Friday, 11 October 2013

The Borderline Press Blog #5

There is nothing more edifying than watching something great come together, and I know I'm bound to say that because I'm not likely to come on here and say, "Hey kids, the new Zombre book is a piece of shit and your £12.95 is going to be well wasted," am I? But the thing is, some of you said it couldn't be done. Several of you probably would have put money on it and to be fair, it still hasn't even been finished, let alone sent to the printer, so it might still go tits up.

But... You know... That ain't going to happen.

Zombre has been pretty stressful at times. Will Vigar spent days attempting to locate a hitman for me until he realised I was paying for the thing. I panicked over the 'finished' pages because the artists all showed zero acumen in the ruler department and some people suggested that we were going about it all the wrong way...

"Based on my experiences of Borderline version 2.0 so far, I have to confess I'm disappointed. And that makes me a little sad." Who said this is unimportant, what it conveys is all manner of things you could get annoyed about. The person who spoke these words had his story rejected because the artwork was poor and not to the standard that either I nor Will expected for Zombre. Also, his 'experience' to my knowledge was being told the specifics (deadline, specification, size limit) about the zombie book and being the only person to have a problem with it and seeing an advance copy of 566 Frames, which I have to presume he doesn't like because he never commented on it after page 110.

I get the impression that we're not doing the kind of books this person likes and he believes that because we're running our anthologies department like a proper publisher would that we'll end up with inferior quality products. Well, you know who has to pay for this thing? I have to look at a project and decide whether I want to spend a large amount of money on it and whether it will make me any money in the long run; I'm not going to treat that flippantly, am I? 

I appreciate sour grapes is going to play a big part in this (and the coming months); no one likes rejection, especially if they put a lot of work into something, but unlike small vanity publishers, I'm not just going to publish something because I have it in front of me and hope that the reader doesn't think, like me, that what he or she is looking at is a piece of shit.

Dez Skinn used to have this anal retentiveness in that if someone did something - some work - he'd try very hard to use it somewhere because it seemed a shame to waste it. He didn't like throwing anything away and often things that had been rejected got recycled somewhere else. I taught myself a long time ago that throwing things away is cathartic and that rejecting or criticising something is a positive and not a negative thing - if something simply isn't good enough, go away and do it until it is better.

This was pretty much the case this week with my oldest friend Colin. We did our first comic strip together 38 years ago and it got appraised (and praised) by one Neil Tennant, then at Marvel UK. He's been on hard times, Colin, not Tennant, and I thought the chance to draw a zombie strip would be beneficial for him and hey, if it sells out everyone will make some money. Colin threw himself at the opportunity, but as the weeks passed I said to my wife that I really didn't think he was looking as confident any more. On deadline day he phoned me and said what I'd pretty much guessed; but I also hadn't paginated for it; I was just happy to give him a chance; he should never have decided to write it as well as draw it.

The thing was, hooking up with him last night, he was quite clear, he bit off more than he could chew and despite most of it being finished, he could not bring himself to offer it because he simply felt it wasn't good enough. "It's shit, Phil, and I wasn't going to have to suffer you rejecting it, so I rejected it myself." 

Christ on a bike, that must have taken some balls?

Before we move on; I've seen this term bandied about a few times - Borderline 2.0 - and I can see people are dubbing it that, but it isn't really that at all. It has the same ethos as the magazine but this is a publishing company specialising in graphic novels. It is also called Borderline Press - that's both its trading and registered name; not Borderline, but Borderline Press. This isn't a relaunch or a re-branding; if anything it's the same brand doing something different.


Most of today has been spent filling envelopes with PR for 566 Frames and Zombre and that means sending everything to all the comic shops all over the United Kingdom. Obviously I'd like comic shops to stock our books, but the world of commerce changes daily and I expect that a lot of our business will, hopefully, be done through the web page because the more sales I get through that the better the profit for my creators.

The PR stuff has cost a lot of money and I have still to post 150 letters (that I believe are, ahem, borderline overweight, which means that the £84 postage charge is likely to be substantially more. Postage is the bastard that cripples everyone and if we have to suffer a privatisation, let's hope we get some proper competition and competitive and cheap prices!


We are in the process of finalising the rights to publish the UK edition of Loka Kanarp and Carl-Michael Edenborg's Hungerhuset (Hunger House) which is quite sublimely awesome and I think will rival 566 Frames as a breakout book for 2014.

I am also in advance stages of discussions with a French publisher to adapt one of their more successful graphic novels; a wonderful autobiographical tale about all kinds of things you'll look at think 'OMG, why would I want to read a book about that?' But it is a truly unique story, produced in a unmistakeable way and that's why I wanted it, because it just exudes quality.

I'm also talking to several creators and Will Vigar will edit a collection of some of the best short comics from Europe...

For those familiar with it, the BBC's Countryfile has a photo competition every year and around August you see John Craven, Chris Packham and Jo Brand oohing and aahing over some fantastic photographs; well the team and I have been experiencing something similar with some of the wonders of the East sent to us by Dennis Wojda, who is living up to his roving associate editor label! He is our European A&R man and a lot of the projects you'll see coming out in the next few years will be his fault! :-) 


I paid for 566 Frames last week and I expect a huge pallet of books to arrive around the 20th. By that time Zombre will be at the printer and I will have forked out another chunk of dosh before seeing any coming in - the coming three months are going to be interesting times.

Will is at The Lakes International Festival in Kendal later this month; he's essentially going to schmooze Mal Earl, but if you're there and see him go and say hi. We'll both be at Thought Bubble in November, hopefully selling some of our wares - but more about that as and when.

Have I mentioned the web pages should be live by the weekend and there should following on behind the facility to pre-order both 566 Frames (£15.95) or Zombre (£12.95) and ensure your copy within 48 hours of release!

Have a good week!

No comments:

Post a Comment