Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Another year passes and what that usually brings is a rash of New Year’s resolutions. Although I don’t make resolutions for the upcoming year, I do a bit of self reflection on the year that passed and think ahead for the upcoming year. Part of this is probably because my wedding anniversary is on New Year’s Eve so the end of the year is not just a calendar timeline, it’s also a milestone with the family.
Even though the year goes quickly, and the older you get, the faster the years go by, some things still seem so long ago. It was not a productive year for me as a creator as far as printed material goes, as most of the stuff I worked on will actually come out in 2010. I had A Murder of Scarecrows come out earlier in the year but Deadworld: Slaughterhouse only had one issue released before Desperado decided to forego the “floppies” all together and just release material in graphic novel format. So, even though I wrote the issues for this year, the graphic novel (actually a hardcover) will be out in early 2010.
I also planned to have the re-workings of Sinergy (now retitled Sin Eternal) and the Magus storyline in Saint Germaine to be released in 2009, but they too will be held until 2010. Sin Eternal will have about 20 new pages which was primarily done this year and the Saint Germaine collection will have two brand new stories in it. In addition, I have a new graphic novel called Subversives which will hit in 2010 even though most of it was done in 2009. A upcoming anthology of Sherlock Holmes is yet another project that was primarily created this year but won’t appear until 2010. So, it seems that 2009 was a creative year and 2010 will be a production year.
As for the publishing company, Transfuzion, 2009 was a good year. There were 9 titles released and of the 26 books from Transfuzion, five of the top six sellers on Amazon, came out this year. So, perhaps less in quantity of titles but more in overall sales. I’m especially proud of getting Vietnam Journal out through Transfuzion and eventually releasing the entire series. A major change with Transfuzion that will start in 2010 is the shift from reprinted collections to all new material. The Apocalypse Plan and Midnight Mortuary were the first two entries of all new material and soon Transfuzion will be releasing Ferrymen, two Lovecraft books, Sherlock Holmes, and a few others that still need to be officially announced.
The market proves to be in flux with some dynamic shifts in content delivery and perceptions of what is “legitimate”. The print on demand format, once shunned as being for unpublishable works, now is a viable option. In fact, it is something that increasingly becomes more important for someone like me that has a great deal of material from the “old days” where film and hard copy were the means to publishing. I continue to work at bringing that old material to the digital format, not only for print on demand, but to archive the files so that they can be exploited in various delivery methods.
The printed format is just one aspect of this new direction. The goal is to get the files into a delivery system so that I can take full advantage of all the opportunities presenting themselves. With print on demand, one of the key factors is that almost all of them also have a methodology for selling the books, usually in the form of an online store. So, that behooves me to take my POD to as many places as possible and have 3, 4, or even 5 different versions of the same book so that they can be sold through the vendors’ marketplace. And when you add new sources popping up such as Google Books, Kindle, the Sony Reader, etc. it makes sense to be flexible across all platforms. In addition, there are the numerous download sites such as Drive Thru Comics, Comics XP, the upcoming LongBox, and many others.
That’s one of my goals over the next year or so…to bring all of the titles (my personally authored ones as well as Transfuzion’s) to full exploitation. With a large backlog of material from the Caliber days plus the new stuff that I put out, I personally already have 25 books out and quite a few more getting ready and Transfuzion continues at a pace of 6-12 books a year…some collections, some all new material.
There seems to be quite a division occurring between the books (I’ll leave comics outside of the equation for now) that are direct market geared and “other” markets. Most companies and/or creators are lined up on one side or the other. Transfuzion sort of straddles that line. Most of our books have gone through Diamond Comic Distributors for a “regular” release into the comics market. But there are some that didn’t make the cut. Oddly enough, the ones that do not succeed with Diamond are usually those featuring all new material. It appears the comics market would rather have reprint collections because they at least know what it is. You would think that with the incredible expanse of the internet, getting the word out on new projects (such as interviews, previews, synopsis, etc) would be easier but I think that retailers and fans are so inundated with information, there’s no easy way to sort through the noise.
But most importantly, let’s face it, the comics market is a very limited one. The overwhelming appeal is for superheroes and the only viable options to that are the licensed properties that appeal to the same core. Yes, there are exceptions (which are always brought out ad nauseam) but as I’ve said numerous times, you can’t build expectations around exceptions.
I gave up a long time ago regarding my books’ success in the comics market. When I did Red Diaries, for example, the comics market was lukewarm in its acceptance. But I sell a lot of copies to mystery stores and continue to get regular orders from fans who are interested in it. Renfield had more success in the traditional comics market but again, it seems to have much greater appeal outside the market, including being used in a college literature course. Deadworld is probably my most successful comic title in the market and that’s likely because zombies are big. Even though Deadworld existed before just about any title currently on the market, for some reason, I still feel like I’m pandering to that audience when objectively, I know I’m not. I guess it’s because I’m tired of seeing all of these silly excuses to use zombies that somehow, I feel that I’m contributing to that.
It’s shaping up that 2010 will be an interesting year. The delivery options are enormous, sometimes there are so many choices out there that it can be overwhelming. Setting up accounts with the various downloadable vendors, for example, only to find out that their business plan stops at launching the line. Sort of a case of “we’ve launched…now what?”
The important thing I keep in focus is that comics (in whatever format) is just a medium, it is not the product. Just because something is in comic format doesn’t mean it will attract the comic audience and conversely, comics have gained a great deal more acceptability in the mainstream world so now, the term comic is no longer a major detriment.
However, until the day that bookstores put comics on the shelves (and figuratively apply the same sensibility online) by genre rather than grouped all together as if a special interest, it will be a long road.
But it’s better to have a road filled with promise than one shuttered by signs denoting the road ends.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bookstores and Returns

In the last week or so, there have been interviews with publishers that among other things, discussed the weight (and debt) of book returns from the mass market bookstore chains. Both publishers explained the heavy losses from the chain stores when unsold product was returned. In both of these cases, the publishers provided titles that have “mass appeal”, which means to the market outside the traditional comic readers. Another way to put it, they weren’t standard superhero titles. In neither case do the publishers indicate what percentage were returned as opposed to what sold through but judging from the affect the returns had on the profitability of the company, you can expect the returns were quite heavy.

