Archive for the Murky Depths Category

Dead Girls – The Graphic Novel

Posted in Comics, Dead Girls, Murky Depths, Science Fiction, The House of Murky Depths on 1 November 2013 by Lucifal

Richard Calder had been one of my loved authors from Interzone so when he offered Murky Depths a comic story of his own back in 2007 I jumped at the opportunity. Death And The Maiden, with artwork from Richard too, lasted three episodes in Murky Depths before we moved it to a serialised comic of its own, but then we became sidetracked, so the story never passed Episode V (Episodes IV and V are therefore very collectable comics).

There were two things that came together in Richard’s mind just then; the work of mangaka Leonardo M Giron in several comics in Murky Depths and the film script based on his cult novel Dead Girls that had been sitting unused. He contacted me: How about serialising a comic version of Dead Girls in Murky Depths, and how about using Leonardo as the artist? Leonardo’s work suited the story setting, while the story starts in a dystopian London it’s mainly set in the Far East, and therefore complimenting his pseudo manga style. Leonardo jumped at the chance and we’ve not looked back. The first episode of Dead Girls appeared in Murky Depths #9 in 2009 and ran for four issues as Act 1, with a cliffhanger in Murky Depths #12. Leonardo then recoloured Act 1 and, with additional material, The House of Murky Depths published a limited edition hardback, numbered and signed by Richard and Leonardo, with the intention of publishing further acts in a similar way. While the limited edition was a big success and sold out very quickly we realised a flaw in our planning and decided against issuing further acts as separate entities.

Murky Depths #16 featured the start of the next series of episodes of Dead Girls but it was decided that after five years of hard work that Murky Depths would have to cease publication – at least in the form it then took – and that we would start again with Dead Girls as an eight-comic series, featuring guest cover artists. While our schedule has slipped slightly Dead Girl #8 – Just Like Heaven, with cover artwork from Jim Burns, will be published in February 2014.

So now the sixty-four-dollar question. Will there be a trade graphic novel? Yes there will be, and the plans are to launch it at next Summer’s Loncon, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention. We need to raise funds to do this though and while the KIckstarter route is a possibility we’d like to try to raise the money by customers simply paying the cover price to reserve a copy. If we went the Kickstarter route we’d have the pre-order option amongst the pledges and we’d likely offer an ‘upgrade’ pledge for those who had pre-ordered but decided they’d like to be a part of a pledge that offered extra.

Dead Girls – The Graphic Novel is going to happen regardless of pledges or pre-ordered funding but knowing that we have guaranteed sales makes our tickers a little less susceptible to stopping. So what’s the damage if you pre-order? Well, we expect the cover price to be £24.99 for the full-colour 208-page graphic novel. Higher than you might pay with the big boys like Marvel and DC but they’re printing a mighty sight more than we will be and they reap the rewards of ‘the more you print the less it costs per copy”. There will also be an admin charge of just over £1 and a p&p charge in the UK of about £3. Expect international prices outside of Europe to add about 50% to the overall cost. But all we want for now are pre-orders for the cover price plus admin charge of £26.09 (with your name and address, of course) PayPal’d to pay@murkydepths.com. Or if you prefer, send a mail to the same address and we can sort out an electronic transfer rather than PayPal.

Oh yes. If you’ve subscribed to the eight-comic series or purchased all eight issues online we’ll offer you the trade paperback at half price. Yep, just £12.49.

http://www.deadgirls.co.uk

http://www.murkydepths.com

Email – The future!

Posted in Comics, Dead Girls, Murky Depths, The House of Murky Depths with tags , , on 2 July 2013 by Lucifal

Someone spammed me recently. Someone I’d only recently been in email contact with (for a sport I’m involved in). I complained that I get far too much spam already. His response was that I should get real ‘e-mail is the future.’ WTF! I’ve been emailing for over twenty years (having worked for a company at the forefront of computer technology) and have probably forgotten more about programming and protocols than he could even dream of discovering. The future? Pah!

