Sunday, December 30, 2007

Banal Pig's Review of the Year 2007 (Part Two)

Here it is, more reminiscences of times past.


I couldn’t really remember why it took so long to get Jolly Bear 2 out, but this is the reason:

“At the moment i'm working on a few bits. As well as JBFCSS2, of which you will no doubt be aware, i'm doing something for Monkeys Might Puke aka sleazy Dan Lester's anthology about Mickey Rourke, if there was a prize for most esoteric comic, that'd win it. i might do some awards.
Also, Jess Bradley is doing an anthology about animals which i'm doing something for, and not to mention the Rok Comics stuff and there's also a competition to get a comic in the observer which i'm certainly having a crack at. there's also this victorian horror story thing that’s been bubbling away for ages that i've got to get finished.”

Well, the Mickey Rourke anthology has still to see the light of day, as has Jess’s anthology (which I haven’t finished the thing for yet). The rok comics thing dragged out until October, and I’ve still to do the Victorian horror thing. I also did something for Jim Medway's Garden Funnies which should be out soon. The Observer thing was my main priority at the time I think, and inevitably no cigar for stevie t- more of which later.


we went to Caption for the first time in august:

“A lot of the small press veterans bang on about it as one of the big events in the calendar, so we were a bit surprised to see a rather poky room with not a lot going on (and not a lot of comics) when we got there, and having to pay a fiver to get in seemed a bit steep. The trouble is that people turn up throughout the day bringing their stuff, so if you got there early, you would be gutted, and not necessarily realise there was more to come, so you go home empty handed because there wouldnt be anything to hang around for. The idea of caption is really good though, you leave your comics and they sell them for you for 10% commission -peanuts compared with the cost of a table at one of the big expos, or even the web and mini comix thing, and of course you only have to give them money when you sell something”.

I sold well though so I cant grumble, although I don’t know how cost effective it is really to go to oxford and all that.

Also I came up with the web funnies idea, and projected my manifesto, as per the following:

“i have noticed a few things which i intensely dislike about certain strips, and as a result have come up with a few rules about how i am going to do my strip-
1- no geeky referencing of esoteric things (e.g. computer games, the internet in general, obscure films etc)
2- no boring continuous strips- the whole point is that its contained in 3 panels, if a story needs to be continued i'll do it as one long strip somewhere else
3- no "based on a true story" disclaimers”

-which I did stick to, apart from perhaps the strip based on Les Demoiselles D’avignon by Picasso, but its high brow and not fucking computer games so who cares.

I also said:

“i'm also going to stop moaning about the small press scene, and my terrible lot in life and concentrate on doing my own thing. i cant do anything about people i dont know, and i just need to keep making good entertaining work and see what happens. feel free to give me some shit if you hear me moaning.”

Hopefully I have been a bit more focused, and optimistic- I will see if there’s any more whiny blogs to come that I’ve forgotten about.


I submitted my entry for the aforementioned Jonathan Cape Observer graphic short story prize. I didn’t really expect to win, but I was underwhelmed by the winners. Have a look here for pdfs of the winners plus others, and see what you reckon.

Another thing about this competition was the fact that although the image was to be an arbitrary broadsheet size, they wanted the entries on A4 paper only (no cds or emailed images), which was logistically difficult, and undoubtedly meant that instead of receiving perfect electronic versions, they got ropey printouts which didn’t show off the images to their full potential.
*This isn’t moaning by the way, it is constructive criticism.

I was reminiscing about being a proper artist too, as I had a bit of time off. I wonder if I’ll ever make some beautiful fine art ever again. We’ll see (contemplative sigh).


I finished Jolly Bear and Fun Coconut Summer Special Two (there's a review here)in time for Birmingham, which as a comic expo was a bit disappointing; as previously mentioned Saturday was ok, but Sunday was absolutely dead. I didn’t even write a report of this, I think I was a bit sick of the whole business at the time, and wanted to crack on with the web funnies.


