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A new U.K. street-press comics anthology announced itself Tuesday by simultaneously launching a website and a Twitter account making an open call for submissions. Intrigued by this approach, we contacted editor Daniel Humphry to discuss his ambitions for the new title.
Robot 6: How far on are you with your plans for issue 1?
Daniel Humphry: Everything seems to be coming together pretty well so far. The first call for artists went out two days ago, along with our site and Twitter going live, and already we’ve had plenty of strong submissions, though deadline isn’t until Aug. 24. The next stage is approaching advertisers, and after that we’ll be aiming for a mid-September launch date.
Any contributors you’re ready to name, or are you still recruiting?
I probably shouldn’t name any just yet, as we’re only a few days in to recruiting, but I can say I’ve been surprised by some of the names who’ve submitted, given their experience on more established anthologies or magazines.
Does the magazine launching with an ethos or a mission statement?
Absolutely. The magazine is first and foremost about providing a platform for up-and-coming and indie talent who have something to say. By distributing free-to-read in bars, shops and galleries we can give maximum exposure to great talent, and reach an audience who though might love comic culture (The Walking Dead TV series for example) would probably not visit a comic shop to pick up a title. Hopefully OFF LIFE can change that.
What magazines have influenced what you are trying to achieve?
I spent a year working in Melbourne, and their street-press magazine culture is incredible. There are so many small indie titles with offbeat content that probably wouldn’t get funded by a major publisher, but as soon as they’re released and free to be picked up they gain these huge followings that respect their unique voice. In comics I really respect the old ’60s titles like Oz that weren’t afraid to publish dark, gritty or surreal stories as well as a handful of the modern pay-for anthologies like Solipsistic Pop. OFF LIFE is looking to marry these two ideals of street press and daring comic storytelling.
Do you see yourself as launching at a good time? What challenges are you facing?
Yes and no. Financially, our economy is in the pits. Would we rather launch during the ’90s boom? Sure, but times aren’t going to be a-changing any time soon so at least economically now is as good a time as any.
Industry-wise, however, I think that now is a golden moment. Comic culture is riding an all-time high in mainstream society with TV show and film adaptations everywhere you look. And it just needs somebody or something to put a comic in these mainstream fans hands to let them know that when it comes to storytelling, dialogue, satire, aesthetics — anything, really — comics are right up there with TV and film.
Finally, and probably most importantly, I’d say that now more than ever there’s a groundswell of young, undiscovered talent. Whether it’s because of the financial climate or whatever these people aren’t quite getting the platform they need to show what they can do. Well, this is it. The project is really going to live or die on how the comic community receive it – from submissions down to spreading the word on Twitter or blogs – and so we’re really welcoming all inquiries at the moment.
What’s your personal publishing background? (And the biggie for a comics blog) Got any preview art available yet?
I’ve been working in magazines as everything from a columnist to an editor for the last five years. I’ve had the chance to work on some great titles like Imagine Animation, FSM, Pickles, Crack, The Creative Top 100 and Three among others but there comes a time when you want to create something of your own.
I’ve also been writing short comic stories for a couple years and so when I looked in to the idea of a street press comic it just seemed like the perfect fit.
Here is a one-page collaboration between myself and Will Elliot called “Loud Neighbour” that will likely feature in Issue 1 (the only piece I’ll personally contribute) and I think gives a good measure of the tone and style OFF LIFE is attracting.