KIMOTA Magazine - The History

by Graeme Hurry (Editor)

Kimota Magazine has grown out of a newsletter written for the Preston Speculative Fiction Group. Each meeting there was a guest a newsletter would be produced, and these could be up to an eight page pamphlet when there were guests like Ray Harryhausen, Michael Moorcock, John Brunner or Nick Park. Every Christmas there would be a special edition with stories articles and artwork from the members of the group, and at the Christmas party these would be sold to cover the printing costs.

Frank Fazakerly In 1990 we decided to venture out into the publishing world. Bryan Talbot is a stalwart of the Group and we decided to gather together the Bryan's Frank Fazakerly comic strips which had been printed in AD ASTRA magazine prior to its demise. There was also two pages which had not been seen before. The story was not finished, but perhaps that only made it more enigmatic. So an A5 glossy covered comic with 24 pages was produced. We limited the print run to an ambitious 1000 copies and got Bryan to sign them all. These sold well and made a bit of money for the Group but we still have a few copies of these rare numbered and signed comics left.

Getting to know fairly local horror writers like Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Gallagher, Stephen Laws and Mark Morris gave me the idea of being even more adventurous. I decided to publish an anthology of ghost/horror stories which had their location set in real places in the North of England (where Preston is situated) called NORTHERN CHILLS.

Northern Chills I set up my own Publishing company called Kimota Publishing and commissioned local artists, Martin McKenna, Jim Pitts and Bryan Talbot to illustrate the stories. The chosed stories were from Ramsey Campbell, Steve Gallagher, Stephen Laws and David Riley. Unfortunately at the time Mark Morris did not have any stories set in real places. The stories had been published before but the artwork was new and my idea was for the books to be of interest to tourists to the region. Unfortunately, it was not easy getting the books into book shops and I spent more money driving around the shops in Cumbria and places than I did getting orders. The book was well received by the fans for ghost fiction, but did not make its money back.

Northern Chills was an expensive project with 2000 paperback books and a limited edition hardback edition of 200. I am still paying back the loans taken out for it. The trouble was I was bitten by the bug and even though I knew I could not afford another such project I wanted to do something similar. This was when the idea of expanding the readership of the Christmas Kimota newsletter came to me. By producing the magazine twice a year, mercilessly utilising the talent of the Group and taking submissions from the rest of Britain, I would have a very respectable small press magazine where new writers could be showcased along with new stories from the professionals.

So for Christmas 1994 the Preston SF Group's magazine went public. Stephen Gallagher was kind enough to donate a couple of articles and I managed to get some stories from Group members. I also wrote to writes I knew including Caroline Dunford who had a story in The Science of Sadness edited by Chris Kenworthy. I also received a story from Conrad Williams another writer of exceptional talent. However the greatest donation was a new story by professional writer Stephen Laws who gave me a beautiful story set after Buddy Holly's death, I will be indebted to Steve forever for that.

I had been getting the inside pages photocopied at a Stationary shop called Office World and getting the covers produced separately, either at a printers or on my computer, but then Office World drastically increased the number of copies you needed to get the cheap rate of 2p per copy. From 50 to 2000. Well Kimota was expanding but 2000 was still a tad too adventurous so I had to turn to other methods of magazine production.

Chris Kenworthy has produced a number of excellent books including Nick Royle's first book Counterparts. He had told me that he had found a printer who used photocopying techniques but was cheap for low print runs. I got a quote and although more expensive than previously, I could get a professional result, perfect bound, for the price of using the more expensive photocopying at Office World. I would also not be up for nights on end stapling the bloody things. So issues 4 and 5 were perfect bound with coloured card covers, and it looks like this will be the format for some time.

Producing a small press magazine can never be done for profit, ask any Small Press publisher (in Britain anyway), but if you're lucky you eventually get most of your money back. It also gives immense pleasure when things go right and people like what you're doing. It can also be the source of deep anxiety, when you notice mistakes when it comes back from the printers - things you can do nothing about. Even worse is when others see the errors first like the time I put the wrong title on a story, the author was not at all happy. But that's just life in the small press. You just have to get it right next time!

See the Kimota magazines produced up to now, and perhaps order a few.

See a list of all the Kimota Contributors up to this point.