As well as celebrating the best indie and small press comics of 2018, we also wanted to celebrate the UK and Small Press Community, with our first ever Community Champion Award. Community is such a thriving part of the UK comics scene. (In fact we have called it ‘the beating heart of the UK comics scene on several occasions!) and so to help celebrate this, we have teamed up with our friends at ComicScene to nominate those in the UK comic scene who we think have done the most to encourage this wonderful community which we are a part of.
It wasn’t easy picking a winner, but here are some of our honourable mentions who have done great things for comics in 2018:
The organisers of indie and small press friendly comic cons
From Stuart Mulrain at True Believers, to Dan and Lisa at Leamington, to Kev Brett in Nottingham, Iz McAuliffe in Cardiff, Es at Bristol Comics and Zine Fair and many many more. Without these fine people going out of their way to organise the amazing indie and small press friendly comic convention, then we wouldn’t have the thriving indie and small press comics scene that we have today.
Jon Lock and the Team Behind Comics Summit
This year saw the first ever Comics Summit, a chance for comic creators to get together and talk shop, without having to worry about losing sales at their table. The brainchild of Jon Lock of Big Punch Studios, and the response to his dissatisfaction with the way the small press scene was handled by the larger Cons, he decided to put on his own event, for creators to get together and talk. This two day event became like higher education for small press creators, with a fantastic mix of lively discussion and open chats about the state of the industry as well as help and advice for those trying to make their own comics. You can read more about it here.
Tony Foster and the Team at ComicScene
This may all seem a bit self indulgent, seeing as they are the sponsors of this award, but their inclusion was decided upon before they got involved. For years there hasn’t been a dedicated comics magazine on the UK newsstand, but this year that changes thanks to the arrival of ComicScene. A glossy, professionally put together magazine featuring articles on comics, by writers who know and love the genre is now on the newsstands once more and for this we want to salute Tony and his team for this amazing achievement.
Aaron Rackley and Little Heroes/Fair Spark Books
What started out as a project to bring comics into hospitals has become a full blown publishing empire for Aaron Rackley. His Little Heroes drawing packs have evolved into a full blown anthology comic, featuring some of our favourite indie and small press creators. And this has then morphed into his own publishing company, Fair Spark Books, which is bringing all-ages books like Gallant and Amos and next year’s How To Make Comics With Springworth. With all of this being used with the primary purpise of helping to finance the Little Heroe’s inititative that started it all, this is a fantastic example of how great comics can help enrich people’s lives in ways which we might never think possible.
Which brings us to the big one. And the winner of our first ever Community Champion Awards is – or rather are:
The Etherington Brothers!
If you haven’t heard of the Etherington Brothers and their all-conquering Kickstarter for How To Think When You Draw, then where have you been hiding this year. As well as being two of the most enthusiastic, engaging and down right positive people on the planet, their collection of drawing tutorials have brought together the comics community (as well as the wider art community) together like no other. This overnight success, which was 15 years in the making, is not just another ‘how to draw’ manual, instead it’s a guide for how to think when you draw, and so appeals to everyone from professionals at the world’s biggest art studios, right down to people who can’t even draw – they just like the idea of drawing and want to learn more. By converting their online tutorials into this wonderful hardcover book, Lorenzo and Robin created the zeitgeist book of 2018, and they aren’t stopping there, with plans for a sequel and also a How To Think When You Write book in the pipeline, The Etheringtons are the Jedi Masters of indie comics, and we are just the lowly paduwan.