Robot 6

Comics A.M. | Comic Book Ink’s plea; DC’s deadline decree

John Munn, owner of Comic Book Ink

Retailing | Tacoma, Washington, store Comic Book Ink, a seven-time nominee for the Will Eisner Spirit of Retailing Award, could close as early as August because of mounting debt. In a plea to customers, owner John Munn attributes the store’s dire financial situation to a combination of the economy, relocation costs, an unresolved dispute with the previous landlord, the move by Diamond Comic Distributors to “call in short-term notes” in the wake of the Borders bankruptcy, and “personal trials.” In the extremely frank letter, he lays out what steps he’s taken (payment plans, using his salary from an outside job to cover payroll), and what he hesitates to do (fire staff, close the nearly nine-year-old store and declare bankruptcy): “I have juggled as far as I can juggle. I have kept a constant vigil on our shop, but currently it is resting on a house of cards and not a strong foundation (yet) that could go at any minute. [...] I need your help. This week is bad … Very bad.”

Munn asks that customers pick up any special orders or pull-list titles, purchase gift certificates, make a short-term loan or buy shares in the store. “I think we can make it,” he writes. “I wouldn’t have sent this message if I didn’t. I did not want to write this letter. I did not want to ask for help. All I ever wanted to do was to create a place where people could come and escape for awhile. A place that would invest in the community, and its organizations, that surrounded it.” [Comic Book Ink]

DC Comics

Publishing | Heidi MacDonald reports that DC Comics Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee sent a memo to creators working on titles for the “New DCU” relaunch requiring them to have three issues completed by Aug. 31, “no exceptions.” “If that criterion cannot be met,” the memo states, “we’ve instructed Editorial to begin work at that time on material that will be able to meet the deadlines for the series.” [The Beat]

Education | Japan’s Kyoto Seika University will begin offering the country’s first doctoral program in manga studies next year, while Dundee University in Scotland will launch the United Kingdom’s first master’s degree in comics studies this fall.  [The Associated Press, BBC News]

Awards | Larry Cruz takes a look at the Eisner Award nominees for best digital comic. [The Webcomic Overlook]

Creators | Legendary artist Joe Kubert appeared over the weekend at Dewey’s Comic City in Madison, New Jersey. [Daily Record]

Creators | Artist Peter Krause talks at HeroesCon about leaving Irredeemable: “It’s just a good time to do it. I do have another non-comics project coming up this summer that I really have to devote some time to, and it’s a really once-in-a-lifetime type project. I’ve loved working with BOOM! and Mark Waid, it’s been a joy working with them. It’s kind of bittersweet.” [MTV Geek]

News From Our Partners

Comments

24 Comments

At least three issues ahead, nice to know the’re thinking ahead.

“…memo to creators working on titles for the “New DCU” relaunch requiring them to have three issues completed by Aug. 31, “no exceptions.”

About damn time.

Did John Buscema miss deadlines?
Did Curt Swan?
Did Jack Kirby?

No! No! and NO! (Hell, Kirby did a 20-PAGE BOOK in one Friday-Sunday period, and it was so good, Marvel STILL uses art from it as licensing clip art!)

Mind you, there ARE guys like George Perez who will collapse from exhaustion over a drawing board before missing a deadline, but most “artists” today are spoiled brats who don’t have the discipline to get the job done on time.

Remember…it IS a JOB!

While it IS “art”, it’s COMMERCIAL art, not FINE art.
When you miss a deadline, it screws up numerous other people (letterers, colorists, production people, editors) who expect material to work with by a certain date, and costs the company (who’s paying you) additional money to reschedule press time or pay rush charges to print on time!

I’d rather have two issues of Frank Quitely a year than 12 of Tony Daniel and Phillip Tan. DC’s schedule fetish does nothing to ensure the quality of relaunched titles. Indeed, placing the dude who brought us all the most execrably memorable dead feline heroin smackdown since Elfquest volume 2 at the helm of two books pretty much indicates that quality is not a priority.

Jim Lee realizes he should be the one actually getting that memo right?

