I’ve rounded up some of my favourite artists, zine makers and independent publishers.
I’ve included some pictures of these self-published and small press zines and comics as well as links on where to buy them or find out more information on the creators.
The publishing industry is not an easy one to break into, especially when it comes to graphic novels, alternative comics and marginalised voices. The option to be able to publish your own work or do so via a small press publisher is not necessarily profitable, but one I am extremely thankful for. It means that unique voices and artistic talents are more accessible.
There is a healthy network of independent small press UK publishers and creators that form part of a strong and inclusive community. There is very little money in it, but the levels of passion, creativity and support seem high. The freedom to create and publish work largely on your own terms is something worth shining a light on.
I love the fact that these bursts of creativity – that can make me laugh, cry and think, sometimes all at the same time – arrive through my letterbox on a regular basis. Thank you.
Up first is Ioan Morris, a brilliant Welsh cartoonist whose work combines elements of sci-fi, noir, otherworldliness, and wrestling. Some works are self-contained, with the economy of a good short story. Others are serialised such as his latest award-winning Biggol, allowing you to descend deeper into these alternative realities. Ioan’s panels are always powerful, with expert use of space.
Ioan’s work is self-published as Dry Comics and available via http://ioanmorris.com/. Biggol volumes 1 and 2 are available through the brilliant Carp Publishing Endeavours alongside Josh Hick’s excellent Glorious Wrestling Alliance.
Tim’s brilliant self-published works complement his superlative and award-winning longer books from Avery Hill Publishing. Tim likes to explore themes of space, time and place, often with a psychogeographic leaning, in his comics and art. There’s usually a good chunk of nostalgia too. His drawings are always perfectly balanced with beautiful details, often exploring the intersection of the natural environment and the man-made.
Henry is an artist and zine creator that brings humour and fine art to his output. His works include a riotous visual celebration of a Gideon Coe radio show and a directory of Bullseye contestants and their prizes.
You can buy his work alongside that of his uber-talented son Stanley Miller over at https://www.millertown.co.uk/
Colossive Press is an innovative and compelling DIY publisher.
Personal favourites include Tom Murphy’s brilliant and very funny account of the rise and fall of the Croydon Spaceport alongside a risograph take on Waiting for Godot with Torvill and Dean – Skating for Godot.
Colossive’s ongoing cartographies series is a fantastic celebration of talent in the UK illustration and zine scene, and well worth purchasing too.
Buy from colossive.com
Harley Maryon & Tom Benjamin
Zines and small books aren’t just for illustration – here we have some excellent photography-based publications.
As a massive fan of Brutalist architecture, these two works by Harley Maryon and Tom Benjamin capture the architectural style expertly.
Harley Maryon’s Concrete Abstractions features brutalism from across Bristol and Southampton including many of my favourite buildings.
Tom Benjamin focusses exclusively on the now-demolished Tricorn Centre. The photography in both cases is of the highest quality as are the publications.
Buy Harley’s work here https://www.harleymaryon.co.uk/
Buy Tom’s work here Our Shadows Will Remain/
Hannah Kate Sackett
Hannah Kate Sackett is an educator and comic artist that brings the past to life with bold imagery and engaging narratives spun from her academic research. Her skill is in making prehistory a human experience and sparking emotional resonance through her characters.
Readers of all ages will love Bertha the Brave and Tales from the Rockface, the latter uses mesolithic rock carvings from Norway as its inspiration. Elsewhere, devils dance across ancient landscapes and archaeological treasures reveal their secrets.
CJ Reay and Black Lodge Press
The output from Black Lodge Press is always good. CJ Reay’s illustrative style can be both beautiful and devastating.
CJ Reay’s Twin Peaks paeans, the dark erotic risograph beauty of Laid and the stunning A Garden By The Sea, inspired by Derek Jarman are personal favourites.
Also a big shout out to Bristol’s Specialist Subject record store for stocking CJ Reay’s works alongside many other excellent zines including from LBGTQ+ creators.
Olivia Sullivan’s work plunges you headfirst into fractured, poetic worlds. With a striking visual style, the reader attempts to make sense of glitches in the fabric of consciousness, non-linear explorations of self. These psychedelic journeys are equal parts intriguing as disorientating. A truly original talent.
Simon’s ethos and his output represent much of what I love about zines. In the spirit of independence, Simon prints the majority of his zines at home, offering pricing tiers based on what people are able and willing to pay. His work is personal and honest, and his art never fails to take me somewhere. Within just a few marks on a page, he is able to evoke a landscape, an emotional state, a moment in time.
Artistically, Simon is always pushing himself to find new forms of expression, different ways to capture internal and external worlds, the seen and unseen. In his early SMOO zines, collated in part in the excellent Days, you see a diverse range of more traditional drawing styles. Nearly a decade later, we have 2020’s brilliant Leylines that combines photographs, found text, paintings into an arresting and unique visual style. You can see this ongoing evolution across the Minor Leagues and Where? series.
Simon doesn’t shy away from difficult topics either, covering relationships, mental health, and grief in his zines. In using zines as a way of processing and understanding, Simon provides a form of companionship and solace via the printed page.
Buy from SMOO at Big Cartel
Environmentally conscious, innovative, and fun – I love Nick’s work and wish I had more and that he produced more. Nick always finds different ways to make the reader question their relationship to nature, the environment and the past. I love the way that man-made structures cut through our landscapes, both violently and beautifully.
Buy from https://nicksoucek.com/shop/
The amazing Bristol studio Pirrip Press features the stellar talents of George Hounsome and Alex Higlett.
Beautiful, minimalistic, impactful illustrations fill their zines, prints and artworks providing calm poetry, fun instructional advice and moments of still clarity in a muddled world.
Buy from http://www.pirrippress.co.uk/
Read my review and analysis of Owen D. Pomery’s Victory Point or check out my collaboration with Laura Morgans in Inktober – bringing together daily micro fiction and illustrations.