Since we’re revisiting 80s comics history today, this interview with Dean Mullaney from Blake Bell’s weblog is well worth quoting. For those who came in late, Mullaney was the publisher of Eclipse Comics, a very influential and — for a time — successful independent comics publishing company that gave the world many memorable characters from Sabre to Zot. In the interview, Mullaney explains why Eclipse closed up shop in the early 90s:
The irony of all this is that, in this day and age when graphic novels are regularly reviewed in the mainstream press, the reason Eclipse went under was due to my single-minded desire to establish graphic novels in mainstream bookstores. Eclipse had signed a mutually-exclusive contract with HarperCollins to produce graphic novels. The plan was to first introduce titles by authors already known to booksellers — J.R.R. Tolkien, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, Anne McCaffrey… we even had an original by Doris Lessing in the planning stages.
Unfortunately, HarperCollins didn’t, in my opinion, really understand what graphic novels were all about. And there were internal conflicts at HC, to which I was never privy, that left Eclipse holding the bag. They had given us an advance to start production, but that money ran out, and we had a full schedule in production. We never received a single royalty statement, let alone check, from HC’s sales to bookstores. The cash flow deficit eventually forced us to close up shop.
We were too far ahead of the curve. Now, of course, all the major bookstore chains have graphic novel sections.