To kick off our series of interviews with indie comic publishers, we caught up with the team behind the excellent Mould Map series.
Last week we innocently tweeted our followers, asking who their favourite publisher has been this year. Safe to say, we got a reaction that we didn’t expect. Aside from the sheer number of publishing houses that were mentioned – from Nobrow and Blank Slate to Breakdown, Hato and Uncivilized – people began to ask, ‘what exactly is an indie publisher?’
We offered our definition of “a stand alone publisher that isn’t part of a media conglomerate or parent company” which, to us, seemed about right. But it was clear that people wanted more. So, we’ve decided to start Indie Publisher – a series of interviews with the people behind the books.
First up is Hugh Frost, founder of Landfill Editions and the man responsible for everybody’s favourite book of insane illustration – Mould Map.
Could you introduce yourself and Landfill to people?
Hello. My name’s Hugh Frost and I run Landfill Editions – a publishing project currently based in Stockholm releasing artist’s books, comics, zines, prints, short fiction and science-fact since 2009. Apart from Mould Map 3, Landfill has been pretty quiet for the last two years while I’ve been studying here, but I’ll move back soon and things will get busy again from this autumn.
I was visiting Extrapool in Nijmegen, Holland where I first came into contact with risograph printing. I took home a few zines and a print by Parra, which I basically stared at non-stop, and became totally fixated on the idea of getting a machine of my own and starting some sort of project with it.
Once I found a machine on eBay, I started Manymono as a service to print for other people, which in turn funded the output of the project I wanted to curate, edit or whatever – Landfill.
The idea of what constitutes an independent publisher is pretty blurred. What is it – or is it not – to you?
That’s right, I’ve been wondering – what does it even mean to be an independent publisher? It’s quite obvious that most of us using that tag aren’t part of some global parent company, but it’s a convenient identifier for presses which don’t have to answer to any higher bodies over the content of their publications.
More broadly, is everyone with a social media channel an independent publisher now? Or if that service has the ability to delete your content are you really independent?
What are some of the difficulties that you face as an independent?
In terms of working with physical books, distribution is the main problem, as well as taking the leap to grow as a business, which might mean employing somebody else, or opening a shop or project space. Make or break stuff.
But it’s not all difficulties, right?
I have nothing to compare it against in terms of being part of a bigger company, but I guess the positives are having a close working relationship with everyone involved, taking care of every aspect of the production process and doing what you want ,when you want!
Mould Map has been an exercise in editing anthologies, purely with mood in mind, and finding the right artists to complete that vision. The music, badges, plates, scarves and bags have been attempts to get these graphic life-worlds off the page and into the wild. In terms of artists, I value anyone who at this point in the history of image making is still able to find anything approaching a singular vision.
Which books or artists are you most proud of having published?
I’ve never published anything I didn’t love, no compromises, so it’s all good. Mould Map 3 was a crazy logistical project though, I’m amazed we’re even thinking about issue 4 already.
Are independent art publishers chasing the major publishing houses, or vice-versa?
Small to mid-range publishers have a flexibility larger ones may not. I don’t know much about this. This seems to be a bigger issue with animation studios at the moment, especially stuff getting funded via Kickstarter. Aren’t a lot of comic artists moving into LA animation? Or that’s the dream at least…
The ability to get into trans-media (clunky phrase, sorry) and doing it with genuine love might be what ends up separating indie + bigger publishers. But chasing makes it sound competitive, and maybe in some ways it is, but mostly isn’t it just great that all this stuff is happening right now?
What’s next for Landfill?
Leon from Famicon and I went to Oslo with Jon Chandler for the comics expo earlier this month, which involved four magical days of swimming and getting excited about ideas for Mould Map 4, so that will probably come out sometime in 2015, unless we do a low key issue before the end of the year.
The only definite is a collection of poetry from Jon Auman (who was one of the writers of the screenplay KWC 92 released by Landfill in 2011 with a 12″ soundtrack on LIES in 2013) which may take the form of a book, or a single poster or a collection of loose sheets, we’ll see.
There is also the very remote possibility of opening a small project space in London by the end of the year, which would be a dream. The idea would be to provide exhibition space for Landfill favourites and recent graduates, local community meetings and projects, screening space for filmmakers, craft workshops, etc – but there’s a long way to go on that plan yet.