Well, let's do the proper hype post before I head bedwards after an evening with the modern blues of Holly Golightly haunting me. Or something similar.
Variance is a 105 page perfect-bound (i.e. A Book) anthology, the debut publication from Variance Press, who use Cafepress' print on demand services to create an alternative comics distribution method. It's clever thinking, and I'm pleased to be involved with it. Variance are a genre publisher, aiming to cater for those which aren't particularly well served in the anglophile medium. Mainly Sci-fi, but with splashes of Fantasy too.
In terms of non-comic content it comes with a foreword from Warren "Transmetropolitan" Ellis and an afterword from Dwayne "The-Emmy-Award-winning Static Shock" McDuffie . So even if we're all rubbish, there's at least something from real writers for you to cherish.
In terms of comics, there's ten stories - many from people I like to think of as peers, such as 2004's Most-Likely-To Alex De Campi and 2004's Most-Likely-To-Turn-You-Into-A-Front-Page-Scandal Craig McGill , as well as work from Variance Publisher Travis Johnson, and artists like the ever loving golden-boy Sam Hart and Paul Rigdon.
So. A lot of talent, of the hungry kind. I expect they'll be tarting their own samples from the project elsewhere, which I'll link to as and when I see them. For now, there's some lovely work shown in Travis' interview with Newsarama which can be found here. And since I know you lot, and how bad you are at following links, just go straight to Sam Hart's piece here. Go on. Shoo.
I've personally got two pieces, adding up to eighteen or so pages of comics. It is, I think, the first serious comics work that's available in a professional format. That is, more than simple action comics. I'm pleased with them both, and wouldn't have thought of putting them out otherwise.
The first, longest and newest is "Something's Wrong", which came together incredibly quickly with the ridiculously devoted Charity Larrison. While not having read the anthology yet, I'd imagine it's a little bit different to the majority of the work in the collection. For those who follow this blog religiously (That is, nodding boredly through the slow bits and thinking about your shopping list), it's the Apocalypse Romance that I was talking about expansively a few months ago. As I said then, it's When The Wind Blows remixed by Ballard and filtered through a romantic sensibility, except in thirteen pages with a young and sexy couple instead of humble and humbling old people.
Here's the first two pages. Click to see a larger image.
The second, shortest and oldest is "HIT 6", which came together incredible slowly with the ridiculously devoted Wilson Hall. While not having read the anthology yet, I'd imagine that it's a little different to the majority of the work in the collection, though not quite in the absolutely glaring way "Something Wrong" is. For those who follow this blog religiously (That is humouring me when I repeat a joke that wasn't funny the first time), it's one of the long awaited final two pieces in my HIT series. It's found a home at Variance because Nextcomics doesn't appear to be updating anymore and - you know what? - I think it's ace, and Wilson's work deserved proper printing so people can actually appreciate it properly. It's a recapitulation of all history in five hyper-compressed pages tinged with a Burroughsian sensibility and an attempt to match Metabarons' sense of scale. Also, for once, not over-written because there's no words.
Here's one of the five pages. Won't tell you which one. Click to see a larger image.
Intrigued parties can order from Cafepress, specifically the Variance shop. It costs a mere $12.50, which with the current exchange rate is just under seven pounds. Which strikes me as extremely good value for a book of this size.
The problem is that since Cafepress is a US operation, shipping adds expense. If you're in the US, it's really not that bad at all. The UK is a little heavier, which is what I'm going to talk people through from now on. US kids can read the shipping details themselves.
The first item sent to the UK (Or Europe) adds $7 to the price, taking 9-12 days to reach you. Additional items add $4 to each. This means that to order a single copy will cost, in total, $19.50 or just shy of eleven pounds in real money. Which while isn't horrendous for an indie comic, isn't quite the same bargain.
The best way to reduce this is to order multiple copies to reduce the overall postage. Here's a handy chart of the savings.
2 copies: $5.50 postage per copy
3 copies: $5.00 postage per copy
4 copies: $4.75 postage per copy
5 copies: $4.60 postage per copy
6 copies: $4.50 postage per copy
As you can see, you hit the law of diminishing returns fairly quickly - ordering a couple of copies gives a significant saving, but from then on it gets increasingly pointless. My suggestion would be for anyone who would like to order, but still would make the savings, to pair up with someone else. If you're not friendly with anyone mad enough to want anything with my name connected to it, you could try using my commenting system to meet new ordering chums.
Of course, if you're feeling flush, just order it yourself and save the inevitable hassle of dealing with the stench of your fellow humans.
If anyone has any questions, the commenting system is open. I'll do my best to help and/or mock you, depending upon my whims.
Caveat: I'm zooming around the country this weekend, so the answers may not be as swift as usual.
EDIT: The real sample page for Variance proper is up online. Go have look. Pages for all ten stories.