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Sammael Hicks rides again!

Sammael Jehosephat Hicks is the (Dead)star of the show today. It’s Deadstar Publishing’s 11th birthday and we’re celebrating with a return to the cursed town of 7 Shades.

We released the first 4 part miniseries in 2018 and followed up in 2019 with Hell’s Belles. Originally we’d planned to release the second 4 part miniseries in 2020… but there’s been this slight global disruption going on recently that slowed us down a bit. Nothing major… just a pandemic…

It’s looking like we’ve turned the corner now and we’re starting to come out the other side. We’ve been discussing signing events at comic stores, and in a few more weeks we should be attending our first comic con in over a year. That, coupled with it being our birthday, made us think that the time is right to peel back the curtains and give you a peek at the mysteries beyond.

And then Jericho

And Then Jericho Cover

“And then Jericho” is the first book in the next 7 Shades arc and you can get it today! Yes, that’s right. It’s our birthday so we’re giving you a present! We’ll be releasing the book in physical form at the London Film and Comic Con on July 24th-25th but you don’t have to wait that long for it. The ebook is on our store today!

Spoiler Warning!

If you haven’t read the first arc and Hell’s Belles, the first oneshot, then you should pick those up now.

Got them? Good! “And then Jericho” follows on after the events of Hell’s Belles (the last thing we released before the world paused) with Samm Hicks now squarely in post as sheriff of the wretched town of Seven Shades. Meanwhile Cousin Uriel, the Hicks brothers’ slippery snake-oil selling shyster of a relative, has arrived to help enact Mayor Azrael Hicks’ plans to ensnare the unwitting townfolk and turn them to his bidding. All the while, Samm’s sister Elsie-beth is getting sicker. And Samm? Well, he’s got other things on his mind. Can he save the town? You’ll have to buy the books to find out!

Two pages from "And then Jericho"
Click for the full size image

The ebook is available today – and you can preorder the physical copy which we’ll post from Monday July 26th.

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Introducing Gwyllion (a little later than planned)

Gwyllion #1 cover

For the past eleven years, we’ve worked to make a name for ourselves – and to a good extent, we’ve succeeded. We’ve been interviewed on podcasts, guested on panels, and featured in writing magazines. All that has helped us to grow as a business. Encouraging new talent and assisting people to network within the small press industry has always been a strong part of our ethos. We try to open doors as others opened doors for us in earlier years and hope to foster new creators to start their journey in publishing. And that brings us to Gwyllion…

But first!

You might remember in 2018 we took on Laurie Raye to assist us with marketing and social media. They ran our newsletter and may have responded to your email queries. Eventually they moved on but we’ve stayed in touch. (They’ve even helped us at shows from time to time since then).

Laurie Raye at Thought Bubble 2019
Laurie Raye at Thought Bubble 2019

Laurie has hardly been idle in that time: they’ve written 23 monthly installments of the horror webnovel Palus Somni, as well as working on a number of projects published on itch.io.

Palus Somni on Royal Road

How Gwyllion started

Sometime at the start of 2020 Laurie came to us with an idea. We ended up talking about amplifying voices and how to improve representation within Welsh genre fiction. They wanted to create a curated long-form zine focusing on fantasy, science fiction and horror (topics we have… a little experience with) which was something lacking within the Welsh publishing scene at the time. That discussion evolved and eventually Laurie decided on a name: Gwyllion, a Welsh word with the following meaning…

Gwyllion can be many things. The ghosts and spirits that haunt the halls at twilight, the dusk wanderers up to no good. The scoundrels and the miscreants. The wise old fae who take no nonsense from humans. Hags and witches, wisps and sprites, the gwyllion are every malevolent trickster that wanders the night in search of mischief.

From there, things moved fairly quickly. They established a team of volunteers to cover the assorted roles needed to go about making Gwyllion a reality. They asked us if we could act as a consulting editor to their fledgling project – and, of course, we agreed. We both shared the goal of helping others to have a voice and a platform, and we were able to bring skills and contacts acquired over a decade to use in plugging the gaps in their knowledge.

The first issue of Gwyllion was released in September 2020 and was met with positive press. A few months later it was discussed on BBC Wales considering the influence of Welsh fiction.

Gwyllion cover issue 1
Gwyllion issue 1

And now…

The submissions period for issue 2 closed a few days ago and there’s a lot of positivity within the team about the pieces received. At the moment, issue 2 is on track for a May 2021 release date.

