It was only when I cast my eye over at the side bar of dates in the lower right hand section that I realized the blog and indeed the book had passed its fifth anniversary and that I should probably say something meaningful, or at the very least helpful, to mark the occasion.
Having a chronological listing of key events in the life of London Horror Comic reminded me just how long a journey it has been.
A side effect of producing your own comic is that time meshes and bleeds across several different issues and stories; a story that you’ll see printed in six months time is something you’ve lived with through the process of having written it, seeing it penciled, inked, etc.
A single story can seem so much of a constant in your life that you forget there was a point where it wasn’t there or where you weren’t working on it in some fashion.
London Horror Comic began in 2006 as a web comic but it wasn’t until the end of 2007 that I decided to take it to print. Even at that point I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to pull it off. Getting one issue out of the door seemed like an exercise that necessarily involved the black arts and I didn’t know where I could buy a goat to sacrifice.
Doing the web comic in the year proceeding print gave me the confidence that I could begin telling stories regularly in the way I wanted them told and build an audience at the same time (a delusion I still suffer from).
Taking the book to print was then not a matter of “Could I?’ It then became a matter of “How would I?” That might sound like a pedantic difference, but I found that once I had the validation of the web comic being well-received, everything else became a matter of scale and ambition.
Taking the book to print was something that could be worked at and learned, rather than left as an unfeasible concept in the dark corner of the room. In other words, the will was there.
When people at conventions come up and ask me how I started to self-publish, I sometimes get the feeling that what they want to know is how I get an artist and what paper stock to use, so that their book comes out all nice and shiny.
These are practical questions that need answers and I’m happy to talk.
But I’ve come to understand that if you’re moved enough by your own story to want to tell it to the world, these are questions you’ll find answers to yourself, through the course of doing it and not talking about it.
What matters is first gaining that little bit of confidence and then developing an eye for the types stories that you want to tell. Obstacles in the production process can be overcome, or at least endured, provided the intent is there.
After five years of being in print, it’s as good a lesson as any to have learned.