I know exactly where they’re coming from. I’ve dealt with book chains in the past and the returns can kill you. Now, ideally, a company should set aside all the sales revenue until the returns come in but that’s simply unrealistic in most accounting systems. I remember we did one book that was packaged in a display dump of 12 copies. Sales were very good but then we got the returns…about 95% came back. About half of those display boxes were never even opened. On the ones that came back returned, most were so damaged that they were essentially unsellable. So, not only were we out the profit but also the printing and the shipping of the books that were returned.

I decided with Transfuzion, I wasn’t going to subject myself to that. I sell books to a number of major book stores (Borders, Barnes and Noble, etc..) but my terms are at a high discount and non-returnable. Essentially, what I give Diamond Comics. I didn’t plan to venture after the book stores because many won’t carry titles without returns and I can understand that. I managed to sell to a couple of stores that were located on different campuses because, and this was surprising, Diamond refused to take their orders. Diamond gave me their reasoning but it still doesn’t make much sense. Granted, selling 50 copies to one store every semester (so, 3X a year for 150 books) may not seem much to Diamond, but I’ll take it.

There are a number of publishers that utilize Diamond as their “book” distributor as well as their comic distributor. It’s a good dynamic as Diamond already has the vendor accounts set up and they are familiar with the product. The publishers essentially have to do very little extra, so on both sides, it makes a great deal of sense. However, this inputs another factor on returns as Diamond has to cover their costs on handling. So on top of getting damaged product back (if you get it back at all), you’re out not just the printing costs and perhaps shipping costs but you have to tack on the service fee that Diamond (like all distributors do) adds, and you’re hit with some sizable bills. Another factor is that seldom can you anticipate when the returns will come through so it can throw estimated budgets and schedules way out of whack.

Yet that is part of the business model in publishing and no one should be surprised by it and the return factor should be built in as far as expectations and the ledger sheet goes. It’s not an excuse unless something unusual happens.

What surprised me when reading about these two publishers, especially the smaller one, was the vehement attacks that many fans, and some creators, laid against the publisher. I totally get what is being said---a lack of foresight on the publisher should not enable them to delay payments to creators, but it just seemed like the comments were so one-sided.

Almost all publishers have cash flow problems and much of this is based on forecasting revenues. Publishers have to engage in advance expenditures. It’s basic business,--- money has to go in to grow a company and expand into new directions and the plan is for the anticipated revenues to not only cover the costs but add profits to fuel the next growth. Obviously, paying the creators is essential in the budget, but you know what, sometimes shit happens. Often times, a publisher doesn’t get paid from his distributor and the revenue stream stops. Now, this is something that doesn’t occur with Diamond as far as I know. With all the ups and downs with the comics market it seems as if they are the only constant keeping the fragile state going.

When I had Caliber, there were a number of distributors that went under owing us money. By the time Transfuzion started, there was only one real distributor but I did sell direct to comic stores. For the most part, I don’t do that anymore because of the uncollectible amounts that are still outstanding. In most small publishing companies, the profit range is so small that if one vendor doesn’t pay, well, that can affect what the publisher can pay out.

Too many fans don’t think of all the aspects and costs that are involved in publishing: rent, communication functions (phone, internet, etc), staff, updated computer programs, ISBN numbers and barcodes., utilities, etc. The problem is that many of these are fixed costs and have no flexibility. Creator invoices, royalty statements, and promotion are not fixed so that is usually what is going to be affected by a diminishing income. It’s not that publishers feel those areas are less important but paying a creator late can lead to bad blood, perhaps some negative press, but the company will survive. Not paying rent or utilities…well, the company can just go out of business.

None of this is to find a way to justify a late paying company but again, when I read those comments, it was insinuated that the publisher was just keeping the “extra money” and stiffing the creators. I don’t know, perhaps that’s true. But from my experience, I only know of a few rare examples where a company purposely screwed over creators. Chalk it up to over estimated sales forecasting or not taking into account all the costs, or even just incompetence, but most of the time, the lack of payment is not intended.

And of course, it’s not always a one way street. Most of us are aware of what happened with Tundra where Kevin Eastman opened his wallet to pay creators in advance so they wouldn’t have to worry about anything…just do the work. Some millions of dollars later, it’s obvious that didn’t work. I paid in advanced four times and three times I got burned. And one time was from a friend who I would’ve never expected to bail out on me. I work with Desperado often and I know of a few cases where they paid in advance, and also got burned. There, I think they hit 100% burn rate.

It’s not just some creators not doing the work, but their lateness can factor in. If a book is selling a certain amount of copies but then the creator runs late, the book gets cancelled and usually the next solicitation suffers a massive reduction in sales. Well, if the creators are getting paid a certain rate based on the initial sales but then the sales get cut in half (one book I know lost 70% of the sales on the resolicitation), then it becomes a losing book yet the creator who caused the resolicitation and therefore lesser sales, still expects the same rate. You’d be surprised how often this happens.

The point of all this is that nothing is as cut and dried as some people would like to think. Yes, there are “bad” publishers and there are “bad” creators as well. I know of a few enormously talented artists who don’t get work because they’re chronically late. It doesn’t matter how good you are if you don’t produce. I had an offer for a book to be published featuring a certain artist and I passed as I just didn’t want to get wrapped up in that. I’ve been down that road too many times.

I don’t know of any other fields like comics where the “business” is so open to conversation among people who often know little of what they’re talking about, yet they get to voice their opinions publicly. Granted, sometimes these public discussions can bring awareness to some areas, but far too often, they used as a means for a fan to side with a creator they like---not to solidify any factual information but just to “buddy” up---as if the “common enemy” will provide a viable means of friendship.

It sounds like a cliché about there being two sides to every story but the reason some things become a cliché is because they happen so frequently. I know when I read most of the comic “news”, I always wonder what isn’t being told as much as what is.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Deadworld moving?