So… why “introducing Gwyllion” and why “a little later than planned”? The second part first… in a word: Coronavirus. It’s been a tough year for all of us. We’d planned to put out some version of this post in August or September of last year but with no shops, events, fewer sales and higher stress levels than usual… that didn’t happen. Now that the world looks to be recovering and events are (hopefully) restarting, we’re trying to do the same. So “introducing Gwyllion” means that we have now got the physical and digital editions listed in our store. We won’t be making any profit from Gwyllion – we’re donating our time to help them help others, and it’s only fair that they receive the full proceeds from sales through our site to enable them to become a self-sustaining enterprise.

After all, we’ve benefited from the help of older, wiser, more established folks over time – it’s only fair we offer the same to those coming up behind us. You can get involved with Gwyllion here.

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Deadstar’s Expo List 2021

In the past few days, events from last year have tentatively started to announce dates that might go ahead towards the end of the year. At the moment, alone with everything else in the world this is all very much in flux.

Check this list regularly as we’ll be putting up all our shows and appearances on here over time.

July 11th – Bristol Comic Con and Gaming Festival, Bristol (brought forward from September 5th)
September 11th – ICE, Birmingham – postponed until 2022.
October – Cardiff Comics Carnival, Cardiff [NYC]
October 30th-31st – Wyntercon, Eastbourne
November 13th-14th – Thought Bubble Festival, Harrogate

[NYC] means Not Yet Confirmed

We want to support comic and book stores as they safely reopen after lockdown, if your local store would like to host an event with us, reach out and we can discuss how and when they might work in conjunction with the UK’s plans to reopen shops and permit travel.

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Happy Birthday to us!

Wow, the past ten years have flown by! When we had the idea in 2010 of setting up a publishing business to help showcase creator-owned books and comics we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Ten years, something close to 50 creators in print, and around 150 comic cons plus various in-store signings and events later and we’re still here as stalwarts of the UK indie comics scene. Happy birthday, Deadstar!

To celebrate we made ourselves a little video…

So we’ve had a birthday celebration for us… what about one for you?

Well, we have lots lined up.

  • Starting tonight we’ll be running a competition with a massive prize
  • We’re offering 10 x opportunities to show your dedication as a True Deadstar Fan with a lifetime subscription to anything we release.
  • £100 megabundle – probably the biggest discount we’ve ever offered!
  • Every order between now and

Introducing the Megabundle!

Until the end of June, we’re offering a copy of almost everything we’ve ever published as part of a Megabundle for £100. This deal nets you…

In all that’s £200+ of books, comics and graphic novels for just £100.

Show that you are True Deadstar Fan

In celebration of hitting 10 years – which is no mean feat in the indie comics industry – we’re opening up a special opportunity for 10 people to help celebrate with the ultimate badge of honour: showing that you are a True Deadstar Fan.

What does this get you? In a nutshell… EVERYTHING. For the next ten years, anything we release, you’ll get it. So season 2 of 7 Shades… yours. The next volume of Age of Savagery… heading your way… the merch we’ve got planned for later this year… you’ll have it.

This isn’t for the faint of heart… but if you are one of our True Deadstar Fans then click here.

The competition…

Birthday parties are fun… but they need presents. That’s where you come in. Who should we give a present to? From 6pm on Tuesday 9th June 2020 until 6pm on Tuesday 30th June 2020 tag someone on this Facebook thread that you think deserves to win* the Megabundle. You can’t tag yourself… but you can tag as many other people as you like. Then, on Wednesday 1st July 2020 at 6pm we will randomly select a winner from all the names provided.

 

For everyone else…

In our first year we launched three titles: Jaque’s Magic Beans, Rising Stars volume 1, and Twictions. In recent years we haven’t marketed them so much because we’ve had loads of cool new stuff to show you. That should change! Any orders we post from tomorrow morning will have a free gift inside… either a copy of Jaque’s Magic Beans, Twictions, or Rising Stars volume 1. We’ll continue doing this for all orders we receive up until midnight 30th June 2020… or we run out of copies of those three titles.

That seems like a pretty good way to celebrate our 10th birthday to us!

