Before I go any further, I’d really like to see more samples of your work. I can tell from the web that you’re really talented. You have the technical ability to make it. I think that your biggest problem will be surviving the first year to 18 months of doing comics full-time. I’d love to pass photocopies around to see what my staff thinks. If you have time, my address is at the bottom of the screen.
The comics industry sucks right now. It’s the worst time since I’ve been a retailer to do anything. The cool thing is that the people who are doing comics right now are in comics for the love of the medium, not for the fast buck. It’s also easier to stand out in a less-crowded market. You can make a lot more money doing something else. But life is short…
My publishing project with E is growing. I’ve got a potential deal with another friend of mine who is doing a 6-issue miniseries. My thought on publishing is that I can solicit two books as easy as one. Half a Previews ad is cheaper than a whole one. Two sample comics mailed out costs less than two separate mailings. And so on…
Ernie’s got some money, just make sure that you get a little of it.
Staying at home with Mom can be difficult, but if that’s what it takes to get you off the ground, so be it.
If you can pencil a page in less than four hours then you’re making more than you would sacking groceries. I would value experience over exposure. How many finished pages have you done in your life? Dave Sim says every artists has 1000 “bad” pages in him, and after you draw those, you’re on your way.
> Ultimately, I want to write and draw my own stories. I just don’t know the > road to my goal. I’ve always thought that the Todd McFarlane route was the > best. But I wonder. Should I start now and try the David Mack (Kabuki) > route?
Depends on your financial goals. You would be better off financially to do a J. Scott Campbell and get popular on a hot book and then launch your own series a la Danger Girl, but what happens is that these guys get “spoiled” on someone else’s property both financially and popularity-wise.
You have what it takes. I think the most important thing at this point in your career is to draw as many pages as possible and get as many of those published (by whomever) as possible so you don’t have to get a McJob.
Focus. Decide what you want. I’d go with the big companies because you don’t have 100 pages of your dream project, yet. Work on it on the side as you get better.
Make a marketing plan. You’re making the right contacts. Have a “press kit” that you can send by Priority Mail to anyone who you think can help your career. Put samples, copies of printed books, a biography, resume, and a short cover letter in it.
Start a contact mailing list and do an infrequent postcard mailers or newsletters to your “customer” base (editors, publishers, writers, other artists). E-mail doesn’t hurt, too…
Doing something is better than doing nothing. Make a calendar where you track your progress. Treat drawing comics like the job that it is. Schedule your “work time.” Make sure that you get plenty of sleep and exercise. Pencil in a schedule and then meet your daily deadlines. Finish a page a day, 5 days a week no matter what. Pick a “manager” to help keep you on track.
Set career goals. Say you want to be in 12 published books over the next 18 months. Do it.
I think that you have what it takes. I believe in you. And I’m a retailer…
– Rob Snell
Gun Dog Comics]]>
I talked to Diamond yesterday. Had a great response. They are sending me a new solicitation kit ASAP which I need for putting together a calendar.
I took copious notes, but the best thing I learned that I really didn’t already know is that Diamond has a list of Top 500/Top 1000 indy-friendly retailers. For 15-cents a bundle, we can send packs of ashcans to these fine folks. They’ll be mixed in with the new books, but that’s when the customers come in…
That’s only $150 (plus printing) to put 10,000 ashcans in the hands of indy retailers and their independent customers. Holy cow! There might be a little “computer time” for database crunching for DCD at $30/hour - but STILL.
For you to Priority Mail your Top 100 would cost $300. I would probably say do both.
* Action figures are more do-able than you think. Let’s get a book or two out, but I know this guy, see…
* I think we need to be able to tell retailers who our audiences are for these books. In the ashcan pack we can suggest “Put this in the hands of fans of X-Files, James Bond, Twin Peaks, etc.” for Gunner. Can you name five books that you think would “map” to AiT?
* I would also like to do focus groups with photocopies to these groups to see how they like the books and look for input on content, marketing, etc.