It's official so now I can at least talk about it. Desperado Publishing has moved to IDW where it will become an imprint of that company. That gives Joe Pruett the autonomy he wanted and yet still be part of the growing IDW Publishing. I'm not exactly sure how that will be in regards to MY stuff but I'll worry about it as it comes up. Joe did tell me that IDW was interested in printing the Deadworld material. It appears that the Slaughterhouse hardcover will be coming out from Desperado at the beginning of the year. The delay was due to negotiations going on as it was supposed to be out in October. Sami Makkonen finished the book a long time ago and in fact, finished his following project, The Looking Glass Wars with Frank Beddor. A real fantastic looking book (as an aside, see Frank being interviewed about that on Good Morning America here). It's kinda funny as I still regard IDW as a "new" company but I see that they're celebrating their ten year anniversary. When I look back on it, that's about how long Caliber was around although at the time, it certainly seemed longer than that. Maybe because it just consumed my life so much at that time. I put in an awful lot of hours, which I'm sure most people do who own their own business, but I was always careful to be home and spend time with the kids. I'd mostly work when they were not at home or in bed. Even though Caliber ended, I don't feel like it was a waste of time or anything. I mean, one bad break here or there cost the company and most of it was sort of out of our control. I don't dwell on what could have been but sometimes when I discuss things with some old "Caliber" people, it does come up. Mainly it was the Power Cardz situation and the graphic novels that fell apart. I recently got a link to an article sent to me about a creator who worked for Caliber and he said in an interview that Caliber did the bad binding on purpose. I mean, just how idiotic is that? With the end of the year coming up, it's time to make plans for the convention season. I don't do many shows. I will be at the new Chicago convention (C2E2) and looking at the Traverse City show again. Not sure about Motor City even though its in the neighborhood and I'd still like to do Heroes Con one of these days. I may even do San Diego this year...still a bit early to decide for sure. I'm looking at a couple of horror shows as it seems I do better at those but shows are not a necessity for me and though I enjoy them once I'm there, I usually dread thinking about attending them. As an update on the movie. Things are moving along as they need to so that's good. So far, happy with the script and just have to wait and see how things play out. One thing about Hollywood, it does not move at a breakneck speed...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Time...never enough

Well, it's been awhile. Mainly it due to keeping so busy that is just not that high of a priority. I think that's why you see the sites like facebook and twitter doing so well. Comments can just be throw out there without consideration of trying to construct almost a column which is how many of the blogs, including this one started. I find that I have all these informational sources to attend to and frankly, I just can't keep up. It seems easy but like most people, I'm just inundated with so much activity dealing with family, school, publishing, writing, and whatever else comes along. It seems I'm always trying to catch up. I guess its better than not being busy. It seems everyone has the same complaints about time in today's world. I am quite shocked though, when I read people discussing various TV shows. How do people have the time to watch all of those shows. I have a DVR so I end up recording most of the stuff but the only show I really try to get to is MadMen. I will "tape" Heroes but find I can only follow its plodding plot by speeding through it (and it seems I never really miss anything important). If I miss a show, I don't worry about it. In fact, I may have missed all but two of this season. I don't think that bodes well for my interest in the show. The carnival people are what hold my attention for this season and I detest any of the Hiro scenes. Most of my other recording are for shows on Discovery, History Channel, etc. I'm not trying to portray myself as a snob or anything but I love history and science is my profession (teaching biology) and I find myself increasingly becoming much more interested in all the aspects of science to the exclusion of almost everything else. But I have shows going all the way back to January that I still haven't watched yet. My family feels I'm clogging up the DVR with all these unwatched shows. I try to keep up on Facebook and obviously, am much more frequent there than here. If you're interested, and the Facebook link is now hooked up to the right. I also have an Amazon page (Gary Reed) but I don't keep on that as much as I should. I keep up to date more with the stuff happening with Transfuzion and do a regular column for ComicRelated here. I also have a myspace page but seldom use it. I think most people have moved on from myspace to facebook. I do have a twitter page but after signing up for it and finding I didn't want to be posting all the time, I haven't used it. In fact, I don't even remember the login or password for it so I will probably never get back to it. I did the Pittsburgh Comic Con for the first time. It was okay. I was in a separate room from the dealer's room with some other guests and the traffic wasn't as heavy there. It was amazing to see the turnout for Stan Lee. I can see why fans and guests like the con so much...everything was well organized and well run. I will be doing a signing at Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, MI. Sort of a homecoming for me as that was originally my store (called Comics Plus) but Katie and Dan Merritt not only changed the name but moved it down the street. One of the best stores I've been to, if you're in the area on October 28 at 5:00...stop in. I'll be giving out free copies of Deadworld comics and I think there's going to be a zombie drawing contest. Speaking of Deadworld, the next steps are moving along as far as the movie goes. Still a long way to go as nothing is certain until you see it on the screen but all the right pieces are being put in all the right holes so far...looking good. I think that Sin Eternal, the revamping and collected version of Sinergy, will be out in November. This is a retelling of Dante's Inferno but updated for more modern times. Galen Showman (who I worked with on Renfield) is the continuity artist and he does a fantastic job of keeping a semi-unified look as each level of Hell is drawn by a different artists. Over 25 artists including Guy Davis, Mark Bloodworth, Vince Locke, David Mack, Michael Lark, Dalibor Talajic, Jim Calafiore, and many others. As for the Deadworld printed stuff such as the reprint of the sold out Deadworld: Requeim for the World and the Slaughterhouse hard cover, there is some news coming out about that shortly, but at this time, I can't say anything about it. Enjoy your Halloween.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Talent from New Places

