Soaring Penguin’s “Meanwhile…” anthology will return next year with more new Strangehaven

London-basex Soaring Penguin Press has announced a revamp for its acclaimed (but, sadly, low selling) anthology, Meanwhile…, which features all-new “Strangehaven” by Gary Spencer Millidge and David Hine and Mark Stafford’s terrific “The Bad, Bad Place“.

“Essentially, sales were less than what were required to make the previous format financially viable,” notes Gary in a post about the revamp.

The anthology will relaunch in January 2017 as a quarterly 96-page full colour softcover graphic novel format featuring “Strangehaven”, “The Bad, Bad Place” and the start of a new series by Sarah Gordon, and the final instalment of Yuko Rabbit’s “10 Minutes”. Yuko’s stunning art also graces the cover.

Gary reveals “Strangehaven: Destiny Part Five”will include two significant plot reveals, both of which have been waiting to drop since the very first issue, “as well as a terrible but well worthwhile pun for those who have been paying close attention”.

“When I first re-started Meanwhile…, I had three main intentions for the title,” says publisher John Anderson of the format change. “Find a way for Gary Spencer Millidge to finish ‘Strangehaven’; have a regular title that would keep the Soaring Penguin Press name in people’s minds; and grow my own graphic novels.

“I was basing my thoughts, in part, on A Suivre, a magazine published by Franco-Belgian publisher Casterman from 1978 to 1997. What they did was serialise their graphic novels, and test out material before deciding whether to publish it as a graphic novel or not.

“This is what I did with Meanwhile… . Sort of. I mean, apart from ‘Strangehaven’, we have ‘The Bad Bad Place’ by Mark Stafford and David Hine. And I can hardly wait to see the collected edition! We serialised Yuko Rabbit’s ’10 Minutes’, too. 

“The rest of each of the first four issues were stand-alone stories. The idea was that anyone picking any single issue would still have some good stories to read, even if they didn’t start from the first issue.”

But, John admits, he screwed up.

“I mispriced the book,” he acknowledges. 

“Without getting into specifics, sales were good but not as good as I had thought they would be. (And it’s not like I just picked a number at random. I had worked up the numbers and asked a few people if the numbers seemed about right. We were all wrong, but it fell on my shoulders. Lucky me.)

“Not good enough to pay for printing and the shipping and to provide a page rate for every creator who had contributed to the book. Yes, everyone got paid something.

“This is why we paused after issue 4. I needed to figure out how to go forward with the title. I was committed to continuing, but not if it meant I was in debt for the rest of my natural life!
I put the book out to a significant number of printers around the world: China, Hong Kong, Latvia, Poland, Czech Republic, Turkey, Canada, the US and the UK. And I could not find a print cost where I could continue with a 52 page Meanwhile… for £4.95 an issue.

A rethink and a revamp was the only answer, if the much-praised magazine was to continue.

“When you see Meanwhile… Issue 5 in January, you’ve find that it’s slightly smaller (165 x 235mm instead of 180 x 255mm), will run 96 pages, will keep to a quarterly publication schedule, with a packed content of familiar faces and new ones that I think you’ll enjoy. And it will have a cover price of £17.95/$23.95 in the shops.”

While you’re perhaps getting your jaw off the floor at the shop price, the good news is that Meanwhile… can be had much more cheaply if ordered direct from the Soaring Press web site, or if you subscribe (current subscriptions will be honoured at no extra cost). 

“The prices on the Soaring Penguin Press website will be about half shop price,” says John, who is now in the process of working up not only issue 5, but also a list of creators he can go to for subsequent issues.

“I’ve discovered I have a fourth intention,” he reveals, “to throw some light on creators or stories that comics readers might otherwise have missed.”

• If you’re interested in subscribing to Meanwhile… you can do so here

• If all you want is to test the waters and order just issue 5, that’s here

• If you’d rather order digital initially, all issues of Meanwhile… will be available on Sequential, Comixology and other digital platforms shortly

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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