Category Archives: Retailing

Distribution Wars: Digital Edition

So here it is, broken-down, real simple like: The State of Digital Comics [Ref: David Brothers]

Consumers want graphic novels available on their digital devices for download. They don’t (generally) download novels a chapter at a time, so downloading a graphic novel an issue at a time (and for $0.99-$3.99 a go) is stupid. I can see that, I guess, and customers should vote with their wallets. They probably have been, digital sales numbers are reportedly quite low, despite near-ubiquitous availability.

Then there are the class-action lawsuits over the pricing of books, which I honestly cannot wrap my head around at all. How can a consumer legislate the price of a consumable? Particularly when we’re not talking basic-survival-goods-in-a-crisis scenario. [Ref: Graeme McMillan].

Does that mean Canadian book-buyers can launch a class-action lawsuit against Canadian distributors who tack-on 20% or more to the cost of a book even though our currencies are more-or-less at par? Because, frankly, I am down for that. Someone show me where to sign.

Really, the whole thing is kind of aggrivating from a business standpoint. I’m a firm believer in consumers voting with their wallets. If you don’t like paying $3.99 for a digital comic book because you feel there should be an inexpensive all-in-one graphic novel version, don’t, and tell them why. And if you don’t like how the material is presented, you’re mad at the company, whatever, then just don’t buy their product. Take a stand. Like Barnes & Noble did. [Ref: Publisher’s Weekly]

For those of you that don’t click on links, here’s what PW has to say:

“In what looks like the first shots of a new tablet content war, Barnes & Noble has instructed its stores to stop selling and remove the physical copies of the 100 graphic novels DC Comics plans to sell [digital versions of] exclusively through the new Amazon Kindle Fire tablet. “ – Publisher’s Weekly

You dig? That’s the last remaining bookstore chain telling a publisher “If you’re not going to play fair with us, we are not going to work with you.” That is a very big deal, and I wonder how DC will respond to that.

As for me? Well I’m writing something longer about this for an outlet (to be named at a later date), but the long and the short of it is that I don’t have a horse in the race as a retailer. Comic book retailers have either been entirely excluded from digital comics downloads or treated to abhorrent terms in order to participate (looking at you and your incredibly shitty setup, Comixology), so these two corporations fighting it out over a format we don’t/won’t get access to is amusing, depressing, and ultimately out of my hands.

I will take a moment to remind you though that these books will remain on the shelves of thousands of comic book stores nation-wide, and across the world. Like The Beguiling, in Toronto, Canada, for example (plug). To find the comic book store nearest you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com/.

– Chris

UDON at San Diego Comic Con

As mentioned, I’m booth-managing Toronto’s own UDON Entertainment, Booth #5037, at Comic-Con 2011 this year (in addition to a half-dozen other things). It’s gonna be a fun time, and I really dig a lot of their books. I’m particularly chuffed to see them launching their first creator-owned, original IP, original graphic novel this year. I totes want that to be a success, because encouraging a Toronto pub with international distribution to do original work? Well that’s right up on the top of my to do list. Anyway, here’s a PR I wrote about what they’ve got going on at SDCC. Lemmie know whatcha think!

All images link to hi-res versions suitable for use online. For interior art or previews, or to follow-up on any of the listed debut books, please contact us at mattmoylan@udonentertainment.com

2011 marks the beginning of Publisher and Creative Studio UDON Entertainment‘s second decade of operations, and one of its biggest San Diego Comic-Con outtings ever! With three new books debuting at Comic-Con International and more than 16 creators in attendance signing and sketching for fans across all five days of the show, no comics, video game, or art fan is going to want to miss out on all the great stuff going down at UDON, booth #5037!

Art Books and Graphic Novels Debuting at Comic-Con:

MEGA MAN TRIBUTE HC

Celebrating over 20 years of the ‘blue bomber!’

Hundreds of artists from around the world join forces to pay homage to one of the most iconic figures in gaming with Mega Man Tribute! This 300+ page, full-colour art book is the ultimate celebration of the blue bomber, featuring the characters of Mega Man classic, Mega Man X, Mega Man Zero, Mega Man ZX, and Mega Man Legends in every style you can imagine! Includes original pieces by comics superstars Hitoshi Ariga (Mega Man: Megamix), Sean “Cheeks” Galloway (Teen Titans: GO!), Sanford Greene (Dark Horse Presents), and many more!

