I should say this early in case you don’t read the whole post – my book Sorry for the Inconvenience, We Are Trying to Save the World has been nominated for a Broken Frontier Award. You can vote for it until 1 Jan and I’d be so pleased if you did.
Broken Frontier have made it very easy: you don’t even have to register to vote, and you can skip any categories you’re not interested in. Here’s my category (and I’ve just realised, mine is the only self-published one, which feels kind of good!).
And now onto the rest of the post!
This time last year, I was using my Christmas holiday to frantically draw some of the most complex crowd scenes I’ve ever depicted, true to my absolutely typical habit of thinking ‘Oh, this single picture won’t take long’ – before finding I’m chained to my desk for two days straight.
It was worth it, though – I’m still pleased with this picture, and proud of the book as a whole.
What’s been gratifying this year is that other people seem to feel just as enthusiastic about the book as I did when making it.
The award nom is a case in point: it’s particularly meaningful because Broken Frontier are the UK’s champion of indie comics and one of the few hubs that the community coalesces around. Andy, who runs BF, and his team of volunteers, are genuinely passionate about self-published comics and encouraging creativity in the scene; without their efforts we’d be less likely to even recognise ourselves as a community, let alone make connections and gain new inspirations. And just to be recognised as a nominee is a stamp of approval from people who know!
That aside, it’s been a real pleasure this year to have chatted to so many buyers of the book, in person and online. I’m not used to having a popular comic! Popular in my terms, of course, which only means that I sold out of the first print run and am reaching the end of the second – compared to my other offerings, that’s a runaway success.
I guess it hit the zeitgeist: I was so cross about what was happening to our rights around protest that I grumbled about it the only way I know how – with furious drawings. Turns out, others were angry too.
What with my day job and life getting complicated (elderly parents, basically), it’s not like I’ve put full effort into promotion, either – rather, I’ve taken opportunities where they arose. Of course, the major opportunity was the exhibition at the Workers; and the other significant outlet in terms of sales and exposure was the Cartoon Museum in London. I’m grateful to have been stocked by Gosh comics, the Jam bookshop and Blunt Knife in Edinburgh – these were some of the opportunities that came about unasked (well, in one case, asked by my friend Dave, who was passing – thanks Dave!); which becomes all the clearer when I say I haven’t even offered them to Dave’s Comics or the Feminist bookshop in my own town. I feel like I haven’t currently got the headspace to deal with that (although, in the spirit of marketing, I should say that my books are available at wholesale prices for shops – enter the code WHOLESALE when purchasing three or more volumes).
This year I also shared a table at the Lakes festival with friends, and sold at a small ad hoc comics fair with the Cartoon County crew here in Brighton. Again, on both occasions I sold much better than I’m used to (ahhh I begin to see why people do these tables, beyond it just being fun!), and it was lovely chatting to customers.
Once people started talking, they always wanted to tell me about great banner slogans they’d seen themselves, and marches they’d been on, but the most surprising encounter for me came in Brighton, when a lady looked at the cover and said, “Oh, that’s my banner!”.
I told her that the title had been taken from one of the pictures inside, and showed it to her.
All the pictures in the book of people holding banners were based on reference photos I found online (though I often changed who was holding them) – and this one, it turned out, was from the local Lewes Extinction Rebellion group. Of course she had to buy a copy once she knew she was in it!
Anyway, it’s been lovely to have given this book its wings and see it fly out into various pockets of the world, even if I haven’t given it as much support as I could have.
I still have a few copies left and it’s available online here (but I can’t speak for how quickly it’ll reach you, given the postal strikes…).