Catching up with TPub & Neil Gibson at LSCC!

LSCC 16 TPub 2 I first met Neil at last years London Book Fair, and was treated to an insight into the rather unique comic enterprise of TPub. It was no surprise to find they were exhibiting at LSCC 2016 and I’d arranged to pop by and learn more firsthand of where they were since then.
I manage to catch Neil in a lull. TPub have sold a whole bunch of Twisted Dark and – when more potential customers come near – it’s easy to see why. On the one hand there’s a small photo display of TPub fans you may have heard of. Who? Well a certain Samuel L Jackson if you’ve heard of him? A Mr Frank Miller? Simon Pegg anyone?

On the other hand Neil himself is active with the crowds, engaging with the passion of the fan, the pride of a creator and a natural flair to enthuse in product: He’d rather you walked away with a solid recommendation for another publisher / creator’s title than have you go empty handed, but a fair few are happily paying and walking away with something from the table. No surprise then that sales have been good. LSCC 16 TPub 1
Like many of us one of the things that drives Neil is the painful awareness of how the medium still suffers over here from the ‘it’s for kids’ snobbery, something that’s never been the case on the continent (France for one, as he points out, has regular top graphic novel listings in the mainstream press). He wants to see more graphic novels being read in the UK and he’s grown TPub’s line over the year by building across genres so, increasingly, potentially, they have ‘a comic for everyone’.

First up right now there’s the latest volume of flagship series Twisted Dark which they’ve promoted by creating a film of one of the stories within, first released through industry stalwart Bleeding Cool the previous night (it features Candice who happens to be manning the stall while we speak…)

I knew from last time that Neil and TPub are active in schools. But (and this was new) teachers in the US and Canada use Twisted Dark to teach about social issues. And what the issues are gives some idea of the scope of Twisted Dark: Body image, terrorism, slavery, social media addiction…

CG - Nov - Tabatha LSCC - Turncoat As it turns out I’ve made the incorrect assumption that Twisted Dark is supernatural / horror by genre, where actually it’s an anthology of interlinked psychological thrillers. Last years Tortured Life is absolutely supernatural while current / imminent release Tabatha (see our March 2016 recommends) is horror and (I can only guess from issue one) of a supernatural flavour.
The TPub model is to release each issue digitally – first one free as a sampler, pay for the rest if you like it – and then as a print collection afterwards. Like other indie publishers of all sizes they’ve been experimenting with Kickstarter to fund the latter, Tortured Life being the first. They’re taking that experience and using a full Kickstarter campaign to fund / launch their next big thing, Turncoat. Turncoat has its own site by the creative team of Ryan O’Sullivan and Plaid Klaus, and you can read the series in its entirety. But from earlier correspondence it’s clear that Neil is a massive fan of this affectionate assassination of the superhero genre (which concerns an assassin of superheroes) and it sounds like he’ll be the proud print publisher after a successful Kickstarter.

Back to TPub’s genre coverage Neil explains that his (autobiographical) The World of Chub Chub is their Calvin and Hobbes offering, but the next phase is to plant a foot in two key genres as yet untouched: Science Fiction and Fantasy. The first has a name already, Theory (we know no more than that at this stage) but both will be suffixed with their trademark adjective as ‘Twisted Science Fiction’ and ‘A Twisted Fantasy’.

But there’s more before I go. In three weeks time TPub launches a free course to show you how to make your own comics. In line with their comics model there’s a nominal fee for further material via webinars, in which Neil will answer subscribers particular questions, but there’s a free pack to be had first.

Things are ever entrepreneurial at TPub, but always with that genuine and infectious love of the medium. Like what they do? There’s collections there for you to read. Prefer something else? They’ll give you a recommendation. Want to create your own? They’ve got something there for you as well.

One way or another there’s a reason to check out TPub and what they’re up to…

Tim Bayley



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