Premiering at Comic-Con, this limited edition hardcover version features exclusive cover art by Mega Man manga artist Hitoshi Ariga (Megamix, Gigamix), and is only available direct from UDON! Limited to 500 copies. SRP $80.

COMIC-CON EXCLUSIVE: Meet the artists featured in Mega Man Tribute at the UDON Booth #5037 every day from 1:30-3pm for a special signing! Participating artists are scheduled to include Joe Bluhm, Andrew Dickman, Sean “Cheeks” Galloway, Sanford Greene, Edwin Huang, Ryan Odagawa, editor Matt Moylan, and UDON members Jeffrey Cruz, Omar Dogan, Joe Ng, Eric Vedder, Long Vo, and Jim Zub.

RANDOMVEUS VOL.1 HC

By Jeffrey “Chamba” Cruz! UDON’s first original graphic novel!

All-out action meets off-the-wall wackiness in RandomVeus Volume 1, an original graphic novel from the mind of artist Jeffrey “Chamba” Cruz! Join bouffant-sporting hero Raimundo and the team of One-Dimensional Couriers as they deliver mysterious packages to every corner of the wild world known as the RandomVeus! Octopus ninjas, jazz playing demons, robot gorillas, samurai mushrooms, and giant furry squid monsters are all on tap in this zaniest of zany adventures!

RandomVeus Volume 1 is UDON’s first-ever original graphic novel, featuring an entirely original story and characters in a beautiful and unique artistic style! The hardcover graphic novel will debut at Comic-Con with an SRP of $29.99.

COMIC-CON EXCLUSIVE: RandomVeus creator Jeffrey “Chamba” Cruz will be signing at the UDON booth #5037 every day of Comic-Con! Come meet the artist, and get your copy of RandomVeus Volume 1 signed and sketched-in by the author!

STREET FIGHTER LEGENDS: THE ULTIMATE EDITION HC

By Omar Dogan, Ken Siu-Chong, Jim Zub, and more!

It’s the entire Street Fighter Legends series in a gorgeous, oversized format to catch every detail! Collecting the complete Sakura, Chun-li, and Ibuki comic series, this ultimate collection shows why the lovely ladies of Street Fighter deserve to be called Legends! Plus appearances from Ryu, Sagat, Dan, M.Bison, Karin, Makoto, Elena, and more of your favorites!

This is a beautiful companion to UDON’s smash-hit Street Fighter Ultimate Edition v1 and v2, featuring 350+ pages of comics! Entirely drawn by UDON artist Omar Dogan, and written by Ken Siu-Chong (Street Fighter) and Jim Zub (Skullkickers), this limited edition hardcover version features exclusive cover art by Omar Dogan. Limited to 200 copies! Debuting at Comic-Con with an SRP of $80.

COMIC-CON EXCLUSIVE: Street Fighter Legends creators Omar Dogan and Jim Zub will be signing at the UDON booth every day of Comic-Con! In addition, Street Fighter Legends variant and pin-up artists including Adam Warren, Alvin Lee, and Jo Chen will also be doing select signings at the UDON Booth!

More great creator signings!

Here’s the complete list of creators who will be signing at UDON Entertainment, booth #5037:

Joe Bluhm (Mega Man Tribute), Jo Chen (Street Fighter Legends, Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Jeffrey “Chamba” Cruz (RandomVeus), Andrew Dickman (Mega Man Tribute), Omar Dogan (Street Fighter Legends), Sean “Cheeks” Galloway (Mega Man Tribute), Sanford Greene (Mega Man Tribute), Alvin Lee (Street Fighter Legends, Hatsune Miku), Matt Moylan (Mega Man Tribute), Joe Ng (Street Fighter), Ryan Odagawa (Mega Man Tribute), Arnold Tsang (Street Fighter), Eric Vedder (Darkstalkers), Long Vo (Street Fighter, Inception), Adam Warren (Street Fighter Legends, Empowered), Jim Zub (Mega Man Tribute). Plus one very special guest that will be announced closer to Comic-Con!

Please see the UDON Website or the UDON booth #5037 on-site at Comic Con for complete schedule and signing times.

