Matthew Seiden manning The Buenaventura Press table at TCAF 2009. Photo by Deb Aoki,

Sad news today, as Alvin Buenaventura officially announced the end of his publishing company Buenaventura Press at the (excellent) group blog Blog Flume, to which he contributes.

“I deeply regret having to take these actions, but the press experienced a devastating financial blow that made it impossible to continue.”

While I do actually have a good handle on what that ‘blow’ was, it’s not my place to say if Alvin doesn’t want to talk about it just yet. The fact that he closed down Buenaventura Press in January and just told the public now implies the level of privacy he’d like, and that’s totally within his rights.

I really liked a lot of Buenaventura’s output–they’re the only North American publisher to have released work by the wonderful Tom Gauld for example, they were the amazing Vanessa Davis‘ first publishers, they took over the publishing duties of the outstanding Kramers Ergot and surprising Comic Art magazine, not to mention all of the other fabulous prints, comics, and books that they released over their short lifetime. They were a regular exhibitor at TCAF and they always put on a fantastic-looking display. They put out good work by good cartoonists, and it’s a shame that there’s now one less publisher doing that. Cheers Alvin, you did great work.

Which brings me to my next point: There are still a lot of awesome publishers around that could probably use a few of your hard-earned dollars in exchange for wonderful comic books.

Buenaventura Press at TCAF 2007. Photo by Jamie Coville.

I don’t want to turn this into a polemic or anything, I’m not trying to guilt or badger you into giving up your money, but I know more than anything how easy it is to get swept along in the day-to-day-discussion of comics, the bullshit Blackest-Night-Siege-Heroic-Age-Brightest-Day nonsense is fun because you can be a part of the conversation online about how terrible it all is, but when it comes to spending money on good books that don’t get as much discussion–but are going to hold up on your shelves and in your comic boxes a helluva lot better down the road–it really is worth your time and effort to check out some of the smaller and boutique publishers out there, because they’re often doing amazing stuff.

And I’m not setting this up as a mainstream versus indie debate–that’s fucking stupid. That’s over. This is about buying comics you like versus buying comics you don’t. And there are a lot of great books out there getting left out of the discussion that are great, that are worth your time. I do my best to promote them here on the blog, to sell them in the store, to give them a platform and an audience at TCAF, but sometimes it isn’t enough and I have to make a direct appeal like this.

So here’s a list of publishers I like, and a book or two I recommend from them; Please support them with a purchase if you can:

AdHouse Books –
Recommended: Afrodisiac, by Jim Rugg. The Venice Chronicles, by Enrico Casarosa

Bodega Distribution –
The Mourning Star Volume 1 & 2, by Kazimir Strzepek

Conundrum Press –
Drop-In, by Dave Lapp.  Ruts & Guilles: Nine Days in Saint Petersburg, by Phillippe Girard.

Drawn & Quarterly –
Market Day, by James Sturm. Vellevision, by Maurice Vellekoop. Red Colored Elegy, by Seiichi Hayashi. Get a Life by Dupuy & Berberian.

Fanfare / Ponent-Mon –
A Distant Neighborhood Volumes 1 & 2, by Jiro Taniguchi

Fantagraphics Books –
Almost Silent, by Jason.  Artichoke Tales, by Megan Kelso. Ganges #1-3 by Kevin Huizenga.

Koyama Press –
Lose #1 & #2, by Michael DeForge. A Very Kraftwerk Sumer, by Chris Hutsul.

La Pasteque –
la Fugue, by Pascal Blanchet.  Jimmy et le Bigfoot, by Pascal Girard.

New Reliable Press –
Horribleville Volume 1, by KC Green.

Oni Press -
Scott Pilgrim Vols 1-6, by Bryan Lee O’Malley.

Picturebox Inc. –
New Enigineering & Travel, by Yuichi Yokoyama.

Pop Sandbox –
Kenk, by Richard Poplak.

SLG Publishing –
Street Angel, by Jim Rugg and Brian Marruca. NIL, by James Turner. DORK Vols 1 & 2, by Evan Dorkin. SQUEE!, by Jhonen Vasquez.

Sparkplug Comic Books –
Bookhunter, by Jason Shiga. Jin & Jam #1, by Hellen Jo.

Top Shelf Comix –
Alec: The Years Have Pants, by Eddie Campbell. Superfuckers, by James Kochalka. Moving Pictures, by Kathryn & Stuart Immonen.

Topatoco –
Never Learn Anything From History, by Kate Beaton. Adventures of Dr. McNinja, by Chris Hastings.

Tug Boat Press –
Papercutter Anthologies, by various.

