Murky Depths’ demise

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.


35 Responses to “Murky Depths’ demise”

  1. Very sad news!

    I started writing properly about 3 years ago, and MD was the place I sent my very first – shockingly awful!- stories to. The feedback I got was so valuable that I sent stories time and time again (you poor devils), and was always given brilliant pointers; something other publishing houses don’t do.
    Murky Depths was an awesome, unique magazine which inspired me and clearly many others. I’m sorry to see it’s over, and that i’ll never get to be a part of it after all.

    Still, I’m thrilled to see you guys are carrying on with bigger and better things in the publishing world. Onwards and upwards! 🙂

    • Very sorry to hear this. I always wanted to find myself in print here and though I never made it I followed you folks and looked at what you put out as superior to most of what is out there.

  2. This is heartbreaking stuff, Terry. Murky Depths was one of the first (and best) magazines I started reading when I got seriously into genre. You’ve always published the very best stuff, both fiction and artwork.

    A very sad day for the genre world.

  3. Shocked and saddened. A great concept, great staff, great Hope for aspiring artists…now dashed.

    I do however have the confidence that all other publications will triumph for your team.

    I’m sorry I never finished my intended short story submissions in time. Guess I’ll have to Lulu them now. My other work (freelance illustration and otherwise) just simply got in the way.
    I literally physically feel a pang of sadness.
    All I can do now is wish you all the future success you know you deserve!

    Toby Anderton
    (Illustrator & Writer,
    previous contributor to Murky Depths issue 10)

  4. Very sad to hear this. MD was one of my favorites.

  5. […] Depths (magazine) sinks… Pretty cruddy news, really. Short fiction needs all the venues it can get, and I really thought MD had found its […]

  6. So sorry to hear this news. It’s always a black day when a genre magazine shuts up shop (there aren’t that many left) but MD was special and will be missed.
    All the best,

    Ian R. Faulkner

  7. Am very sad to hear the news. Am also a bit sad that I learnt it on Twitter rather than via email.

  8. […] Tuesday brought some very sad news from those parts spooky and frightening of the internet. Murky Depths is closing down. Issue #18 of Murky Depths will, unfortunately, be the […]

  9. This is very sad news. I’m so pleased to have been a part of the Murky Depths magazine. More power to your ongoing endeavours, Terry.

  10. You guys were one of the best during your run. Fare thee well.

  11. Sorry to see such a great mag go like this. Although I never got in with my submissions, MD was always a great challenge for me. Loved everything about it. Good luck with your future endeavors.

  12. Richard Thomas Says:

    Wow, this really makes me sad. Part of the reason I sent off “Victimized” to MD was the unique format, the use of graphics and comics and art to take stories to a new level. I was thrilled to be in issue #15, and I’m so bummed to hear this news today. I wish you the best of luck with your books and graphic novels. Thanks Terry for all of your support, and the great work you did. If there’s ever anything I can do to help with your future projects, let me know.

  13. I echo the sentiments of thewordywench. Submitted a lot of frantically written but ultimately poor stuff to MD back in the day and although I was rejected, it was done constructively. Sad news this, as this was one genre mag, I thought, to watch. Still long live the MD paperbacks and graphic novels…

  14. It is a sad day when one of the better small-press publishers throws in the towel, but I understand the reasons completely…

    Armand Rosamilia

  15. Sorry to hear this Terry. Glad I could be part of it, and glad you succeedd in your mission to convert me to an appreciation of comics!

  16. Thanks for all your comments.

    If everyone who submitted a story to Murky Depths had bought a copy – and it is good practice to see the type of stories a magazine publishes before occupying the time of already busy editors – MD would probably have had another two years of life, and in that time could have built up a big enough clientèle to start paying pro rates.

    If we’d taken the decision to not even pay a token fee to contributors from the off MD might have survived for another year.

    But those things didn’t happen and I was determined to pay something.

  17. MD had a great run, Terry, the editors, artists, and contributors have a lot to be proud of. When I show people publications I’ve been in, MD consistently gets the most oohs and ahs — sorry to see it go, but thanks for all those oohs and ahs.

  18. […] appears in Issue #18 of Murky Depths Magazine, sadly the publication’s last, as announced here. I have mixed feelings at the moment. On the one hand, I’m elated to see another one of my […]

  19. Steven Lugo Says:

    I just wanted to thank Murky Depths for what you’ve put out, what you’ve accomplished, and for being influential in a time where that word seems to make people roll their eyes. I don’t quite know why it does.

    I wish I had bought more issues, because what you gave me to read and gawk at was pretty damn cool. If it’s any consolation, I remember ‘asking for Murky Depths’ at my local comic book store, That’s Entertainment in Fitchburg, MA, in the U.S. (Just so you know it’s a real place.)

    You guys gave me feedback on submissions, and most places just don’t do that. I may be a lowly newb who has never made a pro sale, but I thought I’d close this funeral dirge by saying, it was a real high to be a finalist in the Mike Carey writing competition. I think I’ll always have your invite to the Derby Alt. Fiction convention pinned up on my wall.

