Axel-In-Charge: Recapping "Avengers Standoff's" Major Developments, Preparing for "Punisher"
I spend a lot of time skipping around publishers’ websites, and lately I have been surprised at how difficult it can be to find even basic information about a comic. As a comics blogger, I naturally use these sites a lot, but it also seems to me that comics readers are an independent lot and providing them with as much information as possible would be an excellent way to market your book. And yet…
So for the benefit of any publishers (or would-be publishers) that are out there, here is what I really, really want to see on your website. And I’ll finish on a positive note, I promise, with an examples of websites that get it right.
A catalog page for every comic you produce: That seems obvious, doesn’t it? You would be surprised how many websites don’t provide that, though. Just working on this week’s Food or Comics post, I looked for and couldn’t find pages for individual comics from Archie, IDW, and Top Cow—in some cases there was a page for a series but not an individual issue. A catalog page doesn’t have to be an elaborate thing—just a cover image, basic information like authors, price, and ISBN, and the blurb from the back cover. It’s enormously helpful to journalists like me, who like to check their facts, as well as to readers who want to know what they are buying. Also—this is another simple thing that lots of publishers overlook—the catalog page for a single issue or volume should include links to all the others in a series.
The nominations are below, but already there is an ironic footnote: Elfsar Comics & Toys of Vancouver was nominated for the Harry Kremer Award for Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Retailer, and the same day announced it will close its doors for good on May 23.
It’s not a naked bid for the sympathy vote: Elfsar’s landlord has raised its rent, and store owner Ethan Peacock hints darkly that a neighboring supermarket covets the space. However, later on in Elfsar’s farewell letter Peacock also brings in digital comics as a possible factor:
The fact is the “modern age” of comics is changing at a rapid pace. With one million in sales through mobile formats such as the iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, Kindle, and PSP formats in 2009, I believe that in the next 5 to 10 years we will see the most significant changes to the comic industry as a whole. Heck the biggest threat, known as the iPad has not even hit Canada yet and we have already seen the ripple effect in our business.
However, Elfsar plans to continue as an e-tail site.
Here are all the new nominees:
Continue Reading »
“I know this is an ill-advised post, I shouldn’t be doing this. Suck it up, and shut up like I do every year when the noms are announced and we get crums. Well this year, we didn’t even get crums, we got nuthin’! And my frustration level has just reached boiling point. How about Rick Geary’s Treasury? Trondheim’s Little Nothings? The Dungeon series? Kleid and Cinquegrani’s The Big Khan? Year of Loving Dangerously by the comic industry’s favorite punching bag Ted Rall (but also beautifully illustrated by Pablo Callejo)? All of these and most of our books get outsized recognition from the press, online and off, including the growing contingent of online comics reviewers. These aren’t worth honoring? A number of titles got multiple nominations. WHY? With so much good stuff out there worth nominating, how about spreading the wealth, guys? Who do we need to give sexual favors to to get the recognition we and our authors deserve? Huh?”
–NBM publisher Terry Nantier, on NBM receiving no Eisner Award nominations this year
Yaoi manga publisher DramaQueen burst onto the then-burgeoning manga scene in 2005 with ambitious plans for a line of yaoi manga, teen-friendly manhwa (Korean comics), and a quarterly anthology of global yaoi manga. They quickly became known for their excellent licenses and the high production quality of their books. “We treat it like art,” publisher Tran Nguyen told PWCW’s Kai-Ming Cha in 2006. “Our intent is to produce a quality product that is a collectors item.”
Readers loved it. They loved it so much that when DramaQueen’s releases slowed to a trickle, and then stopped altogether, fans reacted with disappointment, dismay, and anger. Nguyen and her staff kept showing up at cons, selling their older releases and holding raucous panels for enthusiastic fans, and periodically they would announce that things were back on track (yeah, they got me with that one), but the books never arrived, and the whole thing took on a Lucy-and-the-football air, with yaoi fans playing the part of Charlie Brown.
Until now. In mid-March, librarian and yaoi blogger Snow Wildsmith spotted an announcement on the DramaQueen website that a new book vol. 1 of The Summit, was in the works. DQ also reset their forum, and an in-house poster is reassuring readers that at least one other title, Mandayuu and Me, will be out this year. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so the biggest news in years is simply this: Snow got her copy of The Summit! It seems to still only be available through the DQ site, but the same in-house poster says that it will be available through retail sites soon. Is this the beginning of a new era, or a last gasp before an overly ambitious company collapses? Stay tuned as the thrilling saga continues.
The 2009 San Diego Comic-Con is less than a month away, with preview night kicking things off on Wednesday, July 22. If you are a publisher, creator, retailer or any other kind of exhibitor who would like to let folks know about any special plans you have for the show (panels, signing schedules, exclusives, debuts, etc.) drop me an email and I’ll run it here.
Programming | Leading up to the con, ICv2 will host a comics and media conference on Wednesday, July 22 at the San Diego Marriott. This ticketed event will include speakers such as Mike Mignola, Jeph Loeb, Dynamite’s Nick Barrucci, Top Cow’s Matt Hawkins and many more. Registration is now open.
