Unsold Stories: The Casebook of Bryant & May

Bryant and May, Reading & Writing

It looks as if ‘The Casebook of Bryant & May 1; The Soho Devil’ is not going to be appearing anytime in the immediate future. The finished fifty-page full-colour graphic novel I’ve been working on with cult artist Keith Page has been unable to find a publisher either in the UK or the US.

The problem is that regular publishing houses aren’t equipped to handle graphic novels, and graphic novel houses are looking for superhero action adventures. The book, which continues the adventures of Bryant & May into a new and slightly more fantastical area, is being seen as too much of a risk in the present times.

Keith and I are determined that it will be seen somehow, though, and are working to find a solution to the problem.

21 comments on “Unsold Stories: The Casebook of Bryant & May”

  1. Phil says:

    Could you not have this and your unpublished book ‘Plastic’ available as digital downloads (in pdf format perhaps??), you could perhaps sell them through this site, most people have a paypal account to pay you online for your work, and would be happy to do so. I know it’s not as satisfying as having your work published in printed form, but at least we would all get to see it. Failing that, you could always just send me the work, so that at least I (your no.1 fan) get to read it. I would be happy with either outcome!!

  2. stonemuse says:

    Perhaps there is a way that your regular readers could sponsor this?

  3. Cid says:

    Echoing the above, there’s a healthy route for music to get to market in this way (notably through PledgeMusic), which is fairly risk-free. Perhaps there’s an equivalent for books?

  4. Peter says:

    I can only agree with the suggestions and remarks made above. It would be a shame if this work doesn’t find its way to the public.

  5. The Angoulême Bandes Dessinées Festival is being held in France at the end of the month, and I’ll attend all three days of it. I’ll ask around. Mind, I have already mentioned “Bryant & May” to regular publishers, with no reportable reaction, so far… But we’ll see. It does seem as if the colours are applied directly to the original pages, right?

  6. Eduard says:

    Hi Christopher,
    I agree with the previous comment, and it seems quite like a french comic book, with such characters and story, and being it painted with watercolors, etc. You should try some french (and belgian) publishers like Dupuis, Dargaud, Lombard… they shall be interested. Once it is published in french, it’s easier to sell the rights to publish it in other languages, such as english…
    Hope it helps

  7. Peter A says:

    How’s about putting it up on Lulu or another print-on demand site?

  8. admin says:

    Thanks for the suggestions, all of you. Patrick, yes, the colours are not separated out.

  9. J. Folgard says:

    I read (and reread) tons of comic books, including superheroes, and even the ones featuring marginal caped good-doers are canceled quickly if they’re not a big household name these days, regardless of their quality… I get the impression that, beyond the ‘genre’ problem, publishers look for a known, bankable brand right now, preferably a multi-media one. I’m disappointed to see that creators like Keith & yourself, with so many good works to their credit spanning your careers, are not given the chance to introduce the characters to another, huh, ‘platform’..? It’s also sad to see that, whereas the B&M series has deservedly earned its keep in the cluttered field of crime fiction, the state of publishing right now keeps it from reaching other genre fans -I’m willing to be part of that famed, elusive crossover audience, dammit! Anyway, I hope the long game plays out. Maybe a US site like Kickstarter?

  10. Helen Martin says:

    I know someone suggested the subscription route a la Victorian authors and I really think that might work. On the other hand, translated into French and published by Dargaud (who had a pretty good sale there for a number of years) it would make it in a number of markets. I really hope something along this line happens.

  11. J F Norris says:

    Let me be the first to note some very clever touches in the detailed backgrounds of those panels. The Gog and Magog statues on top of the bookcase, a book or magazine in the bookcase called The Luddite, the voodoo doll. Excellent! Love Janet’s big 60s hair and outfit, too.

    I’m sure you’ll find a way to solve your problem. Too much work incolved for you to scrap it all. And we all want to see and read this marvelous creation.

  12. I.A.M. says:

    Have you tried pitching to Avatar? Warren Ellis has done stuff with them which was defiantly not superheroes at all. Or there’s Titan, who do the Bond comic strips as volumes (and the existence of those was news to me until a few days ago).

    Thoughts, offered freely, with no results demanded.

  13. mel says:

    I do hope you find a way to do this. I’d happily donate to a kickstarter project.

