Robot 6

Arcana vs. Marvel: Battle of the character libraries!

Arcana Studio

You expect a press release to inflate a comic’s importance or puff up a creator’s track record. After all, the publisher is trying to convince the media that its announcement has news value. But every once in a while a release overreaches. Just a little.

Take, for instance, this one from Arcana Studio announcing the acquisition of a handful of Devil’s Due Publishing titles that I’ve never heard of. The first half of the release is standard fare, briefly describing the comics and hyping the performance of Arcana (“the company has been growing in leaps and bounds”). But then we get to this paragraph:

Arcana’s graphic novels and intellectual properties have grown in the last two years to be as wide a library of characters as Marvel’s. Marvel was acquired by Disney for $4 Billion, and is the second major comic library to be acquired by a Hollywood studio. DC Comics, which is owned by Warner Bros., recently announced a newly-revamped business model, focusing on reaching deeper into DC’s catalog of characters.

It’s investor (or acquisition) bait, to be sure. But, hey, Arcana isn’t the first small publisher — or, rather, transmedia entertainment company — to dangle the $4-billion Marvel purchase in hopes of snagging a big fish. (However, it may the only one to date to use the DC Entertainment restructuring as back-up.) I’m not dwelling on that, though.

No, I was tripped up by that first sentence, which claims “Arcana’s graphic novels and intellectual properties have grown in the last two years to be as wide a library of characters as Marvel’s.” This is the same studio that, just a few paragraphs earlier, boasted “over 100 graphic novels.”

Now, I’ve written before about the “proven library” of Marvel characters, which jumped from 4,000 or so to “over 5,000″ to 7,000 in the course of a few months. I have no idea how the House of Ideas came up with those numbers, but I imagine it involved counting each and every Morlock, Daily Bugle employee and Hydra member (“Hail, Hydra!”). Still, Marvel has had 70 years to accumulate those characters, so I’m willing to believe 7,000 characters is possible (“proven” characters is another matter). However, Arcana has been around for six years.

Of course, maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to call shenanigans: The press release doesn’t come out and say Arcana has as many characters as Marvel; it states that Arcana has “as wide a library of characters as Marvel’s.” Which means … something about genre diversity? A crack at Blob and Big Bertha? All right, I have no idea.



“and is the second major comic library to be acquired by a Hollywood studio.”

Hopefully he’s not referring to DC here, because as anyone who reads Brian Cronin’s Comic Book Legends column right here at CBR knows that that’s not really true. A company that owned DC Comics actually bought Warner Bros.

Oh, and yes, this was a silly, silly press release.

i got the newsletter last night and acquiring devils due (another ex-indie publisher) is not a silly press release as devils due was a major player for longer than arcana has been around. i guess if you think devils due didn’t have their day it is meaningless but i think they were big. i agree with kevin on the comment about the wording as the word wide means something different than big. wide means spiderman to brother voodoo to howard the duck and i would think arcana range is somewhat as diverse.

I didn’t say the news was silly. I said the press release was.

I was surprised, and yet not, by this news. DDP has been struggling for a while, so I think it was only a matter of time before they were acquired by/merged with another company. Hoping things work out for the best.

Arcana and Devil’s Due are both scumbag publishers, so they’re welcome to each other.

Oh Arcana, as far as I know many artist and authors are upset with them. Because they never pay them their money. And they are very unprofessional with artist and authors so authors and artists beware of arcana. There are many options to get your books out there please browse internet. And yes its a Silly press realese.

Arcana vs Marvel., Marvel is one of the oldest and greatest publishers. But arcana has a notorios way of business and can not be compare to marvel character libraries. If you ask me Arcanas characters are less there are many authors that wanted to get out of arcanas fraud deals. But thats just my opinion.

Arcana=Authors and artists Scammers beware. Marvel= Real comic Industry Pros. Arcana vs. Marvel: Battle of the character libraries! Marvel Wipe them out for good. Arcana=Timadores de Artistas y Autores. Marvel= Verdaderos Profesionales de la industria de comics.

Hey guys…I don’t usually respond to online stuff as it tends to create a bad back and forth but thought I should put my two cents in for what it’s worth.

