Monday, 29 June 2020

Dark Skies and Silver Linings: Twenty-five Years of Strangehaven

Twenty-five years ago, the first issue of my self-published comic book series Strangehaven shipped to distributors. According to a fax document from the Texas-based printing company Brenner (who I used for the first few years), Strangehaven #1 shipped to Diamond on 29th June and to Capital City and other distributors on the 30th.

Yes, “Capital City and other distributors” – there were still multiple distributors of comic shops back in 1995. Aside from Capital, Heroes World and Styx International also preordered copies of the first issue. Orders exceeded the distributors’ minimum required level by some distance, and I knew that I could continue to self-publish Strangehaven for the foreseeable future, and hopefully indefinitely.

Left: Fax from Brenner Printing with ship dates.
Right: Solicitation for Strangehaven#1 from Diamond Previews catalogue, June 1995.

So, if you had told me in 1995 that I would still be creating new Strangehaven stories twenty-five years later, I would have been overjoyed. If you had told me that I would working on volume four, then maybe not so much. After the initial euphoria of contributing in a modest way to the artform which I have always loved, the financial and physical realities of making a full-time living from creating comics gradually became apparent.

But I am nothing if not resilient, and I have pressed on through good times and bad; through personal upheavals, bereavement and health troubles, to prestigious award nominations, potential movie deals, meeting my comics heroes and making new lifelong friends.

Strangehaven #1 hit the comic shops worldwide in a time before eBay, before the launch of Windows 95, before Se7en and Toy Story hit the cinemas, before anyone had heard the Spice Girls or Kula Shaker, before Dark Skies and Everybody Loves Raymond came onto our TV screens. So, like, a long time ago.

If you have been with me since the beginning, or you have joined me somewhere along the way, I can’t thank you enough for your continued faith and support.

The last quarter century has been a weird, wonderful and wild ride, and I don’t regret a moment of it. But, please, no congratulations on reaching this ‘milestone’ just yet – I don’t deserve an accolade merely for persistence - you can save those until I actually finish this bloody thing. Then we can talk about the tickertape parade.

Strangehaven volume 4, Destiny, is currently being serialised in full colour in the British anthology Meanwhile… from Soaring Penguin Press. Nine chapters (of thirteen) have been published to date.