U.S.S. Catastrophe –
Pretty much everything they stock is awesome.

…and that’s the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of single-title self publishers doing great work like Carla Speed McNeil and Finder, Jeff Smith and Rasl, Eric Powell’s Chimichanga… hell, tons of creators trying to scrape out a living publishing under a larger umbrella too. Not to mention the many fine retailers like The Beguiling trying to stock and sell these books too.

There are people doing good work, and while it’s tempting to get yourself down when a great publisher disappears, scuff your shoes on the ground and say “shit”, it’s much more productive to remember that there are still folks out publishing great work… and we don’t want them going anywhere, you know?

- Chris

6 Comments on “Buenaventura Press Closes It’s Doors”

You can track this conversation through its atom feed.

  1. Ryan says:

    It’s tacky, but I had/have been wondering how some of the more boutique-y publishers stayed afloat and self-sustaining in these rough past few years as more mainstream publishing houses have been faltering. For me, after seeing firsthand how licensing manga works and having self-published something (albeit in my case, small scale with a few issues of a book/zine thingy under my belt), you start to realize how damn expensive it all is and wonder what other folks’ business plans must look like.

    I would never ask (tacky, like i said) but the curiosity is more pragmatic— How do people make a fair and interesting publishing thing work? And is there a lesson/model here I can take/steal/adapt to follow in their footsteps? Buenaventura, Tugboat, Sparkplug, PictureBox, etc… great presses that do great work, but how do they pay the bills?

    I’ve heard anecdotally a lot of random things: super slim margins and folks running it just for the love of it with no money year after year, or old money/trust funds/success in a preview career paying to do things at a loss, or also one breakout hit book that pays for other weirder projects (the Pokemoney-begets-Pulp, Narutollars-begets-Ikki), etc. The first and third example are teachable lessons for otheres, whereas the 2nd one doesn’t really provide a model to follow in the general case.

    For me personally, in the context of wanting to continue to self-publish what is essentially an expensive vanity zine project with friends, and in a sorta-coming-out-of-the-recession(OR-ARE-WE?) world full of Kickstarter pleas, weird Manga magazine ideas with half-baked business plans, and fantastic art comics pubs having $$$ trouble, I always want more information on how this stuff really works.

    For now I’ll settle for “learning-by-doing” and mourn the passing of Alvin’s fantastic press/distribution monster.

    Also: Who is publishing the next issue of I WANT YOU by Lisa Hanawalt? FB or D&Q or someone has already stepped up to the plate and snapped her up, right?

  2. Ryan says:

    Sorry, that got longer than I planned! But your main point is well taken– time to support the other fantastic pubs on that list and put our $$$ where our mouths are. Gonna pick me up some books this weekend :B

  3. Unfortunate News LinkBlogging » Comics Worth Reading says:

    [...] isn’t it, that they waited five months to say they were no longer selling?) into a wonderful recommendation list of small publishers you should be supporting, complete with suggested [...]

  4. Nawid A. says:

    Oni Press is a wonderful publisher and they somehow manage to make their collections pretty cheap despite being extremely high quality ($30 for the Local HC is awesome).

    Archaia is one I’ve been digging recently (The Killer).

    And of course, Image, though that’s on a creator basis based on how Image works (King City, Orc Stain, Chew, The Walking Dead, Invincible, Transhuman, Nightly News, Proof). I don’t how something so awesome came out of such crap (the 90′s thing).

    And I must say, I’m worried for Vertigo. The canceling of a China Mieville Swamp Thing just for the Swamp Thing to come back to the DCU (which apparently can’t coexist), shows how much DC cares about their star line. And you know the last three ongoings Vertigo launched are a zombie book, a vampire book, and a post apocalyptic book (I for the most part still like these books though). Where’s the next American Virgin or Unknown Soldier? And where is the next Vertigo ongoing anyway? I haven’t heard of anything coming.

  5. The end of Buenaventura Press: a reaction round-up | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment says:

    [...] the best response to the news came from the Beguiling retailer and TCAF organizer Chris Butcher: I don’t want to turn this into a polemic or anything, I’m not trying to guilt or badger you [...]

  6. Sequential | Canadian Comics News & Culture says:

    [...] Item: During the C-List’s hiatus, U.S. publisher Bueneventura Press closed its doors. The tiny press put out one of the biggest comics ever (KE7) and some of the smallest (Tom Gauld). They even published me (in an issue of Comic Art). Alvin Bueneventura is a visionary publisher with great taste and a dedication to comic art bordering on the saintly, and we should be saddened by the passing of his company. Last Gasp will handle BP’s remaining stock. Chris Butcher has some notes. [...]

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