Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Happy Wednesday, everyone! Thanks for taking the time to procrastinate and/or avoid real life long enough to drop by and enable my blathering bloggery.
SO my second convention appearance - at which I will be slinging "Throat" and other forms of cartooney booklike product - is this coming weekend at the London MCM Expo, which will be at Excel from the 25th to the 27th. Even if you don't give a care (pardon my language) about my book, there's loads of fungasmic shit to do, so book your tickets and get your sexy arses down there.
To discuss a book that I wasn't involved with (for what I can only assume would be a welcome change) I recently had the pleasure of being able to read and review the new book by indie animation legend and personal hero Bill Plympton, "Make Toons That Sell Without Selling Out". It's the perfect type of book for auteur animation filmmakers like myself and contains a great deal of guidance as far as honing one's skills, self-promotion and marketing, as well as some insights into the production processes of Mr. Plympton himself. The full review is online at Skwigly now:

"Make Toons That Sell Without Selling Out" - Review by Ben Mitchell
Okay, back to me! "Ground Running", my troublesome second film, is getting itself a rare and much-appreciated festival screening soon, at the 8th Detmold International Short Film Festival in Germany, which goes from the 7th-10th June. My film is part of their Animation screening on Friday (8th) at 4pm. The 7th edition was fantabulous enough to include "The Naughty List" so, having been included twice consecutively, I daresay they are a festival with highly refined tastes. I know, I know, I deserve to die alone. But then, don't we all, when you really think about it?

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Scene

Hopefully this will eschew the theories that the main character of the book is based on me. For starters I don't even have a beard at the moment... 

Having taken the last couple of days to catch up on sleep, de-stress and give my advance copy of Mr. Plympton's new book a much-enjoyed read, I'm recovered and back to my usual, bloggy self. Hurrah! Later on tonight (knock wood) I'll be conducting perhaps my most intimidating interview yet, for childhood-association reasons. So to stave off anxiety for a little while I may as well report on the Bristol Comic Expo, at which "Throat" made its scintillating debut!
Okay, maybe 'scintillating' isn't the most accurate term, but through glass-half-full eyes the venture was a success; I managed to get a lot of info handed out, glean some thoughts and advice from fellow exhibitors and even shifted some copies of "Throat" to both well-wishing friends and complete strangers - I'm on the fence as to which is more awesome, but either way it's a lovely feeling. Also quite cool was coming home to an unexpected boost of online sales which also included some copies of the "House Guest" adaptation.
Myself and the delightful Jo Hepworth who helped out with the first book. Note my solidarity for Doug Stanhope's short-lived presidential campaign: He might still surprise ya!

Wandering around and checking out the other independent ware-touters was somewhat eye-opening: To have written and illustrated a 230-page graphic novel without a publisher sees me somewhat anomalous, although it might be more accurate to use the phrase 'farcically nearsighted' or 'misguided to the point of idiocy'. Most of the non-represented indie guys'n'gals were going the more realistic route of free giveaways or charging small change for mini-comics. The main recurring factor of these would be one that I'm sure seems extraordinarily catty given my low standing on the totem pole:
They're NONSENSICAL. Deceptively constructed like comic strips with a fundamental absence of context or humour; For the most part they're just inexplicably cartoonised, entirely random minutiae from the average day of the writer,  which end before any kind of setup (let alone payoff) has even been established.  A bit like "Garfield Minus Garfield", without the metaphysical ingenuity. And if you think I'm one of those blowhards so cowed by the notion of online feuding and hurting strangers' feelings that I won't be listing any of them by're 100% correct.
"Okay, chinless, what makes YOUR comic so fucking great, then?" 
Well, humble reader, I don't rightly know, and that 'chinless' remark cuts deep. I can't speak impartially for "Throat", although I guarantee its sense of humour won't be for everyone. I did put a lot of work into fine-tuning it from a structural perspective, however, and canvassed a range of opinions from people I respect on a professional level, as mentioned previously . From that I was able to get enough candid, critical feedback on what needed to be fixed to assume, reasonably, that the positives I got were genuine enough.
So, I'm not sure if I'm going about this the right way. Maybe I've gotten ahead of myself and need to rethink my strategy - is shorter form the way to go, and if so is there a way I can have that work for me as far as "Throat" is concerned?
The first step in terms of shaping how I plan to proceed is outlining what I'd consider the main tiers of 'success' for this type of venture. In hierarchical order, these would be:

1) Selling enough stock to make back all the money I've put into the book's promotion and marketing, including public appearances and giving copies out as gifts.
2) Generating enough revenue from expos and online sales to get any type of notable return on said investment.
3) As above, while factoring in the (mostly free) time spent working on the book itself so that the profit might amount to a salary, of sorts, which would cover that period.
4) Getting enough attention and visibility to fast-track the book to the types of market outreach schemes that would lead to national sales and store distribution.
5) Getting published outright, on a national level.
6) Getting published internationally.
7) Getting published in any respect, with enough subsequent sales to warrant continuous printing.
8) Becoming a millionaire, leading Molly Parker to leave her family for me whilst having no qualms about dressing like Alma Garret for the rest of our days.

