The comics industry is doing “okay” these days, but it’s still a business of very small margins, and one misstep can put you in a rocky spot.
For instance, it seems that Antarctic Press, the long running manga-tinged indie publisher of such books as Gold Diggers, Warrior Nun, Ninja High School and many more, has run afoul of two things that can cause big problems: Wal*Mart and returns. It’s a long standing dream of many comics publishers to get into m ass market retailers like Wal*Mart and Target, but doing so can mean huge returns on unsold books…and few small comics publishers are equipped to deal with that. AP has been left $70,000 in the hole.
Antarctic has turned to Indiegogo to raise some money to help them through the rough patch. Here’s the story in their own words:
While we have been in business for many years, it has never been a financial windfall; we made comics we wanted to read and share with the world. Over the past year and a half, we took the step of expanding into the mass retailer market—specifically, into retail stores like Wal-Mart. While this distribution channel gave us extensive exposure to a much wider audience, it was also very costly to supply it, mostly owing to necessarily large print runs. Our inexperience in this market resulted in us being ill-prepared for returns. This, in combination with the large printing bills, has placed us in a financial quandary. The bottom line is that all this hard work over so many years is now in jeopardy. Everyone here has sacrificed in their own way to help us stay in business, including taking business and personal loans to help us climb out of the hole we made for ourselves. Unfortunately, we still need help. This situation could force us to make significant changes in our future publishing operations. This is where we hope you can contribute. Even a few of you could make a huge difference.
Help Us Keep Antarctic Press…Being Antarctic Press
So what is the money going for? The best way to describe it is paying down the debt incurred from the large print runs and heavy returns. It is always difficult to ask for help, but due to current circumstances, we have incurred over $70,000 in debt and costs from returns. We do not ask or want anyone to just pay our debt for us; we believe we have provided some great perks for your support. It is difficult to see things go south at this time; we have an extremely strong schedule coming up and would hate to see these projects not come to fruition. In addition, we are attending conventions, developing an app for our library of titles, and working on books and projects outside the comics industry, which will go towards righting our previous mistakes. However, all these projects will take time to implement, and right now we need your help to keep us going until then. That is why we are starting this campaign and asking for your support. Many great titles like Strangers in Paradise, Ninja High School, Gold Digger, and Last Zombie, which are from lots of great creators, might not have been released without Antarctic Press. Now you can help us keep on doing what we do best. And if none of these perks appeal to you, you can still visit our website to check out what other products we have to offer.
The campaign is only for $3000, of which $2400 has been raised, so it looks good. The perks include pretty straightforward stuff like comics and subscriptions.
Antarctic is a survivor from a different era of comics—they were founded in 1985— and there aren’t too many publishers around from that time. Fantagraphics, NBM and SLG spring to mind, although there must be others. I don’t have too much doubt that they’ll make their initial goal, but if you have been a fan in the past you might want to check out the campaign, or their website to see if you want to get involved.