Come to the UDON Entertainment Panel!

UDON will be taking you behind the scenes on some of their best and most high-profile video game, comics, and art book projects. In addition, several MAJOR announcements about forthcoming projects will be made at this panel! Don’t miss it!

UDON and the Art of Comic & Game Design.

Friday, July 22

Room: 4, 7:00-8:00 PM

UDON create great comics, translate your favourite Japanese art books, and design some amazing video games! Join them as they share their trade secrets, learned from working with a host of different comics and game companies over the past 10 years! Take a tour of winning design elements through UDON’s vast portfolio of works, and get ready for special announcements of which comics, manga, artbooks, and video game properties they’ll be working on next! Featuring Jim Zub (Skullkickers), Jeffrey Cruz (RandomVeus), Long Vo (Inception), Matt Moylan (Mega Man Tribute), and more!

PRESS

If you have any inquiries or questions about UDON Entertainment or to arrange follow-up interviews, please contact UDON Managing Editor Matt Moylan at mattmoylan@udonentertainment.com.

ABOUT UDON ENTERTAINMENT

UDON Entertainment is a Canada-based publisher of original comic books, graphic novels, and art books. UDON’s best-known projects are those based on popular video game franchises such as Street Fighter®, Darkstalkers®, Okami®, Resident Evil® and Mega Man®. The publisher’s ever-growing library also includes English editions of several Japanese manga titles, the anthology art book series APPLE, and the Manga for Kids line for children ages 7-12.

A Comic I Like: Malinky Robot

Malinky Robot by Sonny Liew is a very cool indie read, about two kids getting into trouble in a nominally sci-fi, ultra dense and condensed city. It’s really beautifully drawn, and these Malinky Robot shorts range from Xeric-funded, self-published work, to stories that have appeared in the FLIGHT anthologies.

Sonny Liew is probably better-known now for his work on SLG Publishing’s WONDERLAND comics and Marvel’s EMMA adaptation, or MY FAITH IN FRANKIE and REGIFTERS for Vertigo, but he got his comics start on these books and I’ve always thought they were great fun.

Image will be publishing a collection of all of the Malinky Robot stories to date this August, called MALINKY ROBOT: COLLECTED STORIES AND OTHER BITS. Full Colour, 128 pages, $17, I’ll definitely be buying one and if you like good comics with great art, might I recommend you do the same?

More at http://sonnyliew.wordpress.com/

– Chris

 

Green Lantern & Free Comic Book Day Musings

I’ve appeared on a few other websites, again:

“It’s kinda hard to root for a guy who thinks he’s the underdog but is in reality a good-looking fighter pilot with a smoking-hot girlfriend, great support network of friends, amazing apartment (exposed steel beams!) … oh, and a magical wishing ring.”

– Me, talking about the Green Lantern Film at The National Post’s Popcorn Panel

and

“All in all, I like FCBD but we haven’t noticed any slow-down for not participating. Hell, we didn’t even really hear much from our regulars about not holding it. I think it’s because we do so much outreach throughout the rest of the year–on average we’re doing 30 events for the public in a calendar year, and that’s not counting TCAF. We’re always trying to bring new folks through our doors, and while FCBD and legions of cheap giveaway comics are certainly helpful in that regard, I don’t really think they’re the only weapon in our arsenal, so to speak. ”

– Me, talking about Free Comic Book Day at ComicBookDaily

I’ve been doing some other writing too, but more on that when it’s ready. 🙂

– Chris

Green Lantern Prequels shipping this week… and in August.

Shipping this week:
MAR110266 Green Lantern Movie Prequel Hal Jordan #1 2.99
Originally due: May 25th

So a Green Lantern Movie Prequel is shipping this week, a full month late and 3 weeks after the Green Lantern Movie opened. The fifth and final Green Lantern Movie Prequel book won’t be out until August. As a retailer I’m pretty worried about this. Not just because of a late book, because hey, sometimes books are late. But because of the creative team, and because of how Capital “I” Important this book is. This was DC’s major tie-in to the Green Lantern film, written by Green Lantern writer, Chief Creative Officer, and Green Lantern movie Executive Producer Geoff Johns. Apparently at no point was it a priority to get their major movie tie-in out in time for the movie, that’s a little distressing. But worse than that, this is nothing new. Johns has been at least a month late on Green Lantern for most of the title’s run, with frequent skip-months to get the book back on track.

