The Reviewers Trade Principle / Were you must not DIY

Over 2008 I wrote weekly for, during a very exciting time in the UK comix scene..

My columns are concerned with four aspects surrounding comics – social community, economic factors, festival and exhibition coverage and modes of distribution.


Idea: The Reviewers trade principle.
18 March 2008

Ordinarily a lot of small pressers might trade comics, but what if they took this further, and traded reviews ? I guarantee you, there is no difficulty in finding a publishing point for your review. It seems a very practical principle attached to giving away a free comic. For my part if anybody would like to review one of my recently published comics I’ll do the same for you. If you’ve not got my comic, how about we trade and trade review ?

Now, as I mentioned the obligatory feeling that this entails affects a full-time comix reviewer quite badly. Over the years many have gone quite mad. They roam the hills, or coffee bars of Oslo, unkempt, unshaven, howling, telling curse stories, occasionally stinking of whiskey. What if we made it a game ? Where can you get your review published ? ComicBookResources, Silverbullet, ? SFX ? Bugpowder, Comics Village, IndieReview ? Or how about Women’s Own, Daily Mail, Q magazine, BBC or Empire ? No seriously- that ones doing it.

I think the growth promotion a reviews trade principle offers may be a mechanism that delivers fairly distributed rewards and audiences.

Well you don’t need to look so pleased : Were you must not DIY

18 March, 2008

With apologies to seen talents: if someone does a job for you, give them credit. Namedropping and good manners. Music tells us bands rock. Community optimism attraction.

In this unordinary fifteen years were self-pressing stripzine editors and creators become a focus for an unsponsored industry in chrysalis, there are pressures. The pressure of ‘knowing’, of work to visibility, while being a man or woman at the crossroads has claimed victims. I was going to name names, chances are if you’ve been in the comics clique for over a year you know one of those. Its much better to think of them as survivors too, those nexus individuals. I don’t mean to imply that comix doesn’t nurture those who care for it, but thats what I’m implying. There’s something missing.

Those seeking to represent a broad overview of the UK comics scene cannot must not adhere to the do it yourself ethos that cartoonists and zinesters hold to. There will be no puritan work ethic here. That would empower you and others, enrich the scene, produce some vitally incredible work — but it will destroy you. And that sucks for a number of reasons. Outside of the risks to your physical and mental health, it’s a threat to the more vital lynchpin networks of comics infrastructure. You don’t wanna do that.

Shane Chebsey has been running the central distribution Smallzone largely by himself for nearly ten years now if I recall. While far from complete, this has been the main stockist of sp booklets the breadth of the UK (until Forbidden Planet’s more recent interest). Can you picture one guy running the early Diamond Distributors outside of his full-time job and family devotions ? Theres been some kerfuffle lately about whether Smallzone is functioning to creators needs adequately, hardly surprising.

A young Oli Smith (yes, he does get younger), had asked me why Shane has close to a monopoly on distribution. I told him  because he’s perhaps the only one thats been going that extra bit. Showing up to almost every con, lugging the boxes around. Doing all the mailing out. Oli, if you want to help out I’m sure Shane would welcome it. So Oli goes off and forms London Underground Comics. The stall was an instant hit, has blazed a juggernaut of publicity. This week Oli has been featured by a Camden paper in a sort of celebrity of the week bit. He does a lot of the box-lugging as well as being a well photogenic frontman ! Though now Oli is caught with the problem of being turned to by creators from far and wide. His initial hopes went along the lines of foreseeing other creative collectives setting up other stalls. In London for instance, Spitalfields, Covent Garden etc

Even a farmers market would be conquerable by two to three comics creators  I reckon !

More gets done in the small press through individuals wishing to engage in a facilitator role. While the financial reward is negligible there are a multitude of fringe benefits for the successful folk – VIP invites to exclusive events, free comics, socialising with the lurkers to the guests of honour. Thankfully through the hard labour of our forebearers many of the structures to push this industry forward are already within place. We need only to dance !

I always welcome paypal donations at drew dot luke at gmail dot com. I think it would be a bit irresponsible of me to write a column for free on economy and not ask for your moolah. Thanks to the guys at Comics Village for their support on this.


My 7 small press publications in 7 weeks challenge is completed. Pdfs are 50p and print copies are £1 ! (‘Optimus and Me’ print version sold out)

If you happen to know of any unique pieces of comics socialising or sales geez a holler on drew dot luke at gmail dotcom. Best wishes, Andrew.


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