Dark Horse Comics president Mike Richardson has broken his – and the company’s – silence over the recent layoffs in an interview with Comics Alliance’s Laura Hudson, and explains the reasoning behind last week’s sad news:
We made some very hard choices and did the best we could over that. Rather than considering wage freezes and passing on more health care costs, I made a decision to do it a different way. One element of that cost-cutting was reducing our payroll and staff. On a personal level, it’s horrible. On a company level, it’s something you have to do from time to time.
He also addresses former employee Aaron Colter’s assertion that mismanagement and projects like Troubleshooter and Jim Shooter’s Gold Key books were to blame:
If you want to call [Troublemaker] a failure – it sold nearly 40,000 books, and for us that’s a pretty good number. On the dark side we could have sold 15,000. Who knows? We did not know. The 100,000 print run was to try and make sure we reached all of Janet [Evanovich, writer of the series of novels the book spins out of]‘s market, and that’s what it took so that’s what we contracted. We’re happy and we’re doing another one, and we’ll do it with more information. And inside the direct market, we had a nice sale there; it did better than we expected… [T]o blame that for layoffs is silly. It’s part of a larger program and we’re on our way. The article also pointed at the Doctor Solar and Magnus [Gold Key] books, saying the characters are basically old and worn-out. Well, I guess that’s the writer’s opinion. What would say about characters like Superman or Batman who were created 30 years before those [Gold Key] characters? Characters are as worn out as their creative teams… The problems we have with that series are more about the untimeliness of the books. If the books are continually late, superhero book sales will drop in the direct sales where these were intended. It’s a fact of life in the comics market. We’re aware of it, and we’ve talked to retailers. We have changes coming down the line. To blame the Shooter books for the layoffs is not right. It’s part of a larger deal where we’ve made quite a lot of money. So to pick one part of the deal and say that’s the reason for our layoffs is silly.
Lots of silly going on, apparently. Richardson goes on to say suggest that Dark Horse’s books are, on average, higher sellers than those of Image or IDW, and claims responsibility for Portland, OR being so popular with the comics community: “There was no comics community when I started Dark Horse and the comics community has grown out of Dark Horse’s presence. That’s just a fact.” Well, it’s certainly one reading of some facts… Go check out the entire interview, it makes for an interesting read.