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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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Deadstar’s Expo List 2016

2015 flew by and we had a blast meeting you all at expos and conventions around the country. 2016 is already shaping up to by a busy year for us.

January 16th-17th – Comic Con Cymru, Cardiff
Febuary 6th – True Believers Comic Festival, Cheltenham
February 20th – Nerdvana, Camarthen
March 5th-6th – Cardiff Film and Comic Con, Cardiff
April 9th-10th – Optimus: Bristol Comic Con, Bristol (not confirmed)
May 28th – Swansea Comic and Gaming Convention, Swansea
June 25th – Cardiff Independent Comic Expo, Cardiff
August 6th – Bristol Comic Expo, Bristol
September 17th – Dragondaze, Newport
October 29th-30th – Cardiff Film and Comic Con, Cardiff

It’s still early in the year so more dates will be added as we confirm them!

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Upcoming VAT changes – what they mean for YOU

This weekend, when we should have been planning for the new year we were made aware of something that will massively impact how Deadstar does business – and if you’re a small business in the creative field, or a client of one, it will likely affect you too.

Come January 1st 2015 a change to VAT regulations is going to make life very difficult for small businesses. Now, that might not sound like it affects you but it probably will. The change relates to where VAT is due – currently VAT is paid to the country that the seller is in. From now on, it will be due in the country that the purchaser buys in. The intention is to catch large businesses that take advantage of international tax law by basing themselves in nations with low VAT rates – now they will pay VAT at point of purchase, thus paying more VAT. Our prediction is that the long-term effect of these changes are that such businesses are likely to profit more… and small to micro-businesses will be driven out of operation.

That sounds like a bold claim, so I’ll explain: right now businesses in the UK don’t have to register to pay VAT if their turnover is below £82,000. Below this threshold, they can register if they wish but it isn’t mandatory. If you sell goods to another country then you may have to pay VAT to them if your sales in that country exceed that country’s threshold. The lowest of these within the EU is about €30,000 a year – so if you exceed that threshold you are likely already at or near the UK threshold and will be registered to pay VAT in Britain too. Below that, there’s no requirement to pay. As such, many small businesses pay no VAT, which allows them to keep prices low and be competitive.

The impending changes will wreak havoc on that balance. From 1st January 2015 anyone selling digital content automatically through a platform they control (most definitely your own website, but several third-party platforms like Craftsy and Bandcamp suggest that their arrangement with sellers will land sellers in this position as well) will need to comply with new regulations or face “an unlimited fine”.

To comply with the new regulations sellers must:

  • Obtain a minimum of two non-conflicting pieces of location data identifying the buyer’s location.
  • Keep this data for a minimum of ten years following sale on an EU-based server.
  • If you have sold to a buyer within the EU then you have a choice:
    • Register for VAT in the UK and use the Mini-One-Stop-Shop to make appropriate VAT payments to each country where a sale was made four times a year.
    • Register for VAT directly with the tax authority in each country you make a sale to.
  • Depending on the country you may have to send them a VAT invoice as well as their usual receipt.

If this sounds like a headache to you, how do you think it sounds to self-published authors, small presses, musicians, programmers, life coaches etc selling digital products through their own stores? Whereas with physical products there is a minimum threshold below which no VAT is due, if you now sell an ebook or a song to somebody in Germany you must either register for VAT within the UK (giving up 20% of your business income, less any VAT deductible expenses you are able to reclaim and pay 19% of the value of the sale through MOSS to Germany. Alternatively, you can register direct with Germany for VAT and hope you can navigate their financial rules.

The easy alternative is to sell exclusively through third party platforms (Amazon being a prime one) and accept losing up to 70% of revenue on products. There are less-easy alternatives but they all require dramatic changes in operation for most businesses:

