Why the Comics Industry Needs Small Press Day

The comic book industry is at a crossroads. The proliferation of variants, events, reboots, and relaunches has built towards a crescendo. Over the next few years, the bottom is going to fall out. Or so some have speculated. These soothsayers have been quick to compare the state of the industry to the crisis of infinite pouches that was the 90’s. Rest assured the death of comic books has been greatly exaggerated. However, there is no denying that there has been a degree of stagnation in recent years from both the House of Ideas and its “distinguished competition”. The latter may have gone someway to righting the ship, but the best comic books have to offer have come from the independent and small press scene. Creator-owned books have been the breeding ground in which innovation from a storytelling and craft perspective has flourished. Small Press Day is a celebration of this comic renaissance, a showcase for what makes this medium and its community unique.

Small Press Day is a comics festival in the truest sense invoking the conventions of old. Whereas some modern conventions tend to focus on wider elements of geek and pop culture, Small Press Day is all about comics as a medium and what we have to say about them. Now in its second year, it seeks events being hosted across Ireland and the UK from signings and workshops to panels and exhibitions. Its an occasion for fans and creators to come together to discuss the craft and form of comics books rather than allow themselves to get bogged down in questions of multi-universal continuity. In doing so, they aim not only to showcase top local talent, but encourage new creators to pursue their dreams. For many the idea of being involved in the creative side of comics can seem like a pipe-dream, but part of the message of Small Press Day is that all it takes is the will to act. If you want to be a writer then write. If you want to be an artist go and draw. If you are into lettering or colouring pursue those avenues. It challenges the notion that the only worthy entry into the field is through the mainstream and offers the chance to learn from the experiences of micro-publishers.

Ireland’s contribution to Small Press Day 2017, set to take place at the Fumbally Exchange community hub, is worthy of some praise. Championed by some of the stalwarts Irish indie scene, it hosts an impressive line-up of 22 creators showcasing their work. This alone would make it a must for comic fans, but the lads have gone not just a step further, but a leap. This all-star squad of Irish creators will be taking part in panels throughout the day with a focus on their approach to comics and how newcomers can get into small press publishing themselves. This is a comic event as it should be, one determined to lay the groundwork for future creators to grow from. These talks and workshops should prove just as informative to fans as they do for aspiring writers and artists. It also helps that there’s set to be a whiskey tasting to accompany all the fine comic talk. It is thirsty work after all.

As we’ve highlighted time and time again, comics are an incredible medium for telling stories and one that doesn’t nearly get enough credit as it deserves. For those who try to argue that comics are defined solely from the superheroic antics of Marvel and DC, Small Press Day proves that there is an entire world of possibility out there. Everyone has a story in them and they don’t need anyone’s permission to get it out there. If there is an associated event in your area, you owe it to yourself to go along. If there isn’t, work on setting one up next year. Small Press Day is important because it gives us the opportunity to talk about everything wonderful about this medium. It allows creators swap, skills, stories, and impart advice on to those that will come after. This is the space in which they get to experiment and produce work that pushes comics forward as an art form. On a more fundamental level it is the premier opportunity to get the message out loud and clear. Comics are for everyone.

Gary Moloney
Gary Moloney
Some would say that he is a mine of information, too bad most of it is useless. You can read his own comic work over on garymoloney.tumblr.com. Follow him on Twitter @m_gearoid.