When I was publishing Caliber, one of the aspects that it accomplished, and almost inadvertently, was the introduction of new talent into the comics medium. I say inadvertent because being a small publisher, I had to rely on creator owned titles simply because I wasn't paying a page rate. Of course, that wasn't the whole reason as I also thought that creator owned books were just so much more interesting. There were a lot of creators known today that got their start at Caliber, and there were others, who may not have started off at Caliber but they honed their skills to get themselves to the next level. Guy Davis, Vince Locke, Mark Bloodworth, David Mack, Patrick Zircher, Mike Perkins, Michael Gaydos, Ed Brubaker, Jim Calafiore, Philip Hester, Ande Parks, Mike Carey, Jacen Burrows, Michael Allred, Dave Cooper, Jimmy Gownley, Brandon Peterson, James O'Barr, Don Kramer, Jason Lutes, Brian Bendis, Paul Sizer, Mark Ricketts, Troy Nixey, and many others did all or part of their "apprenticeship" at Caliber. It seemed for awhile that there was no longer a spot for the "new" creators to go through the process of going beyond creation of a title and actually producing it. However, that has changed with the incredible growth...and acceptability of material posted online. But sometimes I wonder if that access that is available to everyone, even more than it was with the explosion of publishers and titles in the 80's and 90's, is limiting the growth of artists. It seems some artist have latched onto a successful gig and it continues. In the past, with the printed material, it was a constant climb for most artists to get better. Maybe it was having an actual printed comic that could be looked that propelled artists to strive to get better. I mean, on the web, it's out of site, out of mind but when you have the physical artwork in front of you...well, that's a bit tougher to just look away from. There is a sense of permanence even though in actuality, it appears the web will be the key to posterity rather than random back issues stuffed into long white boxes. I started thinking about that as I was looking at some of Vince Locke's original Deadworld work. We're going to be doing a collection of all his old work and it is very interesting to compare and contrast not only Vince artwork with himself but with his friend, Guy Davis. Both of them started at about the same time at Arrow and moved to Caliber at the same time and almost immediately, these young guys moved onto other material and left their original books...Deadworld and Realm respectively at about the same time. If you look at Vince's art in the early Deadworld, you have to remember that he was a teenager. Yes, a teenager. He was obviously influenced by the strong line work of some artists but even in the early issues, he was experimenting...sometimes loosening up, sometimes tightening up, occasionally going into an almost cartoony style and then the next issue, playing with negative space. Deadworld was his training ground and he played in a lot of different directions. By the time he left Deadworld, he had already settled into his style which is apparent on American Freak, A History of Violence, and what I think was his best work, Saint Germaine (of course, I'm a bit biased on that one...). I also loved his work on The Plague, a historical fiction chronicle I did with him. Guy, on the other hand, did a lot less overt experimentation on The Realm. He definitely grew as an artist but he stayed in the same uh, realm. I believe Guy was also in his teens when he started this D&D fantasy book. He gave it a slight anime look as that was his influence at the time. Being a series based strongly around characters, Guy kept a much more consistent look for the 15 issues he did and looking back now, it must have been a chore for him at that time towards the end. He also was looking to move beyond what he was doing with the Realm and it was evident with his next project, Baker Street. It is incredible when you look at the Realm and realize that he moved from that to Baker Street. It's two different worlds. Of course, he also developed his own style evident in his long run on Sandman Mystery Theatre, The Marquis, and BRPD (which he just won an Eisner for as best penciller). The same could be said for Patrick Zircher and Michael Lark as it was easy to see them growing by leaps and bounds with each issue they did. I look back at The Verdict graphic novel that Caliber published that was written by Martin Powell. The artists were Dean Haspiel and Josh Neufeld and now their work has spun in a whole new direction, virtually unrecognizable from their early days. I have no idea how much a lot of these web artists are evolving simply because I'm not familiar enough with their older work. It's ironic in that all of the older work is stored on some server someplace and a lot easier to pull up than searching for back issues but it today's world of immediacy, it just doesn't seem like something people search for. Don't get me wrong, I'm not implying that today's artists are not getting better, it just isn't as apparent. Actually, I think that nowadays, there is more talent out there doing their own books then there was in the past, pre-web. A wealth of diversity, not possible back then, has spun stories into all new directions with completely different looks that are accepted by a lot of the audience that wanted nothing to do with it back then. Even though the market is considered weak by a lot of people in terms of sales of comics and books, it seems actually stronger and more likely to take advantage of the new avenues opening up. In fact, it seems almost that there is too much good stuff out there, even if the "normal" comics market doesn't recognize it all yet. The next collection I have coming out is SIN ETERNAL: A RETURN TO DANTE'S INFERNO which collects the Sinergy series that updates Dante's Inferno I did at Caliber. Galen Showman, who worked with me on Renfield, is the continuity artist. For each level of Hell, it is drawn by a different artist and I think there are 30 in all. some of the levels that originally appeared have been replaced by new ones. It is scheduled for a late October, early November release. I have a new column running up at which deals with my publishing house, Transfuzion Publishing. The column, Talking Transfuzion (okay, not the most original name) deals, of course, with what's happening with Transfuzion and also spotlights a creator adn a title each week. There is also a short 5 question interview with the creators behind Transfuzion's titles. I posted some pictures of one of the conventions, King Kon, I put together a very long time ago. Guests included Harvey Kurtzman, Carol Kalish, Max Collins, Terry Beatty, Larry Marder, Al Milgrom, Don Simpson, Dan Mishkin, Deni Loubert, Richard Pini, and many others. there's a pix of Harvey on the left. I will be a guest at the Cherry Capital Convention on August 29-30 and then will appear at the Pittsburgh Comic Con on Sept. 11-13. I will also be a guest at the Motor City Nightmares Convention in Novi, Mich on October 23-25 and then I'll close out with a signing at Green Brain Comics on October 28. (and congrats to them for being picked as The Best Comic Store in the Detroit area by Metro Times...again. That's going to be it for awhile as I have a full load of teaching this semester.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Deadworld: Slaughterhouse Video Promo

Deadworld:Slaughterhouse promotional video. The book comes out from Desperado Publishing, in HARDCOVER, in October. It's in the Diamond Previews right now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Updates on Cons and Deadworld

