Saturday, July 14, 2012

Minicomics of the Month - Andrew Fulton Interview

Melbourne cartoonist and Smaller Comics Capo Andrew Fulton has launched Minicomic of the Month an initiative to get Australian comics into the hands of readers that might not otherwise be able to find them.

I asked Andrew a few questions about Minicomic of the Month and the folk involved.

If I recall rightly this is the second year of Minicomic of the Month (MOTM)? What was the initial response like? What has it been like this time?

Yeah this is the second time we are doing this - the first one Pat Grant kicked off in 2009. You can still see his original pitch here: I got an email one day asking if I wanted to be in it. At that point I had been doing the webcomic for a while but really hadn't done much physical printing of stuff. I think I might have been in a Tango? It ended up being the first proper mini I actually made and stapled for real.

What inspired the use of a subscription format for getting your comics to prospective readers?

The first time sold out pretty much overnight, so the response was great. I think this time it has been a little slower, but still a great response, and spread a bit wider too - we have a larger percentage of international subscribers this time around, which is great.

Not sure that I can answer directly to 'inspiration' as I have just stolen Pat's idea, but I think the subscription is a great way to spread work around. It's a pretty cheap up front cost from people, there's a sort of energy and excitement that's different from buying something in a store. And people probably get a mix of things from people whose work they know, and some they are less familiar with. And just on a practical level it helps keeps costs down - you know exactly how many you need to print, you don't end up with the World's Saddest Cupboard, Overflowing With Unsold Books.


Are the mini-comics in a uniform format? Are the physical comics produced by each individual creator?

Initially I had thought to do a uniform format, and kind of centralise the production and logistics of things to make it a bit easier. But in the early stages of discussion we decided that that took a little bit of the magic out of it. Part of the fun is that someone is making this little minicomic with mostly their bare hands, stapling it up and licking the stamps. There's a personal connection there.

Is the subscription model for MOTM set at a limited run? Will each installment of Minicomic of the month be mailed from the individual creators?

Yeah, we are planning to limit the subscriptions. We kind of agreed on 100 being the most we wanted to have to physically put together and mail. I don't really want it to become a burden, but also I also know it sold out super quick the first time around and a lot of people missed out.

And yeah, each month the individual is responsible for getting it together and mailing it out - although a large chunk of us are in Melbourne so we could get together for a stapling party or two.

 Australian Cartoonists in America: Caravan of Comics

Did you take anything from your experiences on the Caravan of Comics from the American indy/alt/minicomic scene that could be applied to Australia?

The Caravan was probably the biggest inspiration for getting this thing rolling again, and kind of sustain that momentum of getting Australian Comics out into the world. It's kind of a downer but one of the big things I "took" from the Caravan was a reminder of how far away we are from everything. There's a much larger audience for our work that it's not all that easy to connect with from here, Facebook and Twitter and all that aside - $5 shipping on a $3 or whatever is kind of a hard sell. And I guess even worse if someone wants one of my books and one of yours, that's even worse maths. I think I may have lost my point in here. I guess it's maybe that giving people a single point Get a bunch of things from different people at once is a way to combat that? But then, in some ways the answer to that is digital distribution- sensibly we should be doing something like this as ebooks or whatever? Forget about distance. But that comes back to what I was saying about magic. It's the personal touch or whatever that makes a project like this work.

Some of the creators involved in MOTM have books published through large above ground publishers, What do you think is the appeal in producing comics at a minicomic scale?

You'd probably have to ask someone like Pat or Mandy, but again I think it is about the personal touch, about being able to do something quickly and send it out directly to your audience. It's not something you have to spend years toiling over, it's quick, dirty and fun.

Images © 2012 respective artists.

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