While 1 and 2 only really apply to "Throat", I've made it to 4 with the "House Guest" graphic novel and 3 with all the rest (save for the "Mitchells In England" collections, which I don't push and I doubt would sell enough for it to be worth it anyway) on online sales alone, so I know it's possible. I suppose it's down to my own stick-to-it-iveness from this point on. So keep your eyes skinned, folks, if for no other reason than the delicious potential for schadenfreude if I fall on my arse.
To end things on a perky note, here are a handful of some of the more inspiring works I came across, mostly from the Markosia crowd:



Independent spirit, yo.

Saturday, 12 May 2012


Come one, come all...

While the real me is behind an exhibitor table awkwardly explaining to Steampunk enthusiasts why an introspective, cod-philosophical graphic novel about the social and internal ramifications of throat cancer would be right up their alley, the automated-blog me is here to let you know that the website for "Throat" is now live at! Such is the beauty of prescheduled posting...
In truth this is something of a pre-website, what with all the expo prep and podcasting I've had on the go, but it sets things up well for the future. Essentially it's a placeholder EPK with all the essential info, buying links and previewable material gathered together. G'wan'n'give'er a peruse...

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Prep Throat

I'm about to pop my cherry. In the independent-graphic-novel-self-publishing-and-promotion sense, that is. This weekend is the Bristol Comic Expo, which takes place just down the street from me and is perfectly timed as I've just received my first batch of proofs for "Throat". MASSIVE, RAGING YAYNESS!!
I've never been at an expo as a vendor, in fact I usually just go to these types of things to geek out , and not very often - we're talking twice in seven years. So it's safe to say that, all things considered, I'm a little green. Hopefully my fellow comic book geeks will be kind and not treat me like the new kid in school who talks weird and smells funny. Essentially this weekend will serve as a trial run for the MCM Expo in London, which is a fortnight from now, so I can use the next couple days to fine-tune my sales patter and presentation skills. The latter, at present, boils down to throwing as much of my priced-to-own shit on a table as will fit, in vaguely-organised stacks; the former is pretty much just this:
I'm pretty sure I'll come back rich.
It's all been such a rush, what with the book only just coming out, that I haven't really had time to construct a marketing strategy beyond some local flyering. There'll be a proper website, (possibly-animated) promo videos, cards, hand-outable mini-comics and suchlike a-comin', but for now I just have my books, some sampler CDs and a poster. Okay, I didn't have time to get a proper poster printed. What I did have, however, were nine sheets of Asda's finest "That'll Do"-Range econo-paper, a guillotine and some sellotape. They don't call me ol' Resourcefulness McGillicutty for nothin':
Switching creative hats, the second Skwigly Podcast is now live! After what turned out to be a pretty successful pilot experiment back in March, Steve Henderson and I put together a fairly mammoth follow-up which we hope to in turn develop into a twice-monthly affair.
This episode focuses on one of our favourite stop-motion masters Barry Purves, responsible for such brilliantly-executed works as "Next", "Achilles", "Screen Play" and his two most recent films "Plume" and "Tchaikovsky". There's also a competition to win his books along with discussions on the recently-leaked controversial documentary "The Sweatbox", the longevity of the animated sitcom and what dicks animators can be to live with. So give 'er a listen, a like , a download , a share, an iTunes subscription and/or a hearty British retweet if the mood grabs ya! Skwigly Podcast 02 (09/05/2012) by skwigly

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

"Something terrible is already happening..."

Well, I've been floating on roughly four hours of sleep a night for the last week, but it's finally over. "Throat", my very first original, non-adapted graphic novel, is finished. Only one day passed the deadline, too! Such is the beauty of print-on-demand distribution, the book can be bought online immediately and in two formats. First there's the standard edition with black and white interior artwork for a measly tenner, then there's the deluxe, full-colour edition for a less-measly twenty-five squids. I know, I know, it's pretty steep but it has to be to cover the production costs (at 230 pages it's a fairly chunky comic).
These versions are currently being distributed by Lulu, my P.O.D. go-to, but I'll be pushing hard to get wider distribution and an Amazon listing, which I've had some luck with in the past. While I wait, the plan is to be as proactive as possible so far as pushing it at expos and such. As per, this blog will be the place for the info along with which has been updated to include purchase links, although it's still pretty much a teaser page until the 12th.
I'm a little too emotionally exhausted (aaw, ain't I pretty?) to get into the details of the whole process just yet, but I do want to take the time to thank those of the various people who I reached out to for feedback that got back to me. In the last couple months I managed to fine-tune the story and character development, which has made a huge difference in terms of clarity and keeping the whole thing engaging throughout. So sincere thanks go out to Sam Morrisson, Alison Eire, Karin Saari, Jane Davies, Luca Kiss and Michelle Cioccoloni, as well as special shout-outs to my old schoolmate Toby Shipway for his medical insight, Jo Hepworth for her general awesomeness and support and Nusha Amini for keeping me motivated since I started the earliest development work on the project nearly two years ago. Even for a side-project, that seems like a long-ass time to work on a book, and even though things didn't kick off properly before last August, it felt like a lot longer.
Oh well. Break's over. What next?