"We've got five years, stuck on my eyes
Five years, what a surprise
We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that's all we've got"
- David Bowie, "Five Years"
This year's Bristol Comic Expo marks my fifth anniversary as a self-publisher (Devilchild Volume I: Hell Is Round The Corner was published in 2002). And yes, you're right, it probably is high time I found something more constructive to do with my life.
Seriously though, I remember the build-up to Bristol 2002 as if it was only last week. Jen (my then girlfriend, now wife) drove me from Southend into the wilds of north London to pick up the boxes of Devilchild, we then grabbed artist Natalie Sandells and her boyfriend Rob, and set-off for the great south-west. While Jen drove, Nat, Rob and I pored over the freshly-printed Devilchild volumes, excitedly chattering about how pleased we were with the book and wondering how many copies we'd be able to flog at the Expo.
As it turned out, we flogged a fair few but now, in the cold light of day, that first volume does look somewhat lacking. The printing was dodgy (mine and Nat's fault as it happens), the script overwritten, the lettering too big and Nat was still finding her feet as a sequential artist. I think we just about got away with it though and the book received some extraordinarily kind reviews (one comics website gave it 10/10, and AiT/Planet Lar supremo Larry Young loved it).
Nat and I have come on a bit since then. Nat gets regular paid work in comics and I'd be amazed if she isn't a full-time professional by the end of next year (she certainly works hard enough), while I'm a proper indie comics writer/publisher with regular Diamond distribution for my books and an Eagle nomination. Admittedly, for me, it's only in the last year that things have really started to kick on, so for the next 12 months or so it's going to be all about trying to build an audience and a bit of momentum within the industry, and just seeing where it takes me...