For over three years comics artist Andrew Fulton has been sharing Australia and New Zealand comics talent with the rest of the world through the medium of mincomics. Returning once again for 2015. As well as running the club since 2012, Fulton was originally and continues to be a regular contributor to the project. I emailed him to talk about small comics and the Australian comics scene.
Marfedblog: How did you get involved with the making of comics and then onto running the Minicomic of the most club?
Andrew Fulton: I’ve always loved drawing, I had a brief period where I tried my hand at animation but comics seemed to fit me much better. There’s this special sort of magic that happens, it’s not just ink on paper. I think it was in maybe 2009 that Pat Grant organised the first minicomic of the month club and asked me to make a comic for it. Before that I had put some things on the internet and been in a few anthologies, but hadn’t actually put together a real life minicomic myself. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was great fun. After a couple of years I decided it was to cool a thing not to keep happening so asked Pat if he minded whether I pick it up again, and here we are.
MB: It’s quite ambitious running even a small subscription service with this many creators involved. Has the number of subscriptions increased with each years club and if so, what do you account to making this possible?
AF: Yeah, the number of subscriptions goes up a little each year, I’d love for it to keep going up, but because it’s focused on these mostly hand-made minicomics and ‘zines there’s a limit to how many stamps you can make a person lick each month. It kind of builds it’s own momentum I guess, and each new lot of artists bring their own readers along. It’s pretty much decentralised too, each artist is responsible for their own printing and distribution. Sometime I help, but mostly they all know what they’re doing.
MB: Were you ever surprised that there was such a large market for something like the minicomics of the month club?
AF: Not really surprised, no – while I’m always delighted with the response, there’s no reason everybody can’t be reading these comics, they’re pretty great. The hard bit as always is getting people’s attention.
MB: You’ve mentioned in the past the difficulties in promotion, do you still find this is the case? Do you feel like small press comics are still difficult to market to a wider audience or the general public? What have you found is the most effective method of getting the word out there about the club?
AF: Yeah, this stuff is super hard. My main “marketing strategy” tends to be Making Dumb Jokes On Twitter and that only gets me so far. The most effective thing is really the network effect of the twelve artists coming together. Comics is a pretty small place, but it’s surprising how often the readerships of any two given cartoonists don’t always overlap. I’ve also tried pretty hard to get this thing out to people that aren’t necessarily “comics people” but might be into small press generally, art, design, storytelling.
In general though I don’t feel like “small press comics” are any harder to market than another thing where your marketing budget is effectively zero. Oh, I promoted some tweets once, that was mostly just throwing money in a hole.
MB: When people think comics they might not immediately think about Australia, can you give us a little background on the underground scene there in terms of artists and atmosphere? Big question, but how do feel they differ from say English or European comic?
AF: Yeah, boy, big question. In Melbourne in particular there’s a pretty healthy DIY Zine culture, through places like the Sticky Institute, who have a retail space, put on zine fairs and other events. Those guys really hold the room together, at least the room that I tend to be in. Because there are very few publishing opportunities where actual money might be involved everyone tends to be pretty self-organising. I think I said something like this on twitter one time when someone asked about Australian publishers, but we tend to be a nation of anthologisers and printing-bill splitters. I said it much snappier back then though, I wish I could find it. I guess all that could probably be true of most places, though I get the impression that there is a ‘second rung’ in a lot of places that we are still building. Then there are still a bunch of guys that want to go out and draw batman, but I don’t really know that scene as well.
MB:What do you feel the comics being handmade, individual and physical gives to people over say, webcomics and the like?
AF: That’s probably even harder to articulate properly, but there is something super nice about having this object that someone has taken the time to staple and fold (or fold and staple, if you are one of those guys). I like webcomics fine, but they tend to be an endless stream, there’s a completeness to a minicomic that I like, a minicomic is a Comforting Thing.
MB: Any plans for the future of the club and further years?
AF: It pretty much is what it is, would always love more subscribers, to get these great comics out in front of more people, and more of an international reach would be great. We’ve thought about doing a collection at some point, but man, the practicalities of that make me want to go lie down.
You can sign up at the Minicomic of the Month 2015 website.