We haven’t been linking to Neil Kleid’s fine week of guest blogging over at Blog@NEwsarama, but we should have. He’s had fine interviewers with K. Thor Jenson, Chip Zdarsky, Josh Fialkov, Andrew Dabb,
and an informative anthology roundtable. But these are all trumped by an interview with Slave Labor’s Dan Vado, which we hereby label MUST READING.
Vado is rarely called upon in industry roundtables, doesn’t spend his time blogging or yapping on panels. Instead, for 20 years he’s kept a comics company afloat while publishing regular comics (STILL!) and graphic novels, and now moving into the web and licensing. And he does it without drama (and without a dedicated marketing staff, which we’ve mentioned to him many times, but hey, he’s the one running the company.) Try these doses of plain speaking on for size:
Notice that there have been a lot of people who have tried to market comics to this non-existent goth market and have fallen on their faces. Where are they now? More to the point, if you look at the list of the top 100 selling graphic novels every year for the past nearly 10 years you will see that there are only 3-4 titles which pop up on those lists every year; WATCHMAN, DARK KNIGHT and JOHNNY THE HOMICIDAL MANIAC. Jhonen Vasquez, from a popularity perspective, is in a league with Alan Moore and Frank Miller, and yet he as a creator is dismissed as the product of a goth subculture gone wild.
The Disney thing is a long story and has been discussed a million places. Suffice it to say, we are not going to really go after new licenses with Disney, although we are planning on expanding on the licenses we currently have. Not that there aren’t a million great ideas for their properties, but the comic world isn’t really ready to embrace what we are doing. Funny thing–in any other industry a Disney license is a license to print money. Only in the Direct Market is Disney a second-rate brand.
Something cannot be both a sleeper and a hit. A comic or graphic novel either sells or it doesn’t. Critical acclaim does not translate to sales. For all the talk and hype on Street Angel, the comic hovered around 1500 copies sold and never broke out of that. Not enough for a creator with rent to pay to keep the project going. A million blog entries or message board posts mean shit when it comes to actually selling something. For all of the hype or critical acclaim for Street Angel on the Internet, that alone wasn’t enough to help make it a financial success or, for that matter, even get it nominated for a single award in any category. Snakes on a Plane, that movie was in discount houses in a couple of weeks despite all of the viral marketing hype.
That’s a bitter pill to swallow for someone like me who thought STREET ANGEL was a breath of fresh air in a turgid clime, but it explains why Jim Rugg is inking for DC now.
Just go read the whole interview.