(Original Graphic Novel Introduction from June 1994)
The definition of the term Small Press has changed over the years. When I entered that "field" ten years ago, the small press was a close knit group of people who published small photocopy comics and sold them through the mail, mainly to each other. We came together by way of the various "Newszines" that came and went, publications like FANDOM TIMES, SMALL PRESS COMICS EXPLOSION, and COMICS F/X.
These were published by some group or individual who simply loved the comics medium and the Small Press format, and provided for us a place to advertise, be reviewed, as well as gossip and argue.
"Small Press" was a term that I think was predominately used for that field in the mid to late eighties. I'm no historian on the subject, but prior to that there were many other terms of definition like Mimeozine, Xeroxine, Fanzine, Zine, Newave, and even Folkomics. The contents were definitely evolving along with the appellations. During the early periods those comics were mainly fannish attempts to mimic the superhero books of Marvel and DC, or were much like fan club organs which discussed the mainstream press.
In the late 70's; early 80's or thereabouts, many artists challenged this fannish use of the photocopy medium and did more introspective and articulate work (seemingly influenced by the Underground Comics of the late 1960's), and the term that stuck to this period was "Newave." Perhaps the term Small Press grew out of a need by middle of the road artists (like myself at the time), who were still a little fannish, a little bit undergroundish, and wanted a term that was politically neuter. Small Press is the term I think of when I look back on my photocopy period. .
Terminology is equally confusing in the world of glossy covered, newsprint interiored comics. While working in that field in the late Eighties, the terms were Independent and/or Direct Sales, as opposed to The Mainstream and/or The Big Two.
Now that Image Comics has set off an explosion of Independent Superhero Comics in the 90's, the term Small Press has graduated trom meaning photocopy comics produced by gung-ho newcomers, to regular newsprint comics sold in comic book stores that aren't selling very well. So although I had graduated trom Small Press back in the eighties, I am once again a Small Presser by modern definition.
I give you this history lesson for those of you picking up this book thinking it is a Tirade on the state of to day's Small Press market. It's a Tirade of the state of the scene trom 1983-1989, and is a collection of my work from that period.