Time to play some catch-up on the updates. First off, on the convention appearances, I will be attending the Cherry Capital Con in Traverse City on August 29-30. For those of you who don’t know, Michigan is known for their cherries and Traverse City is the spot for them. Traverse City is a small city in Northern Michigan and is pretty much the big city once you get above Lansing and Grand Rapids. It’s not only a resort town but one of the fastest growing cities in America. Beautiful place. I’ve been to dozens of coastal cities on the East Coast and Traverse City is comparable if not better than most. Some of the publishers there will be Oni Books, Top Shelf, Desperado, and Slave Labor so the slant is definitely for the independent publishers. I will be doing a presentation which will be announced shortly and if you’re there, you can get a free Deadworld comic…autographed if you want…or not. It will be my first appearance at the Pittsburg Comic Con in September 11-13. I will be in Artists Alley. I have a panel discussion on Saturday at 1:00 where I’ll talk about all the things going on with Deadworld. Jeff Erb, one of the producers on the Deadworld movie, will join me and we may have more news to announce at that time. Everyone attending the panel will get a free Deadworld comic plus be entered into a drawing to win some Deadworld stuff (t-shirt, action figure, CD collection, etc.) At both the Pittsburgh and Traverse City show, I am also making copies of my young adult novel, Spirit of the Samurai, available free for some kids but not sure how the organizers are going to handle it yet. Speaking of Deadworld, here’s the update on things: The action figure, King Zombie, is schedule to debut at San Diego Con. The t-shirts are still available from Rotten Cotton as is the CD collection from Eagle One Media.. The Frozen Over trade paperback from Desperado is still not finished but there’s only a few pages left. The artist is so busy with DC work that another artist may be put on the book to finish it. That’s a last resort kind of thing but it’s been delayed quite a bit. The Slaughterhouse graphic novel has been done for awhile and is being rescheduled by Desperado for October and will join the new format of doing hardcover editions. The mask is still scheduled to arrive in time for Halloween. The novel will probably come out early next year. There is an all new graphic novel in production right now which is tentatively entitled The Last Siesta as King Zombie waltzes down to Mexico but it’s not for the beaches. Written by Gary Francis and myself (though Francis did the initial part), it will be drawn by Mark Bloodworth. As for the movie, well, you now how Hollywood goes. But suffice to say, things are moving along. There’s some stuff I can’t talk about yet but all in all, I feel pretty good about things. Other projects that I’m working on are still going but no sense bringing them up again until they get closer. I have a new blog coming out soon from Comics Related. Called Talking Transfuzion, it will focus on the publishing end of Transfuzion and be confined to that area. So, it’s an extension of this blog in a sense. Check out my interview from The Furnace. There’s also plans to do a podcast which I’ll post here when it happens. That’s it…just want to get the updates out there. Usually I try to keep things updated on the Transfuzion or Desperado message boards, both of which are on Comic Related. If you haven’t been to that site, it’s a great site and I find I can keep up with a lot of things from there.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Comics Market...worse than I thought.

I don’t pay much attention to the monthly releases of sales figures in the comics direct market. But this last month, I was interested because there was a new publisher launching and I was curious if their sales matched the expectations they had. I remember thinking at the time that their numbers were hopelessly optimistic and unrealistic…in fact, bordering on self delusion.

Of course, I was right. Not that I have any great insights but it’s just a case of how bad the market really is. And it’s worse than I thought.

I’m not going to go through all of the numbers as it’s easy for anyone to do simply by going to for the listings ( But I made a few notes about some of the sales. First off, I find it shocking that the highly covered Captain America #600 only did as well as it did. Is this where Steve Rogers returns???---I don’t keep up with it and the only reason I know of Cap’s death is because of all the coverage. Apparently this issue is only a teaser but it got incredible coverage. Marvel even broke the standard Wednesday release day and made provisions for a Monday release….apparently, it was that BIG of an issue. It sold about 112,000 copies.

Unbelievable. With all the coverage it had and it barely eked out over 100,000 in sales.

What I found in the lower tier of books was even more stunning. Now, being a publisher, I know what it costs to print books and the cost is considerably higher than it used to be when I was running Caliber and even back then on some of these numbers (and we printed in black and white), it would have been a struggle.

Mainly the books I looked at were generally licensed titles. Everyone knows that the Marvel and DC universe titles have their built in audiences (although I didn’t realize how small that was) but it’s the licensed titles with established properties that have the hope of bringing in new people to the stores or at least getting comic fans to venture into something different, depending on what their tastes run on these licensed characters. Not all of the titles I bring up below are licensed as there were some surprised in the traditional superhero titles as well.

Books selling in the 9,000 to 10,000 range include Star Trek and Transformers. If these can’t sell now after the incredible successes of the movies, when will they? I was also surprised to see Madame Xanadu and Authority in this range.

Under 9,000 but over 8,000 included popular characters such as Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes, Spirit, Incredibles, another Star Trek title, Simpsons, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Also in this range was the Amazing Spiderman Family title.

From 7,000 to 8,000 had Conan, StarCraft, FarScape, Riftwar, and Zorro. Those are some pretty big properties floundering at pretty low numbers.

6,000-7,000 sales included Fringe, Army of Darkness, Bart Simpson, Toy Story, and Battlestar Galactica. In the more traditional comics, I was surprised to see Gen 13, Savage Dragon, and Hack Slash.

The 6,000 to the 5,000 range included Terminator and Flash Gordon. It was stunning to see Mike Allred’s Madman Atomic Love.

Skipping to the under 4,000 but above 3,000 (which is the cut off for Diamond’s Top 300) there were some titles that I’m familiar with because of the coverage they get. Dynamo 5, Elephantmen, PVP, and Rex Mundi. Moonstone’s Phantom was here although that’s not a surprise as worldwide, Phantom is still a very popular character but in the U.S., he just never made the jump to an icon.

I realize that many of these titles will be reordered and sales will go up. Some have other forms of distribution but the fact is that these are what were the initial orders from comic book retailers.

Funny, if you were to browse all the websites, forums, blogs, and social sites, it would seem that things are doing well. But the comics market is pretty insulated and sometimes I forget that a lot of people don’t step back to see what kind of situation the market is in.

