Black Bastard, a graphic novel based on Tobias Taitt’s own prose autobiography of the same name about growing up in the racist Britain of the 1980s after being abandoned by his mother, will see print publication this September from Soaring Penguin Press.

Black Bastard

The graphic novel was originally serialised on David Lloyd’s Aces Weekly online comics platform, drawn by Anthony Smith. It tells of Taitt’s struggles to find stability and direction after his Barbadian mother abandoned him as a child – as he was being shunted between children’s homes, reform schools and even prisons. The print edition will collect the digital release alongside additional material.

Soaring Penguin Press co-publisher Tim Pilcher had this to say about the addition of Black Bastard to the company’s catalogue:

“It addresses a lot of important issues not discussed in comics enough, and is particularly relevant in our Black Lives Matter era.”

The book will launch in September, in time for Britain’s annual Black History Month in October.

Black Bastard joins two other books from the publisher for this year.

February brought The Glass Wall, a debut graphic novel by William Robertson and Yulia Lapko set in London’s East End. It was released following a successful crowdfunding campaign that concluded in November 2020.

Said the publisher in their newsletter, “If you’ve already bought a copy, you’ll know it’s sharply observed and bleakly compelling. Will tells a story that grabs you from the get-go and Yulia’s artwork is fresh and evocative. And it came to us like that! The Glass Wall was an unsolicited submission that, as soon as we read it, made us say, “Yeah, this!”“

April will see Soaring Penguin launch their next Kickstarter campaign for the English language collection of Israeli cartoonist Ilana Zeffren’s Urban Tails, which looks at the everyday life of Ilana, her partner and their two cats who live in Tel Aviv. It was originally serialised for Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

“We like stories that give us a glimpse of life in another country and another culture,” said the publisher in their newsletter.

“[W]hat we really like about Urban Tails is that it’s gently subversive,” they continue. “It has a family dynamic that just happens to be about two lesbians. And their cats. It doesn’t bring it up as a thing, it’s simply part of the fabric of the cloth. You read the stories, you laugh or nod knowingly at their goings-on, and you feel like you’ve spent a bit of time with a couple of nice women. And their cats.”

In September 2020, Soaring Penguin Press announced a shift to a crowdfunding business model which will allow the publisher to give more money up front to the creators for their work.

John Anderson, Soaring Penguin Press founder and co-publisher, described the move on their website, “We realised that the traditional royalty-based pay scheme meant there was almost no chance of creators getting a living wage.

“We needed a way to ensure that money was provided up-front to the creators, in exchange for allowing us to publish their stories. That meant crowdfunding.” The first book under this new system was The Glass Wall.