 

 

 

* Obligatory legal bit: this competition is neither endorsed nor organised by Facebook. Employees of Deadstar Publishing Ltd are not eligible to win. There is no cash alternative to the prize offered. We will make every reasonable effort to reach the winner and arrange delivery to them within 14 days of the competition ending. Failure to provide contact details by that date will result in forfeiture of the prize. We may, at our discretion, award the prize to an alternative individual after that.

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Interview with the creators of 7 Shades

Our  next release is going to be 7 Shades: Hell’s Belles, the follow up one-shot to last year’s 4 issue miniseries. A few months back we caught up with David Clifford and Peter Rogers while they were doing a signing event at The Comic Guru and were able to record this interview with them.

In the interview David and Peter go into detail what the creative process looks like for them as well as talking about future plans. The series has been really well received so far and we’re looking forward to that continuing. Next week we’ll be launching 7 Shades: Hell’s Belles at Thought Bubble in Harrogate. David will be at Thought Bubble and will also join us at MCM Birmingham on November 16th and 17th. We have more appearances planned for the future. Keep an eye on our appearances post for more details.

We’d love to know what you think of the video – and of the series… and if you’re yet to pick up the first season you can find it here!

Production team

We’d like to thank the following for making the interview possible:

  • Editor & Videographer: Benjamin Powell
  • Audio Engineer: Barney George Andrews
  • Sound Mixer: Patrick Flannery
  • Image FX: Dani Abrams
  • And a special thanks to Kristian Barry of The Comic Guru for allowing us to film in his store.

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Passing on our knowledge to the next generation

A few weeks ago we ran a poll on our Facebook page asking if our fans would find value in us sharing our experiences of running an independent publishing company for almost a decade. The overwhelming result was that it was something people would like to see… so we’re going to do it!

Facebook Poll asking whether people wanted us to pass on our knowledge
Facebook Poll asking whether people wanted us to pass on our knowledge

We’ve already thought of a number of topics we could cover, from what talents/roles are needed to take a comic from start to finish – to how to budget for expos and more.

As this is something we want to get YOU involved in though, we have a request: let us know in the comments what topics you want us to write about. That way we can be sure we’re giving you the really useful parts of our experience.

The first post will probably go up in December or January as we have other things (like launching 7 Shades: Hell’s Belles and Dolphin Squad: The Colouring Book) to focus on until then.

7 Shades Hell's Belles cover
7 Shades Hell’s Belles cover
Cover for the upcoming Dolphin Squad Colouring Book
Cover for the upcoming Dolphin Squad Colouring Book

 

 

 

By the way… both titles are now available to pre-order!

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More Dolphin Squad on the way!

Cover for the upcoming Dolphin Squad Colouring Book

Vinny, Fabian and Lazer-Eye are some of our fans’ most loved characters and Danny J. Weston’s Dolphin Squad stories have been part of our catalogue ever since we released Rising Stars in 2010. Last year we launched their second full length graphic novel: A Death in the Pod and now we can announce that there’s more Dolphin Squad on the way! Before the end of the year we’ll be releasing Dolphin Squad: The Colouring Book!

Cover for the upcoming Dolphin Squad Colouring Book
Cover for the upcoming Dolphin Squad Colouring Book

What’s in the colouring book?

Earlier this month we were able to meet up with Danny at the Frome Comic Con. He brought us these cool preview pages to show off. We were excited to see how the book has come together and we think you’ll like it too.

Photo of puzzle pages from the new Dolphin Squad colouring book.
Puzzle pages from the new Dolphin Squad colouring book.

We also discussed what comes after the colouring book as the world of Dolphin Squad continues to grow. We’ve now got Dolphin Squad badges, prints, and our A2 80s action movie poster as well as two full-length colour graphic novels and two stand alone shorter stories. Tonnes of stuff! So… what is coming next? Book three of course! Danny has plotted out the story for the book and scripting is under way. If you keep an eye on Danny’s Instagram as well as the Dolphin Squad Facebook page then you can see concept art, previews, and other cool tidbits as they are posted.

As for the colouring book; we’re still finalising the book’s contents. We should finish that in the next week or two. The book contains a mixture of puzzles, colouring pages and even a sneak peek at future Dolphin Squad characters! This will make an excellent Christmas or Birthday present for any dolph-fan. As soon as we’ve set a release date we’ll add the book to our store for pre-order. Check back frequently to find it as soon as it goes up! Finally, keep an eye on our events page to see where we’ll be attending for signing events. You’ll always be able to find our titles online but there’s something fantastic about meeting creators in person too.