Is it any wonder that publishers are scurrying to find out what will work for them in the digital format. I know there are many retailers who are worried about the impact but I think that most of the switch to digital will be from smaller publishers and apparently, most of the retailers are not buying (whether justified or not) their titles anyway.

I bring up these numbers simply because I was surprised at just how low the numbers were. I think I go through this checking phase every year or so and it just gets worse.

Oh, that publisher that I wanted to see how he did. I saw his numbers. I have no idea of what he pays the talent and it’s a color book so that’s more expensive to print, of course. Based on the numbers, I don’t think his sales even cover the printing costs. I’m looking forward to the press release that announces what a success it was.

Next time I’ll give an update on the goings on with Deadworld and some news on upcoming conventions I’ll be attending.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


C2E2 Horror Panel
Horror from a writer’s perspective

Podcast with Gary-

Gary Reed Podcast-
From Fist Full of Comics

Dr. Pus Podcast reveiws Deadworld-
from Dr. Pus

Podcast: Fistful of Comics interviews Gary Reed
from Fistful of Comics web-broadcast


(Shipped in August, trade paperback coming in November)

Deadworld: War of the Dead:  “…remarkably literate and starkly imaginative, and is a winner in every scene, in every shot, in every line of dialogue.” ”.---The Lottery Party.

 “This is a fantastic zombie book.  Makkonen has an insanely terrifying style, the writing is beautiful…it’s like reading a nightmare.” ---Drunk on Comics.

“War of the Dead is by far the greatest zombie story out there right now. Its atmosphere combined with great characters and gritty art makes this a must-buy. If it’s one mini-series you should be buying, it’s Deadworld: War of the Dead. 5 out of 5” ----Unleash the Fanboy

“This is a deliciously dark comic.” ---Civilian Reader.

“It is frightening, haunting, gloomy, grave, and delectably mystifying.” ----Talking Comics.

 “Reed writes beautifully, even in spite of the garishness of the set and setting. As strong as the writing is, the art is matching the strides with horrific detail and atmosphere. Makkonen is an unstoppable force of creative hellfire energy, and his pages are simply gorgeous”.---The Lottery Party on issue #1 
“Deadworld RULES.  Pick of the Week” .---Third Eye Comics

“This is a really dark zombie story. I really like it, too.”- Comics Round Up

“It is a unique take on the zombie horror genre.”---Comics for Noobs.

“It squeezes in gritty action, deep story-telling, and undead action, on a weekly basis.”---Daniel Alvarez, Unleash the Fanboy

“Dead World is proving to be a solid 5-issue mini-series with strong writing and big ideas.”---Talking Comics  

“Reed excels at developing strong characters and he does a masterful job of using both the characters and the narrative to tell the story and relate past events.  Sami Makkonen’s art I think is best described as a cross between Locke’s gritty and gruesome detailed work and Ben Templesmith’s abstract design.  It works beautifully! “

If you’re new to the series then pick this up! If you’re a fan of the series pick this up!”---Comic Attack.

“This issue had more than I could have ever wanted from a new Deadworld series. The artwork and story are done at such a high level, that you had better get a ladder ready for when this book is in your hands. Hands down a must buy! 5 out of 5.”  ---Decapitated Dan's Reviews

“This book was good, plain and simple, and if you like the Walking Dead, or any other Zombie Comics, you will love this”.---Dennis Barger, Jr. Wonderworld Comics
“Pick of the Week” .---Green Brain Comics
A great comic with literally hundreds of zombies, and an interesting premise.” ---the Rotting Zombie

“It’s a good time to be a Deadworld fan.” --- Laptop Zombie
“This has the promise to be on par with 30 Days of Night and 28 Days later. “ ---Wizard is Oz
“I’m in for issue two of this book. This round goes to Reed, you’ve got me, sir.” ---Amber Unmasked

A MURDER OF SCARECROWS: "Reed has always been very unconventional. He doesn’t go after the quick and easy story but rather he tells stories his way. They might not be best-sellers, but they are of a quality that outdoes most other writers."

DEADWORLD: "...amongst the most essential horror titles of the last twenty years."---Peter Normanton, From the Tomb magazine

OF SCENES AND STORIES: "Regardless of what you like in comics, you will find something you like in this. I can pretty much guarantee that. A must for Gary Reed fans or any comics fan who wants something more to bite into than the typical superhero stuff. Sin City aficionados might find a lot to appreciate here too."---Sequential Tart

DEADWORLD:  The best of the zombie comics I've read. Unfortunately the series only lasted six issues. It was really getting good"-David,

OF SCENES AND STORIES:  "Blistering Good!"--Rue Morgue Magazine

SAINT GERMAINE:  "Saint Germaine is a churning thriller, electrifying, fast paced, compelling and a gripping page turner! Gary Reed builds suspense to almost unbearable extremes, the kind of mysterious noir setting that readers will love!"

GHOST SONATA:  "There is superb human drama with unforgettable interactions between the characters in this story. This is a scary, but racy read, that skillfully combines old fashioned thrills, intrigue, murder, ambition and retribution!" ---Paul Dale Roberts

OF SCENES AND STORIES: "If you're looking for something far different than the ordinary, something with a little more literary bite with stories much more intellectually stimulating , you must pick up Gary Reed's Of Scenes and Stories ". --Newsarama: Best Shots

JACK THE RIPPER: " The Illustrated Jack the Ripper is nothing short of spellbinding - fierce and compelling."---Paul Dale Roberts

OF SCENES AND STORIES:: Reed has a lot of excellent ideas, and it would be nice to see more creators tackle a wide variety of genres and themes instead of pigeon-holing themselves.----Comics Should be Good

FRANKENSTEIN: "One of the best graphic novels the Library has to offer. It"s an adapted version of the Mary Shelley book. With its detail art work, classic story and its look into the world of true horror, this one isn't just a must read, it's a must own as well."---Young Adult Book Log, East Meadow Public Library

OF SCENES AND STORIES: "..oh my god!" Check out the diverse stories in this book! You have everything in here! Drama, horror, paranormal, famous fictional characters, historical stories, murder stories, detective stories and everything else in the mix!  It will take some long hours to finish it all, but you will be entertained all the way through!

