While it makes big news when acclaimed cartoonists like Sammy Harkham and Kevin Huizenga don’t make Diamond’s new order benchmarks, rest assured, there’s lot’s more where that came from. Calvin Reid catches up with Asylum Press, which is self-distributing Steve Mannion’s FEARLESS DAWN.

In a move that is part necessity and part protest, indie comics publisher Asylum Press has been forced to distribute the latest issue of its tongue-in-cheek adventure comic, Fearless Dawn, direct to retailers after the issue failed to meet Diamond Comics Distributors’ new minimum order.


Frank Forte, publisher of Asylum Press, an indie comics house based in Hollywood that specializes in superhero, horror and humor comics, said although Steven Mannion’s Fearless Dawn did not make the Diamond minimum, there was demand for the publication. “Although we received 1,200 orders for Fearless Dawn #1, we simply didn’t meet Diamond’s purchase order benchmark, “ explained Forte. “1200 is a significant order for us especially considering the state of the market place.”

To be honest, we never heard of FEARLESS DAWN, so we can’t really say how much of a following it has. In fact, we’d never heard of any of Asylum Press’s books — or at least didn’t remember hearing about any of them. Will self-distribution work for them? Is there an audience for this kind of material that will make the effort to find it? We shall see.

Simon Jones recently looked at the size of the latest Previews:

Speaking of Previews, the text order form lists only 1764 items, a huge drop from the last issue… it seems Diamond really is cutting a huge swath of relists even from the premiere publishers. However, the catalog itself is still over 420 pages (based on the text file… I don’t have the actual issue in front of me yet.) I don’t know how much money Diamond is saving by cutting relists (substantial, I’m sure), or how much retailers appreciate having to deal with a shorter order form (quite a bit, probably). But as far as making Previews a leaner, meaner catalog, the new policies don’t seem to have a huge impact. It’s still a phonebook. There may be more changes for Previews on the way, but at least now we can say that the weight of the policy changes wasn’t borne solely by the back of the catalog.

There’s going to be a lot more fallout from Diamond’s changes in the weeks and months to come; on THAT, you can rely.


  1. “1200 is a significant order for us especially considering the state of the market place.”

    That quote is pretty telling. While 1200 copies may be a milestone for Asylum, it’s almost like they expect to be graded on a curve. Unless this is a one shot, do they plan to sell the entire series directly? I ask because the inevitable second-issue drop is just going to get them even further away from their goal. Maybe they should just collect the first arc and sell as a GN?

  2. Slap me down if I am wrong, but won’t the re-lists still be available online?

    And perhaps in the near future, Previews might only be available online?

  3. “But as far as making Previews a leaner, meaner catalog, the new policies don’t seem to have a huge impact.”

    Except for, how many of the items that were cut (books, comics, etc..) to make this
    “leaner/meaner” catalog were items from indie companies?
    And how many of the excised offerings were from Marvel & DC?

    As Diamond’s scythe sweeps through, making each subsequent month’s catalog thinner and thinner will it just be more Marvel and DC and less everything else?

    Will variety of choices at your local comic shop be less and less?

  4. Some of the best indie comics were made when there were other distribution companies than Diamond. Hopefully now, more will startup again.

  5. The size of these new distributors is going to be the key factor in things. What some people fail to acknowledge is that the benchmark was really just the “cost of keeping the lights on”. It’s not a case of Diamond being greedy, but rather them having a lot of overhead. The current state of things could very well be the shot in the arm for more indie distributors to arise, but anyone with ambitions of either competing directly with Diamond or becoming some sort of national powerhouse is in for a world of disappointment. Honestly, it would be best if smaller, regional distributors would pop up, like in the old days. Nobody’s going to pull off establishing a national network without having some sort of benchmark in place. It should also be pointed out that Asylum Press’s book didn’t even make the *old* benchmark ($1500), so this isn’t even a case of “the changing times” catching up to publishers – he’s losing by the old rulebook.

  6. Will West, I agree with everything you say and unlike others I’ve never painted Diamond as being greedy. My biggest problem with Diamond’s new benchmark is that it’s not legitimate.

    IF Diamond held Marvel and DC up to the same standards, order number-wise, then yes, I could accept their sticking to this policy. But we all know that will never happen. (and yes, I know that Diamond has exclusive contracts with Marvel & DC and that makes this new benchmark policy even more of a farce then it is.)

