Saturday, 21 August 2010

Adrift in the Wake...

And that, apparently, was that.

With a 186-word email, much of it copied and pasted from an earlier letter to shareholders, the most elusive man in UK indie comics popped his head up and released all sixty-odd Insomnia creators from their contracts. Obviously, everyone's waiting for the punchline on this one, but as far as anyone can tell, it's all over now bar the shouting...

...of which there has been plenty.

Now, there are several books I'm involved in that are affected by this development, and I'll post up details about those as they become available. Wheels are turning in the right direction, though, and that's good enough for now. By and large, a pretty sizeable weight has lifted and we're all crawling out from under it and blinking in the unaccustomed sunlight of a new day. New homes are being investigated for many of the orphaned properties, and basically this is all the former "Insomnia family" have been asking for over the last few months. That said, there's still a massive question in most of our minds as to why this all happened.

Now, questions are something I'm very comfortable with. I whole-heartedly embrace the timeless, classical mystery of a publisher with a year of great success suddenly going batshit insane and eating itself alive with the determination and panache of a truly talented psychopath. No, questions rarely bother me because they only develop into problems when people start offering uninformed opinions as if they were answers. There's been quite a lot of that going on recently, and that's a great shame.

Example: people have been frothing about Insomnia exaggerating sales figures, operating questionable business practices from the outset, or actively trying to sell creators' Intellectual Property to other companies. To the best of my knowledge, none of that is true. All Insomnia's titles were exclusively creator-owned (a fact that occasionally eluded even creators themselves). All the company ever had was an exclusive right to publish and negotiate for adaptations. No-one was ever in any danger of losing the rights to their books, so far as I was aware, and the one sales statement I ever received for my own work was a clear and accurate representation of actual books sold.

There's a lot more, but you get the point. This is a sad time for UK indie comics, and no amount of I-told-you-so revisionist rhetoric bullshit is going to change that. I'm happy to have my contracts released - thrilled, even - but none of that diminishes the sad fact that a once-ambitious, innovative publisher with enormous potential degenerated to the point of putting a gun to its head under circumstances that very few people have a clear picture of. I myself am not one of those people.

So, whatever behind the scenes up-fuckery went on toward the end, and there's no denying or defending any of that, I'm very much aware that I was one of the luckiest creators on Insomnia's books. I met and worked with some phenomenal people, had an unbelievable launch of my first creator-owned book (around 150 actual cash sales over one weekend), got promoted in magazines and all over the internet, participated in the world's first award-winning experiment in comics/textile art, scored several more gigs off the back of it and consistently went head-to-head with Batman: Year One, Kick Ass and the entire Marvel catalogue in the top 10 downloads on the European PSP store. It was a good year for me, right up to the moment when the wheels came off for everyone.

Thanks go out to Tim Pilcher, Jordan and all at the Comic Book Alliance for their support, advice and unwavering professionalism.


  1. Agree completely with everything you've said Cy. Even though I volunteered for a few months, I've got no clear idea what happened and like everyone can only speculate.

    The main thing is we're all free to move on. Good luck with finding new homes for Cancertown, Indifference Engine and The Ragged Man.

  2. Cheers for that, Matt - and thanks also for being among the most level-headed of us through these weeks of backlashing and information-blindness.

    Looking forward to developments on Ionmonger's Daughter.

  3. Cy,

    Thanks for that post. As you recall I did send an e-mail a few weeks back asking what the fuck was happening, given that then I'd just read an article saying Insomnia was due to close the books.

    I read an article confirming it a couple of days back, but opted not to cover it because I loved much of what Insomnia was doing, and as a reader I was sort of in denial about it.

    All that said. I do wish you continued success and hope we can do a few more interviews with you on scifipulse and continue to help you promote your work for as long as we are able.

    Ian M. Cullen webmaster of and host of Blogtalkradios regularly featured podcast SciFiPulse

  4. Thanks for that, Ian. As you can see, I still don't know what the Hell happened and to be honest, I probably never will.

    I'll keep you posted about the future of my former Insomnia books. Should be able to announce something pretty soon, if it all goes well.

  5. Cy,

    I'd appreciate that. I was actually on the cusp of placing my order for The Indifference Engine.

    So when you know more about that I'd appreciate a heads up, and if you manage to get a PDF review version of it. Send it my way and I'll forward it to Wayne for review.


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