And getting worse, GL isn’t the first problematic work of Johns’. Johns really sunk his teeth into Flash before he moved to GL, and that series has frankly been a mess for years now. There’ve been 4 relaunches of that title in 2.5 years:

Flash: Rebirth #1 (April 2009) (6 issues, 11 months)

Blackest Night: The Flash #1 (December 2009) (Came out before the 6th and final issue of Flash: Rebirth)

Flash #1 (Brightest Day) (April 2010) (10 issues, 13 months)

Flash #1 (September 2011)

Frequent delays, content changes, having the end of the arc ruined, all sorts of relaunches… It hasn’t been a great time to be a Flash fan. Sure, the content is generally very well regarded when it arrives, but for fans who are used to getting their comic every month, Flash has been about the most disappointing title that DC publishes in that regard for 3 years.

But making things ever worse  is a non-Geoff Johns-written comic being released this week:

APR110099 Green Lantern Emerald Warriors #11 (War Of GL) 2.99

You see, this book is an aftermath book to Geoff Johns’ “War Of The Green Lanterns” crossover that’s been running for the past few months. It takes place after the War is over–an epilogue to the series. Have you guessed why this is distressing? It’s because the last issue of War Of The Green Lanterns hasn’t ended yet. The last part is Green Lantern #67, written by Geoff Johns, and which has been moved from it’s original ship date of June 15th to… July 13th.

Now, frankly, I don’t personally give a fuck. I don’t really read these books, but I do pay attention. This isn’t the first time DC or Marvel have spoiled the ending of one of their own major crossovers because of lateness, editorial incompetence, or just not really giving a fuck themselves. I feel like while it’s my job to sell these books to people (and I enjoy my job) anyone who’s buying them knows what they’re getting into by now. It’s admittedly one of the crappier parts of my job, but it’s not all sunshine and roses here in the comic book trenches.

No, why I’m even bothering to write this blog entry, is this guy, Geoff Johns, is the guy in charge of relaunching the entire DC Universe in September. 52 brand new comics, all hinging on Geoff Johns and Jim Lee (another fine creator not known for being timely) and their Justice League ongoing series, and that’s kinda fucked up right there. DC has chosen to make Geoff Johns the public face of this relaunch, Johns has seemingly willingly stepped into the role, and every book he’s involved with right now has massive scheduling and timeliness problems.

I don’t say any of this to be cruel, to take a shot at DC when they’re trying something exciting and new, to rain on their parade. But it’s been rattling around in the back of my head since the announcement, and the release of two fairly major fuckups within the DCU this Wednesday, both directly tied to Johns? Well, I felt like it was at least worth noting.

– Chris

Two Things I Said

“Well maybe this is telling, but I’ve always put my enjoyment of the festival second — or maybe third — to doing the work and promoting a bunch of great comics creators, giving them a place to make a few bucks and expand their audiences. Aspects of TCAF are certainly enjoyable, but the real value to me is more that it’s rewarding. That sounds a little martyr-y, I’m sorry, it’s not intentional.”

http://www.openbooktoronto.com/magazine/summer_2011/smart_producers

“I just did a quick count and Marvel have about 100 ongoing series and mini-series set in the main Marvel U coming in August, give or take. Looking at the DC list, it seems the vast majority of books getting issue #1s are, in fact, being rebooted rather than exploring entirely new concepts or characters, which means that as retailers we have hard sales data on those books. We know what Action Comics #900 sold, and we know what Grant Morrison’s All Star Superman #1 sold, and we know what really big event books with real-world press coverage tend to do to sales, so we’ve got a usable metric to figure out orders on Morrison and Morales’ Action Comics #1. Again, I think we know the general ballpark of where to place our orders on almost all of these titles, and that they’re #1 issues will largely mean more copies are sold than the previous issue, not less. Compared to Marvel’s 100-title continuity, 52 books in the DCU seems almost quaint, and certainly easier to deal from an ordering perspective.”

http://www.comicbookdaily.com/wp/championing_comics/retailer-q/retailer-q-1-dc-reboot/

Just in case you missed me writing about the comical books on this here blog, you can go check out what I’m thinking about these days over on those other sites.

