Showing posts with label ben constantine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ben constantine. Show all posts

Friday, October 11, 2013

SLUG GUTS: Milk Shadow Books Launch - James Andre Interview

From the press release for this Saturday's Melbourne launch of the latest two comics from Milk Shadow Book:

Hi Everyone,
Just a reminder that next Saturday, October 12,we will be launching two excellent new books, Da 'n' Dill - The Showbag Years by Dillon Naylor and Squirt-Stone by Ben (Sea) Constantine.

Both of the artists will be in attendance, signing and sketching. Plus their books will be sold in showbags containing limited edition prints, cool lollies, and other surprises. Also, Dillon and Ben are giving away a page of original art from the books.

The launch is on at All Star Comics Melbourne from 2pm – 5pm. Then at around 5:30pm if people want to have a drink, or can't make the afternoon launch, we'll be having an afterparty where you can sit and chat to the guys and buy books. This will be at Charlies Bar, 71 Hardware Lane (just down the toad from All Star).

These will be our last books released for a while, so we aim to make this a big one! Hope to see you there, and if you can help spread the word to help us make this launch huge it would be greatly appreciated.

I fired a few questions to Milk Shadow Books Publisher James Andre about the two books launching this weekend and what else has been happening with MSB this year.

James Andre Interview by Matt Emery
Can you talk a bit about what goes into choosing artists and books for Milk Shadow Books? Can you talk about how Ben C and Dillon Naylor's work fit into this equation? How much are your choices guided by 'business' and 'aesthetic'?
Milk Shadow Books looks for unique visions and voices. That's about it. Things that will open your mind through paper and ink.

Dillon was recommended to me by Bruce Mutard. At first I was shocked, because Dillon has been around forever. I knew of Da 'n' Dill, Batrisha, and even his stuff such as Pop Culture and Two Minute Noodles. He's a real pro. Bruce said Dillon might contact about publishing some stuff, 'cause he'd mentioned MSB to him. I waited a day or two then contacted Dillon direct. That's how the A Brush With Darkness collected book came about, and with Da 'n' Dill being mentioned early on, we came back to that project as our next one. It's also a good title because of the nostalgia, and all ages aspect.

I've been a fan of Ben's work since picking up a Phatsville comic at a Brisbane Supanova, probably 10 years ago. Plump Oyster was in foetal stages then. At that time I didn't really know an underground/alternative comics scene existed in Australia. I hoped that it did though and that it wasn't all just shoddy superhero/genre knock-offs. Loved Ben's work straight away. Strangely even back then my brain thought, "someone should be publishing this guy."

Most of the other MSB artists are friends who have been self publishing for a long time. I'm a comics nerd/fanboy at heart, and I can generally tell when someone has an interesting style. And it's easy to see different artists who have a strong following online, or at shows. It's not usually a money choice when it comes to publishing, but I don't want to go broke publishing either. A strong sense of style and "something to say" is the main thing. Have some soul basically. Those books usually sell well anyway, as business will follow a good aesthetic.

Both Ben C and Dillon are both well established cartoonists locally, Why do you think other publishers haven't taken an interest in their work prior to you?

That's a good question. I'm not too sure? We're lucky to be working with them. Same as with Tim Molloy, Ben Hutchings, Bobby.N and everybody else really. Both of the guys have worked with larger publishers and publications, but it's usually been in a more restrained sense, or have had short stories published in anthologies/magazines.
We give artists nearly total artistic freedom (with some editorial control/advice being retained by me and the tech people here) to make the best books they can, the way that they envision them. We "package" our books with love, and not to be slathered with tomato sauce and a pickle and pushed down a burger chute. That's probably fairly appealing to artists too.

Were there any difficulties in assembling collections of Ben and Dillon's work, I imagine some of Dillon's work goes back a few years?

The good thing about Ben and Dillon is that they still have a lot of the original art. So it was mainly just waiting for them to scan in the art once we provided them with the technical details. We were originally planning on making Ben's book larger, but most of his early work was drawn A4, so shrinking it down to A5 makes it look a lot tighter than blowing it up to a larger size. While Dillon's Da 'n' Dill comics worked well being collected from different sizes into one uniformly larger book. Then we ran the books through the usual proofing/design process.
How much of your market is divided between local and international sales? Do you have a concentrated focus on either?
We're really focused on local sales at moment after getting the Madman distribution deal happening. That was a big deal for us, and we've been trying to co-ordinate as much publicity and sales opportunities as we can with them. Eventually we'd like to expand overseas more, looking at Diamond and Last Gasp as distributors, but we already have Amazon, The Book Depository coverage so that's the main thing. Currently, I feel that if we can keep working to make a strong local scene for local people (Sorry, that sounds kind of like Edward and Tubbs out of The League of Gentlemen) then it will make things more sustainable for everyone

How important was your partnership with Madman for distribution? Are you at a point were you can evaluate this yet?
Really important. It's hard to keep on top of self distribution when you work full time. Having Madman take care of that frees up spare time to work on production and other business matters. It saves having to call up/go into shops chasing five bucks from eight months ago. The team there have honestly been great to work with. Plus the promo side of what they can do is so much more than we can do ourselves. I got some initial figures the other day and I think the guys there thought I'd be disappointed, but I'm happy every time even if one book sells, so to me, it's been going well so far.

Are there short term or long term goals you can share for Milk Shadow Books?
After these two new books, I'm going to take a break for a while from production. I'm getting married next year so that'll be a priority. But also it would be nice to have some time to go back over the business and catch up with lots of details behind the scenes that are often missed. Walking to Japan was our first major work, and that came out October 2011, so it's been two years. Now is a good time to go back over what's working etc. Even though we'll be toning down our schedule in the future, we've still plenty of really good books lined up.
Do you punch walls when things don't turn out the way you want?
Haha, no. Well, a window in Year 8, but that was more for a laugh.