Thursday, September 10, 2009

Countdown To Dark Reign of Infinite Civil Crisis on Planet Comics

So, did I pick the worst possible time to be trying my hand at a self-published book? Or the best?

First things first here: I have a print edition of "Lemuria" now available. It's black-and-white, 32 pages, and features a 13-page backup story that is not available online, and won't be anytime in the future. Bonus print-only material, see. I don't have a Ka-Blam print-on-demand link for it yet, but if you want a copy just join this Facebook group and shoot me a message--or you could email me directly using the hotmail address that's on that page (no, I'm not going to print it here--I don't want to get spammed to death!) It's $3.75 plus shipping, which I think makes it a darned good bargain.

Now, that said, this is kind of a "limited edition" thing. I really would like to put out a colour version...but I don't know how plausible that would be. I've actually submitted it to various publishers, but of course I'd be delighted to publish it myself. Which I could do, printwise at least, but...

Well. If you're reading this, you are presumably a comics person, and you, to presume further, have not been living in a tree for the last few months, so you are aware that:

--Diamond Distributors, the only major distributors in the direct market comics arena, just increased the number of sales needed to have a comic listed in their magazine, Previews, thereby making it that much harder to break into self-publishing;

--Disney just bought Marvel;

--And DC literally just the other day had a major corporate shakeup, ousting EIC Paul Levitz and restructuring themselves withint the Warner Brothers corporate behemoth, complete with the new moniker "DC Entertainment". (CUE OMINOUS MUSIC)

A further point: many people have claimed Levitz has played a major role in sustaining Diamond past the point where it might otherwise have collapsed. Certainly the fact that DC only solicits with Diamond has had a major effect on the industry. What happens next could have a major impact on Diamond, possibly killing it, and the Direct Market along with it.

Now, I've been accused of being a dewy-eyed optimist when it comes to the comics industry, though I'll admit that has a lot to do with believing things couldn't possibly get worse. However, I'm generally of the opinion that the comics industry really needed a shakeup, and that there's a lot of potential good that can come out of all this.

However, I'll also freely admit that there's just too many variables to say anything for sure, and I'm not all that knowledgeable about the nuts 'n bolts of the direct market to begin with. For that I turn to Chris Butcher, manager of The Beguiling comics store in Toronto and all-around swell fellow, who gives a lot of perspective (this was posted the day before the DC shakeup). He does seem to suggest that the direct market is something he can do without, but his is a very well-run store with a lot of varied and loyal clientele, so I don't know how representative his store would be. While contacting the many and various publishers sounds like a pain, he claims he's not losing money by doing so. Furthermore, if Diamond goes away, surely SOMETHING will appear to take its place, if only in the promotional department--maybe it'll simply be a matter of increased advertising on the part of the publishers?

I just don't know. These are pretty wild times. One thing's for sure, though: the internet is looking better and better as a medium for indie comics publishers. I'm the type who likes to do things the traditional way, but the appeal of launching a periodical of Lemuria is fading really, really fast, especially now that my advertising is starting to pay off somewhat.

And yet...the death of Diamond could potentially blow the doors off for indie publishers. There may be no gatekeepers for at least a brief period, and that may be just what's needed for a couple of plucky indie books to slip through. As Chris points out, there haven't been a lot of breakthrough indies since Diamond became a monopoly.

It's going to be chaos, and it might get ugly. But you know what the Chinese say about Crisis and Opportunity...

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