  14. Dan Terrell says:

    Chris,I would also donate to get this project going. However,for the sake of a new view, I’d like suggest you think about turning the project around. At present you properly view The Soho Devil as a take/spin off on the Bryant & May books. How about considering the graphic as a lead-in to the book series for new readers and old ones?(Bernard Cornwell’s British publisher, or was it the Sharpe Appreciation Society, printed a series of separate Sharpe short stories – don’t try saying that fast,or while wearing retainers – over three seperate Christmas sales seasons – or that one either. Booksellers gave them to customers to interest them in buying the Sharpe novels and also to reward faithful customers/readers.”Ah! the plot thickens, Watson,” you say). Is there not some way a spin on this could be tried? I realize getting every new B & W novel published seems to be a fingers-crossed affair, and it all comes down to funding, but maybe you could pitch the graphic as a way into selling more books,rather than using the existing pool of the books readers to lead into the graphics. What you could benefit from is a nice TV movie or two. I like Bryant & May even more than I liked Michael Gilbert’s great old spies Behrens & Calderas. Let’s work this out.(Yet another aside: Crippen & Landru, publishers in Norfolk, VA publish quite good single author short story collections,some of the stories probably out of original copyright,some so recent that the copyright is probably held by the author – for ex. Peter Lovesey. These are quality trade paperbacks, sometimes issued in a finer edition, author autographed and each with a seperately inserted, individually printed short story not in the lesser-priced edition,as an inducement. Would rhis be a B & M short story collection possibility?)Finally,I suppose Amazon, et al, might be a way to get the graphic out for a modest fee and to intoduce the books, and hopefully a graphic series at higher cost. I agree I don’t quite see how a B & M graphic series breaks into the double-identity super-character mode. (Lord help us all, if Arthur were required to strip off his many layers of clothing and leap out in only his long-johns to save London, yet again. “Look up in the sky…no, better not!)

  15. Vickie Farrar says:

    I’m with “mel” and I think also with “Dan Terrell” (but he tended to ramble a bit so I was only able to read the first few sentences before moving on).

    And I want paper! I always keep a book on hand for spontaneous dining/park lolling, etc. A devout Luddite regarding the ebook situation, I remain quite fond of all the dust mites that “party on” on what I continue to view as “real” books. sneeze

  16. Dan Terrell says:

    Point taken,Vickie. It is a fearsome looking block of text. Cheers.

  17. BH says:

    “graphic novel houses are looking for superhero action adventures”

    This surprises me – there are various ‘independent’ publishers out there who focus on non-costume things.

    Can I suggest Fantagraphics for one; equally (and quite appropriate considering the book’s title) visit Gosh Comics (now moved to Berwick Street) who should be able to steer you in the right direction.

  18. Dr Bernardo says:

    How about Dark Horse Press in Milwaukie, Oregon, USA. Familiar with them?

  19. Tony Lee says:

    I feel your pain, Christopher. The problem is that publishers would only take something like this is a) it was around 80 – 110 pages and b) if you were happy for a ‘back end of profit’. Then they’d listen.

    I get this on an almost daily basis. When we did the Baker Street Irregulars, Hachette did them as 4 x 44 page Graphic Novellas, but we asked to bind them two at a time, so 2 x 88. They didn’t. And the books didn’t sell. Now, they’re considering collected editions…

  20. BH says:

    Correction, that should have been Knockabout Comics (UK) not Fantagraphics (US).

  21. K Haasz says:

    Hi, don’t know much about the publishing scene, but am an avid reader across genres and would welcome a graphic novel of B&M.

    As a youngster I was a fan of the Peter O’Donnell comic strip, “Modesty Blaise” and liked it enough to buy the books when they eventually came out in the mid ’70s (I think, like Arthur my memory is selective). Then, a few years ago, I saw MB graphic novels in a local shop – a reissue of the original strips rather than new artwork, admittedly, but they were selling in a store where all the customers were less than half my age, and none of whom could possibly remember the original strips or the books. Clearly, the shop thought them worth stocking.

    B&M are much more contemporary and so I would expect them to attract even more interest than Modesty, altho’ she’s more sexy than either Arthur or John, maybe not more than Janice!

    I’ve just gone into the other room and checked and the Blaise stories I have are published by Titanbooks. Other publishers include Eclipse Comics and Manuscript Press, but US. Perhaps one of these companies might consider B&M?

    In passing, may I say I came to the site initially to comment on “The Victoria Vanishes”, but can’t find an appropriate place to do so, nor any other way to contact the site.

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