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Analytics and surprises

Last night we took a look at our Google analytics account to see what part of the site to focus on in the next round of improvements. We’ve found a few candidates but that’s not the reason for this update – while we were there we discovered two things: one, the last blog we posted drew almost 10% of all the visits we’ve had since relaunching the site in October! Wow, so there’s definitely an interest in seeing covers in advance. We’ll bear that in mind for the future.

The second surprise is how some people find us. Looking through search engine results that led people to us, we found this gem, “hopefully you have reallry good time”. And we hope you, mysterious searcher, did have a reallry good time when you found us.

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In January we announced two of the titles that we will be releasing this year, White walls & straitjackets and Not as pointless as you think – now we’re pleased to be able to show you the cover art for those two titles.

Not as pointless as you think is a collection of short stories and microfiction by Lynda Nash and the cover is by Kevin Enhart. This will be available soon from all good retailers.

Cover Art for Not as pointless as you think

White walls & straitjackets is a horror anthology by David Owain Hughes, part short story collection, part graphic novel. The cover and internal art pages were also created by Kevin Enhart.

Cover Art for White Walls & Straitjackets

We’re very excited about both of these, and hope you will be too!

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Sometimes it’s hard being a small business – but we manage

Today we want to take some time to say thank you to everyone who has been a loyal fan and friend to us over the last 21 months. We’ve come a long way in that time and we couldn’t have done it without you.

The site that you see now is actually our third complete iteration and that’s what we wanted to talk to you about; its history, and possibly its future too. We started off using a largely templated site with little room for customisation. Within months we knew that this wasn’t right for us as a long term solution – while it helped us to get started it was far too restrictive so we moved. Our next home was with – their drag and drop Flash based interface really allowed us to hone our brand image. We think our website was provided through them from December 2010 to September 2011. If it hadn’t been a Flash website we might have stayed with Wix for longer but with a growing majority of people accessing the web through phones and tablets we needed a solution that everyone could view.

In July 2011 Kevin started working on the current website. A lot of the look and feel was based on the Flash site that Danny and David devised but this time it was entirely hand coded with W3 compliant HMTL and CSS. It took eight drafts to go from concept to being ready to launch – and took nearly six weeks to code while working on other projects. A busy schedule meant the site wasn’t actually launched until late September. We’re afraid we never made a note of the date so that will remain forever a mystery. We know it was before October 7th but not exactly when.

Since then the site has continued to evolve and today we launched version 0.13 – this time we’ve finished off the Resources section, added a link to Leaf Books and at last have a fully functional shop (Okay, we cheated and enabled the shop 11 days ago). It’s March now, we hear you asking, and the latest whole version of the site appeared just over four months ago – why did it take so long to get a shop working? The answer is simple: manpower. Even though we have a team of dedicated and hardworking people editing, marketing, researching and doing lots of other things ending in ‘ing’ we’re still a small team and sometimes we can’t do everything. At least not in the timeframe that we’d like. This is where we thank Stefan, our frequently sleep-deprived web guy, for helping out and offering coding advice at 3am on so many occasions – without him we’d have taken twice as long to get the site as far as it has come.

So, the site works, it looks great and it’s starting to be a useful resource. What’s next?Well, the links section could do with an overhaul and we’re still working on our retailers and bookgroups sections. There are also still a few bugs and glitches (but they’re a lot rarer now than they used to be) to iron out. We’re also looking at ways to improve the effectiveness of this blog. What would you like to see here? Interviews? Commentary on the state of the industry? More of Dr Deadstar (who has been mysteriously quiet for many months now… maybe we should go down to his lab sometime and make sure he’s not up to anything dastardly…)?

That’s it for now. We’ll just finish off by saying that we’re getting really close to 500 fans on Facebook and you really want to be there when it happens.

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We’ve been nominated for an Eagle Award!

Wow, this is an honour indeed. The Eagle Awards are probably the biggest and most prestigious awards in the comics industry and this year we’ve been nominated in the “Favourite Publisher” category.

On top of that, The Pride is continuing to prove popular as three of the team involved have also picked up nominations:

Joe Glass – Favourite Newcomer Writer
Gavin Mitchell – Favourite Newcomer Artist
Kris Carter – Favourite Colourist

We’d be thrilled if you would visit and vote for us.