But having been in at the birth of PCs (not even dos in those early days) I can’t claim to have kept up with new technology. I did that far better when I was working for someone else. Working for myself has meant time is precious and I’ve not allowed myself the luxury of keeping anywhere near up to date with what we can do with computers (from phones to servers).

I do miss that though and I do wish I had the time to develop the databases that I know could make the Murky Depths and Dead Girls websites (to name two) so much more user friendly. But we have to make do with what we can afford (that’s me typing away at my CSS, php and HTML oblivious to the interactive content that might bring in new customers and keep the current ones coming back).

But whatever can be done at websites, if no one knows about them and doesn’t visit them, they are a waste of electronic impulses.

Marketing, marketing, marketing. There’s no secret formula. Just luck.

And me? Luck’s never been a great companion.

Life!

Posted in Comics, Dead Girls, Murky Depths, My stories, The Failed Cities, The House of Murky Depths on 22 June 2013 by Lucifal

With Murky Depths still in hiatus I’ve been able to get back to my own writing and have two short stories already accepted this year, which is pleasing, and another one guaranteed. I’ve been working an extra day at the school, where I teach art, which helps us keep our heads above water, although the extra day has been to work on projects around the school; murals and such like. Music had taken over a bit this year with our little trio, which we formed last September to complement the awesome Comedy Night that Donna Bond (nee Scott) helped to arrange for our village social club, testing the waters of local open mic nights and getting favourable responses. Not sure my guitar playing is improving though!

In The House of Murky Depths office things have been up and down. The ups being the publication of Matt Wallace’s The Failed Cities, the on-going Dead Girls 8-comic series, a reprint of my short story collection Probably Maybe Perhaps, and a couple of other projects that I’m not in a position to divulge yet. The downs? Well, one of them is an up really. My wife, Liz, has been looking after our granddaughter, Freya – and she’s a real gem (about nineteen months now); cheeky and charming – which means I’m constantly distracted, the office being just off the kitchen/diner. And I just can’t say no to her demands. Otherwise the downs have been a few disagreements with printers, and I was a bit hard on MPG Biddles’ staff recently not knowing that they were on the verge of collapse. So, actually, thanks for getting the books to me before the administrators came in!

Hopefully, now that the summer holidays are here, and my daughter, April, is no longer at college, I won’t have the distractions of Freya to stop me from catching up with all things Murky Depths. We’ll still see her but just not so often. Having said that, there’s lots of jobs around the house and garden that also need attending to and I took on the editorship of the local village newsletter last December which, because I have to do it properly, takes up about a week of my time each month, and playing bowls for a club that barely has enough members for one league let alone four means my evenings are all allocated in the week. Life!

The Failed Cities

Posted in Murky Depths, Science Fiction, The House of Murky Depths with tags , on 14 March 2013 by Lucifal

I met – at least in a cyber way and later on Skype – Matt Wallace. In those days it was MySpace. Must have been circa 2005. I was impressed with his no-nonsense style, as much in non-fiction as his fiction, and eventually I took him into my confidence: I’m gonna publish a dark sci-fi anthology magazine mixing short stories with comics. It was Matt, in those early days, who gave me purpose and gave additional energy to my enthusiasm. His story The Dead Man and The Berserk that appeared in the promo Murky Depths #0 was exactly the type of short I was looking for and he rode Watcher editor to my Maven editorship to keep me on the crooked and broad (you’ll understand that if you’ve heard The Failed Cities monologues podcasts or picked up the Kindle edition). It was a dream ride. Although Matt eventually left the team his legacy remained in my mind with each issue and we never lost contact. I’ve never been one for podcasts, although I love listening to stories on the car radio – at home I always feel I have more important things to do – but I did follow the success of The Failed Cities. I knew it would be good, it’s Matt Wallace after all, and I wanted desperately to publish a solid hold-in-your-hand print edition of The Failed Cities. Matt was moving in circles that (I thought) negated me from having that chance, so I never put the proposition to him. It came as a bolt out of the blue therefore when Matt contacted me and said he wanted The House of Murky Depths to publish The Failed Cities as a limited edition hardback. I knew it would be good, like I said, it’s Matt, and I should have realised it would be very good, but this good! Thanks, Matt…

