The Third Something

123 / Make Art, Get It Seen

I’m thrilled to announce my debut short story collection is now on sale!

At the start of this year I gave myself a goal, which I phrased plainly as “make art, get it seen”.

The “make art” bit I was having no trouble with, quietly filling my sketchbooks with stories.

But I know that unless I take up my space and push that art into the world, the circuit is incomplete.

There is little point, as Beth Pickens writes, in being a Henry Darger.

So, back in March, inspired by Adrian Tomine’s teenage zine series, I committed to writing, drawing and publishing my own short story collection, in glorious zine form.

A copy of Biteguard Fever Dreams by Adam Westbrook

Today, I am thrilled — and terrified! — to say that Biteguard Fever Dreams is now on sale!

It contains five original, hand-drawn short stories, ranging in length from 1 to 6 pages; printed here in the U.K. on A5 silk-press paper and shipping worldwide.

There’s a limited print-run of just 100 copies, of which only 43 remain in stock. Subscribers to my pop-up newsletter got ‘first dibs’ and a handful of copies were sold at the Thought Bubble Comic Festival last weekend.

So if you’d like a copy, don’t delay!

Depending on demand I may do another print-run eventually, but there are no guarantees! There is also no digital version available, at least for the time being.

Bite Guard Fever Dreams on sale at Thought Bubble 2022

Bite Guard Fever Dreams surrounded by lots of grown-up comics at Thought Bubble 2022. Photo: Joe Stone/WIPComics.

A stack of copies of Bite Guard Fever Dreams, ready to ship

The first batch of copies ready to be shipped around the world, from Canada to Italy

Why only 100 copies and why no digital version?

On the face of it, this seems to be antithetical to “make art, get it seen”, but the rebellious beauty of printed zines is they refuse to scale; they are allergic to popularity.

My goal is not to get rich, quit my job or create a publishing empire. It’s also not to spend every weekend processing and shipping orders ad nauseam. It’s just to make something I think is special and show it to the people who want to see it the most.

And then stop.

And, while in the midst of sellotaping dozens of customs forms to brown envelopes, I admit that uploading a PDF to Gumroad would have been easier, there is something meaningful in the temporary grit of packaging something physical.

Every panel and every word in Biteguard Fever Dreams was drawn by hand, and I’m signing, numbering and packaging every copy myself.

Efficient? No! Sustainable? No! But worth it for a hundred people? I think so.

A page from Biteguard Fever Dreams by Adam Westbrook

Unscalable, un-tweetable — but try getting your cold mits on this, Stable Diffusion!

The stories

Contents page of Biteguard Fever Dreams by Adam Westbrook

I’m really proud of the five little stories that make up the collection. There’s fantasy, memoir, and dark comedy, wrapped in a cute frame story.

I don’t know if you will like them or be unmoved by them entirely; but what I can say confidently is that they are the purest expressions of my creative self I have achieved since childhood.

They are more “me” than my YouTube videos, which were always made to build an audience and a reputation; they are way more “me” than the films I make at The New York Times, which are big collaborative efforts, bound by journalistic accuracy.

No, each story in Biteguard Fever Dreams is exactly what I wanted to draw at the moment I started drawing each one; and I told them exactly how I wanted to, with no compromise.

For better or worse, it’s all me.

I’ve had an absolutely wonderful six months, in joyful play with my inner artist. And in that respect, whether I sell just one more copy or sell out, I’ve already won.

If you buy a copy, I hope you enjoy it!

A page from Biteguard Fever Dreams by Adam Westbrook

Until another Sunday soon,

Adam's signature