About Shelf Abuse

Always down, never out…

Shelf Abuse is the online home of Southend born creative Carl Doherty. I currently reside on the murky, Lovecraftian shores of Southend-on-Sea, making a meagre living as a web designer, graphic designer, digital artist and copywriter.

Welcome to the Fold is my debut novel. An unrelated second novel, vegan(Vn), and graphic novel project Sarfend will follow soon.

Carl Doherty

Shelf Abuse (then called HolyCr4p.com) started in 2006 as a blog purely about superhero comics, and evolved over the years into regular pieces on indie comics and/or self-publishing. Guest writers have also occasionally contributed, venting their opinions on the current state of comics, sharing their favourite books or simply promoting their work.

I first started Shelf Abuse while working as a journalist and critic for numerous sites and publications that no longer exist. I gradually moved back into web design and graphic design, occasionally illustration, and now write as a pastime. Here are a few of my recent accomplishments that I’m most proud of:

  • In 2018 I helped create and co-curate the Inkhead event, the first comics event ever held in my hometown of Southend-on-Sea. This workshop, in collaboration with Laydeez Do Comics and arts organisation Metal, saw a dozen local and international comic creators enjoy a week of workshops and creative time at Chalkwell Hall, and culminated in a public event.
  • I’ve self-published several books under my Bothersome Books label (now Shelf Abuse Books), including my mammoth debut novel Welcome to The Fold, and edited and designed several others, including EJ Babb’s These Unnatural Men.
  • I participated in the judging panel for the 2017 Ghost City Comics Awards.
  • Other related contributions include articles for such comics-related publications as Multiverse Magazine and SF Signal.

Hang on… if you begin producing your own literature, won’t criticising other people’s work make you some kind of backstabbing, duplicitous bastard?

Oh, definitely.

In the Victorian era, before creatives were expected to enter a lifetime of student debt, literary criticism was a seen a valid way for fledgling artists to learnt the craft. I continue to blog because a) I love discovering new comics and graphic novels that I’d probably overlook were it not for this blog, and b) to help guide my own ideas on what exactly it is that makes a great comic… well, great.

I shan’t deny that over the years, as I’ve experienced the trials and tribulations of self-publishing and small press first-hand, my tone has mellowed considerably. My main focus nowadays is to celebrate the indie books I’ve enjoyed the most, so that others may find them and their creators can continue to produce fine work.

Also, if someone wants to dissect my own fiction, I’ll gladly put any number of scathing critiques up on the site, no matter how much they make me cry. And believe me, I’m sure they will.

Will you feature my webcomic/graphic novel/book/digital comic?

Due to an increasingly dense schedule, I’m no longer officially accepting review submissions. Hopefully this will eventually change, but not looking likely any time soon.

However, my love for indie comics hasn’t diminished in the slightest. Please do feel free to follow me on social media, add me to your mailing list or inform me of your new book. I can’t always reply, but I always appreciate hearing about new books.

Submission Guidelines

Need any help?

Are you jesting with me? I’m not business-minded enough to ever get the site making money, but hey, other misguided dreamers do occasionally use the site/blog as a home for their scribblings.

Anyone is welcome to join in, but please read the Submission Guidelines page before getting in touch.

What the hell was Bothersome Books?

Quite simply, Bothersome Books was a banner under which I plan to self-publish my works, starting with my debut novel Welcome to the Fold. A second novel, vegan(Vn), will be released soon.

it still is, only now it’s called Shelf Abuse Books.

So, you’re just self-publishing?

Pretty much, yes. Though I myself have worked in publishing, marketing and journalism, and everything that will be published here will have been edited and proofread by several professionals.

Why bother self-publishing?

The sad truth is that a publishing deal no longer guarantees more of a readership than the self-publishing route. In my time as a hack journalist and role as a creative writing tutor I’ve encountered many writers and heard many horror stories from creators who’ve had their dreams scarpered by small publishing houses. In a weak economic climate in which publishers and publications are dropping off like flies, it’s nigh on impossible for an unknown author to get either an agent or the attention of the sort of larger publisher that could do one’s work justice. So I go it alone…

That said, if anyone from a decent publisher is reading this and considering giving me a big bag of cash, I’m open to offers.

Is that a typo? You sicken me!

I do my best to ensure that everything published under Shelf Abuse is edited and polished to a high professional standard. However, this is the real world, and occasionally things slip under the radar. Feel free to contact me at carl@shelfabuse.com so that others may be spared the misplaced apostrophe that ruined your day.

Are those rats on your logo? Euww!

I’m not quite sure where the rats came into this. But infiltrate my mind those bothersome rodents did, and I guess they’re here to stay. I like to think that there are two stances on rats: those that have had them as pets, and those that haven’t. Destructive vermin they may be, but let a fancy rat into your life and you will experience the sort of love and affection that only a dog could offer. They also make the perfect writer’s companions: Philip K. Dick was on to something.