    Until the next adventure,
    Long live Murky Depths.

  20. Very sorry to hear this. Now I’ll never work off the guilt of not having found another suitably weird book to review for you …

  21. Terry, many thanks for the platform you gave to so many people’s work, your tenacity in very difficult times for such publications and most of all for putting a giant squid on the cover! Influential is absolutely right. I hope you publish something else down the line which just as successful, sustainable in the long term and to which I can contribute. Very best wishes.

  22. I am devastated to hear this news. A fine publication.

  23. Ray Gregory Says:

    But why not the e-route? Far too easy? Not trying to be snide. I’m genuinely curious.

  24. Anyone can produce an e-book is what I meant – no disrespect intended. Producing a top quality print magazine takes a little more skill. E-books is the future, at least the current future, and we wouldn’t want to rush into that without having a product that’s on the edge.

  25. Neil Morrissey Says:

    Hiya Terry,
    sorry to hear that you’ve decided to shut down your magazine. I understand your reasons for doing so, and a bit of the disappointment in having to take this action. I’ve not drawn since my work for you, reasons for which you know. Sir, you were a gentleman and a true pleasure to know. But I would like you to ask to re-consider your decision to not to do e-source for your magazine. Ok perhaps do it annually in the least, giving you time to concentrate on other projects, but as you said – ebooks/magazines is the future publications of modern choice, widely available to consumers. It’ll cut down on publication printing/shipping costs.

    You may find that you’ll regret a decision once made. Murky Depths was ‘THE EDGE’ that other publications strove (often failed) to reach.

  26. This is very sad news, Terry. I wish you all the best and thank you for what you did for the genre.

  27. Arran Frood Says:

    Yes, bad luck there that’s awful news — i just bought my first two ever issues and loved it!

  28. Graham Joyce Says:

    Dismayed to hear this. But Terry don’t underestimate the major contribution that you made here. Thank you for that.

  29. maureen neal Says:

    It is a sad loss. I loved the ones I bought

  30. VERY saddened to hear this… Murky Depths, from the beginning, was one of the very best genre mags out there; the stories, the imagery, the high production values (which continued to improve) were cutting-edge.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Terry at a convention back in 2007, when Issue #0 had recently seen print. Soon after, I had the good sense to put a submission together at the ground floor for the full Issue #1, as I knew this had the potential to be something special… I was right.

    Being in Murky Depths is something I’ll always be immensely proud of. It became something highly prestigious and I’m very thankful to have had the opportunity to produce ongoing work with Terry (right up to, as it turned out, the last issue #18), and get some of my weird illustrated poetry things into print and illustrate some fine stories by others. It was an amazing platform and I’ll be eternally grateful for the opportunity it gave me and its existence.

    I hold out hope that in a similar way that bands who break up and swear never to reform, then DO… one day we’ll see MD’s revival in some form.

    Best wishes,


  31. So this really stinks.

    Speaking as a writer, Murky Depths was one of my very first launching-off points, and one of my tales, “Best in Class”, managed a couple of award nominations.

    That a few small-press publishers were ever negative towards it and its staff is shocking and wrong-headed. We can do better.

    Terry, I am saddened to see the magazine go. But I’m happy you are not leaving the biz entirely and that Murky Depths publishing will remain a viable option for authors and artists in the future.

    Murky Depths brought a lot to the genre in its short time, and it brought me a lot of friends and contacts; if being a hub for like-minded, creative people to center their efforts around isn’t a sign of success, I don’t know what is.

    Thank you for the time you devoted to this magazine and the hard work you poured into it.

  32. Dianne Bird, Liverpool,UK Says:

    The impact of the loss of Murky Depths should not be underestimated.Without such magazines to publish, encourage and indeed champion new writers, how much fresh and innovative talent will give up the long hard slog to be published?.E~books are too ephemeral for my taste,there is no texture or substance.The paper medium is more likely to preserve today’s stories for future generations.For me, I can’t see e-books taking on the role that papyrus scrolls had, of preserving the stories and knowledge of the ancient world.This genre often revisits apocalyptic themes, the end of our technological civilisation.I’m sure that when the dust settles the printed word may well be all there is to record our passing.When an award winning magazine of this quality can’t survive,it doesn’t bode well for the future of printed media. I find this all very depressing.The only ray of hope is that Murky Depths is continuing as a publishing house. I can only thank everyone involved for many hours of enjoyment and wish all a more prosperous and successful future.I really will miss the smell on opening the latest issue. Life is short of such simple pleasures – the very least we can all do is continue to support every future endeavour .

  33. […] You can read the official announcement from Terry Martin, editor and publisher, over at his blog lucifal.wordpress. However, in a nutshell, whilst The House of Murky Depths will continue to publish paperbacks and […]

  34. […] appears in Issue #18 of Murky Depths Magazine, sadly the publication’s last, as announced here. I have mixed feelings at the moment. On the one hand, I’m elated to see another one of my […]

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