The comics meltdown continues

IDW, the #4 publisher in the industry, is in trouble:

IDW Media Holdings has reported its second-quarter financials for 2019, and it doesn’t look like good news. Overall, the company had a net loss of $3.7 million, with $1.6 million of those losses coming from IDW Publishing, the branch of the company that publishes comic books.

A loss of $1.6 million on publishing revenues of 3.7 million (not a mistake, IDW’s publishing revenues were $3.74 million, nearly identical to the amount of its total net loss) is pretty impressive. Even worse, that’s a decline of nearly 30 percent of sales from Q1.

But this is an industry-wide issue. Total unit sales were down another 6 percent year-on-year in May, while dollar sales were down 11 percent.

Snicker-snack….


Spin, spin, and more spin

It’s interesting to see that the media covering the Jawbreakers case are engaging in precisely the same sort of definitional spin that we are seeing on a regular basis in our current legal dispute:

Antarctic Publisher States Under Oath That Mark Waid Didn’t Prevent Them from Publishing Jawbreakers

So what? As Richard Meyer’s lawyer has correctly pointed out, the name of the tort is “tortious interference” not “tortious prevention”. Waid was not involved in the relationship, so obviously he had no ability to “prevent” Antarctic from publishing anything.

The basic elements of a tortious interference claim are as follows:

  • A valid contract or economic expectancy between the plaintiff and a third person;
  • Knowledge of the contract or expectancy by the defendant;
  • Intent by the defendant to interfere with the contract or expectancy;
  • Actual interference;
    • The interference is improper; and
    • The plaintiff suffers damage.

The sworn testimony that the defendant did not prevent the third person from fulfilling the contract or economic expectancy obviously does not mean that he did not interfere with it. Now, it would certainly be more helpful to Meyer’s case if Antarctic was willing to swear that being contacted by Waid played a role in their decision, but not proving Meyer’s case is not tantamount to bolstering Waid’s defense. Only binary thinkers could fail to grasp that distinction.

As far as I can tell, the only fact yet to be determined, and upon which the Meyer v. Waid case revolves, is if telephoning someone and telling them to break a contract with someone else with which you are not involved in any way is improper interference or not. And I simply don’t know if that is the case in Texas or not.

Speaking of legal disputes, an email will be going has gone out to Alt-Hero and original Alt-Hero:Q backers later today. If you fit the specified bill with ease and without any exaggeration, please respond to it as this information will be very helpful to us. If you receive a separate, similar email from someone else, please be sure to respond to both of them.

Things are heating up considerably on that front, so there could be some fireworks soon. I look forward to being able to tell you all about it, but that may take a while as there is the possibility of at least one element of the dispute stretching into the fall of 2020.


Experts approve

One of the foremost authorities on Qanon, NEON REVOLT, very much likes ALT-HERO:Q #1. He posted his initial reaction on Gab:

Wooooooow. This is actually really good!

Vox Day’s Alt-Hero Q issue one, is now available for purchase through his Arkhaven Comics site, and on Amazon.

And as though it were by by some divine coincidence, it’s written by Chuck Dixon, the guy who did a ton of work on The Punisher and Batman.

(I swear to god, none of this was planned).

This is an honest-to-goodness spy story, and possibly the first piece of fiction inspired by #QAnon, and man, it’s a lot of fun.

And no, we don’t mind patriots posting single panels or creating memes from the comic. WWG1WGA.


Disney to shut down Marvel

That’s the latest rumor to excite the non-stop drama of the comics industry:

A new rumor indicates that Disney might be shutting down Marvel Comics sooner rather than later.

The rumor comes from Jude Terror at Bleeding Cool who cites a press release from Marvel Comics indicating that Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski and Joe Quesada are heading down to Austin, Texas to discuss the importance of comics to Disney’s business based off the Marvel intellectual properties.

In fact, Terror speculates that Cebulski and Quesada are heading to Austin, Texas to save Marvel Comics because “comics must continue to be published even if they add little value to the budget on their own simply because they provide the genetic material to make actual profits elsewhere.”

Terror even questions, “If less people are buying comics and the direct market is on the verge of collapse, then why should a megacorp like Disney continue to bother publishing them at all, especially when they can make far more money mining the intellectual properties for other mediums?”

Terror’s speculation isn’t anything new. Thom Pratt at The Kingdom Insider speculated about Disney cutting out Marvel Comics back in 2017.

Pratt notes that Disney’s entire profit on an entire year of Marvel Comics amounts to what they make “off one single Marvel Studios movie.” He bluntly writes, “Comic book sales look absolutely pathetic compared to an MCU release.”

Pratt who has his own sources at Disney even stated that “comic books have about as much value to Disney right now as a T-shirt.” In fact, he states it might even be less because “T-shirts have a higher profit margin.”

