In which Alison Wilgus arches an eyebrow at the concept of "Legitimacy"

This blog has stood empty for too long! Introductory Post Time has arrived, and lucky me! I’m going first.

Paul wanted us both to talk a little bit about ourselves, and about why we've decided to pour so much of our time into running a quarterly genre magazine. Short version: my name is Alison! I love stories. I want to help connect people with fiction that they'll care about.

A useful (important?) thing to know about me is that while I've always been a writer, up until recently my professional world was largely confined to comics. And not mainstream superhero comics either. My cohort is mostly graphic novelists and webcomics folks, the sort who started their careers with handmade minicomics and worked their way up to graphic memoir or sprawling online narratives. 

In the world of creator-owned comics, the stigma of self-publishing ranges from slight to nonexistent. Big publishers are great for distribution, for marketing, for getting your work into the hands of more readers than might otherwise discover you. But you don't need to sign with Macmillan or Scholastic to be seen as legitimate. In some cases, really, the opposite is true. Small presses and self publishing are where you find some of the major works of comics "literature." There's a thriving "Comic Arts Fest" scene with dozens of shows focusing on books that people make and distribute themselves. If you've ever been to one of them—SPX, TCAF, MoCCA—then you already know what I mean.

I knew going in that prose was different. There are plenty of self-publishing success stories, particularly in genre, and lots of small token and semi-pro markets with dedicated followings and respected editorial staffs. But over in these parts, it still feels like there's a stark division between "professional" and "amateur”; a creeping feeling that to many folks in the community, you're either a "legitimate" publisher of note or you're little more than a vanity press. 

I post comics to my personal website or print them as hand-stapled minis without even thinking about it. I simultaneously write comics for major publishers and make small stories that I staple on my kitchen table, and I have never once worried that my editor or my friends or my readers would think less of me for it. I have no reason to think that self-publishing a comic would count as a strike against it.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying: a big part of why I agreed to come on as co-editor of The Sockdolager is because I fundamentally don't think that a micro press is any less legitimate than a major one, whatever "legitimate" even means. I think that Paul and I are pretty okay folks with pretty good taste in fiction, and that between the two of us we can put together a collection of awesome stories that people like us would want to read. I believe very strongly in promoting work that I love, and in paying creators as much as I can afford to for the privilege. I believe that a great many "reprint" stories haven't had as large of an audience as they deserve, and I want to help do something to change that. And perhaps most importantly, I believe that small presses have the freedom to champion marginalized voices in ways that are still difficult for larger publishers.

Lots of excellent people have worked for many years to build a vibrant community of upstart prose publications. I very much look forward to joining their ranks.