The web funnies continued until mid November, and although I said after the post-a-day for the first month I would do a few a week, I had run out of ideas, and wanted to crack on with BP4. I did get back a lot of positive feedback which was nice, but it was hard work which took up more or less all of my free time for that month. I might do another month at some stage, and I will still post as inspiration strikes me, but BP4 is my main thing at present.

I also came up with the idea of a Banal Pig Fan Club, which is to go ahead next year- stay tuned for more news- and I tried to flog some original artwork, but didn’t.


I have been quietly beavering away in December, and you can probably see December’s posts on this page so I wont review them.

All that remains is to thank you, dear reader, especially if you have bought or otherwise contributed to the banal pig, for your support, and hopefully we will see much more of each other next year.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Banal Pig's Review of the Year 2007 (Part One)

In the spirit of many a lazy journalist at this time of year, I have decided to take a look back at the last 12 months of banal piggery, perhaps it will teach me some lessons; perhaps it will waste half an hour- we shall see.


January found me in chipper mood, sometimes you do get a bit enthusiastic at the promise of a new year, a new start and all that shit, even though time rolls on whatever us humans call it. I made another list of “Reasons to be cheerful” which included:

crispy bacon
unsolicited praise
rowdy blues music
art that i couldnt do
the smell of a pub as you walk past

aw… I am an optimist you know.

In comics, I was collating the BP Portrait Prize Anthology which was a good experience, I enjoyed the editing side of things and it was nice to put something out fairly quickly and have a mixed selection. Top Shelf’s Brett Warnock described it as “hit and miss”, which I suppose is fair enough, but I think it’s a better quality of Antho than many out there.

Also in the spirit of new opportunities, I was attempting to raise the profile of the Banal Pig brand, and I think I have done to some extent with the Web Funnies and that, but we’ve still not cracked how to engage with punters at comic expos. I think it’s impossible.


I did this quite decent banal pig for the web and mini comix thing anthology, but they didn’t use it for some reason. I’m not doing another one.


Here’s an exerpt from my report from the Web and Mini Comix thing:

"it was quite a good day, and as the punters there are our specific target market we did probably as well in one day as we usually do over the weekend at the big cons. the new anthology went down quite well and there were quite a few of the contributors there to pick up their issues. i didnt actually buy anything but there was some decent stuff there- The Sound of Drowning, Dan Locke's Green comics, Monkeys Might Puke, Beaver and Steve spring to mind - there was plenty of shite there too. Plenty of fucking awful shite. Gareth managed to get Man Man 3 out too, and we were also selling good old Oli East’s Trains Are Mint which also went down well."

We're doing it again this year, by the way.

Also this selection of Road Jokes, which I feel are worth repeating:

What does a road say when he wishes to thank you?


Whats a Road's favourite Grandmaster Flash song?


What does a baby road do before it can walk?


But of course, March was most famous for the “Sour Grapes” post, in which I vented my frustrations about the state of british small press comics. This caused a bit of stir, particularly with those people who I (and others) vented about, and I’m not going to repeat any of it here as it is history (although you can read the post and it’s comments if you like). Maybe it was unwise to blog in such a way, but it was only the difference between me thinking it and saying it, and I didn’t think anyone would read it anyway.


April marked the end of the financial year, and I was contemplating my accounts thusly:

“Today i am taking stock of my comics business as the financial year is all but wrapped up. i've made a considerable loss and am wondering where my profit margins can be increased. buying a laser printer and doing the job myself is one option, not doing the big conventions, and putting up the price of the comic are all options, none of them easy. hopefully i'll get some tax back again, but i've got to start being a bit more canny, which is not the side of the business i'm interested in. any ideas?”

(Whenever I write “any ideas?” no-one ever responds. I’m the same generally. A covert blog reader but not commenter, and however I try to encourage the comments, it doesn’t make a difference.)

