This editorial, “Strange Maven’s Diary,” originally appeared in Strangehaven issue #2, September 1995.
Over the past couple of months, the emphasis of my life has moved almost entirely over to the joys and wonders of self-publishing. Although I spent many months organising myself for the launch of Strangehaven#1, I don’t believe anything could have really prepared me for what lay ahead.
And no matter how well you are prepared, you can do nothing at all about the vague disinterest or downright inefficiency of others. But self-publishing gives me complete creative control of my work, and also the opportunity to present it and promote it in exactly the way I choose (financial restrictions aside).
In case anyone doesn’t realise, I not only write, draw, letter, paint and do everything else concerning the creative side, including designing the look of the text pages, choosing typefaces and so on, but I have also foolishly undertaken to publish this magazine myself. This involves communicating with printers, distributors and retailers, the taxman, the VATman and generally doing things that need to be done when you’re running your own business, as well as attempting to promote my work at the same time.
In addition to all that, I think I may be one of only a handful of creators attempting to publish in the UK, but print in the US. (The only other example I can think of off-hand is when Nabiel Kanan self-published Exit and printed his first few issues in Canada a few years ago). This in itself has caused me far more teething troubles than it initially suggested; especially as my PC fax card refused to perform properly (if at all) for six weeks, leaving me without a satisfactory form of transatlantic communication. Ever tried to have a technical telephone conversation when your voice is coming back at you half a second later, and each time you speak you cut off what the other is saying?
I nearnearly mad wentent mad, I you tell cancan tell you.
Despite everything (and thanks to Brenner Printing), Strangehaven#1 shipped out just about on time at the end of June. Unfortunately, I am writing this editorial in mid-August and most UK shops are still awaiting their initial deliveries of Strangehaven#1. Apparently a fax message between different departments of a major distributor went astray mid-Atlantic and all copies destined for the UK instead sat on a shelf somewhere in the USA collecting dust. I have had verbal confirmation that they are now in the UK, and hopefully you will have already bought and enjoyed Strangehaven#1 before this issue hits the stands.
We are also enjoying here in the UK a summer which actually lives up to its name. It is rapidly becoming the longest, hottest, driest summer since records began, and it’s too bloody hot for me to work in, I can tell you. My hands are covered in some kind of heat rash, ink dries on my nib as I draw and my extra-thick Bristol board is wrinkling up like corrugated roofing due to the heat from my hands.
In addition all that, in the week set aside for putting the finishing touches to issue #2, painting the cover for #3, putting together the solicitation packages for October’s distributor’s catalogues, sending off everything to the printers and doing reference work for #3, I got felled by a stomach bug which left me bedridden for most of that week.
But all these frustrations pale in the face of the impact Strangehaven#1 has already made. I’ve had a unanimously positive response, everyone from individual readers like Seth Harding (see letters page), to retailers like Page 45 and Ace Comics, to specialist magazines like Hero Illustrated right up to the biggest distributors Capital and Diamond, have been extremely encouraging and supportive. Great guys like Colin Campbell who have put their money where their mouth is, and Lea, forcing Strangehaven down the throats of everyone who dares enter the local shop.
Although the direct market continues to mutate almost by the hour I am looking forward to the future with some optimism. Strangehaven will run as long as enough of you keep buying it, I have only just begun to tell my tale. I hope you will join me for the duration.