Comma Press is a not-for-profit publishing initiative dedicated to promoting new writing, with an emphasis on the short story. It is committed to a spirit of risk-taking and challenging publishing, free of the commercial pressures on mainstream houses. In April 2012, Comma became one of the Arts Council's new National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs). Read about our NPO plans.
Something happens in good short stories that's quite unique to them as a form; the imaginary worlds they create are coloured slightly differently to those of the novel. Their protagonists are more independent and intriguing. The realities they depict more arbitrary, accidental and amoral. Comma believes British publishing is missing out on something in its neglect of the short story, and to make up for it we are currently the most prolific hardcopy publisher of short stories in the country.
Formed in 2003 (as an artists' group), Comma began by building on Ra Page's Manchester Stories series, (published in conjunction with City Life magazine) with a series of short story booklets in four cities across the North of England (distributed as free supplements with each of the cities' listings magazines). This project then developed into a series of book-length anthologies - starting with The Book of Leeds and The Book of Liverpool. From the outset Comma has published a biannual 'new writers' showcase as a way of bringing in new talent alongside collections by already established writers such as David Constantine and Sean O’Brien. We also publish the Ellipsis series (featuring linked or themed story sequences by three writers per book), and biannual genre anthologies, starting with crime (ID and MO), horror (Phobic and The New Uncanny) and SF (When It Changed). Since Oct 2007 Comma has been a Not-For-Profit Company Limited By Guarantee, Company Number 6390368.
In 2007 Comma also launched a translation imprint (again specialising in short fiction) to bring new masters of the form to British readers. It has published four translation anthologies to date covering Europe and the Middle East, and five single author collections in translation, most recently The Madman of Freedom Square, by Iraqi refugee Hassan Blasim, described in the The Guardian as the 'perhaps the greatest writer of Arabic fiction alive'. Comma has previously won the Shirley Jackson Award (for The New Uncanny) and the World Fantasy Award (for Rob Shearman's Tiny Deaths).
Comma also publishes poetry collections and the occasional novel.
Alongside Comma Press, the organisers also run a film adaptation project, Comma Film, which commissions and occasionally produces adaptations of short literary texts (poems and short stories) into short films. Working with the Manchester based Picture Lock Productions, it recently launched the adaptation-only festival Version (14-15 Nov, 2009), set to return in November 2010.