Phil and Kaja Foglio’s Girl Genius has been a success on the web ever since folks started anxiously asking “Can peoplez read comicz on webz?” and it even has a load of Hugo Awards to show for it. But In a humorous press release copied below, they’ve announced they’re moving over to TopatoCo for fulfillment and merchandising, while staying with Diamond for distribution. While it seems like a no-brainer, it does reveal the maturation of this entire business model, as new companies have spring up to do things that can be DIY but don’t have to be. Or as Phil Foglio notes: “We aren’t getting any younger. The last thing I want is to be shlepping forty-five pound boxes when I’m sixty.”
According to the press release, TopatoCo will also expedite the manufacture of ancillary prints, T-shirts and so on which the Foglios didn’t have the git-up-and-go to get around to.
Win/win for all.
Studio Foglio, publishers of Phil and Kaja Foglio’s acclaimed steampunk-ish webcomic Girl Genius, is pleased to announce that it is getting out of the retail business. For the last fifteen years or so, the Foglios have maintained an online store featuring their sometimes hard-to-find work, warehousing books and packing orders in their basement aided by a small and ever-changing staff of friends and relatives. Now, they are handing the direct online sales over to the successful webcomics-focused online shop at TopatoCo.
TopatoCo, created by web cartoonist Jeffery Rowland, has long been assisting webcomic creators who are, perhaps, more temperamentally suited to the creative aspect of comics than to the business side, making life easier and more profitable for them. The creative staff at Studio Foglio have been running a successful business since 1993, but lately the increased volume of sales has become difficult for their small organization to handle. Also, Phil Foglio grouses: “We aren’t getting any younger. The last thing I want is to be shlepping forty-five pound boxes when I’m sixty.” The Foglios believe that TopatoCo will be an excellent solution for dispensing books, especially since it puts them in the company of so many top-notch webcomic creators.
Taking on Studio Foglio’s stock had some unique challenges for TopatoCo. Diamond Comics has been the distributor for Studio Foglio’s brick-and-mortar sales since dinosaurs walked the Earth, and that will not change. Studio Foglio also has rather large initial print runs, which translates to massive stacks of books that need storage when they arrive from the printer. All of this had to be dealt with by TopatoCo’s shipping and warehousing staff, and has been handled with remarkably little bloodshed.
In addition, Phil and Kaja freely admit that they are useless at producing things like t-shirts, prints and secondary merchandise, which has been a source of constant complaints from enthusiastic readers. Fortunately, this is something that the people at TopatoCo excel at. Phil and Kaja have long lists of fun items that: “We always meant to get around to making…” And now they will. Is this not the Best of all Possible Worlds?
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.