Yesterday’s rumblings of Gemstone giving up both the Disney and EC licenses have been answered by an official statement from Diamond, confirming what we’d read in the comments, that much of the Gemstone staff had been laid off, but saying that it isn’t the “end of Gemstone.”
“In the past few days, there have been a number of rumors circulating about Gemstone Publishing. As has been the case with many businesses across a wide array of industries, there has been a reduction in staff at Gemstone, and this included the departure of many valued employees. This, however, is not the end of Gemstone Publishing,” said Steve Geppi, President of Gemstone Publishing.
“Our flagship title, The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, remains a vital tool for comic book collectors throughout North America and around the world and it continues to be a highly profitable item for the retailers who carry it. I look forward to making announcements regarding new developments for the Guide’s 40th anniversary next year,” Geppi said.
“At this time, no final decision has been made regarding The EC Archives or our comic books featuring Disney’s standard characters, but it seems certain that both lines will continue in some form,” he said. “We all anticipate resolving the issues facing us and moving forward, and I will be happy to announce the specifics once things have been finalized.”
ICv2 has a slightly different version of the statement but the details remain the same. Reading between the lines confirms what we’ve heard from other sources–that the Disney and EC licenses are definitely being shopped around.
Disney has been quietly ramping up its own comics publishing program under Rich Thomas and Steve Behling (Former DC editor Nachie Castro also came on board last year) but they’ve been concentrating on graphic novels, not periodicals. BOOM! recently launched their own line of Pixar Comics, and scored a newsstand distribution deal, so they could be in a good position to pick up even more Disney licenses. (Tokyopop has — or had — a bunch of Disney Channel licenses like Hannah Montana.)
Or they might think the risks are just too great, as every US publisher in the last 30 years has come up dry publishing Disney Comics in the US — including Disney itself with the short-lived Disney Comics line of the early ’90s.
Gemstone’s take on the Disney books was to aim it heavily at hardcore Disney collectors, a strategy that The Mouse often uses itself, but probably one with less inherent sales potential than aiming comics at Disney-friendly kids. However since they were reprinting material that originally appeared in Europe aimed at a mixed audience of kids and adults and fantastically successful — in certain parts of Europe, Don Rosa is practically a household name, as bizarre as that seems to us.
At any rate, it’s a pretty sure bet that SOMEONE will pick up the Disney license — it’s a potential goldmine.
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