– Chris

How To Buy Manga: RIGHT NOW

“One of the things I most hate to see on manga-related forums are comments like, “I’m interested in this series, but I don’t know if they’re going to cancel it, so I’ll wait a bit and see if it continues.”

“You know what practically GUARANTEES that something will get dropped from publication? Not putting your money where your mouth is and picking up volume 1.

“This sounds snarky, and I know everyone has to prioritize his or her budget, especially in tight times, but seriously—this is a business that relies heavily on perceived demand, and how do we know there’s a demand for a title if no one is picking it up?  I think there’s an idea in the fandom that the manga market is a lot bigger than it actually is, and if you pass on a volume for now, enough people will still buy it that it’ll stick around for a while. Unfortunately, this isn’t really the case–Manga is a hit-driven business, and most series only get one chance to get out there and succeed.”

– Tokyopop Representative “TPHENSHU” on the realities of manga publishing

Someone named “TPHENSHU” on the Tokyopop website addresses the question of why certain series “go on hiatus”, by turning the practice around and blaming it on the fans.

See, here’s the thing. The rest of that article (http://www.tokyopop.com/TPHenshu/tp_article/3180353.html) is actually a really straight-forward, plainly spoken explanation of how book publication, distribution, and sales works. It’s a smart explanation, and incredibly helpful. Some of the finer points are disagreeable to me personally (particularly the enthusiasm for print-on-demand, though that at least is somewhat tempered by describing it as an ’emerging’ technology) but at the core of the article is a very real problem; the combatative attitude between this Tokyopop employee–and really Tokyopop in general–and their fans. You don’t start off an answer to a frequently asked question on your website by complaining about your customers. You don’t do any one of dozens of weird aggressive things Tokyopop has done over the past 10 years or so (running Sailor Moon in the same magazine as Parasyte? Really?), but that’s a big one.

And the thing is I don’t disagree with the frustration expressed by the TP staffer. Standing behind the counter at the store, it can be brutal to hear customers say things like “I really like that series but I’m not going to buy it because they might drop it half way through.” Hell, it’s even more angering to hear a customer (or potential customer) say “I’m not going to buy that because I already read it online.” But if I responded to such comments with, say, “People like you saying things like that is what’s killing manga!” I would get creeped-out, blank looks as the once-potential-customers backed out of the store, never to return.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is unacceptable.

If you want to be “that guy” who attempts to treat every uninformed statement by a potential customer as a “teachable moment,” go ahead. His name is Jeff Anderson. (Admittedly I do pick my battles on this front, only engaging folks on the subject of piracy who, after saying something dumb, twig to the fact that saying something like that out loud was at least slightly socially inappropriate in a store dedicated to selling such material.)

But look at the history of manga publishing in North America and you can see it’s filled with unexpected and unfair treatment of customers, particularly in regards to series dropped in the middle of runs. Even putting aside the incredibly poor business decision of randomly insulting your customers, how can you really blame anyone who’s had their heart broken when it comes to a favourite manga series for being cautious on future series? A reader who has 14 volumes of a never-to-be-completed 26 volume series looks at those books on their shelf and feels personally and financially betrayed, a loss of hundreds of dollars, dozens of hours, all from a company who won’t even acknowledge the fact that they’re cancelling the series publicly, or the reasons for it. Manga publishers’ behaviour regarding series cancellation (“going on hiatus”), and Tokyopop’s in particular, have been absolutely abhorrent. For them to criticize their fans for ill feelings that they created?

Poor form.

– Christopher

Is DC dropping the Comics Code just another cost-cutting measure?

The big news of the week appears to be DC Comics dropping their participation in The Comics Code Authority, after nearly 60 years.  Good fucking riddance to that awful, reductive, and incredibly harmful group. I fall very much into what I call the Frank Miller* camp–books should not have age warnings on them. At most they should have suggestions, and they certainly shouldn’t have some sort of archaic, overly-secretive group of busy-bodies setting up a rule of ‘standards’ for art to adhere to. Age recommendations should come from booksellers.