Kevin Melrose; thanks for posting…it wasn’t so much a press release as our monthly newsletter, but it is appreciated.
KentL; DDP has been struggling and the acquisition will hopefully help give an opportunity to these projects and their creators.
MattP; yeah we were careful with the wording and a Marvel comparison, but it was meant to show the diversity and size of the library.
Steve Horton; it was good to talk with you tonight and sort things out. I have four kids and know I’m leaving behind a legacy that they’ll read so I’m glad we talked on the phone. Thanks.
Key20; don’t want to get into it but if any artists or authors are upset with me, please tell them to contact me. Again with over 100 titles, I’ve worked with a minimum 250 creative people. I’m positive I’m not up to date with talking to each one but as far as I know no one is yelling at me. :)
Angelic; obviously I’ve had my fair share of breakups Ant (Mario Gully), Starkweather (David Rodriguez), Philly (Ryan McLelland) and have let them go with no string attached…and Ant REALLY hurt. If any artists want to get out, it is definitely possible as I’ve demonstrated but obviously if I’ve invested money I have to figure out how to work together. :)
Roberto Munoz; it’s really not me versus Marvel. Those who know me know that the tshirt I wear weekly is the Marvel Superhero shirt. I’m hoping independent comic book publishing will be around for a while and obviously it’s not the giant machine that is Marvel (now Disney).

Anyways…didn’t want to ‘get into it online’ as it always creates badness, but this starting going sideways and I honestly don’t know why. Please…I’m available 24/7 so feel free to call, email or IM any concerns. Mahalo!

I’d like to amend my earlier comment. Sean O’Reilly was formerly associated with some bad people (Wowio) and has since severed ties. He told me this acquisition will go a long way toward getting Devil’s Due creative teams paid, which is a good thing.

Devil’s Due & Josh Blaylock: Still scum. I hope you’re out of the industry for good now. Wishful thinking.

So Sean, you’re not working with the Platinum Studios people anymore either? I guess if younsurroun yourself with shady people it kinda makes you look shady too, especially with press releases that sound like the crazy platinum press releases

To be honest I’m a little gunshy to keep talking here as online forums generally never lead to any good. :)
But yes Jerry, I left Platinum Studios in 2008 and I still on good terms with Scott Rosenberg and Dan Forcey (I believe most others I worked with in the office are gone now). I’m back to working on my own since then and as everyone else did in 2009, I have fought through a difficult recession and same as other publishers, I am still fighting a rapidly changing publishing industry where everything we knew about print/digital distribution is changing almost monthly. I am still pursuing what I love by publishing comic books and I was a huge Kore fan which is what started this process with Devil’s Due, and the interest I generated in Lovebunny and Mr. Hell has Image publishing it which is a great thing. I’m releasing a new graphic novel called Pixies, the fifth Kade series and just released The Hope Virus. I’m pursuing my projects and I do my best to try and support other’s projects when the business makes sense for both of us. I don’t mind doing this discussions online, but many times they led to anonymous flames, online wars (which I’ll always avoid) and just makes independent comic book publishing look amateur. I can only speak for myself but Arcana is there to pursue something I love.

I was saddened to see the Aftermath titles didn’t originally take of.

Defex, for example, had the fantastic team of Wolfman and Stefano Caselli. a surefire hit in any other circumstances.

It would be really nice to see Infantry and Kumouri’s initial 6 issue storylines completed maybe in trade form. but good luck in handling these characters. I’ll certainly keep my eyes on anything heading our ways.

@MatthewP Devils Due was built on the back on G.I.Joe, and it floated along with Hack/Slash. G.I.Joe was the draw, and DDP was along for the ride. This does *not* make them a major player. Plus, if any of these acquired titles had any weight to them, DDP would’ve been publishing them. It’s probably a case where the books either shipped too late or didn’t hit Diamond’s benchmark the first time out. Now the properties are tainted, at least from a distribution standpoint.

