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Monday, February 02, 2009

Comic Cuts

Like everyone else with a soul, I'm enchanted by snow. Of course, I'm not forced to go out into the snow first thing on a Monday morning because I have to trudge into town to an uninviting office and an uninviting day's work. I have the smug satisfaction of the freelancer who works from home. And we are smug, I promise you. Waving our loved ones off to work and scurrying back into the warm. Doncha just hate us?

On the plus side, you'll be leaving work at 5:30 and I'll still be at work. Even at the far end of the garden I'm never more than 15 seconds away from work. It's not easy to clock off when you're that close all the time. There's always a little voice nagging away at you that says "You said you'd have that finished today. Go on, there's nothing on the TV... why not finish it off?" Which is why I'm often to be found, way past midnight, still tapping away here at the computer.

Or, as happened last night, taking photos of the garden at 1 o'clock in the morning. It's not quite as spectacular as I'd hoped. What really amazed me is that I could take photos without a flash and still get results. It just never seems to get dark any more around here. Maybe that's what's screwing up my body clock.

The good news from all this self-obsessive talk about working long hours is that I've actually managed to finish one of the books I've been hinting at for the past couple of weeks. If all goes to plan, we will have volume one of The Art of Mike Hubbard out some time this year. We're a little vague on the timetable because the huge hike in printing costs in the past couple of years (caused first by the sharp rise in oil prices and, just as they started to tumble, the collapse of the pound against every other currency apart from the Zimbabwean dollar). It's cheaper to print two, three or four titles together to make one big print order than it is to do one book at a time; the same applies to importing one large order rather than two, three or four small orders because it costs as much to get something through the docks as it does to ship them from the Far East to a UK port. Every signature on a docket is another £50 (and there are lots of signatures required), so its best to spread that cost over more books to help keep the prices of all of them down as best we can.

You wouldn't think that putting out a book would be so tricky. How many centuries has it been since William Caxton introduced the printing press to this country? I'm surprised we don't all have one in our living rooms by now, churning out neatly bound hardbacks at the flick of a button. It's starting to move in that direction thanks to print on demand but, until the unit costs of POD books come down, we're still a long way off from cheap home publishing.

Meantime, and just to tease you, I'll leave you with this lovely frame from one of Mike Hubbard's strips. I'm off to get on with the next book.

(* Artwork from "The Adventures of Marco Polo" © IPC Media.)


Dave Whitwell said...

I'm excited about this forthcoming 'Art of Mike Hubbard' book.

I'll be buying a copy just as soon as it is published!

Is there any chance for the publication of a couple of hardback volumes of Ken Reid's incredible work for Odhams Press (1964-68)??

All the Best

Steve said...


I've my eye on quite a few things for the future, although it all depends on how things progress this year. The logic behind looking to "classics" (with the Mike Hubbard and the upcoming "Three Musketeers") is that we've established a small but viable market through the two Frank Bellamy reprint books. However, that doesn't mean we're limiting ourselves, just trying to make sure we're established before diversifying.

One of the deciding factors is: what do I want to see on my bookshelf. And you can be absolutely sure that one of those books is a collection of "Queen of the Seas" and, after that, other Ken Reid masterpieces. If it was up to me we'd have a dozen books out next month but, then, I'm not financing this little venture and I didn't find a few thousand quid down the back of the sofa when I last looked... so we'll both have to be patient.

Norman Boyd said...

And surely Steve you want a complete adventures of Hubbard's "Jane Bond Secret Agent"?

Steve said...


That'll be something like volume 4 of the Mike Hubbard set if all goes to plan.