This editorial, “Strange Maven’s Diary,” originally appeared in Strangehaven issue #7, October 1997.
Well, it’s been another fun-packed few months for the author of your favourite Devonian mystery comicbook series. It started with everything going wrong as I attempted to get Strangehaven #6 off to the folks at Brenner Printing; being let down by my art supplies shop, computer crashing, US customs holding up my artwork, a page missing from my blueline proof and UK customs holding up my comics on the return journey were a few of the highlights. Still, I should be getting used to it by now.
I’ve been criss-crossing the globe (well, Preston, Lancashire and San Diego, California) to promote myself and Strangehaven (to a largely disinterested public) and have been receiving an assortment of nominations including two for Eisner Awards, probably the most prestigious accolade in the industry. Naah, I didn’t win, but I did receive a National Comics Week Award for “Best Self-Published/Independent Comic” at a glitzy London hotel way back in March.
Kev F. Sutherland and Mark Buckingham made a splendid effort in promoting British comics in the months preceding the designated “Week”, and the Awards ceremony itself (hosted by comic collecting TV celebrities Jonathan Ross and Paul Gambaccini) put even the Eisner’s to shame. The fact that they couldn’t find my award when I was summoned to the stage and the silver paint which decorated the “Jimmie” rubbed off on everyone’s clothes were only minor inadvertencies. I only hope that the whole campaign was successful enough to become an annual event.
It was a fine occasion which added a focal point for this year’s UK Comic Art Convention, to which I was invited along as a guest. I ended up sitting alongside my pals Terry Moore, Paul Grist and also the wonderful Dan Clowes who I hadn’t met before. All day Saturday I was kept busy by a queue of readers wanting sketches and signatures including those over from Holland and Germany, and giving interviews to small zines and TV cameras alike. Unfortunately I went AWOL on Sunday morning due to a sudden bout of illness and had to miss out on a panel and saying goodbye to everyone. To those who suggested I had celebrated my Award success a little too enthusiastically on Saturday night, I say, “Where was the party?”
I’ve also been across to the mind-blowing San Diego Comic-Con International for the second year running, and I’ll tell you all about that later in this issue.
As I was trying to explain last issue, being a self-publisher is one thing; trying to describe what being a self-publisher is (and the concept of your work itself) to a room full of partly attentive, partly sarcastic SF fans is another thing entirely. My attempt to entertain The Preston Speculative Fiction Association was only marginally more enjoyable than sticking rusty needles in my eyes, but I thank them all for their patience and understanding. My exertions were somewhat rewarded with the discovery of Tesco’s Maple and Pecan Crisp breakfast cereal at Bryan Talbot’s house the following morning, which I heartily recommend to Tesco shoppers everywhere.
My local celebrity status was confirmed while being quizzed over the contents of my vehicle by officers from the local constabulary in the early hours one recent Sunday morning.
“‘Ere, you’re that artist bloke ain’t you?” the copper asked me.
“I suppose I must be,” I replied
“I got one of your comics. Didn’t understand it. Full of hidden references to fruit. Too weird for me. You must be on acid.” After assuring the policemen I wasn’t under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, and that I wasn’t secreting any stolen Hi-Tec trainers, I was allowed to continue about my business.
Further evidence of my growing reputation was discovered while perusing a dealer’s ad in a certain British comics trade paper. It reads: “Strangehaven #1 (nm) second printing, signed by Millidge with certificate.” Well, it may very well be signed by me, but I don’t know what kind of thing the “certificate” is, as I’ve never produced or signed any certificate of any kind. I guess it must be a gold leaf certificate judging by the £7.95 they’re charging.
Oh, and Chris Staros says not all of you guys have bought a copy of The Staros Report 1997 yet. It contains a new Strangehaven strip as well as lots of other goodies (see the article at the back of this issue) and your local comics retailer can order it for you through Diamond or Cold Cut. If he doesn’t want to, you can order it direct from me or from Chris.
OK chums, I have to go and pack for the Small Press Expo in Maryland. While I’m out there I’ll also be appearing at a number of store signings organised by those wonderful guys Chris Oarr and Greg Bennett. Rest assured, I’ll tell you all about it next issue – which happens to be a very special Christmas story. Miss it at your peril.
East Coast here I come.