The worst part is that Arcana doesn’t even seem all that excited about the acquisitions. I mean, just look at their descriptions: “Five student scientists discover hidden powers in human DNA.” and “A blundering college slacker releases evil from an ancient tomb.” These are PITCHES. They’re looking to monetize these in other media, hence the Hollywood part of the discussion. I don’t fault them for seeing some potential here, but if you expect me to spend $3.99 on your book that’s NOT from DC or Marvel, you sure as Hell better make it sound like it’s a worthwhile investment! Convince me that you’re bringing *something* to the table! Say what you will about Marvel, they carry on the tradition of Stan Lee Hucksterism, and it’s a tactic that a LOT of smaller publishers should adopt.

And before there’s another “I usually don’t respond to online chatter” rebuttal, I’m one of the few people on here who’s seen actual numbers from both publishers. I’m not exactly coming from an uninformed stance here.

The Aftermath titles Defex, Breakdown, Kumouri & Infantry sold similar to what Authority and Wildcats sell now.
no mean feat for an independant company.

and by your reasoning would you also say that IDW aren’t a major player. back in 2004 Devils Due were consistently 5 highest unit selling publisher.

and personally speaking I would ONLY buy $3.99 books that weren’t from Marvel and DC. With their size and financial backing. There’s NO WAY they need to cost that much. on the other hand smaller companies, with smaller print runs need the difference.


You’re absolutely right – those launch numbers were no mean feat for an independent company. The Aftermath titles *launched* with good numbers because DDP had already built their foundation on Joe. They looked promising, as there were experienced creators on the books. That said, it didn’t sustain those numbers, especially not on a regular basis. It didn’t last much more than a year, so that puts it in the Atlas column – not necessary a beacon of success.

By my reasoning, IDW is a major player because their publishing venture isn’t dependent upon *one* license. They’ve ascended to great heights by becoming a dependable publisher of licensed properties. Their business model is NOT based on diluting one particular brand.

As far as whether comics *should* cost $3.99 is irrelevant and up for debate. That’s the playing field now, so you are compared to your competition. While these costs are necessary for the viability of a smaller publisher, that’s still the cost of doing business. People like to say “well, it’s not fair”. Business isn’t fair. When you’re on a shelf, next to proven properties (again, leaving aside commentary on quality), you’re going to have to fight harder for that dollar. This is especially true whenever a publisher wishes to launch a superhero imprint.

You make good points, all of which make the whole thing more disappointing. I was friendly with people at DDP, and I bought their stuff along with everyone else. At the end of the day, it just didn’t seem like they were all that great with the business side of things, hence where they’ve found themselves. My point is that I don’t feel these properties will fare any better now, especially since the new boss A) has a questionable track record in the industry and B) doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do with the properties either.

@Will Great conversations. We’re really excited as I started out as a fan of Kore and it’s really bizarre to think I’m part of the world and the great story. We’re actually asking people to buy them at a lot more than $3.99 as we’re soliciting as trade through Diamond for release in as trade paperbacks in March through to May 2011. They were published comics that will now be released as trades. What Devi’s Due did on Aftermath was amazing for the time and was, in my humble opinion, close to what CrossGen did. It’s almost unheard of…even unthought of…for companies to try this again, including Marvel (New Universe). And Will you are right that our plan is to start with graphic novels and into other media and I’ve never really hidden that before. Arcana has released 2-5 products per month since 2004 and you’ve seen our actual numbers so hopefully you understand how difficult independent publishing is… ;) It’s a difficult industry but it truly is one I do love…

@Paul You’re exactly right. Beckett Comics used to do $1.99 issues, and for Clockwork Girl we did the same. The weird part is that our purchase orders didn’t change whether the price was $1.99 or $4.99. Unfortunately our readership is small (but loyal) and with even Starbucks charging $5, getting an independent comic book for around the same should be doable. Having said that, we haven’t sold a comic book since Anywhere and Space Ace and for the most part have stopped actively pursuing the ‘floppy market’. Graphic novels have a longer shelf life, wider distribution and a higher price point…what Boom is doing is amazing by selling floppies and from our experiences we have found it really difficult. I’d like to get back into floppies, but I am pretty confident I would need a strong license. We did it with The Greatest American Hero and recently tried to get Jurassic Park but IDW got it first. I don’t think there’s that many licenses out there that can sustain the efforts and as a result, it’s very difficult. Open to thoughts…

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