  7. While I have no issue with the overall Diamond Policy, I’m sad to see this book take the hit as I really enjoyed the Mannion Bomb collection and feel like he’s maturing into something quite interesting from some shaky beginnings. He’s potentially on the brink of something, so it’s not as bad as it could be, but it’s disheartening that other talent will need time to grow elsewheree in order to make it to the direct market. Feels very much like the schism in the music business right now.

  8. I went through the new Previews last week and man, it was pretty pathetic–especially in the catagories of books, toys and misc. merchandise.

    One thing that burns me is Diamond has been canceling items they already had orders for. They should honor those orders. This crap of taking order and then canceling them because they don’t meet their new ordering thresholds is crap. Damn monopolies…

  9. “One thing that burns me is Diamond has been canceling items they already had orders for. ”

    Dennis V., this has always been the case. Again, this particular situation is *not* an example of “new rules screwing over the little guy”. If anything, they’re doing him a favor, as there’s no need of even misleading anyone into thinking this series has a chance of making it through its first arc, based on the initial orders. Yes, I understand that it’s disappointing, from the point of view of the creators as well as to the retailers who ordered the book. That said, why should Diamond take a loss on a book that wasn’t supported by the retail community to begin with? Think of ordering as an election: retailers vote with their orders, but they are competing against the possibility of nothing. They either get a book, or get end up with nothing. This time, nothing won.

    People are too stuck in the “floppy” format. People rant about distribution problems and unfairness, when they refuse to look at their own product and figure out what went wrong there. OK, if he got 1200 orders, it’s clear that there’s decent interest in the *story*. That said, the “floppy” (trust me, I hate that term, too) format is not ideal for every story. If Asylum would wait and collect it, Diamond would consider it as it’s a new format for the title, and the higher price on the collection would give it a better shot at making bench. Too many people like the rush of walking into a comic shop, seeing their floppy on the shelf a couple of books down from X-Men. That’s a vanity project. If you’re not doing what’s best for your title, you’ll only experience that feeling on one issue, and that’s a Hell of a risk to take when there are better formats and venues for your book. You collect it, you can put it on Amazon or even do the whole self-serve Barnes & Noble listing. The bottom line is that the floppy is limiting, and this is one of those titles that could have a chance with “out of the box” thinking. It’s not even a maverick idea: just collect the arc when it’s done instead of shipping individually.

    Richard, I understand the sentiment that Marvel/DC books should be held to the same standard, but it bears pointing out that those books *meet* the benchmark. Diamond rarely, if ever, has to cancel an item from them based on sales, because those companies manage to meet the minimum. We see the charts here every month, and the lower selling books (Vertigo comes to mind), selling around 8,000 copies, are still hitting that bench. I’ll admit, I don’t know what would happen if The Big 2 had a book that failed to make $2500 cost, but I also feel that they’re big enough companies that they would see those books as a waste of their time. In any case, they have enough retailer loyalty that they simply won’t find themselves in the same boat as the latter half of Previews. The exclusive contracts may seem like smoke & mirrors to make them immune to new order rules, but the truth of the matter is that they were never in much danger to begin with.

  10. Thanks guys-Hey look we got back in Previews. I guess they saw the actual book and had this to say:(Sept.’09 Staff Picks):

    “Back in February’s PREVIEWS there was a book from Asylum Press called Fearless Dawn that went largely unnoticed by fans and retailers. The entire industry went on rolling without giving it a second glance, and like many small press books it nearly slipped into obscurity without reaching the core readers in our hobby. But when a copy of it made its way across my desk, I knew from first glance it was something special that people needed to see. Steve Mannion has created a character that has the moxie of The Goon, the audacity of Mr. Monster, and the looks of Angelina Jolie. The sequential art in the book is an incredible mix of Dave Stevens’ old-fashioned good-girl flare combined with the insane sensibilities of Eric Powell’s monster-smashing cigar-toting baddies. Fearless Dawn is a maniacally fun romp of Nazi bashing, creature killin’, and leather-wearing cat-fighting femme fatales. If you are looking for a fun read with beautiful artwork and a heaping helping of crazy antics, then you need to pick up the Fearless DawnSpecial Edition and The Bomb Trade Paperback from the inmates at Asylum Press. Miss out on this book a second time and the boys in the white coats might come lock you up and throw away the key!

    See PREVIEWS page 271.

    Thanks to everyone for supporting the book and Asylum Publisher Frank Forte for going ahead with the thing. The new books are looking great and we look forward to delivering some cool comic books to all you guys!