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Stiffs and The Pride go bi-monthly

Good news and bad news today, folks. The bad news is that we’ve had to shift Stiffs and The Pride to a bi-monthly release schedule; Pride #1 is out now and issue #2 will hit stores in March. Stiffs #1 is still on for a February launch with issue #2 out in April.

We had hoped to avoid this situation, which is why the release dates were moved back by two months in the first place. Unfortunately, producing the artwork for both comics on such a tight schedule without sacrificing quality has proved unworkable for Gav and so after much discussion it was felt by all that the comics should go bi-monthly rather than being delayed even further.

There is good news though; today Stiffs crossed the finishing line with their indiegogo pre-ordering campaign. Between that and pre-orders for The Pride, you guys have shown a fantastic amount of support. Over 650 comics have been ordered and now everyone involved will work hard to make sure you enjoy them. It just proves what we secretly knew all along: Stiffs and The Pride are incredible comics and they’ll be worth the wait!

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Coming 2012

Hello all, and welcome to the new year! 2011 was a hectic year for us; we gained staff, new offices, and a lot of new friends. This year we want to build on that so in the spirit of sharing, I thought I’d offer some spoilers as to what’s coming in 2012.

Starting with books: first up this year is Not As Pointless As You Think by Lynda Nash, which will hit stores soon. We also have two other titles slated for release this year, but you’ll have to wait to find out what they are…

When Deadstar Publishing Presents Rising Stars vol #1 was released, we were awed by the combined talent of David Owain Hughes and Kevin Enhart and knew that we wanted to see more of their work. White Walls and Straitjackets is the result of over a year’s collaboration from the pair and will be out later this year as a full-length graphic novel.

On the comics front, Thackeray, Stiffs and The Pride are continuing their run and are available in ever more comics shops. For a full list of our stockists, check this page.

We’re in the process of arranging more signings at the moment, so if you’d like to see your favourite author near you, let us know. As for conventions and expos, so far we are confirmed as exhibiting at the Cardiff International Comic and Animation Expo 2012 as well as the Bristol Comic Expo. There are a few more in the pipeline, so once those are confirmed we’ll let you know about those too.

As a final point, our Facebook page is fast approaching 500 fans. When we hit that milestone we’ll be giving away a free and exclusive wallpaper to all our loyal followers.

Well, that’s about it for now. 2012 looks like it will be a fantastic year and it’ll all be thanks to you!

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Thoughtbubble 2011

Phew, we’ve been kept on our toes for the past few days. A few days up in Leeds then the start of Christmas trade… anyone would think you guys don’t want us to get any rest!

What’s that? Thoughtbubble? Yes, we spent the weekend of the 19th and 20th November in Leeds meeting, greeting, chatting to, and displaying our wares for you lovely people. This was our second year at Thoughtbubble and if you take our great experience last year, you can double that! It was fantastic to catch up with other industry insiders; Scott Stanford, Genki Gear, Dr Geof (sometimes NSFW), Com.X and many more.

Aside from those we loved meeting each and every one of you that came to our store. I’m told we have photos of some of you in cosplay… but right now I’m not sure where the files are. Once I find them I’ll put them up.

Thackeray was definitely our most popular product for the weekend, but it had stiff (pun intended) competition from Stiffs #1 which we had limited copies of as a convention exclusive. The guys from Stiffs and The Pride had their own stall in the other hall to us and they reported how positive everyone was about their comics, so they were pretty thrilled about the weekend too.

The biggest news from the weekend though is that Gav Mitchell, artist for both Stiffs and The Pride, won the prestigious 2000AD portfolio competition! That’s right, we have an award winning artist working on not one, but two of our titles.

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Events in October and November 2011

There are four events for people to watch out for in coming weeks; firstly, author B. John Shaw Liddle will be signing books at the Wellfield Book Shop (Wellfield Road, Cardiff) on October 15th from 1.30-2.30pm as part of the Made in Roath festival, then the Deadstar team will be at the Mercure Hotel in Bristol on Saturday 22nd exhibiting at BristolCon. Next up we have a launch party on November 2nd for The Pride, one of our new comic book titles. and finally Deadstar Publishing are returning to Leeds ThoughtBubble festival on the 19th and 20th of November.

We’d love to see you there, and more details will be posted on our Facebook page as each event draws nearer.