Television | Warner Bros. sent out a press release on their schedule for Comic-Con, which includes panels for Smallville, Supernatural, Chuck and Big Bang Theory, as well as new shows like Human Target and V. They’ll be showing the pilot episodes of all their new shows.
John Carbonaro, the comics fan who became a publisher in 1981 when he bought the rights to T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, passed away on Feb. 25. He was 58.
Created in 1965 by Wally Wood, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents was published by Tower Comics until the company went out of business in 1969. Carbonaro purchased the dormant property more than a decade later, but soon became entangled in a lengthy legal battle to prove ownership, in a dispute with business acquaintance David Singer, and to demonstrate T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents hadn’t lapsed into the public domain. His friend Robert Sodaro recounts that history here.
Carbonaro published several T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents comics himself in the early ’80s under the JC Comics banner, but also licensed the characters to other companies, such as Archie Comics and Penthouse.
• Bill Schanes, Diamond’s vice president of purchasing, says the change in the distributor’s order threshold may result in 20 to 30 of the distributor’s 600 publishers being dropped outright. Others, he tells Newsarama, will be approached about cutting titles, “repackaging or reformatting,” raising cover prices, or changing frequency of publication.
“Those who are creative can figure out how to continue to exist out there, at least through Diamond,” Schanes says.
The new policy takes effect with Previews #3, which goes on sale Feb. 25.
• John Jackson Miller casts a spotlight on Schanes’ comments about variant covers falling under the new threshold, and wonders how this could affect Diamond’s Top 300.
• At Comic Book Resources, Steven Grant declares “game over” for the current distribution model, but adds, “That doesn’t mean game over for comics, though.”
• Moving away from the new Diamond threshold, Tor.com‘s Heather Massey points to rising cover prices and a migration of readers to trade paperbacks, and asks, “Are comics as we know them on a death march?” It’s sort of an odd piece that ends with Massey wondering whether comics should just go digital, then release printed collections later.
Reaction continues to what likely will be the big story for some time to come for small publishers and creators — news that Diamond Comic Distributors is increasing its order minimums from $1,500 to $2,500:
• In a post ominously titled “Beginning of the End for the Direct Market,” retailer Christopher Butcher says the increase in the order minimum “is going to hurt the DM worse than Marvel’s Heroes World Debacle did.” He also points out that the first volume of Scott Pilgrim wouldn’t have met the new marker, based on its original orders.
• Jennifer de Guzman, editor-in-chief of SLG Publishing, asserts the rising threshold “puts all smaller publishers in a difficult position, and probably means the end of independent serialized comics.”
• Heidi MacDonald has a response from Oni Press Publisher Joe Nozemack, who stresses that the direct market isn’t his company’s only sales outlet. He also suggest that, in light of the higher minimums, Diamond reconsider its 3-percent reorder fee for non-Premier publishers.
• Rich Johnston looks back at the previous minimum-order increase, and considers what the new one means in the current marketplace: “Most well-selling indie books will remain. But entry to market will be severely restricted. You’re going to see less of the kind of books that come from nowhere to suddenly take prominence, like Mouse Guard.”
• I’m not sure it’s possible to overstate how big of an effect the increase in Diamond’s minimum-order benchmark will have on small publishers. So, even though I only just posted an item on the subject, I’m leading off with it in this “Food or Comics” roundup. It’s the biggest comics-related money story of the day, the week, the month, and well beyond. This signals a major change in the direct market, one that will force many publishers to rethink what they release and how they release it. That means it also affects creators, retailers and readers.
• I neglected to include in my initial post on the subject something SLG Publisher Dan Vado mentioned in his email to The Comics Reporter: SLG Publishing plans next month to launch a website on which retailers can reorder the company’s books. He’ll now offer some publishers the opportunity to list their titles, “in essence trying to become a distributor myself.” [The Comics Reporter]
• Citing a slump in the publishing industry, Japanese company Kadokawa Shoten is ceasing publication of its two-year-old Comic Charge manga magazine with its Feb. 3 issue. A new magazine may take its place. [Anime News Network]
• Paul Gravett has “Ten Tips for Thrifty Comics Consumers” [Paul Gravett]
• Meanwhile, the Bevery Hills, Calif., home of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman has been on the market since August. The price of the five-bedroom, six-bathroom 5,458-square-foot house has been slashed from $3,995,000 to $3,495,000. [SFGate]
In a move that will have a significant, and negative, effect on small publishers, Diamond Comic Distributors is increasing its order minimums from $1,500 to $2,500.
The distributor also will eliminate its Previews adult supplement in printed form, but continue to offer it as a PDF to retailers.
Diamond brand managers began informing publishers of the changes last week; the news became public on Friday in a blog post by Simon Jones of Icarus Publishing.
I contacted Diamond for comment late Friday, but I haven’t received a response. According to Newsarama, Diamond last changed the order minimum in September 2005.
The increase of the purchase-order threshold means each book needs to generate at least $2,500 of revenue to be listed in Previews. In an email sent over the weekend to The Comics Reporter, SLG Publishing’s Dan Vado points out that figure means “a little over $6,000 in sales at retail based on the discount we give to Diamond.”
That means the average $3 comic would have to sell more than 2,100 copies — a rare feat for many small publishers. (The number of copies varies depending on the discount offered to Diamond.)