Pratt even addresses the idea that the comics are needed to mine for future stories in movies, video games, and other genres.

He quickly refutes this writing, “The MCU has taken characters and concepts in a totally different direction than the comic books, and Disney could easily hire away the best “idea guys” to work directly for Marvel Studios.”

Pratt predicts that Marvel Comics as a publisher will be done away with. He sees it existing in some form but being an “office full of brand managers overseeing licensed deals.” He even believes that Disney will license out the Marvel superheroes to other publishers similar to what they do with their Disney characters to IDW and Dark Horse.

Part of Pratt’s prediction has already come true as Disney has licensed their Marvel superheroes to IDW.

I’m a bit dubious about this, as the continuing decline in comics sales was not quite as bad as I expected in 2018, although the more profitable sales of graphics novels did collapse. According to Comichron, the top 300 graphic novel dollar sales declined 16.5 percent last year, to $73.6 million, but top 300 comic dollars increased $10.7 million despite a three percent decline in units as a result of the rise in the average comic price to $4.19.

The fact that the MCU cycle is coming to an end and Captain Marvel looks to be a complete bust suggests that if 2018 was bad, 2019 will be considerably worse. But Marvel isn’t suffering as much as its lesser competitors, as it actually increased its unit market share from 40.4 percent to 44 percent and is still bringing in revenue of well over $100 million, though it may not be doing so profitably.

It would be amusing if Disney offered Arkhaven the opportunity to license any of its characters, although I can’t imagine we’d be terribly interested in cultural icons such as Lesbian Meth Batgirl, Thorella, She-Wolverine, or Shade, Marvel’s First Superhero Drag Queen. In any event, Arkhaven’s support is continuing to grow steadily and we expect to have a series of exciting new announcements in the coming three months. In related news, the gold logo edition of AH#6 will be available from Castalia Direct next week.

Note: the new standard size introduced with the gold logo edition of Chuck Dixon’s Avalon #3 meant that we did not know exactly how the pricing would translate to the Castalia Direct store. Our first estimate worked out to a price of $3.14 in practice. However, we have since adjusted that, so the $2.99 retail price will return on April 1 and will be maintained across the Arkhaven line for standard size series comics.

This video by the Kingdom Insider, who is very familiar with Disney’s customary practices, is extremely informative. Key phrase: “To the Walt Disney company, the real Marvel universe to them is the Marvel universe they created. The movies. The movies have basically replaced the comic books.”

This article by a comic book retailer is pertinent, especially this statistical truth-bomb:

The January 2019 order form features 1106 solicited periodical comic books. Of those, only 454 of those SKUs are new items – the other 652 are variant covers. That means a staggering fifty-nine percent of all solicited comics are actually variants. That’s completely and entirely absurd! It is deluded, it is dangerous, and it actively works against the best interests of the market.

That’s why our only variant covers will be the Premium editions intended for the comic book stores. We’ll do the gold logo limited editions for the collectors, but we’re keeping our price at $2.99 for those. Remember that at 24 pages of story, our comics are not only less expensive and better-constructed, but provide considerably more content than the average Marvel or DC floppy.

Lawsplaining

Nick Rekieta and I will be discussing the law and its relation to comics, crowdfunding, and culture.

Join me for a conversation with Vox Day.  Many of you know of Vox, Some of you probably hate him, some of you probably love him.  He’s a guy who causes visceral reactions, but do you know what he’s actually doing?

I was a little late, so the link begins when I actually showed up for what turned out to be a two-hour conversation. Vox Day Talks Comics, Crowdfunding, and Culture


The Complete RIGHT HO, JEEVES

Arkhaven Comics is very pleased to announce its first completed collection, Right Ho, Jeeves, adapted by Chuck Dixon from the P.G. Wodehouse novel, illustrated by Gary Kwapisz and edited by Vox Day.

The omnibus paperback is without question the most beautiful book we have produced to date, as it features 152 full-color 10×7 pages on high-quality paper and a glossy full-duplex cover containing all six digital editions. Right Ho, Jeeves is now available for $19.99 at Arkhaven Direct.

We expect it will be available from Amazon for $24.99 in about a week or so. It will make for a lovely Christmas gift for the young reader or Wodehouse fan in your family. For those collecting the individual issues, we will be producing gold logo editions of issues #4-6 in the new year.

RIGHT HO, JEEVES tells of the travails of the inimitable Bertie Wooster, summoned from the comforts of #3A Berkeley Mansions, London, to Brinkley Manor by his imperious Aunt Dahlia. Love is in the air and Wodehousian shenanigans are afoot, as Wooster is not the sole guest at the manor, which is also playing host to the fairy-gazing Madeline Basset as well as the famous newt-fancier Augustus Fink-Nottle. But, as always, the inimitable Jeeves is there to set things right and save the day!