* How many retailers does Cold Cut have? Would they do a mail-out of our books before soliciting them through Diamond if we got them copies ASAPrinted for immediate re-orders?
* Could you see a crossover? I see Moonraker with a cool secret agent.
* When the hell am I going to see some of your drawn pages? NOW!!!!
* More FYI: 1-800-Postcard had a $250 for 5000 color postcards special. We also have an 1-800 number, an on-line web-commerce site, a credit card account and a shipping department at our disposal. Not *that* big a deal, but we’re ready for mail order customers.
* I also talked with a guy at Desert Moon who does returnable magazine distribution about doing our books.
* When you say complete do you mean film as well? Can you help us do our film & colorseps? What about Quebecor for ashcans? I’d love a glossy paper b&w ashcan (Like Batman Black & White). Ummmm…
* Are you still thinking of toning AIT with zip-a-tone?
* Also, what about having a real astronaut write each issue’s introduction?
What we need to do next is outline our general expectations… E is taking a “week off” after 5 years of school and think we’ll have a general time line pretty soon.
I’d like to have an a la carte (?) publishing plan to where you can choose to participate or not in various promotional ventures. I want to do as much PR and marketing as possible, but I don’t want to mess up anyone’s profitability by over-advertising. I want to do a full-page Previews ad and eventually some in Wizard. No, really!
I would like to have everything spelled out to where we would all know what was expected of each other way up front. Your friendship is more important to me than any “deal.”
Looking forward to doing some bidness,
>>> “If you do ashcans, put me down for a few extras. I would be more than happy to drop one in each box we mail out. Give it some thought.”
Thanks for your support. We’ll be printing thousands - probably this Sept/Oct. Let me know how many you want, and I’ll send you as many as I have.
One of the reasons I want to publish is so that I can do the things I’ve been asking publishers to do, and then - if it works - scream out loud. My passion for comics has been watered down by everything from (recently) Danger Girl Limited to Marvel’s Bankruptcy to every negative comment about comic retailers by the creative community to every exclusive AE backdoor deal to anything with the name Top Cow associated with it.
Capital City going under was a watershed moment for me. I realized that I was going to be forced to do business with a distributor that I perceived to be the enemy (which is no longer the case). The whole reason I got into business in the first place was to do what I wanted to do, not what someone made me do. In short, publishing has given me control over the one thing that I lacked as a retailer - product quality.
E’s got 6 issues of the regular series completed and 6-10 issues of various other stuff that will probably end up as back-up stories. We’re working on our business & marketing plans now. E will be doing this full-time for the next 12 months, so there’s no reason that we shouldn’t be able to be monthly once we get out the gate. I’m afraid to state that publicly because so many others have tried and failed.
I don’t have a ton of money, but we’re far better capitalized on this than we have been on anything else we’ve ever done - including stores, Copy Cow, and the internet businesses. I realize that the long term payoff will be small if we are even wildly successful, but this isn’t about the money. It’s about comics. And it’s nice to be able to get excited about comics again…
I’m all for the Web page idea! Tupelo can handle the e-mail although I would rather it be over an ISP than through our friends at AOL.
Ideas for things on the page: A place to set up mail order Subs. A place for existing customers to place orders. Directions to the store. A link to Diamond on line. Tournament schedules. Web only coupons. Rob’s Rants. Andrew’s pick of the week. Steve’s line of death (OK maybe not). Our buying list! (Comics and cards) Directions and maps to the stores. Anything else?
(10 years later…)]]>
My brother/business partner has convinced me that our future lies in not converting other small business owners into design clients as much as it does doing webstores for products that we can get distribution on, and then becoming a showcase client for you guys with 15-20 stores, and *THEN* go for the store design market.
Also, I’ve been talking to a few order fulfillment warehouses. I gave a lady Paul’s name and number. I think y’all could have links to or even some sort of lead-generation relationship with this kind of business. Then you really would be a turn-key business opportunity…]]>
Did you demand overnight shipment from a Diamond employee? I have done that on several occasions and it works wonders. JO always worked miracles for me. With 4 stores getting separate shipments Heroes World always made DCD look good, but I had four consecutive orders delayed or shipped wrong during the warehouse consolidation, so I feel your pain. This was in a most competitive market, too.