We’re hearing about it now – so it’s probably a few days old, so I think it’s safe to say that everyone got these assignments, and probably this Ukase by the first of the month.

That’s three months to produce three monthly issues.

Hint: If it takes more than a month to produce it – you can’t publish it monthly. The Direct Market may keep buying late books, but if you’re competing for beer money, you have to make your delivery dates – the breweries do.

It seems like creators have been pushing there deadlines to limit in the recent years, with some books finishing up within days of press. I was hoping that editorial would make it a priority to get as far ahead as possible to ensure a smooth start to the launch.

Simon DelMonte

June 7, 2011 at 7:48 am

I am all for making artists (and writers) meet deadlines. It seems like a lot of the best artists have no problem meeting them. But I do hope they make exceptions for special cases.

Give slow artists minis that get published when complete – monthly books need to be monthly.

What about the fans who wanted to see wonder woman with high numbers? It seem after all the hard work that they did the dc publishers seem to forget all about them. Plus bring back the old costume the new one is lousy.Another thing what about the siren book? It was my brother favorite book..

@Atomic Kommie Comics: Why are you assuming that that memo was solely directed at the artists? I’ve been at this for two decades, and I’ll tell you there are PLENTY of writers who have trouble hitting deadlines, and there are plenty of systemic and editorial factors that can contribute to freelancers of every discipline missing deadlines. To assume and express that it’s all just because of “spoiled artists” is pretty offensive and, well, wrong.

You have a pretty strong opinion about people who make comics for someone who, you know, doesn’t actually MAKE COMICS.

Honestly, my heart goes out to John Munn, his family, and his staff. A seven-time Eisner nominated store is going to close when it sounds like, given time, it could get back on it’s feet? When shops like this close, you better start praying that we all aren’t buying our comics at Wal-Mart in the near future. Pretty sure they won’t be carrying stuff like Hellboy and Butcher Baker, either.

In a perfect world, some Hollywood studio that has made huge bank off a poorly made comic book movie, or one of the actors that claims to be a “life-long fan” of the medium, would float this guy a loan. Lord knows they’ve made enough money off this industry.

When the only things you’ve ever created are crappy blogs that are overloaded with ads and unlicensed iPad cases, calling ACTUAL creators “spoiled brats” is a glaringly obvious expression of jealousy.

I’ll believe it when we see fill-ins on late books by Jim Lee and David Finch.

That sucks that Peter Krause is leaving Irredeemable…though I love Mark Waid’s writing, there’s been a sizable difference in how much I enjoy an issue if Krause drew it vs. a fill-in artist.

Lando said, “Jim Lee realizes he should be the one actually getting that memo right?”

And Geoff Johns, and Grant Morrison, and many others…..

Dewey’s Comic City is in Madison New Jersey not Wisconsin.

Person ally I do not care if that memo is going out to just the artist, or the entire creative team on each title.
The important thing, is that it is going out.
I hate late books, no matter whose fault it is. it makes me stop buying the monthly books and then just waiting for it to come out in TPB. If I remember it by that time that is.

Monthly books should be done by people that can handle that pace and deliver quality work. Whether its Ivan Reis, or Norm Breyfogle. Get people that can deliver.

Use the rest of the artists for long planned events or Original Graphic novels or Mini Series.

Cully: VERY good point. It’s ALL freelancers working on these books. Writers, Artists, Colorists, Letterers. They all need to be on the ball.

That said, I can’t believe they’re not farther ahead on this stuff alread. Seems like this is coming together in very short order, which scares me. Can this go off without a hitch? Not likely. That’s almost impossible under the best of circumstances, but I’m wondering just if they can keep the hiccups to a minimum or not.

re: Comic Book Ink

my LCS is in similar straits, where the owner has been using his 401K (retirement fund) the last 2 years in order to make ends meet.

I’m telling John the same thing I told my LCS guy: there’s a time to cut your losses and walk away before you’re put even further into debt and may ruin your future finances/retirement. And that time is NOW.

