Deb Aoki of Manga.About.Com recently conducted an interview with some manga fan who wants to start a manga magazine to fill in the gap left by the end of Shojo Beat. His name is Garret and his idea is called Shojo Berry. The interview should never have been granted to Deb, because it’s pretty clear that a) they’re really early in the development of the idea and don’t have answers for some pretty basic questions, and b) dude has no idea what he’s talking about.
“I am unsure if you mean the cost to ShojoBerry or the issue cost. We are hoping to keep the cover price of the magazine between $5 and $7 per issue.
“The base cost of the magazine itself will most likely be ~$3 for printing…” - Garret Boast, Shojo Berry
Your raw materials cost is going to be half of your cover price? Really?
Listen, I’ve ripped on more than enough people for embracing the fallacy of digital print-to-order for as a business endeavour, and if a fan or vanity publisher has decided that this is the best way to get their work to the public, whatever, go for it.
But as a business venture? As someone who, when asked if this was a professional magazine or a fanzine answered “Discerning whether ShojoBerry is a fanzine or a magazine really comes down to the primary intentions as well as the business model.”? Well I hate to tell ya man, but what you’ve got there isn’t just a fanzine, but an incredibly ill-conceived one as well. There are kids in Artist Alleys at anime cons across North America, selling colour photo-copies of traced INU YASHA drawings for 10 bucks a pop, and THEY have a better business model than you.
Man. Reading this article, he’s talking about running off the copies on his “home equipment” which I assume is just a decent laser-printer and a hot-glue gun? I’m all about the mini-comics production model and the idea of creating something that’s a labour of love, but most folks doing mini-comics or print-to-order aren’t ALSO paying to print their content, licensing it from other artists or companies. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of problems with the very basic ideas as laid out. The contradictory points of view on digital delivery (“There’s no point of doing this digitally, unless it fails, then we’ll look into it,” to paraphrase.) are brutal and myopic, but the complete lack of knowledge of the business of comics or manga on display?
This actually hurts my head.
But like I said, the interview should never have been granted, Garret shoulda just held his tongue and said “We’ll be happy to talk to manga.About.com when we’re closer to our launch date!” and then got his ass to some sort of publishing class to learn all of the many things he’s doing wrong.
Listen, I realize I’m coming down way harder on this dude’s bad idea than is warranted, but considering WHERE HE WAS INTERVIEWED and the transparent hubris wafting off of that interview, I’m willing to give this a go. Honestly, I was an optimistic youth, I wanted to run my own manga anthology. Who didn’t? Ask Will Allison, he’ll totally rat me out. It woulda been a great time. But even when I was a 21 year old who’d never printed anything that didn’t come out of a photocopier, I wouldn’t have been so naive as to treat this as a ‘business venture’. At least I like to think I wouldn’t have been… I do remember that at the least my plan involved using someone else’s money to print the thing.
I am honestly and truly a fan of the sort of can-do, let’s put on a show kind of spirit that starts all sorts of projects. I do that stuff all the time. But this dude sounds like he’s… what… in his early-mid 30s at least? I’d be terrified as an advertiser, as a licensor, as someone investing my time in this effort, given the tremendous absence of knowledge about his chosen field that he’s displayed in this interview, or in choosing to GIVE an interview. I see bad business ideas all the time, people approaching us through the store with half a clue and a few hundred bucks looking to start a publishing empire. I can say that, with my many years of experience in bad ideas, Shojoberry is truly special.
P.S.: I know that even mentioning any of this is practically daring Garret Boast to show up at my blog and argue or clarify or swear at me, whatever. But if anyone involved with this effort is considering do this, I beg you, don’t. If what you’ve got to offer is what was on display in the manga.about.com interview, just keep your mouth shut and come back to me in 3 months when you’ve figured some shit out. And take solace in the fact that if you do make it and are successful with this endeavour, then I look like a huge asshole, and isn’t that worth something?