Solipsistic Pop: Year Two

With the Solipsistic Pop 3 launch party and Thought Bubble festival now over, I wanted to take advantage of being a little less busy and discuss the future of Solipsistic Pop. In light of Blank Slate announcing their exciting Chalk Marks imprint and John Allison writing a provocative, occasionally crudely articulated, but ultimately wise and timely comic manifesto – it feels like change for the UK comic industry is in air. What better time to take stock and plan ahead…

The release of Solipsistic Pop 3 marked the end of the first year of the anthology. Having worked on this project for fourteen months, three volumes of Solipsistic Pop now exist. I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve achieved in such a small space of time and it has been extremely heartening to read about or witness the positive reactions people have to the books.

However, having dedicated all my finances, time and energy to Solipsistic Pop I feel I’ve neglected my own work in the process. When I started this project I saw myself as a comic artist first and editor/publisher of Solipsistic Pop second. Having only managed to complete three short stories and the 100 Days comic in the past year, it is has gotten to a point where I’m now an editor/publisher who occasionally dabbles in drawing comics.

In an effort to refocus my energies, I will be working on two books which I intend to release in 2011. The first, Ellipsis, will be a book of six standalone but interconnected short stories that should be released in April/May. The second book – a collection of stories produced in collaboration with Anne Holiday – will be released later in the year.

Solipsistic Pop will be on hiatus during this time and go from being a bi-annual publication to an annual one. As such, Solipsistic Pop 4 will be released in November 2011. It’s possible, if things go well, that I may be able to return to the bi-annual schedule – or even experiment with turning Solipsistic Pop quarterly in 2012. I also won’t rule out a possible Solipsistic Pop 3.5 should a couple of fun ideas come to fruition during the summer.

A couple of reviews of the latest volume have suggested future editions dropping the “gimmick” at some point. I can only assume this is in reference to the themed and curated approach each book follows. This will not be changing anytime soon. Every edition of Solipsistic Pop will feature exclusive, unique content specially designed for that particular volume and the production of the book – the bespoke book-as-art-object design – will continue to experiment and evolve in much the same way as it has for the past year – demonstrating the joy and endless creative opportunities of the printed product.

Despite the release date being a year away, work has already started on Solipsistic Pop 4 due to the complex and ambitious shape the book will eventually take. The printers will need to source special inks, paper-stock and have new die-cuts made. Various other considerations are going to make this a project I’ll work on throughout 2011. As such, I plan to blog the progress and development of Solipsistic Pop 4 for those interested in the process.

The fourth volume will be published with a larger print-run and include a barcode so schools, libraries and universities will be able to order copies. I also intend to arrange a much wider distribution model than the one currently in place. As much as I’m happy with the progress Solipsistic Pop has made in addressing the agenda/roadmap that opened book one – the one major failure has been to get the books into mainstream bookstores and well-lit window displays. A problem that I hope Solipsistic Pop 4 will solve.

Essentially, 2011 is going to be a very busy year. I hope you’ll join me here and over at my own website for some of it.

Thanks to everyone who has supported Solipsistic Pop the past twelve months. Whether you have promoted it, bought it, attended the launches/exhibitions, gave a helping hand, or been one of the amazingly talented contributors – you’ve all made the first year an absolute joy.

–Tom Humberstone

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8 Comments

  1. I understood one critic’s remark about dropping the gimmick as more of getting rid of the pencils and pullouts and minicomics, that kind of thing, which are not what I think readers come for and if it reduces the price a touch then that’s also good. I think the theme and the set colours are what make SolPop so strong in a sea of mismatched anthologies.

    Reply

  2. I wouldn’t be too influenced by the critics – as a reader of SP before I was a contributor, I loved the pull-out section and the minicomics – it made the book feel more like a package than a straightforward book.

    I suppose it depends on cost – if you can get a bigger book by sacrificing the additional bits, then that may be a viable option for further editions. Otherwise keep them – they all contribute to the SP style.

    Reply

    1. Really interesting thoughts Tom, and I’m excited for what the future holds. I’m glad you’re sticking to your guns on the additional content of Sol Pop. As Andrew points out, these are great parts of the package. This was especially true of Sol Pop 1, where there were a number of bits and bobs that were a key part of the reading experience and elevated the work to the level of McSweeneys etc.

      It’s about balance I think, and making sure they are important, and significant parts of the whole. So far they have never been gimmicks, although perhaps sometimes not everyone has appreciated their importance.

      Reply

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