RENFIELD: "It's a rare treat; a truly classic piece set in a graphic format. Reed's writing talent shines, "--Darenderer, Dimestore Reviews

SPIRIT OF THE SAMURAI:  "...a fun, action-packed adventure, and very vividly written. A story that gives a whole new meaning to family history and family reunions. And one that ends way too quickly! I'm ready to read the next one, now."--Teens Read Too

RENFIELD: "Renfield, the mysterious and tragic bug-collecting character, gets his own back story thanks to the machinations of the gifted Gary Reed, whose talent for the macabre rivals that of H. P. Lovercraft and whose adept comic book storytelling matches that of Steve Niles. "--BookLoons

DEADWORLD: "Reed is one of the most underrated comic writers around. He has the ability to stay several steps ahead of the reader and never fails to deliver several shocks and surprises." - The Comics Review

RENFIELD: "5 stars (out of 5 possible)"A must have for any serious sequential graphic narrative (comics) fan."---Mr. Render, Independent Propaganda

DEAD-KILLER: "So, what are you waiting for? The brains to be served to you on a silver platter? Go check this innovative and downright entertaining book out. Your life might depend on it one day."---Steven G. Saunders, Silver Bullet Reviews

Targeting elementary school children, this is an action-packed Samurai fantasy starring a young female teen whose opponent in a life and death struggle is her older brother. The story line is filled with action while illustrations enhance the first-rate plot".--Harriet Klausner, Alternative Worlds

SPIRIT OF THE SAMURAI:  "Spirit is a notch above the other excellent Actionopolis offering and this initial book in the series will leave you eager for the next.  That earns Reed and Hoberg the full five Tonys."---Tony Isabella, Tony's Tips

RENFIELD: "The series uses the classic literary tradition of showing us the scenes we didn't see in the novel (while working in parts of the original work, as well). I always get a kick out of stories that try that trick, but more so when it is done well. Luckily, it is done well in Renfield, and the result is a creepy story that is still filled with a good deal of class."---Brian Cronin, Comics Should be Good!

DEAD-KILLER: "Dead Killer works because Gary Reed is not just a writer but a storyteller, and storytelling is almost a lost art in comics today."---Tim Janson, Comics Review

RENFIELD: "Mature readers will come away spooked by this intelligent book and applaud Reed and Showman's approach to a familiar story told in an all-new way." ---Sean McGurr, Graphic Novel Journal

RENFIELD: Renfield sits alongside BAKER STREET as Reed's best work in comics and makes a very worthy return to print and bookshelves. Track it down.---Marc Mason, Comics Waiting Room

DEADWORLD: "So far this is turning out to be an intriguing story and writer Gary Reed seems to be finding his stride here. His plotting is intricate and the one thing I am enjoying is how all the story beats neatly fall into place...Again, I can't rave enough about this series." ---Kenneth Gallant, Broken Frontier

RENFIELD: "Reed is a very literary comics writer, one with a very sound base in much of the classic literature that inspired comics. That often helps give Reed's writing a real feeling of depth and power.---Jason Sacks, Silver Bullet

RED DIARIES: "Even if you know nothing about JFK and the circumstances surrounding his death, or have only seen Marilyn Monroe on a poster or on a stamp, I still recommend it simply to see how a talented writer can take a historical theory and rework it into a compelling read. As thrilling as any mystery novel and as historic as any crisis or war, The Red Diaries is a winner.--Hugo Bravo, IGN

RED DIARIES: "Somewhat in the manner of Alan Moore's historical and literary reconstruction of the Jack the Ripper mythology, From Hell, Reed balances generous doses of straight historical text and imaginative conjecture throughout the central narrative."---Chris Barsanti, Publishers Weekly

RENFIELD: "Renfield calls Dracula his master, but I must say that Gary Reed proves that he is the master of storytelling and Renfield proves it!"  ---Paul Dale Roberts, Jazma Online

RED DIARIES:  "The amount of research and detail the author put into this book is astounding."---Marc Mason, The Comics Waiting Room

DEADWORLD: "Gary Reed has certainly crafted a truly horrifying story, full of engaging characters, terrifying menaces and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. And Dalibor Talajic's, the series' new artist (taking over from Vincent Locke), is an amazing talent. His solid lines and heavy blacks lend the whole book a sense of encroaching darkness and almost claustrophobic tightness that makes the book seem even more frightening. This is oneheck of disturbing book and I'd definitely recommend it to new and old fans alike."---Paul Milligan, They Live to Serve

RENFIELD: "Most intelligent graphic novel I've ever read."---Combo Magazine

PENGUIN GN (Dracula and Frankenstein): "These classics deliver a real experience of the tradtional literary piece while meeting new readers in a comfortable medium"----Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library

RENFIELD: "A gothic jewel..."----Comics Buyers' Guide

RED DIARIES:  "I place THE RED DIARIES right up there with Dan Brown's DaVinci Code, it's a must-read! If you are going to read any book this year, this is the book to read. A book filled with intrigue and mystery....Gary Reed has proven himself a genius with THE RED DIARIES, after I finished reading this graphic novel, I kept asking myself...'how did he come up with this?" ---Paul Dale Roberts, Jazma Online

DEADWORLD:  "I'm not sure what possessed writer Gary Reed to start offing the cast this quickly, but I take my hat off to him for dispensing with the formalities and getting right down to it. He sure knows how to pace his story and I have been enjoying the freshness he puts into every single character".---Kenneth Gallant, Broken Frontier

PENGUIN GN (Dracula and Frankenstein): "Overall these books are fun adaptations of great literature...good choice."---Voice of Youth Advocates library magazine.

