Monday, March 30, 2009

Superheroes cannot save us: The plunder of the Direct Market

"The most important (misconception) being, that increasing creator owned work is somehow going to "save comics", whatever that means. It makes good sound bites but that's about it."
-Robert Scott, Spokesperson of the CBIA

"...the fault lays almost exclusively with these small press publishers. I am at a loss to think of any other industry where companies regularly form to create product that there is no demonstrable demand for, and whose chances for survival (not success but survival) are firmly attached solely to their ability to leech customers away from an existing consumer pool."
-Robert Scott, Spokesperson of the CBIA

"Publishers selling directly to consumers has some controversy attached. A lot of retailers in the comic book direct market take a very dim view of direct sales to consumers, especially at conventions. While it may not be a realistic view, it is not uncommon for retailers to view attempts to sell to the consumer as a direct attack on their store, regardless of whether they actually stock the product or if the sales generated actually come from their zip code."
-Todd Allen, Publisher's Weekly.

Once again, PLANETGRIFFIN is back to kick sand in the eyes of the bullies that rule the beaches and to ALL of my fellow NEXT 100, I've got to say it: What kind of shit is this?!

In a recent forum, Robert Scott of the Comic Book Industry Alliance gave the performance of a lifetime in supporting ComicPRO's assertions of small press publishers trying to gain access into the Direct Market... Scott feels that only through the Direct Market can indie pubs hope to 'survive' in, what he calls, an 'existing consumer pool'... Now, considering the now infamous 'Diamond benchmark hike' has already jeopardized many an upcoming publisher, Diamond has continued with this NEW slap in the mouth: Diamond now REFUSES to carry any title that cannot make the 'benchmark' within 60 days of initial release, nor recommend said title to any of Direct Market stores that are registered through Diamond.

In other words, your first shot in can also be your last.

This is the reason why people don't like going to the community pool in the summer, cuz you will ALWAYS have fools who piss in the water! And yet, people like Mr. Scott are daring to tell consumers, in so many words, that Mainstream is the only swimming area we should adhere to, yellow water and all! To top it off, Mr. Scott also seems to highly support the efforts of diminishing the publishers who sell directly to the consumers (i.e, internet sales, convention sales, etc.) and/or those publishers who do not support the Direct Markets' 'Brick and Mortar stores'...

"I will not... support a business model (online only) that I feel is harmful to the industry as well as one that the CBIA was founded to help brick and mortar retailers fight."
-Robert Scott, Spokesperson of the CBIA

I've said before in an earlier post that I still find it amazing when indie creators who come out with good product soon become fawned over by the BIG comics companies who wouldn't hire them BEFORE they came out on their own, give them 'important' titles to work on; hoping that while the creators' raise awareness over their styles, the indie creation that got them noticed IN THE FIRST PLACE slowly fades into 'remember when' lore... (Come back THB, come back...)

Ladies and Gentlemen, independents are slowly being herded into a new type of concentration camp--- Nuremberg for the comics' set--- a new comics code--- and the Direct Market is afraid that someone will stand up and say it loudly: "I am the bastard child of William Gaines and I'm proud of it!"

Quick history lesson: Men In Black was a humble Malibu comic that no one seemed to notice back in day, until it was discovered by a young A&R assistant in San Diego... Once Hollywood began buzzing about it's new discovery, mainstream began to take notice where once they didn't care. In the opening credits of the film, you'll notice that it says ' BASED ON THE MARVEL COMIC BY...' That's right, Marvel bought the Malibu comics imprint just in time to make that proclaimation. Considering that the film literally boasted 1.2 Billion worldwide, it damn sure didn't hurt Marvel's future.

Imagine what it could've been if it remained an independent creation? New contender, maybe?
Because the comic fell into the category of '... a product with no demonstrable demand', you must now FINALLY take the time to realize how important the Next 100 will be over the next few years! Mainstream realizes that the comics field is becoming the incredible shrinking medium and that it's continued survival rests in containing the remainder of the comic buying public to remain loyal to their brand.

Superheroes alone won't save us...

Tim Kring and Jeph Loeb can't save us...

Cross promotional Hollywood tie-ins won't save us...

We must save ourselves.

I am the bastard child of William Gaines--- and I'm proud of it!

Special thanks to Vivid Productions


samax said...

the fear that comic shops have of online comics and indies who sell to the customer is an irrational one at best. i would go to the trouble of telling them it's all in their heads, but fuck them, i'm not their fucking therapist!

the only reason it is a threat of any kind is because they have a poor business model, and not only is that not my problem, it's not my concern.

i have experienced the ignorance of the direct market first hand, so when i decided to get back into comics, i decided not to even bother with them.

there are other ways to get my book into the right hands. the direct market doesn't know how to effectively reach the demographic i am after anyways.

the moral of my rant is this: do for self. bypass the comic shop market altogether. interact with those comic shops you encounter that show an interest, but generally , don't even approach them. market your book to the consumer. it's a tough nut to crack, but once you figure out how to sell your book, i PROMISE diamond and the major companies will come to you. hopefully, by then you will be doing well enough to tell them to kiss your [insert color here] ass.

Brian Miller said...

Great article. They're the ones who have chained themselves to the anchor of the sinking ship. Now all they're doing is scoffing at those of us in our own boats as they continue to sink.

All this does is remind me that we're creating in freedom and aren't bound to the same boring rehashed characters that serve as their last meal ticket.

Onward and Upward!!

RodBuddah said...

Yes, Yes, and Yes!
The audiences ARE shrinking because of a failed business model! It's the people that make the market, not the damn stockholders!

Oh yeah, Samax--- it's black.
Right now, it's blacker than a Mobb Deep track;)

RodBuddah said...

Thanks Brian--- this is why the term NEXT 100 is more than just a rant--- it's a warning flag to those who won't wake up and see that they can't make SpiderMan new forever! It's time for new ideas, new stories, a different way of view that doesn't require a corporate brand to legitimize it!