Sometimes a new comics publisher comes along and grabs the imagination of the industry.
Jazz Dad is one such publisher, a small group of artists who’ve banded together with their myriad styles and created a flutter at comic fairs around the country. We were taken with the sheer amount of titles they debuted at ELCAF, and so decided to talk with its founder Ed Cheverton to learn a bit more…
Could you introduce Jazz Dad to our readers?
Jazz Dad Books is a small press based in Bristol. We focus on producing small editions of comics, zines and artist’s books from a variety of creatives. Our approach reflects the early DIY self publishing culture, whilst keeping a focus on a creator-led, carefully considered attitude to format, binding and quality.
As I say, we are a very small press – me sat in my bedroom with a printer, hand binding every book – but we have evolved to represent a warm and wonderful community of creatives, who simply take joy in producing publications.
What prompted you to start Jazz Dad? And where on earth did the name come from?
I had been self-publishing for a few years and had been thinking for a while that I wanted to have my own imprint. As that idea took shape, I thought it would be really nice to also publish books by other people as well. There were a number of friends of mine that I knew could make fantastic comics and zines but hadn’t really had an accessible platform as of yet for them. I wanted to provide that for them. Many of them have been so encouraging and supportive, that Jazz Dad has really blossomed out to what it is becoming today.
The title comes from a brief nickname my friends gave me a while back; Weekend Jazz Dad. It conjures a delightfully depressing character, but I thought as the title of a small press it could feel somewhat supportive – without being too patronising I hope!
For me an independent publisher is a small organisation, who is maybe not quite as well known as more mainstream publishers,but has far more creative freedom in what it puts out. I think the emphasis is much much more weighted on the content and cultural significance of what it releases, rather than sales or profit.
I think the term is far more adaptable at the moment; as you say what it can constitute is pretty blurred. Some independents are actually quite big and their work is very well known, some are very small like Jazz Dad Books. I actually tend to refer to us as a small press rather than an independent publisher, to me that’s more appropriate.
Jazz Dad is still a pretty new venture. What have you learnt about being a publisher so far?
I have definitely learnt a lot about time management. As I print and bind by hand, I’ve learnt I have to plan pretty far ahead – often months and months. I had quite a clear view of how I wanted to run Jazz Dad from the start, and as it’s developed I’ve had to adapt that a little. For example we don’t have have an online store and don’t intend to for the time being.
This is simply due to me not being able to devote the time and effort to managing one. This has made me appreciate comic festivals loads more, as you get to have more contact and communication with your readers. It becomes a lot more of a personal experience, and actually also adds to our DIY self publishing or zine culture approach and attitude.
Despite Jazz Dad being pretty young, it’s gained a ton of momentum and some pretty big name fans. How have you managed that without the publicity machine of a major publishing house behind you?
It’s been really lovely to see it blossoming over the past few months, and that is thanks to lots people working very hard. Most of Jazz Dad’s publicity though has come through word of mouth. I have a huge network of really great creatives, who have all helped bring Jazz Dad to life.
I tend to work with artists who I already know, or have already got a connection with. That may sound a little exclusive, but because we don’t produce these books to make money it allows us to encourage a collective or collaborative approach and ‘family’ attitude.
Of course, thanks to the nature of the comics and illustration world, I am constantly getting to know more fantastic people, and so hopefully this ‘family’ will continue to expand. So there isn’t a particular style or flavour of content I want Jazz Dad to be know for, I’d like it to be eclectic.
Both independents and majors are publishing fairly left field work at the moment. Who has the edge, the little guys or the big guys?
I don’t think anyone has the edge really. Regardless of the publisher, the work should speak for itself. It’s great to see major publishers taking more risks and generally being progressive. I suppose it could be argued that the smaller publishers may have a bit more of an edge in that they aren’t so well known and have the history of underground and alternative comics scene backing them. It is a very exciting time in the comics world!
What’s next for Jazz Dad?
We have a number of new titles coming out in the next six months, we also will be tabling at the Safari Festival hosted by the great guys from Breakdown Press and hopefully many more comic and zine fairs in the future!