This editorial, “Strange Maven’s Diary,” originally appeared in Strangehaven issue #10, November 1998.
At last Strangehaven reaches double figures and I guess I can allow myself a little satisfaction, even though it’s taken me much longer to reach this particular milestone than I would have anticipated.
After all, many fondly-remembered comics series have failed to reach such a landmark and at this point I proudly surpass gloriously short-run comics like DC’s Bat Lash, Brother Power The Geek, Prez and who could forget Rima the Jungle Girl? Most failed Marvel series’ have since been resurrected except for the brilliantly stupid Skull The Slayer – and even the first incarnation of The Incredible Hulk only lasted 6 issues. Jack Kirby’s bizarre Devil Dinosaur fell just one short of the magic number.
Gold Key’s many disappointments include TV tie-ins Banana Splits and Land Of The Giants which managed only 8 and 6 issues respectively.
More recently Alan Moore’s Big Numbers failed spectacularly after only two issues.
I’ve also matched the initial self-published ten-issue runs of Rob Walton’s Ragmop and Nabiel Kanan’s Exit although Rob went onto put out two additional issues through Image (and one final, self-published effort) and Nabiel had further issues published by Caliber. Of course, in order to emulate Dave Sim’s incredible 236 issues (and counting) I’ll probably need to live till I’m several hundred years old.
Still, any excuse for a celebration…
The most extraordinary thing to happen to me since last issue came at the local Tesco supermarket while I was selecting a number of nice green bananas from the perennially half-empty greengrocery display. With a booming, “excuse me” and large hand on my shoulder, my first thought was that I’d finally been caught breaking the bunches of bananas apart by Tesco’s banana police.
“Are you the artist Gary Spencer Millidge?” asked a friendly-looking gentleman. While being forced admit the fact, I searched my (admittedly patchy) memory for faces from school and college without success. After an uncomfortable second or two, the mystery gent introduces himself as Peter Dixon, a Strangehaven subscriber from Chester (about 200 miles away) who apparently just recognised me from my photos in previous editorials.
Finally convinced that this wasn’t a wind-up and staggered by the man’s incredible ability to remember faces, he explains that he had just moved to the local area to get married and start a new job. In a town of 170,000, and Strangehaven’s worldwide circulation a tiny fraction of that, it remains a quite remarkable coincidence.
My change of printer last issue didn’t appear to upset too many of you, except for possibly my old printer and also one of my major distributors as most of my print run ended up at the wrong warehouse and disappeared for about five weeks. So last issue was late, but not as late as you think it was. I humbly apologise to readers everywhere on behalf of everyone else.
Dedicated followers of mine will be pleased to learn that after a year of hermit-like behaviour, I’ll be back on the road again next year. My first major appearance will be at Kev F. Sutherland’s ambitious new Comics99 festival taking place in Bristol over Easter weekend next year. After years of gradual decline, the affectionately remembered UKCAC breathed its last in Manchester in March of this year. But the new three-day event is sure to be a real blast and I urge all comic-loving folk in the UK to support this new initiative in every way they can. It’s about time we Brits had an annual event we can be proud of, and Comics99 could very well be the start of something. See the advert on the inside back cover and send for details.
In my last editorial, I jumped the gun rather by erroneously reporting that Wayne Beamer’s exhaustive interview with myself would be appearing shortly in Jeff Mason’s excellent Indy Magazine – unfortunately shortly afterwards, Indy as a print publication ceased to be and now continues (and, as I understand it, thrives) in electronic website form only. If any alternative venue for Wayne’s piece is found, I’ll be the first to let you all know.
In the meantime, I’ve actually done another couple of interviews: An affable Ben Graham visited me for a day in the summer to do a piece for his apocalyptic fanzine Espylacopa, and I’ll let you know when that issue sees print also. Those of you connected to the interweb thingy can actually read my answers to ten questions which Benn Ray asked me, for inclusion in the newly revamped Fan Universe website.
I can now confirm that the Strangehaven short story, “Chicken” (which originally appeared in the Belgian book Formaline) will be reprinted in the fourth issue of the British anthology Meanwhile… which is due to be published by Soaring Penguin in the near future. I’ve also provided a brand new full-colour painted cover, so this will be an irresistible collectible for Strangehaven completists
Those of you with money to burn may considering purchasing a piece of original Strangehaven artwork. I’m now making available much of my recent output ranging from my full-colour painted covers to fully inked interior pages and blue pencil production artwork. You can own a unique piece of Strangehaven publishing history for a very reasonable sum, with pieces available to suit all pockets. Please feel free to enquire about your favourite individual pages or request a copy of my illustrated art catalogue.
And finally a reminder that my first paperback collection, Strangehaven: Arcadia is now out, and available from fine comic stores everywhere. In the UK you can order it from any bookshop and of course it’s available direct from me or Chris Staros’ Top Shelf Productions in the US. It’s essentially a compendium of the first six issues, although I admit that I’ve tweaked the artwork and lettering a little and added a few backgrounds here and there. It sports a velvety-smooth brand new full colour cover and has the added bonus of a bibliography, glossary and an introduction by Dave Sim. What a perfect Christmas gift for all your loved ones!
Until next time, party like it’s 1999,