many ways, a complete departure from the basic mission statement the new publishing house has been working under, because it is asking for new material rather than sourcing existing or nearly finished but homeless stuff. It is also something I have thrown open not just to my wannabe associates, it is something I have also thrown open to the host of well known and established comics creators I know.

This is the skinny - We’re looking for stories that are no more than 8 pages and in either comic format or illustrated prose. Any subject as long as it is zombie themed. For instance, an artist friend of mine suggested that he could do a story about a man who goes down the shop to buy some tobacco and gets eaten by a zombie with the moral being smoking can kill!

It can be bleak and apocalyptic; it can be humorous; it can be surreal, poignant or post-modern. It can be anything as long as it's as far removed from The Walking Dead or Shaun of the Dead as possible.

A post-modern zombie tale is preferable to a George Romero homage unless you have a good and unique angle (or just want to draw someone eating someone else's face).

If you are a writer that needs an artist or an artist in need of a writer, we’ll do our best to match you up with someone suitable. If anyone reading this hasn't seen all the other bits of promotion contact us at and we'll sort something out... Well, Will will... [ouch]

Zombre will be out in November, just in time for the zombie-apocalypse-mas!


I mentioned somewhere that working on stuff for Christmas 2014 seems weird, especially as we haven't had 2013's version of events yet; but it is essential. I've been itching to release news about some of the things we've got lined up, but, you know, those final few details are still to be ironed out and I'm not about to say, "Hey, Borderline Press is doing something with ### ###," just in case something goes wrong or ### ### dies with two pages to complete!

This is completely normal. Honest. But it is terribly frustrating because I want to tell you ...


The Borderline Press web pages are currently under construction... Yeah, I know, it's really annoying when you see Under Construction on sites, but they really are! My web man - Glenn Carter, the man behind The Comics Village - is building it specifically for us. None of this off the shelf stuff; so (sticks neck out) expect something funky and functional!


In other news...

I'm starting to get Dennis Wojda's 566 Frames put together. It is a good book to cut my teeth on, after so long away, as it already exists in Poland. We've been discussing edits and slight changes to help people to understand what life was like under German and Soviet occupation. Most Poles, even younger generations, understand completely, while the rest of us have films to educate us.

Joanna Karpowicz assures me that she'll be completing Robotz sometime around June/July 2014.

I'm going up to the Lake District for the Lakes convention in Kendal at the end of October. I shall remember my mint cake. I am also going down to Kent for Demoncon6 and there's going to be an exhibition, curated by Paul Gravett, of Polish comics in London, after Lodz, so I'm hoping to bump into some old friends there, as well as make some new ones!

More next week!