No, it’s not a graphic novel but if you order now you’ll also receive a free eight-page booklet featuring artwork from some of the artists that we used on Murky Depths. Such as Neil Roberts (2000AD covers), Kev Levell, Huy Truong, Neil Struthers, Donna Evans and Macabu. I commissioned them, with a free rein, to give us their interpretation of the eight main characters in the novel.

http://www.murkydepths.com/fc.php

Con support

Posted in Comics, Conventions, Dead Girls, Murkee, Murky Depths, My stories, The House of Murky Depths, Vampire Gene on 26 October 2012 by Lucifal

The House of Murky Depths has supported Bristolcon since it started, and the first year there was virtually just Murky Depths in the dealer/panel room, so unusually I was at all the panels and talks. A bonus. There was I believe around 60 people at that event. This year it was nearer 250; I sign of Bristolcon’s success, and I think one of the reasons is that it runs for just the one day and therefore makes it possible for people living within a few hours journey to avoid the problems and added cost of staying in a hotel – though missing some of the evening entertainment. A reason why I liked Thought Bubble in Leeds which has now gone to a two-day event. Great for visitors, not so good for dealers.

For me it’s a chance to visit my son, so the stay-over at his amazing new pad was worth the visit and a few bevies catching up on his achievements and plans is always enjoyable. Aside from that it’s good to meet old con friends for a drink in the Ramada bar, and leaning on it and sharing whiskey tasting with Jim Burns was the Friday night highlight after some quick catch-ups with Robert Harkess and Kim and Del Lakin-Smith. This year I set up the dealer tables on the Friday night so it was a casual ten-minute stroll in the morning for a Colosseum (just around the corner from the Ramada) breakfast – something I always look forward to, though this year the two pissed young ladies with wine and lager alongside their platefuls made me feel a little queasy.

The dealer room at Bristolcon has never been huge but spills out into the corridors, and I sometimes think the corridor might be a better place. At least everyone passes you, whereas some people never visit the dealer room itself. This year Murky Depths was at 90 degrees to Forbidden Planet, who invariable have the best spot – directly facing the entrance – with Danie Ware promoting her new novel Ecko Rising amongst other best-selling book.

From a dealers point of view, well mine anyway, Bristolcon has never been a viable proposition. I rarely sell enough to cover travelling costs let alone anything else. Initially I’d made the excuse it was a promotional exercise but, now that Murky Depths is no longer published, plugging the publishing houses, that’s The House of Murky Depths and the new YA imprint Murkee, and new titles alone doesn’t seem to excite me so much.

Despite being unable to visit the panels and reading – I’ve always been there on my own – I know it’s a good con from the attitudes of the people who speak to me at the table, or maybe my ukulele playing just makes them smile! There were several con virgins who seemed to be having a good time and I’d suggest Bristolcon for anyone unblooded at a con. It’ll give you the right vibes.

It’s a hugely well-organised con. And how many cons have you been to where tea and coffee is available all day for free! I hope everyone who picked up a goody bag on the Saturday were pleased with their free copy of Murky Depths and a big thank you to everyone who purchased a signed copy of my new short story collection Probably Maybe Perhaps.

Will The House of Murky Depths be at next year’s Bristolcon? We’ll have to wait and see what next year brings. Cons are beginning to be a liability as far as finances are concerned – maybe they always have been – although some are still a good earner. There will always be traders willing to take up tables so organisers rarely feel any obligation to dealers who have supported them from the off (Bristolcon’s an exception there too), but if more organisers don’t help us out with deals then you won’t be seeing The House of Murky Depths at so many cons in future. Shame, but that’s the way it is.

Not another con!

