Graphic Novel Publisher – Soaring Penguin Press

Amanda Lillywhite

When SCBWI member John Anderson set up a company to publish graphic novels and poetry he named it Soaring Penguin Press because he liked “the idea of a name that encompasses an oxymoron, and that suggests that dreams can come true”.

Since 2009 he has published ten books and secured a North American distributor. Two more books are being launched later this year and he is happy to receive submissions from graphic novelists, poets and illustrators.

The Beginnings of Soaring Penguin Press

John Anderson (left) with Woodrow Phoenix
at comics festival Caption in 2012.

Fifteen years ago, aware that there were very few good quality comics anthology titles available at the time, John recruited some talented friends from the Comics Creators Guild (CCG) and published Meanwhile. The anthology ran for four issues then John was asked to assist with the production of CCG’s magazine Comics Forum. With his help the magazine became profitable for the first time in its history.

Well and truly bitten by the publishing bug, John put a couple of other titles (From The Tomb, Spooky The Warren Fanzine and Space Babe 113) into print. He also helped other members of the CCG to publish their own titles.

Two years ago he made to decision to “do it all properly” by joining the Independent Publishers Guild and attending London Book Fair. At LBF 2013 he exhibited a graphic novel recently published by Soaring Penguin Press: Peter Pan by Régis Loisel, a 372-page, full colour hardback. Peter Pan has been described by Paul Gravett as an “audacious release” by Soaring Penguin Press and “a gripping expansion and enhancement of the J.M. Barrie play”.

Soaring Penguin Press’s Range

John says that Peter Pan by Régis Loisel is, because of its subject matter, “for mature readers only” as is The Lengths a graphic novel by Howard Hardiman (due for release October 2013). The launch party is on Friday 11th October - you could use this Facebook link for it  or this one from the Gosh! comics website.

In common with many other graphic novel publishers Soaring Penguin Press’s books are not currently categorized for particular age ranges though John does have plans to add this feature to the website. John says that Ellen Lindner’s Undertow (a graphic novel about Coney Island in the early sixties) and The Black Feather Falls (a four-issue mini-series - Book One out soon) are great graphic novels for teenagers. He adds that The Jam Trap by Chrissy Williams is delightfully funny and suitable for the whole family.

a self-portrait of Ellen Lindner

Soaring Penguin Press’s books are available on its website and in bookshops. Plus there are upcoming opportunities to see the books, meet John and support an SCBWI member. He will be exhibiting at: London Winter Film & Comic Con on October 5 and 6; Comica Comiket on November 2; and at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival on November 18 . The Lengths by Howard Hardiman will be launched at Gosh! Comics on October 22 and in 2014 John intends to exhibit again at London Book Fair.

the comics vending machine in Vienna where John first saw the book Little Death
- now published by Soaring Penguin

Submitting to Soaring Penguin Press

John says he is very happy to receive submissions from graphic novelists, poets and illustrators: “Tell them to send me what they have, if they think it's ready to be seen. I'm happy to look at anything from synopses to final works. Also, as I seem to be getting into the sub-genre of illustrated poetry, I might be looking for illustrators for various anthologies.

What I want is good storytelling. I'm all about the story. Earlier this year, I agreed to publish Masha Solon's poem Five, illustrated by Katriona Chapman. Katriona's artwork is gorgeous, but I wouldn't have taken the book if Masha's poem hadn't been so lovely. Five has such brilliant take-away, that the poem could easily have stood on its own. Katriona's work simply brings the book to another level, making the story almost tactile.”

Details of how to contact John are available at Soaring Penguin Press, on Facebook  and Twitter.

Amanda Lillywhite is a south London based illustrator, writer and comic creator.Her children' s portfolio is at Crazy Panda. For more information about graphic novels and comics visit her blog or follow her on Twitter 


  1. This is an operation with class - those shirts are fab.
    Thanks for raising our awareness about Soaring Penguin, Amanda, and some great signposting for anyone wanting to get involved in the comic and graphic novel world.

  2. Really interesting publications - thanks for highlighting Soaring Penguin, Amanda!


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