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Comics return to the newsstand—at a premium

Comics on the newsstand at Barnes & Noble (from Indignant Online)

Comics-and-More blogger Dave Ferraro, who works at a Barnes & Noble, remarked last week that the bookstore chain has moved comics from the Games section to the newsstand and greatly expanded the selection, from about 10 to about 60, mostly Marvel, DC, and Archie. Todd Allen spotted some in the wild (including a very non-mainstream comic), and Rich Johnston has another example.

I’m not sure this is as much of a novelty as people think: The Borders near me always had a large selection of comics on its newsstand—mostly Marvel, DC, and Archie—and while they were set off in a corner, they were very visible and the selection was good. Since my store is gone, along with hundreds of other Borders stores, B&N may simply be picking up on an unfilled niche.

Todd makes an interesting observation:

The Marvel titles were all marked “Newsstand” and priced $3.99, with the exception of Incredible Hulks. That one went for a massive $4.99. That means some $2.99 titles jacked up $1 for newsstand and some $3.99 titles staying steady. I have no immediate explanation for the Incredible Hulks price.

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Alterna Comics raising funds to avoid bankruptcy

Peter Simeti, the president and publisher of Alterna Comics, sent out a mass e-mail this weekend saying “Alterna has had a rough two years” and directing readers to the company’s fund-raising page at Indie GoGo. It sounds like they have a cash flow problem:

Sales don’t come in quick enough (book distribution takes up to 6 months to pay us) and we end up accumulating over $4,000 worth of interest ever year, even though we’ve maintained a small profit for the past 3 years, that profit has been quickly eaten up by the bills we have. The worst part is, our company debt is around $28,000 – which isn’t even a lot for most small companies. But due to the fact that we can’t even make new books to spur new income – the debt has become stifling and will eventually take its toll on us within 1 to 2 years.

So unless they can raise some money pronto, they are going to go into a death spiral of debt. The amount they are trying to raise seems laughably small—$1,000, much less than most Kickstarter drives—but apparently that will keep the wolf from the door for a while. Interestingly, the lowest level of the drive consists simply of buying their books—you fork over $10, you get a $10 book as a “reward”—although a few of the listed books cost more than $10 and at least one costs less. Of course, the indie page cuts out the distributor and thus the distributor’s cut and the time lag in payment. This really goes to Simeti’s point: Alterna’s books are selling well, they just can’t get paid for them, and in a way, the Indie GoGo page is just a direct sales channel that will get a bit of juice from the added publicity of Simeti’s plea. What’s more, it’s a sales channel with some good incentives, as the rewards escalate quickly, and you can get some original art for short money. A plea for funds isn’t really a marketing plan, but maybe this is just what Alterna needs—to sell fewer books through Diamond and Amazon and more on their own.

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AdHouse adds houses

The three faces of AdDistro

The three faces of AdDistro

Some cool comics just got a lot easier to get your hands on. Chris Pitzer of AdHouse Books — the stalwart and stunningly designed publishing imprint behind the likes of Jim Rugg & Brian Maruca’s Afrodisiac, Josh Cotter’s Skyscrapers of the Midwest and Driven by Lemons, James Jean’s Process Recess art books, and Pulphope: The Art of Paul Popetoday announced the creation of AdDistro, a new distribution effort that will make comics from small publishers and self-publishers available for purchase through AdHouse proper. The first three additions to the roster are London-based Nobrow Press, Canada’s Koyama Press, and creator Malachi Ward. Pitzer’s got quite an eye for quality, so if you’ve enjoyed AdHouse offerings in the past, I’m sure these newcomers are well worth a look. Might I suggest starting with Michael DeForge’s excellent, award-winning Lose series from Koyama?

John Porcellino sells, talks about comics

Don't YOU want to hear what John Porcellino has to say about this comic?

Don't YOU want to hear what John Porcellino has to say about this comic?

Wow, this is a delightful way to spend some time this afternoon. John Porcellino, whose quietly beautiful, self-published series King-Cat is the most influential minicomic of all time, has created a blog for his DIY distribution outfit Spit and a Half. And not only is he selling hard-to-find comics, zines, photography books, and manga by Alan Moore (!), Gabrielle Bell, Minty Lewis, Zak Sally, Dave Kiersh, Lilli Carré and many more, he’s also personally writing up insightful little descriptions of each of them. Whether he’s calling Moore’s underground magazine Dodgem Logic “a weird, bright, in-your-face blast of idiosyncrasy,” dubbing Kiersh “a Great American Artist — his art addresses a uniquely American flavor of loneliness and desire, with his recurring themes of suburban, teenage anxiety, lust, ‘romance,’ and desolation,” or explaining how Kazuichi Hanawa’s Doing Time was his “gateway” manga, his thoughts on comics are as worthy as his comics themselves. Check it out!

(via Annie Koyama)

Captain Blood and the Peril of Indie Comics


Matthew Shepherd, Michael Shoyket and David Hedgecock rework a few pages from Captain Blood to address the problems independent comics have with distribution, ultimately asking readers to “demand more from comics.” And, in one panel, not to download comics … which seemed very unpirate-like.

BOOM! teams with Kable for newsstand distribution

The Incredibles

The Incredibles

In an effort to get their new Disney/Pixar titles “into the hands of every child out there,” BOOM! has teamed with Kable Distribution Services for a national newsstand distribution agreement for their BOOM! Kids imprint (which got a new website this week as well).

The deal includes newsstand distribution for their Incredibles, Cars and Muppet Show comics.

“We want to get our line of Pixar/Disney comics into the hands of every child out there,” said Ross Richie, publisher of BOOM! Studios, in a very short press release. “Working with KDS, who has a strong record with handling kids comics in the newsstand market, I am confident that we will meet that goal.”

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