UPDATE: if you are in the USA and you see a backorder notice when placing an order, just ignore it. It’s an artifact of their old distribution system that has no relevance to our current process. Please note that we cannot sell this book outside the USA because the novel upon which it is based is not in the public domain in other publishing jurisdictions.


Preview of AH#5

Bounding Into Comics has a three-page preview of Alt-Hero #5: London Calling which will be available in 2048×1526 CBZ format very soon in the Arkhaven Comics store, as well as in Kindle format on Amazon.

There is also a first look at the art for the upcoming Swan Knight Saga #1: The Thirteenth Hour, at the Arkhaven Comics blog. The first issue in the Swan Knight Saga is expected to be sent to backers and published in the new year.


Comic size poll

About 10 months ago, we requested from our printer the ability to print comics in the traditional size, which is 6.625 x 10.25, and is a little bit wider and just over an inch taller than the royal octavo size that we have been using. This week, our printer made the standard size available to us, the only downside is that it is a little more expensive so we cannot offer a wholesale discount and still keep the retail price at $2.99 price. We’ve decided to do that since our primary focus is on the backers and the Premium editions will be available at wholesale for the comic stores. They will also feature a heavier paper weight so the comics will be .71″ thick compared to .54″.

So, our current plan is to complete the first six Alt-Hero comics in the current size, then switch over to the standard size with issue #7. We will begin Alt-Hero Q with the standard size too; the Premium Issues and the Omnibuses will still be produced in the larger 10 x 7 size since that is considered a standard alternative size. The price of the digital editions will remain at $2.99 for both the Kindle and CBZ versions, both of which will continue to be free to the backers.

We have not made any decisions about Chuck Dixon’s Avalon or Quantum Mortis: A Man Disrupted. Right Ho, Jeeves is going to be released very soon in a 10×7 omnibus paperback.

However, we are in the process of preparing Alt-Hero #5 for print and we could still produce it at the standard size instead of the current one, as we were planning. So, if you have an opinion about whether you would rather have AH#5 in the current size or the standard one, please share it here. While we do plan to go back and offer AH issues #1-4 in standard sizes, that will not be a priority since our first job will be to produce the six-issue omnibuses for the campaign backers, which happen to be the same size as the Premium Issues.

UPDATE: Based on the initial feedback we have tentatively decided to produce the gold logo editions of #5 and #6 at the current royal octavo size, then switch to the standard size with the regular logo editions. Beginning with #7, the gold logo editions will be standard size. So, the royal octavos will be severely limited collector’s editions.

Please feel free to share your thoughts, especially if you are an Arkhaven backer, and vote in the poll at Arkhaven Comics. We expect to have the high-resolution CBZ for sale in the Arkhaven shop later this week, the print edition for sale on Arkhaven Direct next week, and to launch last 28 days of the AH:Q 2.1 campaign next week as well.


Right Ho, Jeeves #6

A HERO AT BRINKLEY is the sixth and final issue in the RIGHT HO, JEEVES series. RIGHT HO, JEEVES tells of the travails of the inimitable Bertie Wooster, summoned from the comforts of #3A Berkeley Mansions, London, to Brinkley Manor by his imperious Aunt Dahlia. Love is in the air and Wodehousian shenanigans are afoot, as Wooster is not the sole guest at the manor, which is also playing host to the fairy-gazing Madeline Basset as well as the famous newt-fancier Augustus Fink-Nottle. But, as always, the inimitable Jeeves is there to set things right and save the day!

Adapted from the classic Wodehouse novel by comics legend Chuck Dixon and drawn by SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN illustrator Gary Kwapisz, A HERO AT BRINKLEY is the brilliant culmination of the RIGHT HO, JEEVES series.

We anticipate releasing the RIGHT HO, JEEVES graphic novel, which collects the entire six-issue series, in a premium 10×7 paperback, before the end of the month. It’s going to be beautiful. In the meantime, the Kindle edition of Issue #6 is now available.


Bestselling graphic novels

For those of you who are not new to comics, but might like an inexpensive place to buy the bestselling graphic novels of the month and perhaps pick up an Arkhaven comic or two, you may wish to note that we now have the ability to sell them, and to do so at less than full retail price.

Batman: White Knight from DC is currently the bestselling graphic novel out there, and with the amount you save from the $19.99 list price, you can pick up a copy of the latest Alt★Hero or Right Ho, Jeeves.

Those of you who are serious collectors or regular buyers should let us know what issues you would like us to carry. While we can’t carry floppies, we do have access to pretty much all the graphic novels.