There’s lots of economic news floating around this week — most of it bad — but here’s the latest on what’s going around.

§ Cuts at Gemstone Publishing, which publishes Disney licenses, EC reprints and the Overstreet Price Guide. An email to Publisher Russ Cochran got the following response:

We have unfortunately been forced by circumstances to close the West Plains, Missouri office of Gemstone Publishing. This included laying off five staffers here. I personally have worked with these people for over thirty years, so this was a very difficult decision, one that was painful for all involved. Going forward, I am still a part of Gemstone and we will be moving The EC Archives project to our York, Pennsylvania office. We fully expect to be able to get EC books and the Disney titles back on track, I look forward to continuing my association with the great EC material for years to come.

According to a Diamond mailer, Gemstone’s Free Comic Book day offering has also been canceled, due to production delays.

§ In other Diamond news, via ICv2 ,there will be only one Retailer Summit this year, in Baltimore, Oct. 11-13, with the games-oriented Fort Wayne, IN summit canceled.

§ Word is going around that there have been layoffs at Lebonfon, the Canadian printer publisher which specializes in comics, especially from smaller publishers. Whether this is related to less work because of the lesser demand in comics printing due to Diamond’s new policies, or the general downturn in the world economy, is unclear.

§ It was widely reported this week that there were layoffs at Viz Media. CEO Hidemi Fukuhara issued the following statement:

Viz Media is in the process of refining its focus and is restructuring to adjust to changing industry and financial market realities. Viz feels confident that with these changes, the company will be more streamlined to face the current economic climate.

According to Tina Anderson, the cuts involved 12-15 staffers, including two from editorial.

§ Publisher Richard Nash is leaving Soft Skull Press to take on new projects. Soft Skull has offered many comics projects over the years, including David Rees’ GET YOUR WAR ON, and books by Nate Powell and Megan Kelso.

Nash told PW, “This is about the future of publishing. I really want to be engaged in helping figure out a new model for independents. And I am enormously optimistic. I’m not going to do consulting or freelancing, in the sense of eupemisms for ‘I don’t have a clue’ or ‘I’m getting the hell out of publishing,’ but as a way of doubling down, betting it all on the future of publishing, and it’s easier to bet if you have a clean slate rather than a legacy project.” Nash also indicated he looks forward to having time to “play with others,” after working “70-hour weeks for eight years inside the Soft Skull pod.”

§ Kodansha, the Japanese publishing giant, had its biggest annual loss ever last year:

Advertising revenues declined under the effects of the recession, and a drop in magazine and comic sales led to 135.058 billion yen (about US$1.4269 billion) in overall annual sales, a drop of 6.4% from the previous year. This resulted in a loss of 7.686 billion yen (about US$81.2 million) for 2008 — the largest annual loss in the company’s history.

Revenues from the magazine division, including comic magazines, were at 93.7% of the previous year’s levels. The book division’s revenues was 92.1% of the previous year’s revenues, while advertising revenues stood at 89.8%.

The article makes reference to Kodansha’s long brewing plans for an American manga publishing arm, but states there has been no news since the initial announcement.

§ Finally, there’s this.


  1. “…due to production delays.” This is code for “Quebecor will not print anything without being paid first.”

    On the continued presence of Disney comics, I admire Russ’ optimism, but I believe we have seen the last Gemstone issues for the foreseeable future.