This article originally appeared in Strangehaven issue #4, June 1996.
Way back in January 1995, I submitted a four-page Strangehaven strip to a Belgian comic strip organisation, the VZW BZSociety for possible inclusion in their album Formaline, published at their bi-annual convention Stripgidadgen.
The convention took place over the weekend of 9 & 10 of December 1995 at De Warande Centre in Turnhout, Belgium and by all accounts was a wonderful event, with over 20,000 people attending. This year’s theme was elf publishing and small press comics, although the society itself is a non-profit making organisation promoting comics in all its aspects. Due to a number of difficulties, I was unable to attend in person, but my strip, “Chicken” made it into the final selection for the album.
Formaline is a beautifully produced 288 page book, packed with strips by self-publishers and small-pressers from all over the world (uncensored and in the creator’s chosen language), including Bernie Mireault, Iiya, David Mazzuccheli, Oscar Stern, Bojan Redzic and obviously far to many to mention here. It also has a gorgeous full colour cover by Marcel Ruijters and a huge montage of small press covers on the back.
A lovely surprise for the contributors was the fact that the society also produced a version of Formaline on CD-Rom with “surplus funds”! It contains scanned images of all the strips in the book, plus additional information on the creators, the society, and even an essay on the small press movement itself (each in several languages). The interface is a little clumsy, but there is real glimpse of what the future may hold for comics.
For lovers of the comics medium, its sure to amaze and delight. What’s more, the VZW BASociety has made it available to everyone. The sheer bulk of the book makes postage rather expensive, but its a real treat if you can afford it.
The Strangehaven strip, “Chicken” is currently unavailable elsewhere, but is sure to be reprinted somewhere at some point in time, so don’t fret.