SPIRIT OF THE SAMURAI: "Gary Reed and Rick Hoberg have woven a rich tapestry of intrigue, character and dazzling art into SPIRIT OF THE SAMURAI: OF SWORDS AND RINGS. Graphic storytelling at its absolute best!"---Mike Grell - DC COMICS artist on GREEN ARROW and LEGION OF SUPERHEROES

RED DIARIES: "Writer Gary Reed is smart. He doesn't explicitly draw lines, nor does he play favorites among the various theories. Instead, Reed's looking to write an interesting and dramatic graphic novel, which is what he absolutely's a big task reconciling all the various threads and theories around the deaths of Kennedy and Monroe, and Reed does a masterful job of sorting them out in a very intriguing way."---Jason Sacks, Silver Bullet Reviews

SPIRIT OF THE SAMURAI: "SPIRIT OF THE SAMURAI is a singular work; Gary Reed combines the sensitivity of a father who understands the mentality of youth with the skilled craft of a writer who knows his audience, while Rick Hoberg's illustrations are beautiful and evocative. As a father myself, I can guarantee that this book will find its way onto my daughter's library shelf (and I'll horde a copy for myself, as well.). All in all, stellar stuff. If SPIRIT OF THE SAMURAI is representative of the entire Actionopolis line, then readers young and old should rejoice!" ---Rafael Nieves- The PHANTOM, Marvel's TALES FROM THE HEART and Narwain's THE APOCALYPSE PLAN.

DRACULA: "....proves that not only can they translate a great work into a different medium (a graphic novel), they can also produce a versatile piece that children (eight and up) can enjoy and adults too will find captivating. Even the more violent scenes are well-crafted, delivering the action but not dwelling on it."---Lance Eaton, Book Loons Reviews

SAINT GERMAINE: "The best parts of the book involve the characters contemplating their lives. There's a haunting scene about halfway through the book where Lilith talks about the burning of Leningrad during the Nazi attack on the city that's reminiscent of the best of Neil Gaiman."---Jason Sacks, Line of Fire Reviews

SPIRIT OF THE SAMURAI: "Adventure-loving boys and girls are going to flip for this kickin' supernatural-samurai story! Gary Reed's SPIRIT OF THE SAMURAI had me turning the pages as fast as I could read them, and Kat Anderson is a great new heroine"---Steven Jones, author of the novels, BUSHWACKERS and KING OF HARLEM

SAINT GERMAINE: "St. Germaine is legendary and his story has been passed on through word of mouth for generations. To determine what is truth and what is false is a challenge for the greatest detective.  Now, you are ready to add on to his mytho, his legend and somewhere in the future, a historian will probably add on Gary Reed’s marvelous tale and incorporate it into the legend of what is Saint Germaine.... There is so much to reveal and explore with this story. I have become enchanted and swept away into this story and will be anticipating more of the "aura of mystery" that surrounds this comic... I am in awe".---Paul Dale Roberts, Jazma Online Reviews

PENGUIN GN (Dracula and Frankenstein):  "...this graphic novel does a good job of both condensing and capturing the spirit of the novel. The artwork, done in b/w by Frazer Irving, is dark and atmospheric; it eloquently conveys the characters' anguish. Gary Reed's adaptation is well done..."---Kliatt

BAKER STREET: " No matter how you look at it, HONOUR AMONG PUNKS is a fantastic value for your money... it's a pretty solid brick of a graphic novel with great production values. It is also a pretty darn good read, featuring early work from artistic talent Guy Davis and former Caliber head honcho and writer Gary Reed. And Reed's stories feature some twisted, intricate mysteries that ably blend the punk and Victorian sensibilities of the whole thing." ---Randy Lander, Snap Judgment.
SAINT GERMAINE: Saint Germaine is history and the metaphysical blended into one, a cosmos of its own---legend and fact woven into the fabric of a new reality. Those willing to do more than just flip through a story will find much gold to mine here. If you want a comic book that will entertain you, there are plenty of them out there. If you want a comic that will entertain you and make you think, pick up Saint Germaine".---Barry Lyga, Diamond Comics

BAKER STREET: "HONOUR AMONG PUNKS: The Complete BAKER STREET Graphic Novel is a fascinating take on the Sherlock Holmes mythos. Not just cool, it is extremely well done. Guy Davis and Gary Reed are smart. ...If you like mysteries, if you like Sherlock Holmes type tales, you'll find yourself fascinated by this interpretation." ---Cindy Lynn Speer, SF Site.

HELSING: "Gary Reed did a superior job with the writing of this story and I will be looking forward to more. The artwork throughout this comic book was beautifully done with different contrasts that fits well with the story. Is this comic book a winner? You know it is!"---Paul Dale Roberts, Compuserve Forum Reviews

PENGUIN GN (Dracula and Frankenstein):  "Although the original novel is much longer and more intricate than its graphic version, the latter makes the story and the questions it explores accessible to readers who might otherwise never see it. The illustrations reflect a softer quality--- one that is almost film-like..."---Deborah Abbott, Chicago Sun Times

BAKER STREET: " The late 1980s produced a number of groundbreaking, compelling books. Most are still revered today, notably WATCHMEN and DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. But nipping at their heels is another important, though generally overlooked, work - BAKER STREET. Davis and Reed give us just enough of the story at one time, wisely doling out more details only when we're ready - or when they'll deliver the most shocking of surprises. BAKER STREET is full of compelling characters with rich, well-reasoned backgrounds, and I dare you not to care for them deeply after a few chapters." ---Doug Giffin, Digital Webbing.

BAKER STREET: "Guy Davis and Gary Reed really make Sharon's fine intelligence believable, something that can be difficult in a mystery. There's definitely a strong Sherlock Holmes air about her, but at the same time she's got her own unique traits and character points that make her someone in her own right. Even Sam, who gets the least screen time of the three, is a fascinating character to read about, and the twists and turns she's put through should enthrall even the most jaded reader."  Greg McElhatton- icomics.

They Live to Serve-
A review of Deadworld #4
Silver Bullet Review
A review of Red Diaries
Broken Frontier Review
A review of Deadworld #3
BookLoon Review-March
A review of the Dracula graphic novel
Jazma Online Review-
A review of Red Diaries
Silver Bullet Review-
A review of Saint Germaine
Broken Frontier Review
A review of Deadworld #2
Ain't it Cool News
Review of Deadworld #1
Indianapolis Star Review
Review of Frankenstein graphic novel

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Blogger Templates