  • Cease trading digital goods directly to customers. Continue to use third party sites (with the accompanying significant drop in turnover and net profit due to their sellers’ fees). This incurs no change to small businesses’ VAT reporting practices.
  • Continue trading digital goods directly to customers in addition to using third party sites – but block sales to all EU countries.
    • This is not practical on a technical level as it is not 100% reliable and seller is culpable if buyer masks their location when buying, and seller must still follow the recording process (see above) to prove that they have not sold to any EU locations. HMRC advice issued during a Q&A session on 27th November 2014 suggests that this will comply with VAT legislation but may breach anti-discrimination laws.
  • Do not register for VAT in the UK, but register for VAT in each European nation that a business may trade to.
    • As an addition to this businesses must then record a minimum of two location-identifying pieces of data for every digital transaction, keeping that information (which may require registering with Data Protection Agencies in up to 28 countries) on an EU-based server for a minimum of ten years in order to accurately assess how much VAT is due to each country every three months.
    • During the three monthly VAT return to each applicable country sellers must accurately navigate up to 28 countries’ tax codes to determine how much VAT is due even though their turnover is too low to warrant paying VAT in Britain.
  • Register for VAT in the UK and use the MOSS system to pay VAT owed to other countries.
    • This is the suggested method for compliance – however many small businesses operate on very tight margins already; paying UK VAT rates could effectively force businesses into closure. They would still need to record all location data and navigate appropriate payments through MOSS as well as paying UK VAT on all applicable income.
  • HMRC has stated that it is permissible to give a free digital copy of a physical product alongside the purchase of a physical product, so businesses could legitimately sell ebooks on a CD to be posted to the buyer regardless of their location without being required to record and retain location data.
    • This would fall under the VAT category for distance selling VAT thresholds – but if reached that for any specific country then businesses would almost certainly be operating on a scale where VAT registration was no longer a problem.
    • This also takes the sale of digital products back twenty years to a time before broadband and internet access was widespread – hardly appropriate for a first world nation.
  • HMRC has stated that the new regulations only apply to business to customer sales conducted automatically and that “minimal human intervention” in the sales process stops a transaction from counting for these purposes – so instead of a customer being able to pay for their digital product (ebook) and then being automatically able to download it from a website businesses could send customers a human-typed email at a later point with their purchased digital file attached and this would not require recording and retaining location information or reporting for VAT purposes.
    • We’re still seeking professional advice to confirm this will be a legal act and if so then for the time being this is the approach that we intend to take with Deadstar Publishing. It will mean additional work and ignoring a functional automated system purpose-built for ease of convenience to the consumer but it apparently complies with the law and introduces the least additional work for the business.

The reason this has become such a nightmare is because the EU member states have not agreed a minimum threshold for VAT liability on digital products sold cross-border and delivered automatically. There is currently a petition here: asking Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable MP to urgently reassess this situation in light of the damage it will cause to small businesses in terms of massively increased administrative workload and potential for tax burden and for him to implement a minimum threshold similar to that which already exists for physical products sold at a distance before which VAT registration is optional, not mandatory.

If this comes in as intended it is going to cause chaos. Over the past twenty-four hours we’ve spoken with a number of businesses globally that would otherwise be too small to pay VAT based on income and who are now looking at whether it is feasible to even continue trading. The upshot of this is that even if you are not an affected business you a probably a customer of a business that will be affected. With businesses already considering closing digital sales or conducting transactions manually, think about the impact that this will have on you as a consumer as well as the business side of things. Would you be happy to buy an ebook or a music download that you then had to wait to be manually emailed to you?  Please make others aware of this situation as there is still time to show those in power how much of an impact this change will have.

There’s a lot more that could be said about this topic, but for now here are a selection of background links and research materials for you to use. Please share widely. The more people are told about this, the better chance small businesses have of obtaining the exemption to these new rules that are so desperately needed.

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Doomsday competition – rules and prizes

Our resident mad genius is at it again. This time he’s built a Doomsday device powered by jelly beans. This ties in nicely with our competition this weekend; If you subscribe to our newsletter then you’ll have known all week that our competition for Cardiff Comic Con this weekend is sponsored by the team over at T101 Computers.

They have donated a 7″ Nexus tablet running on Jelly Bean Android. To be in with a chance of winning:

  • First prize: 7” Jelly Bean Android tablet preloaded with all our digital back catalogue plus T-shirt, mug, and keyring.
  • Second prize: T-shirt, mug, keyring + 5 ebooks from our range
  • Third prize: 5 ebooks from our range

Visit us at the Cardiff Comic Con and make your guess – or, if you can’t make it there in person you can enter here.

Obligatory rules bit:

  1. Nobody working for Deadstar Publishing Ltd, T101 Computers Ltd, or their immediate families is eligible to receive any prize as a result of this competition.
  2. The competition is open from 4am (BST) Saturday 31st August 2013 until 5pm (BST) Sunday 1st September 2013.
  3. The competition is a test of skill with participants guessing the weight in grams of jelly beans being used to ‘power’ our Doomsday Device,
  4. First prize will be awarded to the person with the closest guess to our recorded weight. Second prize will be awarded to the person with the second closest guess. Third prize… you guessed it, will be awarded to the person with the third closest guess. In the case of multiple identical guesses the first person to select that weight will be considered the sole eligible person in case of a win.
  5. To be considered, people must follow the instructions as presented in person or via our online store.
  6. Results will be announced at 5.30pm (BST) at the Cardiff Comic Con and shortly afterwards on this page. Details will also be circulated via the Deadstar Publishing Facebook page and the @DSPublishing Twitter account.
  7. Winners will be contacted to arrange collection/delivery of their prizes within 7 days of the competition closing.