In relation to the above, I didn’t really make any changes, but on balance this year’s Birmingham Con was too expensive (we shouldn’t have even got out of bed on the Sunday), and I don’t think we’ll bother this year. I do feel a bit ambivalent towards money making, I am in no way a ruthless business man- I always want to give the reader value for money. This doesn’t really make my business very lucrative, but value for money is my core business plan, and it has led to repeat purchases and word of mouth and all that, and hopefully that will continue to grow.

The rest of April was Ethel Sparrowhawk previews, more of which presently.


Of course, May was the highlight of the comics year, the Bristol Comics Expo, the reason I busted my balls to get Ethel Sparrowhawk finished (I actually took a week off work- dedication eh?). The reason it’s my highlight is because its ten minutes down the road from my house, so there’s no extra costs and there’s plenty of people I know. Ethel went down (sold) well, and we got some nice big ups from (small press stalwart) Paul Rainey and (V for Vendetta artist) David Lloyd, and I think it was a good choice to do a change of direction at this stage, and it was a different way of working, collaborating with the lovely Jemima Von Schindelberg, to make something I certainly couldn’t have come up with on my own.

I was also contemplating a small press community website thing, where it would be easy to sell and give recommendations and that sort of thing, but to be honest I haven’t given it a second thought since then.

One thing I have learned this year is that you really have to plough your own field, do your best, work hard, etc and this brings its own rewards. No-one else is going to do it for you (me). Although I haven’t seen any tangible rewards yet, I am confident they will appear.


Very exciting things happened in June, yes that’s right, I won £54 on a scratchcard! Happy times.
Gareth’s website, Appalling Nonsense was created too, and I laid out my hopes and dreams for BP4:

“anyway, i was also thinking about making longer comics, and i really want to step it up a notch with banal pig 4. my current vision (sounds a bit pretentious doesnt it?) involves 2 levels of comics- i.e. a main strip and a sub-strip running alongside/under/against it, and i want to continue to develop the banal pig "universe" (again this sounds a bit poncy, but it is fairly common comic speak i think) and feature more of the peripheral characters and make the general look a bit more dense, or at least vary the layouts a bit more. this means that it wont be ready for birmingham, but i'll have JBFCSS2 and maybe another minicomic, and i've got my fingers in a few other pies.”

One thing that I always do is underestimate the time it takes to do anything. Jolly Bear 2 was just about ready for Birmingham, and I have decided to really take my time with BP4 and have it out for Bristol in May ’08, but it will be worth it- having started drawing it, it is actually still quite similar to this, but there wont be as many sub strips. I cant remember what other pies they were.

I was moaning because of my shit job, as is my wont from time to time, and I started doing the ROK comics thing, in the hope of winning $10,000 (ha!). I think all competitions are flawed, in as much as I never win them.

So that’s it for part one, the first six months, but I’ll be back soon with part two probably….

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Merry Christmas!

yes its nearly that time of year again. if you are on my mailing list, you will have received this electric christmas card from me today. if you would like to be on the mailing list, then send me your address. it's not really that exciting, but you might get the scoop on some exciting bp news.

thanks to everyone who commented or bought or laughed at my comics, and i hope baby jesus brings you everything you want.

lots of love

stevo xxx

Saturday, December 08, 2007

not christmas yet

although its a bit pointless to blog about the fact that i'm not really doing anything newsworthy at the moment, here it is anyway. i've bought an A3 scanner which i can't make work, i'm really gay for scrabulous on facebook (feel free to challenge me to a game), and i'm working on banal pig IV- citizens on patrol, which i'm working hard on (hee hee, hard on!) so it's amazing.

thanks for the fan club suggestions, i will sort that out soon- i'm gonna invest in a badge maker.

dont forget, banal pig artwork for sale- the ideal christmas and other religious festivals present, but why need an excuse?- go on treat yourself- limited stocks remaining!*

*only one of each left, except the one that i've sold, and the one i gave away.