Posted in Comics, Conventions, Murky Depths, The House of Murky Depths with tags , , , on 14 October 2012 by Lucifal

The Cult Publishers Expo was an interesting little gig yesterday. In the dark depths of Kennington at the Cinema Museum (even the locals, hah!, didn’t know where it was). But, heh, worth the trip if films is your thing (even without the expo). It was well organised so I’d like to thank Dexter and Fat Bird in particular. Financially lucrative? – who else but me gives a flying frak about that – Paid for the tables and half the travelling costs (parking was free!) and I didn’t pay myself for leaving home at 7am and getting home at 9.30 pm including the six-hour round-trip drive. Then, I never do (pay myself, that is).

Good to have Richard Calder at the table signing the first three Dead Girls comics, and Lavie Tidhar rushed back from his Croydon (Osama) signing to be on hand to sign Going To The Moon.

My brief interview in the panel room seemed to go okay, and that should be available online soon.

Asked by the organisers if I’d be back next year I probably hesitated too long, but I would like to return. Needs a bigger footfall but it was the first one so fingers crossed.

That old convention chestnut

Posted in Conventions, Fantasycon, Murky Depths, My stories, The House of Murky Depths on 3 October 2012 by Lucifal

If you’re a member of a convention, and I’ll use the recently passed Fantasycon for my example, you may have been lucky to pay your membership at last year’s event which was, if I remember rightly, £40. You would have been very pleased to receive a full goodie bag at this year’s event; lots of free books and stuff like that.

As a dealer you still have to pay the membership fee plus table costs – for me, that was £70 – so a total of £110 gets me stuck behind my table all day unable to go to any panels, signings, readings, workshops, etc. But I do get to hang out with people in the evening, and a single price with a couple of free memberships is what you’d get at most other cons, so can’t really grumble at £110. If you’re a dealer though (and it’s your living) you expect to get decent sales.

The trouble with everyone getting so many books in the goodie bag means there’s a reluctance to actually buy any. I’d say that of the 500 or so members at this year’s Fantasycon less than half actually looked in the dealer room – that wasn’t why they were there. Not what a dealer wants to hear. And positioning – I was facing the back wall (that’s not a complaint as I always accept where the guys who do all the arranging put me) – can be all important to sales.

The hotel price seemed a bit steep to me so I bagged a b&b not far away – Joel Lane was staying at the same establishment, though he probably doesn’t remember handing me the Best Magazine award for Murky Depths back in 2010 – for two nights at £110.

Travelling costs at 45p a mile came to nigh on £183 and the car park was £50 for the weekend. A couple of evening meals came to about £30 and I did over £100 on booze (though I never put alcohol on my expenses, so I shan’t be putting that in these calculations).

My costs for the weekend was therefore £483. Like I said, not many people were buying books, and it takes a lot of book sales to get anywhere near £500 so I actually lost nearly £200. If it wasn’t for the sales of my new short story collection things would have been a lot worse. Next year, World Fantasycon prices are double what I paid this year so I can add another £135 (at present costs). That means I have to make £600 before I even start to think about production costs and paying out royalties. If the argument is, ‘you’re product’s no good’, or at the least, not suitable for the fantasy market – which I would strongly argue it is, then there is certainly little point in attending Fantasycon. I can no longer say I’m there to promote Murky Depths. I really want to be at Word Fantasycon but the scales are tipping against it at the moment. What to do…

New YA Murkee imprint

Posted in Murkee, Murky Depths on 17 November 2011 by Lucifal

For almost as long as Murky Depths has been in print we, that is The House of Murky Depths, have been considering producing a series of YA or children’s books. Now that we have made the decision to close Murky Depths we are intent on making an impact with the teenage reader and consequently have launched a new imprint called Murkee which will publish similar genres to its parent, i.e. science fiction, horror and fantasy. The books will initially be at the lower end of the novella range at around 20k words with a cover price of between £3.99 and £4.99.

The first book will be launching at the SFX Weekender in February 2012 and is a steampunk story called Queen Rat from the pen of rising star Kim Lakin-Smith. Whereas most steampunk stories feature dirigibles, Lakin-Smith’s story is set in the submersible world of the Free Ocean where 14-year-old Princess Ratiana Clementine Saint John of the submersible Victoriana is to be wed to Prince Simeon of the Aesthetes. Not only are neither of them keen on the match but to add insult to injury they have no option but to fulfil several life-threatening Grand Rites together before the knot can be tied. As their trials unfold we learn more about their world and they learn more about each other, but will they survive?

