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British small press comics facts for kids

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British small press comics, once known as stripzines, are comic books self-published by amateur cartoonists and comic book creators, usually in short print runs, in the UK. They're comparable to similar movements internationally, such as American minicomics and Japanese doujinshi. A "small press comic" is essentially a zine composed predominantly of comic strips. The term emerged in the early 1980s to distinguish them from zines about comics. Notable artists who have had their start in British small press comics include Eddie Campbell, Paul Grist, Rian Hughes, Jamie Hewlett, Alan Martin, Philip Bond and Andi Watson.

Small press comics are traditionally sold by mail, using reviews and classified adverts, websites, email lists and word of mouth to reach an audience. There is usually one or more mail order service, commonly known as a "distro", operating in the UK. These will hold a wide range of titles and take a cut of the cover price. The two main active distros are Samu and SmallZone. They are also sold at conventions and festivals, with small groups of like-minded creators often sharing a table at a reduced rate. Specialist small press events include Caption in Oxford, and the UK Web and Mini Comix Thing in London. Creators will often make international links to these forms of distribution in other countries and vice versa.

Distribution into comic book stores via traditional distributors (such as Diamond) is rare. Stores will often stock titles by local creators though some, notably Gosh! in London and Page 45 in Nottingham, stock a wider range. In recent times small press titles have sold in larger bookstores Borders and Foyles in London.

The traditional format has been a photocopied and stapled booklet, usually at A5 size, similar to American minicomics, although other sizes are known. While some creators continue to produce publications in this style, emphasising the hand-made aspect and often decorating each copy by hand, in recent years the increasing availability of digital printing has made professional printing affordable for short-run publications. Some of the spirit of small press comics can now also be found in webcomics.

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