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Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

Things have been fairly turbulent here in Dr Deadstar’s lab over the past few weeks. David, the man who founded Deadstar, has moved on to explore new opportunities and Hannah, one of our part-time editors, has returned to her full-time job.

That has left myself (Kevin), Danny and Anna to crew the company and together we’ve been working to get things rolling again. Not as Pointless as You Think is now available to purchase and we’re in the process of arranging signings for Lynda – watch out for her coming to a bookshop near you, soon.

With Dave and Hannah gone, Danny and Anna working electronically at distance, and me having moved away from the office we’ve decided to close the office and officially relocate. Apart from the delay in our workloads from when we moved stock and equipment at the end of June this should have no real effect on you guys.

We’ve also had banking issues: half the country had trouble when RBS and Natwest had computer problems and since then it has been a bit of an uphill battle to get our finances in order but that is pretty much taken care of now.

As a result of all this, our release schedule is thinner this year than we had otherwise intended but White Walls and Strait Jackets is still due for release in November, and we have two more titles due to see the light towards the end of this year/the start of 2013.


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World Book Night giveaway results

Drumroll, please!

We’re happy to announce that the from those who entered on Twitter and Facebook, the following people have been randomly selected to receive copies of Iain M. Banks’ Player of Games as part of our World Book Night giveaway:

  • Andrew Henderson
  • Andy Frankham
  • Ed Bemand
  • Gavin Bell
  • Jon Evans
  • Kevin Enhart
  • Leanne Vaughan-Philipps
  • Marcus Staff
  • Robert Grayston
  • Ruaridh Dall
  • Ryan Wheeldon
  • Taryn Uni Cornis

We’ll contact those people directly over the next day or two to arrange postage. We’d like to say again that these books are intended for light or casual readers, so if you think you are more than that, we’d appreciate it if you could pass your copy onto someone less likely to be a regular reader.

Thank you all to everyone who took part, and watch this space for news of more giveaways and competitions in the future!

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World Book Night Giveaway

We’ve mentioned on Facebook and Twitter over the past few months that we are official distributors for World Book Night 2012; a part of that involves giving away copies of Iain M. Banks’ Player of Games. How are we going to do it, you’re wondering? Simple: we’re going to use Facebook and Twitter.

The event opens at midday (GMT) today and closes at 5pm (GMT) on Monday 23rd April 2012. During the time it’s open you have two ways to enter.

On Facebook you will need to be a fan of us (Deadstar Publishing) then like and share our status announcing the giveaway. You’ll need to like and share from our status – we can’t track if you like and share a status written by someone else.

On Twitter you need to be following us (@DSPublishing) then retweet a post with the hashtag #DeadstarWBN or post a tweet mentioning us and that hashtag.

When the event ends we will tally up all the people who followed the rules and will randomly select from those 12 names. Each of those people will receive a copy of Player of Games. Exciting, right?

Now for the boring bit…

  1. Nobody working for Deadstar Publishing Ltd, or their immediate family is eligible to receive any book as a result of this giveaway.
  2. The giveaway is open from midday (GMT) Monday 16th April 2012 until 5pm (GMT) Monday 23rd April 2012.
  3. To be considered, people must follow the instructions for Facebook or Twitter as listed above.
  4. Results will be announced at 7pm (GMT) on this page. Details will also be circulated via the Deadstar Publishing Facebook page and the @DSPublishing Twitter account.
  5. Books will be posted to the randomly selected entrants within 7 days of receiving postal details.


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A statement on the future of Stiffs and The Pride

We have to take tough decisions sometimes, and this week saw not one but two of those. Our original intention was to publish Stiffs and The Pride as monthly series’ but a slew of production issues has made this unworkable. Both comics still have our full support and when complete we intend to release them in full. However, progress to date has been slower than anticipated and much of the series’ remains uncompleted. We had hoped that by delaying initial release dates we could avert the issue – we even tried a bi-monthly schedule but this also failed. Thus, with some great regret, it has been decided both by ourselves and the creative teams that the best way forward now is to place both series’ on release hiatus until the majority of outstanding work can be completed.


To reiterate, we are still committed to releasing both Stiffs and The Pride, but at this time we cannot say exactly when. As that changes we will let you know.

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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!