Comic artist and writer Mal Earl, whose credits span Aces Weekly and much more, is working on a plan for a new, independent British comics anthology – and he has some very firm ideas about what he is – and isn’t looking for.
Titled The Jigsaw, Mal’s hope for the title, which will probably be crowdfunded at least, initially, is that it will be a showcase for passionate comic creators who have reached an assured stage in terms of their creative career – and are looking for an adequate platform to present from.
“I’ve been asked a dozen times recently if I’d be up for curating an anthology comic, by creative folk who are struggling to find a decent outlet for their work,” Mal tells downthetubes, which led him to start looking at the feasibility of producing a publication that fits the bill, acknowledging this is very much early days and “uncharted territory’.
Fully versed in putting his own books together and getting them printed, and as a passionate advocate for self published comics, and understanding the lack of titles available for high quality amateurs to show their wares, Mal has now decided to step up to the plate, willing to curate/edit something – if there is enough interest out there.. and early responses seem to indicate there certainly is.
Mal’s made it absolutely clear that while he wants the anthology to be a showcase for small press artists at the top of their game, who are now in need of a well curated/edited publication filled with the work of other creators at a similar level, The Jigsaw will not be a book in which to show developing work.
“All stories must be original, stretching the regular genres – Crime, Sci Fi, Western, Fantasy, Surreal – in some way,” he asks, also wanting writer-artist teams to pitch, and for writers not to send him spec scripts, which he has no time to read and match make. “But it must be your best work. Be honest and realistic with your beliefs.”
“There are many publications cropping up at the minute through which to try out your work until it reaches a level of technique, style and control that shows your voice for who you are,” he notes. “What I’m after is the fully formed you, and the work that reflects you at the very top of that form.
Initially, Mal’s seeking submissions of A5 pages of fully finished art, “showcasing your storytelling skills, grasp of sequential principles and personal art style, illustrating a six to 12 page self-contained story idea.
“It can be a continuing character or idea but the story must be complete in one instalment, in black and white or colour.
He’s not looking for superheroes, unless the story breaks totally new ground, or 2000AD-style material, which is well represented elsewhere.
“Please be realistic when deciding to submit your work,” he emphasises. “I am very short on time to dedicate to the project, and as such I will have to edit pretty harshly for the benefit of all!
“Remember – poor work does not represent you in a good light! And definitely… leave your egos at the door (don’t tell me you haven’t got one – I’m an artist as well!)
“But if you think your work could contribute to making a good quality comic that might be a little different to what is already available elsewhere, get in touch with samples and ideas and I’ll see what the appetite is.
“The greatest hope I have of The Jigsaw is that it become a true community of creatives who support each other to make the leap to whatever the next stage of their journey might be,” Mal enthuses. “I’m looking forward to being impressed!
If you’re intrigued or enthused by Mal’s plans, then head over to his web site to read the full outline for The Jigsaw project – and let’s look forward to seeing a quality anthology that will reflect collectively the highest standards of creators in the self-publishing arena.
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. 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 “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.