We hope you have enjoyed the show!
Page 45 opened twenty years ago this very day! When I, quite clearly, was five.
Look, that’s me above with Mark to my left at our opening night’s Booze Bash!
I’ve had customers live with me, find love on our shop floor, and made friends for life with the people I am so, so lucky enough to work alongside.
Here’s a stat to knock your socks off: in those twenty thrilling, remarkable years only one member of staff has left Page 45 voluntarily: Tom Rosin, after ten years’ tenure to pursue his career as a chef.
Well, that’s not quite true: our original member Dominique has tried to get away three times, but she’s always come back, without once returning her leaving presents.
Dominique has promised never to leave Page 45 again. I hold this to be true, for I have refused to write Dee another reference. So ingenious are Dee’s innovations and so meticulous her systems (she labels everything – our labels have a label saying “labels”) that we couldn’t function without her, so there’s no escape now.
I think that stat speaks volumes about how much fun this job is: introducing such beautiful books to such brilliant people and you are, all of, you brilliant! Without your loyalty, hard-earned cash and shared enthusiasm for our chosen medium Page 45 would not be here today.
You pay our wages and we recognise this to be true.
Of course without our beardly beloved Mark we wouldn’t be here today, either. Here he is with the great Huw Feather, artist of Soft Cell and early Marc Almond single sleeves, album sleeves and videos. I have some original Huw Feather art! Oh yes!
Together we co-designed Page 45 and you can see those early designs here.
Twenty years for any Independent Retailer maintaining diversity on our increasingly homogenised High Streets is an accomplishment indeed. I may have an announcement to make about our next twenty years in about a week’s time – what a tease!
In the meantime, more never-before-seen photos of our first Pan print and the colour separations for its t-shirt. Highy collectible!
(My first-ever job was as a screen-printed t-shirt designer.)
So much has changed in these last twenty years, almost all of it for the better. For a start, back then there were only a couple of hundred graphic novels worth stocking and now we have over six thousand! Six thousand different graphic novels so that each and every genre – from straight fiction to politics, autobiography, travel, crime, sci-fi, humour and horror with a burgeoning gay content too – is bursting with breadth and depth to appeal to all tastes, and Young Readers’ and Young Adults’ graphic novels are fizzing with sophisticated thrills to get our kids reading again!
The UK comics industry, which Mark and I both firmly believed in (and staked a substantial amount of money on) twenty years ago, has properly come of age and is flourishing! Just one look at Page 45’s Comicbook Of The Month Club shows how many of our selections – a disproportionate number considering how many of our graphic novels come from America – are British. We didn’t choose them because there are British, we chose them because they were the best.
And almost every day someone completely new to comics comes through our door because the message is finally out there, spread all over the broadsheets, that comics are cool, that comics have so much substance that graphic novels like Mary and Bryan Talbot’s DOTTER OF HER FATHER’S EYES can beat prose in the Costa Book Awards, and the comics are now seen as so respectable that a comic shop like Page 45 won Nottingham’s Best Independent Business Award two years in a row.
I wish Mark could be here to see it today. I really do. But sadly Page 45’s co-creator Mark Simpson died in 2005. I like to think – no, I know – that Mark would be proud of what we’ve accomplished since in his memory, and would especially proud with what our Jonathan has achieved in bringing Page 45 bang up to date with the website you’re now reading this on which comics’ Kieron Gillen called “crush-worthy”!
It is a beautiful beast, is it not? I particularly adore Page 45’s website front-page illustrated by another British comicbook legend, Nabiel Kanan. It’s a comic. It really is. Not just because it has panels, but because it tells a story in two sequential images: young women and men arrive at our door, thrilled by what they might find, then come to our counter where we whip their wallets and utterly traumatise their credit cards.
But if I can be serious for one moment, none of that would have been possible without Jonathan arriving in the nick of time some six or seven years ago as my new business partner with a vision for Page 45’s future.
No word of a lie: if it wasn’t for Jonathan, there would no longer even be a Page 45.
We certainly wouldn’t be celebrating Page 45’s 20th Anniversary at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2014.
I can sell a comic. Heh, I can really hand-sell a comic as so many of you know to your cost! But I don’t have that same incredible acumen for technology and organisation that Dominique and Jonathan – equally adept at frisking you financially – do! They’re also very, very good teachers.
Jonathan has been my absolute rock for the last six or seven years, both professionally and personally. If something goes wrong at home on my computer or whatever it’s, like, “Jonathaaaaaan…?”
These days on the shop floor and on Twitter I’m basically front-of-house. No, wait: I’m essentially the shop dog!
It’s Jonathan, Dominique and Jodie on our worldwide mail order you should be thanking, and that is what I hope I’m doing here.
I’m also thanking you. Without you there would be no Page 45, either.
Thank you for your support, thank you for your extraordinary kindnesses – customers and creators alike – and thank you for what is truly an endurance test as I make so much booze-addled mischief @pagefortyfive on Twitter.
Know this, please: I am so, so grateful and you are so loved.
A toast then in closing, if I may, on Page 45’s 20th Anniversary:
“To quality, diversity and creativity in comics!”
Page 45 is a comic shop. We are:
Stephen L. Holland
with Jodie Paterson
Quite often with Bryan Lee O’Malley!