But I don’t doubt for a minute that dropping the code had nothing to do with Art and everything to do with The Bottom Line.  Much like during the time period where Marvel dropped the comics code, DC is in a period of intense financial and creative adjustment. Marvel spun their move as edgy and creator-driven, DC’s spinning theirs as a move towards ‘accuracy’ in ratings by having different age criteria, but ultimately what it comes down to is: it costs money to be participate in the comics code authority. How much money, I’ve got no idea, they don’t publish those figures and last I heard it was next-to-impossible to join the CCA. But regardless of how much it costs, any amount of money is more than just coming up with your own system and not paying membership dues.

I might not have immediately thought of this as a cost-cutting maneuverer if it hadn’t been for some of their other recent, penny-ante cost-cutting behaviour; they’ve stopped shrink-wrapping their dust-jacketed hardcovers for one. In a move that is probably saving them about 25 cents per book, DC has decided to send all of its dust-jacketed hardcovers to market sans the shrinkwrap that has protected them for lo, these many years, in a move that will almost certainly see more damaged books. We had a damaged dust jacket on the Starman Omnibus Volume 6 this week actually, that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. It’s frustrating as a retailer to have that happen, for a dust-jacket, but many collectors are particular enough that a ding in a dust-jacket is unacceptable, and so the whole book is either more difficult to sell, or unsellable. Why did this happen? Well someone did the math and figured that the increase in damages would cost less than shrinkwrapping everything, and so a very nice thing that DC did went out the window, a tiny cost-cutting exercise on books that range in price from $30 to $60.

It’s a bummer.

I don’t really have much to say about their most loudly-touted cost-cutting manouver, reducing the price of their line to $2.99 a book (but with 20 pages of story content instead of 22), I think it’s a win-some/lose-some sort of decision that will attract certain customers while putting off others, who might already feel like the comic book format isn’t the best deal going.

Oh, and here’s a thing that hasn’t got much attention: They’re cancelling trade paperbacks. Here are a few recent ones:

**********

DC COMICS CANCELS ORDERS ON AZRAEL: KILLER OF SAINTS TP
DC Comics has cancelled all orders on the AZRAEL: KILLER OF SAINTS TP (DEC100247). This title will not be published.

**********

DC COMICS CANCELS ORDERS ON THE AUTHORITY: THE LOST YEAR BOOK TWO TP
DC Comics has cancelled all orders on THE AUTHORITY: THE LOST YEAR BOOK TWOTP (NOV100254). This title will not be published.

**********

Which, I mean lets face it, those are two VERY low selling books, but time was DC would publish both of those books, despite the low sales, just because they solicited them and were following through on a promise to the customer. Now, they’re not publishing books that don’t sell well, it’s one of those things that’s both amazing and obvious at the same time.**

I’ve also heard rumblings that I cannot really talk about that DC is going back to press on fewer titles than ever right now. Basically if it’s not making a certain sales target, it doesn’t get reprinted, regardless of whether or not it’s volume 1 of a series of trades that are still coming out. So DC fans, if you want a trade paperback, I humbly suggest that you buy that trade paperback when you see it–those books might not be in print more-or-less indefinitely anymore.***

Which all puts into perspective a quote I read from either Alonso, Quesada, or Brevoort a few weeks back, just after the editorial shake-ups at Marvel that had people promoted all over the place. One of them, and I wish I could find that interview for you, basically repeated the truism that DC doesn’t have to make money at comics, they get all that big licensing money and so they don’t have to worry about sales and things and that’s why things are different at Marvel. Before the last few months I’d be inclined to believe that, but it’s becoming more and more apparent to me that the bottom line is starting to really matter at DC, as they pinch pennies, opt-out of membership dues, and decide to stop killing trees for books no one seems to want.

Good on them.

– Christopher

* I’m sure I’ll grow out of it.

** I’m all for publishing Art that doesn’t sell well but is of quality, literary or artistic. Sales are not the only barometer of quality, and I applaud those who believe in a work so strongly who decide  that despite apathy of hostility from the marketplace that a piece of art must be seen: bravo. But publishing Azrael trades that no one wants makes the Lorax cry.

*** As an aside that doesn’t directly tie-into this essay, I will note that there are positive changes in DC’s Collected Editions dept. as well, including the fact that much-demanded-by-retailers graphic novels of SUGAR & SPIKE and FLEX MENTALLO have finally, finally been added to the publication schedule. Shake-ups all over, it seems.