Kim Lakin-Smith has two other novels available: Tournequet from Immanion Press and Cyber Circus from Newcon Press and will be signing Queen Rat and her other novels at the SFX Weekender.

Murky Depths’ demise

Posted in Comics, Murky Depths on 25 October 2011 by Lucifal

Starting a print magazine just months before a major recession and around the time e-books begin to gain a foothold doesn’t sound like a recipe for major success, but all good publishers have to be optimistic and I believed that Murky Depths was different enough – with it’s high production values and mix of prose and comics – to wow the reading public. Some people thought it was fantastic from the off, while others – some even who were small press publishers themselves, although I have to say most other publishers of genre magazines have been ultra helpful – didn’t want us to succeed, to the point of making derogatory remarks on genre forums. If great reviews, appreciation and words of encouragement were enough to keep a magazine going then Murky Depths would be around for years to come, but unfortunately goodwill doesn’t pay the bills – and neither does winning an award guarantee increased sales.

Optimism has, eventually, to be checked by common sense and a business model that, at the very least, gives a return that covers the full costs of production and distribution. We were never in a position to fling golden ingots into marketing and, in any case, I’m not so sure that the market for Murky Depths could ever be as big as was necessary to keep it viable.

So, to all those who whispered that Murky Depths wouldn’t succeed … you were right, but I bet you never quite expected it to be as influential as it has been.

The bottom line is, Issue #18 is the last one. No we’re not going the e-route, that’s far too easy, and no doubt someone else will pick up and run with a similar publication designed specifically for e-readers … but then maybe not.

While Murky Depths, the anthology magazine, may be no more, it’s far from dead and The House of Murky Depths is to continue publishing paperbacks and graphic novels using the experience it has gained over the last five years. Murky Depths is dead. Long live Murky Depths.

Conventions and the dealer

Posted in Conventions, Murky Depths on 12 September 2011 by Lucifal

Why do conventions have dealer rooms? A cynical response might be that the organisers need the revenue to run their event. An organiser’s response might be that they are offering their members an additional attraction. Some conventions charge dealers just a nominal rate for tables, although the dealers still have to pay the same membership fee as others but without the ability to visit the panels, while others will shock you with a mortgage! Some conventions make the dealer room the main attraction while others add a dealer room almost as an afterthought. But what are dealers doing there in the first place? Selling their wares seems the most obvious answer but that’s often too simple. Of course dealers need to cover their costs – that probably happens less than you think if all costs are taken into consideration – but for the likes of Murky Depths and our publishing arm it’s also about promoting the brand, to let people know what we’re about. It doesn’t follow that the bigger the show the better the sales. MCM Expo get thousands through the door but it’s always been one of our most disappointing events, no disrespect to Bryan Cooney who made a bold pitch to get us to take a table again during Asylum – and we all think we can organise something better . . . Eastercon is a much smaller affair despite being probably the biggest ‘purest’ science fiction convention in the UK and, though this year was very disappointing for us (but that may have been due to the venue), it’s usually one of our most fruitful events. The SFX Weekender, with its membership of ‘ordinary’ SF readers with a far more open mind than the pure genre cons, and with no preconceived idea of what is ‘trendy’, has so far been our most lucrative event ever, but from year to year it’s difficult to predict what your sales are going to be. But, like I said, it’s not all about sales when you’re at a convention. MCM Expo might have been a financial disaster but we spotted and commissioned five new artists.
At the end of the day do convention members want dealer rooms? It’s somewhere to go and browse between panels, but if browsing is all that’s done then some dealers will eventually not support the event any more. Organisers can sometimes forget that that is exactly what the dealers are doing . . . supporting the event. There has always been a new dealer ready to fill the table of the ‘fallen’ with aspirations and hopes of success, but will that always be the case?

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