What exactly is the "Small Press"? What is "Small Press Day"?
Well. Explaining Small Press Day is easy. It's a day (as I write this, it's tomorrow) when comic shops around the UK and Ireland celebrate the Small Press.
Which is fine, but that doesn't explain what the "Small Press" is - and that's a little bit more complicated.
Because the Small Press Scene in the UK is, in a very real sense, the beating heart of the UK comics industry. If you read the UK press, you will be told that there really isn't much of a comics industry in the UK. You might read about 2000 AD, that venerable stalwart of British Comics that has survived against all odds and expectation beyond not only it's titular year, but beyond it's fortieth birthday. If you're reading an article by a very switched on journalist you might also read about Titan Books - the publisher that brings you Dan Dare and Doctor Who comics, amongst a host of other good stuff.
And if you don't spend time in good comics shops, you'd be forgiven for thinking that's all there is.
But there is so much more!
Go to a decent comics con and you'll see it. Table after table of hard working people who make comics for the sheer joy of making comics. Nobody is making a lot of money - for most the the people in the scene it's not a career and never will be - and that's not the point.
From Matt Garvey's comic tales of the hapless Punk Band "Pineapple Chunks", to Sarah Millman's fantasy of D&D type characters running a Tea Shop in NPC Tea, to the anthropomorphic adventure of MULP, the funny and insightful exploration of depression and anxiety in Rachael Smith's "Wired Up Wrong", and on, and on, and on.
So much creativity. So much effort, skill and dedication.
Small Press Day is about celebrating and promoting all of that.
Destination Venus, as a store, doesn't carry as much Small Press as we'd like - but we're always looking to expand. So - if you make your own comics, we'd like to talk to you. We want to be at the heart of a thriving small press scene and if you want to make comics, we want to help you do that.
So today was the third Small Press day, and the third time Desties has been a part of it. Our good friend Terry Willey, co-creator of Sleaze Castle and Petera Etcetera and sole creator of Surreal School Stories and Verity Fair (I think I got that right - Terry, if you're reading this please do correct me if I got that wrong...) who supported us on Small Press Day 2016 and 2017 was otherwise engaged this weekend, but instead the awesome Jed McPherson came over with his books - about which more next week...
(There should be a photo here of Jed posing with his work. But I can't figure out how to get it off Instagram and into the blog...)
I'll be honest, I was hoping for a lot more people than actually came, but it was a beautiful, hot, sunny day - and the day of England's World Cup Quarter Final - I understand that people were other places having fun in the sun.
A massive "THANK YOU" to the people we saw, and especially the people who picked up some of Jed's work, or comics by the other Small Press creators. Maybe, for some of them it was the first step on a journey that will take them deep into the world of creativity and imagination that is the UK Small Press community.
Who knows, by the time we get to Small Press Day 2019, some of the people who bought Jed's work today might have been inspired to be back at Desties with work they made themselves.
I really hope so. (It was one of my ulterior motives in setting up the Creative Collective - the second meeting of which is at the Everyman on Tuesday 17th July...)
But it's enough if a few people experience and enjoy a story they might not otherwise have found. Because in the end, that's the point. To share comics with people.
So, if you didn't make it down today, don't worry - we'll be back with Small Press Day at some point in July 2019, and in the meantime we'll continue to expand and develop the range of Small Press books in the shop's "Independent Territory" section.
Oh - and if you want to discover more about the Small Press and the people who are involved, you could do worse than to check out the Awesome Comics Podcast - where the Small Press makes a Big Noise! (And while you're playing with your favourite podcast app you could check out our own Podcast "The Geeks at the Gates"...)
See you next time folks!