FILE UNDER COMIC KILLERS:
NO CARNAL COMICS FOR YOU!!! Cherry and Demi the Demoness join the unemployment line; Archie, Jughead and the ‘Joes from ‘Drafted’ lookin’ real nervous…
By Scott Licina
Well, well, well, looks like it’s going to be harder to get your forbidden fruit fix at the local comic shop from now on, o’ frantic followers of XXXenophile and Cherry (and yes, Mr. Raven Gregory, I am looking at you). It’s hard to believe that Adult Comic sales (what a misnomer- nearly ALL comics are “adult” comics now, and have been for over two decades) have tanked to the point that Diamond is doing away with the supplemental catalog, but I guess all the hassles Gordon Lee went through must have scared off more retailer dollars than I had imagined over the past few years. Because it can’t be that all the 40 year old virgins who buy this stuff suddenly found girlfriends, can it? Maybe we should blame all the free hentai vids floatin’ around on the ‘Net- did video kill the comic porn star? (Shout out to The Buggles for the groovy play-on-song-lyrics op. Betcha’ll be humming that the rest of the day…)
Or, much closer to reality, is it actually just a matter of (global) economics? Have we figuratively and literally screwed ourselves into such a miserable financial hole that we can’t even support the adult industries anymore? Unfortunately for comic porn aficionados in America, this seems to be the case. Evidently society just can’t afford to spank the monkey with outside comic stimulation anymore.
(Oh-oh, did I just give Barack another idea for a new “stimulus” package? Free adult comics for the unemployed? You do know that next to Spider-Man, Newsarama is Mr. Obama’s numero uno choice for comic indulgence, right? I even hear Matt’s thinking of doing a “limited edition variant” masthead featuring the new Super-Prez battling the diabolical Jimmy ‘The Joint’ Palmiotti, with the fate of the Barack-inator’s boy sidekick Lucas ‘Uncle Milty’ Siegel dangling in the balance. Ooooo, I bet that’ll give Chris Matthews another “thrill” running up his leg!).
But the decline of the adult comic industry and the loss of the catalog is nothing compared to the real problem, and that’s the evil that this depression has brought down upon the heads of the entire independent comic community (and yeah, that’s right, I said DEPRESSION. Screw the financial pansy douchebags who keep falsely proclaiming “It’s only a recession! It’s only a recession!”, clicking their heels like a bunch of Dorothy Gale rejects trying to wish their way home and out of the money pit they’ve dug us all into. Go sell it to the over 10 million people currently unemployed and the bankrupt companies they used to work for, schmuckos, and I hope on the way a thousand Flying Monkeys fly out of and then back up into your butts. Repeatedly).
Even though the report of the demise of the Adult comic catalog has completely dominated all news media (and yes, I am being facetious), the bigger Diamond story this week is the fact that the distributor will be raising it’s purchase order benchmark up to $2500, which means that all the companies that attempt to produce comic books will now be expected to turn a small profit. Wow, what a bummer- to think that a distribution company actually has the nerve to ask that you produce and promote a product that has the capacity to perform or they can’t carry it, because they can’t afford any more losses on lame duck items with the economy completely in the crapper! Oh, whoa is me, the days of freewheeling creative masturbation (here I go back into “adult” territory again) without profitable expectation or accountability are as dead as chromium and velvet covers, my friends.
Often, when Diamond (or any other major corp for that matter) changes its policies to try and stay in business by doing what companies are supposed to do (i.e. MAKE A PROFIT), the ‘little guy’ thinks it’s a personal vendetta against him, and that the ‘big bad corporate entity’ is out to put him out of business. In reality, especially in the case of Diamond and particularly in this bleak economic climate, the ‘big bad’ is actually pulling for the ‘little guy’ TO succeed, because that’s the only way the company is going to increase it’s profit margin and/or stay in business. They place these types of quotas to weed out the true non-performers and thin the herd, so that the stronger indy properties have a chance of survival. They have their big guns (in this case Marvel and DC) pulling the heavy load, but they need those breakouts to actually push that monetary envelop to be able to expand and have enough security cushion to carry more performing ‘little guys’ and keep the show running (and just a note for those who like to take offense easily and actually think I’m talking directly to you- although I know there are some Napoleonic headcases out there, I’m not intentionally trying to insult any vertically or phallically challenged individuals working in the comic industry with the repeated use of the term ‘little guys’. Oh, all right, maybe one or two of you, but in general I’m genuinely just utilizing a widely recognized term for small business owners).
The truth is, it’s not Diamond intentionally screwing the small publishing community at this point, its the economy. Diamond is simply asking everyone to pull their own weight and to accept accountability for their products performance. They aren’t out to maliciously cancel anyone’s title or line or restrict their freedom of trade; they, like thousands of other businesses, simply can’t handle the loss anymore and need to make adjustments so the whole doesn’t get pulled down by the few.
And even though all the above points have merit, there is one place we haven’t examined in the blog yet, Snow White, and that’s the hardest place to look of all- the mirror. Dan Vado from Slave Labor made a slew of great points in his published letter to Tom Spurgeon, but I think the following quote says it all and precisely nails the reason we’re in this predicament in the first place:
“Beyond the notion of benchmarks and new edicts from the industry’s major, if not only, distributor is the fact that comics as an publishing industry perhaps has no economic basis for long-term survival beyond Marvel and DC. Almost everyone in this business started under capitalized and most smaller publishing houses are surviving based on one project or product that has been carrying them for years. Retailers start their businesses under-funded and oftentimes poorly prepared on how to run a business. I think almost every publisher fits that same bill. The next year or so are a critical time for the entire country and the comics business is not going to get out of this unscarred, lots of people, be they publishers, retailers or creators, who have been around for a long time are going to suddenly (find themselves) with no business left and no place to turn. People, and I mean everyone from fans to creators to publishers to retailers, need to use this as the last wake-up call after years of hitting the industrial snooze button and finally find a way to get together and address our common lifelong problems and find answers to them.”
So I guess the bottom line is that in essence, the industry did this to itself, and it has to self-correct and evolve to continue to exist. As Dan said, we need to wake up and find a way to survive. Because if we don’t, we’re going to have to mourn the loss of a lot more than just a little cartoon ‘tang laying next to us the morning after.
Your bud in four-color blood,
Scott Licina is the Grand Guignol Poobah of Fangoria Graphix, the severed (bald) Head of New Media Development for Fangoria Entertainment, maniacal manager of Alder County Entertainment LLC and overall just an incredibly opinionated prick working in the entertainment industry (gee, the world just doesn’t have enough of those bastards around now, do we?!?). His deranged commentaries and volatile expressions of thought are his and his alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Newsarama, Diamond Distribution, Raven “Cream and Sugar” Gregory, Jimmy ‘The Joint’ Palmiotti, Lucas ‘Uncle Milty’ Siegel, Dan ‘The Man’ Vado, the mayor of Munchkin Land or anyone else either living, dead or pulling a four-color train (even on a midget and/or Flying Monkey).