I would still say call Eric Beck, and if he doesn’t satisfy you, call Bill Neuhaus, and if he doesn’t fix it, call Cindy Fournier, and if she doesn’t fix it, call Chuck Parker, and if that doesn’t work, send your letter to CBG and Comics Retailer. It took me two years, but I speak fluent Diamondese. Squeeky wheel gets the grease.
Customer Service reps have absolutely no power or authority. Team Leaders do. Switch to a Team Leader.
>>>: “In short, give me solid, predictable numbers on an upslope rather than wildly fluctuating numbers anyday. Joe “<<<
I agree. I was talking with my insurance agent today (upping my life insurance - scary stuff!) and he’s a baseball card nut. His daughters are into the beanies. I said pretty much the same thing to him. I just think the speculative nature of the product has negative long term effects.
I agree with whoever posted on here or on the ComicKaze Retailer Forum or on the Comic Source Retailer Mailing List or wherever that 1993 is long gone from the minds of most retailers and everyone is looking for the magic bullet. We all could be concentrating on our core efficiencies, and miss the short term ride, but a year from now when sales are down from beanies, sales could be up a little from Magic or Games Workshop or Anime or Comics or whatever.
From my point of view, I think you have a luxury being in a market where one can do comics-only (or primarily), and do well. My stores cannot, but I am in the position of not having to make a living off the comics stores. It’s easy for me to say “don’t stock this - it’s bad,” but cashflow is cashflow. I guess everyone has to make their own business decisions.
I have a lot of time on my hands these days, and I’m asking a lot of questions.
Why are we doing ______ ? Is it because we have always done it that way and need to change it, or stop altogether? There’s a lot of doing going on in this industry and not a lot of questioning the reasons why IMHO.
Truth be told, the 10 Full Color Wizard ads would be most effective.
Actually, the ashcan idea is perfect, so long as we receive a dozen or so.. i.e. enough to give out. So often we receive a single ashcan, which helps me decide if “T think” i can sell it, but really doesn’t allow my customers a chance to check it out. If I get enough to give one to any “likely suspects” for them to puruse at their leisure, I’m much more likely to get a firm purchase commitment from a few, which allows me to buy a couple for the rack with some confidence that somebody will actually like it and buy it.
Bottom line is without something tangible to show my customers that doesn’t cost me anything, I’m probably better off re-ordering one more Batman, so far as “likely to sell it” is concerned. And I’m probably better off keeping that $1.25 in my pocket than re-ordering Batman.]]>
Thanks for your note. Your answer was exactly what I was fishing for. Instead of spending the $60,000 on Wizard ads (ha!) I would rather cut a check to each retailer for $20.
I was thinking in bundles of 10 or so so people could give them to the customers they thought might sub-up for it. Like I said before, I’m assuming “Gun Dog Think” and no rack orders, so I’m going to really try to create subscribers for retailers…
I’m thinking a complete 16 page complete mini-story, maybe color cover / maybe self cover for the #0.
I’m really going to do some things to put the big pubs’ feet to the fire…
Wow. Other than “Right on!, Daddy-O” I would only add that the 70% of our sales are COMIC pre-order sales, not pre-order Magic, Anime, Warhammer, nor Beanie Baby, but I guess that could be inferred from the rest of your letter.
Why risk my capital on the thousand cuts when the window of opportunity is so freakin’ small? In the two markets where we have virtual monopolies I rack less than I do in the other two competitive markets because I can…
In our stores, managers are really encouraged to get customers to subscribe to titles that they want to get every month. We have really considered going to pre-order only on most comic titles and taking the “rack” budget and putting it into trades and other product lines.. While this is not good for us or the industry in the long haul because of reduced flip-through, it means that there will still be comic stores in rural Mississippi.