Saturday 13 February 2016

Make Mine an Indie: Self Made Hero

I've been doing this feature for almost six months now and I thought it was about time that I mentioned a graphic novel publisher! A few weeks ago I was up in London and browsing in Foyles. I'd given myself a one book allowance and couldn't decide between The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman and Scott McCloud's The Sculptor, which I've been hearing incredible stuff about for ages. Then I remembered my Make Mine an Indie goal this year, and so I went with The Sculptor which is independently published. The Sandman, while still incredible, is Vertigo. It had the added bonus of bringing another independent publisher to my attention, and so I give you this week's feature!

SMH Winner Logo

Self Made Hero was founded in 2007 by Emma Hayley, who was named UK Young Publishing Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008. She saw a gap in the market for high quality graphic novels and now publishes "independently minded, commercially successful" work along with graphic novels in translation, which is something I am always interested in! 

The nice thing about Self Made Hero is the range of things they produce. As well as original fiction and non-fiction, they have a series called Art Masters, currently consisting of Pablo, Vincent and Rembrandt, with Munch forthcoming this May, and Graphic Freud, which is Sigmund Freud's most famous case studies in graphic form. Besides these they publish Manga Shakespeare and a wide range of graphic biographies, Sci Fi & Horror, Crime, Humour and Short Stories, which really dispells the myth that graphic novels are all about superheroes...

On browsing their website it transpires that a lot of the fiction they publish is things I've already been eyeing up in the indie section of Forbidden Planet for the past year or so, so without further ado here are a few of their titles I'm looking forward to! 

Ruins by Peter Kuper

Samantha and George are a couple heading towards a sabbatical year in the quaint Mexican town of Oaxaca. For Samantha, it is the opportunity to revisit her past. For George, it is an unsettling step into the unknown. For both of them, it will be a collision course with political and personal events that will alter their paths and the town of Oaxaca forever. In tandem, the remarkable and arduous journey that a monarch butterfly endures on its annual migration from Canada to Mexico is woven into Ruins. This creates a parallel picture of the challenges of survival in our ever-changing world. Ruins explores the shadows and light of Mexico through its past and present as encountered by an array of characters. The real and surreal intermingle to paint an unforgettable portrait of life south of the Rio Grande. 

I don't remember where I first heard about this but it's been on the ridiculously big pile of graphic novels I carry round the shop with me and then put back more times than I care to remember. I think this year is probably its year...

Celeste by I.N.J Culbard

In London, the moment two commuters, Aaron and Lilly, lay eyes on each other on a packed Monday morning tube train, everyone else around them vanishes. In Los Angeles, Ray is sitting in gridlock on the 405 Freeway when he receives a call from an LAPD officer about his wife. Ray fears the worst. But just as the officer is about to give Ray the news, he is cut off. The caller has disappeared, and so has everyone else around him. Everyone except for a badly beaten man tied up in the trunk of another car. In Japan, comic artist Yoshi has come to the demonhaunted Aokigahara Forest to die, but the spirits of the forest have other ideas. Taking us through the deserted streets of London, the empty freeways of Los Angeles, and the dream world of the Aokigahara Forest, Celeste is a compelling and profound graphic novel about the choices we make and the courage it takes to make them.

I'd never heard of this before I started browsing Self Made Hero's website but it sounds like an extremely intriguing concept! I love it when things sound quirky and this definitely does!

Terra Australis by L.F Bollee and Philippe Nicloux

Over two centuries ago, a fleet of ships set sail from England led by Admiral Arthur Phillip. Of the thousand men and women on board, most were convicts, sentenced to transportation for crimes against the crown, and banished to exile. They were bound for Botany Bay, on the other side of the world, in the freshly charted territory of New South Wales. The journey to their new home would take them across three oceans, cover 15,000 miles, and leave them on the shores of a vast and virgin continent.
Five years in the making, LF BollĂ©e and Philippe Nicloux present Terra Australis, the vivid and sweeping tale of an epic journey and an unflinching account of the founding of modern Australia.

I have family in Australia and I've been there and it just seems wrong that I don't know more about it besides that we send all our convicts there. Graphic form for me is a great way to learn things in an absorbing and interesting way, because it's usually quite a quick read. I'm looking forward to this. 

A Chinese Life by Philippe Otie and Li Kunwu

Already a modern classic, this remarkable book traces a personal journey through modern history, from the creation of the People's Republic of China in 1949 to the present day. Li Kunwu has created a timely and compelling memoir of state and self that is at once epic and intimate, comic and tragic, in scope.

Another one I've picked up so many times before. It's no secret that I'm obsessed with Chinese history and the artwork for this is beautiful as well as the subject being fascinating to me. I may have bought this already by the time this post goes up!

As well as these titles I should also include The Sculptor by Scott McCloud, which I'm going to start reading next, and Bryan Lee O'Malley's Seconds which I read in 2015 (without paying aaaaany attention to who published it!) and really enjoyed. 

Catch up on the Make Mine an Indie series here

Find Self Made Hero at their website, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter.

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