This deadline obsession on comic book messageboards is just irritating. Seriously, you can’t look around without a million self-righteous posts from people bitching because they had to wait six weeks for a comic instead of four. Spoiled brats? This speaks to a attitude among a segment of fandom which is probably a big reason a lot of comics suck, which is that they just want their entertainment cranked out as fast as possible to entertain them. Sure, it would be nice if books came out when they were scheduled, and it would be even nicer if companies didn’t solicit things that they weren’t going to have, but I would always prefer that the artists make the best art they can make. If that takes somebody longer, it takes them longer.

You do realize that if they do less pages, they get paid for less pages, right? They’re not getting paid hourly. If for whatever reason it takes them a certain number of days to meet a deadline, that’s how long it takes them. If they could have stayed at their desk longer and made more pages, I’m not going to presume that I know the reasons for what they did. And if them not meeting a deadline means that they’re gonna incur messageboard rants about how somebody had to wait a little longer for a superhero comic, and if the publishers feel that the time frame of the artist is not going to be in their best business interest, then they have every right to hire a different artist next time.

re: Comic Book Ink

About ten years ago I was heavily thinking of opening a comic shop. When I went around and visited a few shops here in NYC they all told to not waste my time. I’ve seen quite a few shops close since then. If the owners of Comic Book Ink have to work a second job and THAT’S not even helping them stay afloat, then I believe it’s time to pack it in. It was only a matter of time that comic shops in general were expected to stay in business selling product at 2.99-3.99 per issue that immediately loses it’s value by 50-70% as soon as you buy it. With the recession AND digital alternatives I don’t see comic shops outlasting the current decade.

Who do I really blame? Marvel and DC. Their bloated price structure and ridiculous distribution practices are the cause of their waning sales and general interest in their product. $3.99 is NOT a reasonable price for their product… $2.99 isn’t either! Their marketing strategy SUCKS, too! Where could you find a comic in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s? EVERYWHERE!!! Gas stations, convenience stores, grocery stores, department stores, etc. Where can you find comics now? Comic shops. That’s it!!! Comics have so much more promoting their characters through movies, television, and video games yet comic sales are at an all time low. I believe that this due to both inapropriate sale prices and not being available to a general audience. A perfect example are CDs. The sales of this product have dwindled, too, but fo you know where they still sell? Starbucks! Where they are right at the counter for maximum visibility. Why aren’t comics sold at movie theaters with wracks set up before or after superhero films????

Free album download at http://www.facebook.com/chancius

Steven McMullan

June 7, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Holy shit! Comic Book Ink is teh store I go to!

“Holy shit! Comic Book Ink is teh store I go to!”

From the sounds of it, not for much longer…

Cully Hamner sez…
“Atomic Kommie Comics: Why are you assuming that that memo was solely directed at the artists? I’ve been at this for two decades, and I’ll tell you there are PLENTY of writers who have trouble hitting deadlines, and there are plenty of systemic and editorial factors that can contribute to freelancers of every discipline missing deadlines. To assume and express that it’s all just because of “spoiled artists” is pretty offensive and, well, wrong.

You have a pretty strong opinion about people who make comics for someone who, you know, doesn’t actually MAKE COMICS.”

Not at the moment. but, starting in 1984 and going until 2002, I served as an designer/art director/production manager (either freelance or staff) at one time or another at almost EVERY New York-based company from Archie to Valiant.
On a daily basis I dealt with straightening out problems created by writers AND artists running late.
Since the artists’ side IS MUCH MORE LABOR-INTENSIVE than the writers’ (it takes a lot longer to DRAW a crowd scene than write “The mob crowds in on Superman.”), I had to work with delays on the art end 9 times out of 10!
Mind you, it wasn’t always the artist’s fault (floods, wife giving birth, etc), but I DID notice younger artists constantly pushing deadlines that the “old timers” met with fewer qualms.
It got to the point that I deliberately scheduled deadlines for younger artists a week ahead of actual due date so they’d make the ACTUAL due date, and even then, it didn’t always work!
In the end, NO book I handled missed the “on-press” date, no matter what I had to do after stuff came in late. (And there were a LOT of all-nighters to do it!)
So, yeah, that’s why I think it was directed, primarily, towards the artists!

Leave a Comment

 


Browse the Robot 6 Archives