Violent! (as opposed to Violent – the exclamation mark is very important!) is the dark horse of Factor Fiction, our bastard step-child. We adopted the title with the 6th issue, after five issues under the stewardship of “Mighty” Mike Sivier.
Launched in 1999, Mike Sivier envisaged Violent! as a homage to the classic 70s British boys’ comic Action, and invited Jay to participate, along with the third part of the Violent! troika, “Jaunty” Jim Campbell (co-creator of Daemonifuge for Warhammer and The Inspectre for The Judge Dredd Megazine). Through a convoluted chain of events, it was not until issue 3 that Jay actually made his debut in Violent!‘s pages, but made up for that by writing an increasing percentage of each issue from then on. Like a virus… Starting on an annual schedule, Violent! was a staple of the Bristol Comic Festivals, and Mighty Mike’s sales pitch cry of “Do you like comics?” became legendary, (not to mention feared).
By issue 3, Violent! began to make a small profit, which spurred Mighty Mike on to go for spot colour on the cover of issue 4, a Rabid cover by rising comics star Frazer Irving. The budget well and truly blown, Violent! returned to glorous monochrome for issue 5. And then… there was a pause in publication as circumstances changed and priorities shifted. The Violent! troika had day jobs, and were all involved in another project – the web-based comics magazine Borderline. Jim designed the logo and cover dress, and Mike and Jay divided up the News and News Feature Editor role between them. At the same time, Factor Fiction launched its first anthology The Girly Comic, with Selina editing. That did not leave a lot of time for Violent!, and so for a while, the beast slumbered. Jay continued to stockpile scripts for such time as the stars became right and the creature could be raised from the dead.
As time went by, Borderline came and went, leaving several hundred thousand grieving monthly readers in its wake, and The Girly Comic went from strength to strength. Factor Fiction introduced a stablemate title KissKiss BangBang to cover those stories which could not easily be contained within Girly. With Violent! remaining AWOL, plans were drawn up for KissKiss BangBang to become home to Jay’s ongoing serials.
Mike was finding it increasingly difficult to devote time to producing Violent!, and Jay was increasingly writing more and more of each issue. So, after some discussion, it was decided that Violent! should replace KissKiss BangBang, and come under the Factor Fiction imprint, leaving Mike free to concentrate on the creative side of things, while Jay handled the publishing and promotional side.
Issue 6, published in 2004, was the first Violent! from Factor Fiction, changing format from its original A4 size down to the standard A5 size of all Factor Fiction publications. The page count increased, and we were able to stretch to colour covers and some internal colour without total financial meltdown. In 2004, Violent! was nominated for a National Comics Award and in 2006, nominated for a Comics Creators Guild Award. So far, always the bridesmaid but never the bride, but hey-ho.
Eight and a half years and thirteen print issues later, Violent! and Factor Fiction is changing again. The small press marketplace, much like the mainstream equivalent, has changed over the last decade, and the print medium has become simultaneously less and more important. Comic readers are reading more comics online, and demanding their fix in bigger collected editions. Print On Demand has grown up, and it has never been easier to bring out your own high quality books. And yet, to reach out to an international audience, the web is an equally valid way to go. With changes to our personal circumstances, we can no longer afford to carry on as we have been. The cost of paper and colour toner cartridges alone is a luxury we can no longer justify, and sales seem to have reached a natural ceiling. To move to the next level , and increase our circulation, plus graduate to the bookshelf editions we covet, a new approach is required.
Over the coming months, we intend to archive the best of Violent!‘s past issues alongside brand new strips, returning to print publications with a series of collected editions. If you’re a long-time reader of Violent! or if you’re fresh to our particular brand of insanity, we bid you welcome! The best is yet to come.
Jay and Selina