Thoughts on Marvel leaving DBD

So this morning it was announced that Marvel is pulling their book trade business away from Diamond’s book distribution arm, and moving it to Hachette. They’re still going to keep distributing to comic book stores through Diamond, but Borders, B&N, Chapters/Indigo, etc., are all going to Hachette. You can find a good write-up with all of the details at The Beat.

I don’t really have time to write a full blog post on this, a lot going on today. So I figured I’d just update this one post with my thoughts as I went.

– Question: Was Diamond Books’ recent downsizing because they knew they were losing Marvel? Or is there more downsizing to come?
A representative of Diamond Books answered this one on Twitter: “hey Chris – recent re-org not related, no down-size planned”

– Thought: I’d heard through industry channels that Marvel makes up more of DBD’s business, percentage-wise, than it does of Diamond Comics’ business… That’s a pretty big hit for anyone to take.

– Thought: Related to that, man, Diamond had been really, really pushing Marvel’s books… because Marvel was really, really pushing Diamond to do so. I guess at its base level that’s their job, but I’ve heard a story or two that would make your hair curl. I guess everyone else Diamond distributes now gets 100% more attention for their books? More?

– Question: Does this give any additional credibility to Checker Books’ comments about their decision to leave DBD?

– Q: Did this come from Disney? Or is this just natural growth?

– Q: Marvel said in the PR at the beat that Diamond had grown their bookstore sales by 300% over 3 or 4 years… Was that not good enough or was it a corporate directive saying that the move had to happen?

– Q: Is it just a question of a company not putting all of their eggs in one basket? Because man, does the comics industry EVER LOVE to put all of its eggs in one basket.

More to come,

– Chris

Bluewater Follow-Up

From here:

“I worked for them as a letterer at an embarrassingly low page rate. I took it to get some more superhero style stuff under my belt, hoping that I could at least use them as a springboard to get better work down the line.

For the first two books, things went ok. However, on the next four, I had to send invoices up to six times with constant reminders in order to get paid. It was crazy how often someone could “lose” invoices or have them “caught by the spam filter”. After having waited about 6 months to get paid, I walked and stopped doing any work for them. They did eventually pay up, but it took a lot of effort to get them to do so.

During the above situation, someone who’d worked on one of the books that I worked on contacted me to see if I’d been paid. He’d taken a back-end deal and was told that the book hadn’t made any money. I wasn’t surprised, to be honest — It didn’t seem like it was going to be a big seller. The person didn’t know much about how distribution worked and thought that it was a lie that Diamond was only giving about 40% of cover price, so I kind of dismissed his claims at first. Then he sent me a spreadsheet of expenses and income that he’d been sent from Bluewater and asked me to look over to see if it made sense. I was shocked to find that the cost of lettering was listed at TWICE what I was paid.

Maybe there’s a logical explanation as to why the lettering cost was listed at twice what I was paid, but I can’t think of what it would be. What it looks like, to me, is number fudging.

– Ed Brisson, comics creator and small-press publisher

So to reitterate: Most creatives working with Bluewater only get paid royalties once a book is profitable. But the accounting to determine whether or not a book is profitable is done by the publisher, and has allegedly been rigged in the publisher’s favour at least once. So to those last, few, desperate people defending the business practices of this company, it’s not just that you’re working for free to ‘get your name out there’ which in this age of social media and webcomics is frankly ridiculous, but this publisher may actually be deliberately cheating you out of money that you would be owed. I would recommend, again, to any creator looking to ‘break into’ comics, to find other routes than through the gutter.

In a completely unrelated matter, in no way tied to the previous statement (particularly in a way that could get folks like Mr. Brisson in trouble vis a vis Bluewater’s constant legal threats), after consulting with my employer we’ve decided at The Beguiling to no longer carry Bluewater’s product. If a customer would like to pre-order Bluewater’s material with payment, we’ll honour that request, because we’re a full-service comic store. But frankly the idea of supporting this publisher with shelf copies (or making money ourselves off of these books) has become incredibly unappealing to us for a variety of reasons.

For more on Bluewater Comics, check out Simon Jones, Tom Spurgeon, Johanna Draper Carlson (2), and Heidi MacDonald.

– Christopher, “every bit helps,” said the old woman as she pissed into the sea.