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More on Diamond and Gemstone


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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  1. When Disney published their own comics a few years ago, they raised the price to the highest price on the market, even though their licensing fees went back to the coproration. That may have contributed to their failure.

  2. Michael… that $8 comic is squarebound, printed on glossy paper, contains the best new and old Disney stories (complete stories, no cliffhangers or crossovers or “events”), and has 64 pages of (unfortunately) ad-free comics.

    That’s the equivalent of THREE Marvel or DC Comics, which have stapled bindings, questionable storytelling, and cheaper paper.

    Oh, and you can give that issue of Uncle Scrooge to anyone and not worry about the content. (Disney comics never submitted content to the Comics Code Authority, as they had higher standards.)

  3. I dunno, I think that comparing the overall quality & value of Disney comics to those of DC or Marvel is apples-and-oranges. If someone walks into a comic shop looking for super-hero publishers’ titles, are they really likely to switch over to the adventures of Mickey & Donald instead because they feel they’ll get more value for their money? A more fair comparison might be with the Archie titles, which remain the lowest-priced in the industry (I think).

    Personally, I think the books were overpriced and had almost no chance of attracting young readers or their parents as a result. And I can’t help but wonder if the comics (meaning the “pamphlets,” not trades, etc.) would’ve sold better if they had much lower-grade paper/covers and priced accordingly.

  4. As I stated on another thread here, the approximate cost of Marvel, DC, and the Gemstone comics is 13 cents per page.

    And the quality of the stories in the Gemstone books was superior to the Marvel and DC books.

    If people want spandex clad super-heroics, they should read Marvel and DC. If they want non-spandex clad super-heroics, they should read the adventures of Uncle Scrooge, Donald Duck, and Donald’s nephews. Or Mickey Mouse. Or Scamp. Or Li’l Bad Wolf. All those characters had enjoyable adventures.

    And with the price of all comics today, there is almost no chance of attracting young readers…………unless their parents buy the comics for them…….just as parents did back when comics first started. Most kids never had a penny back in those days, let alone a dime.

  5. “And the quality of the stories in the Gemstone books was superior to the Marvel and DC books.”

    that’s a question of taste, isn’t it? ok, barks don’t need to be discussed. but aside from that are there many many mediocre disney-comics. i live in germany, where we have a wide range of low-priced disney-comics, and yes, they are a mass product with as often questionable, thin plots or redundancies as any other voluminous comic line.

    aside from that i’d really loved to see the once announced gottfredson-library.

  6. Gemstone had been printing some very reliable Disney titles, but I do think the price hit some of their perception. They went up quicker than the big two did a couple years ago, and I stopped watching out for the titles.

    Boom! Kids really had a terrific debut, so I’d hope they’ll get enough success to expand their licensed work.

    I did like the SLG Haunted Mansion and Wonderland Comics . . . but it’s hard to imagine the big Disney characters getting licensed there – though their books would be very cool. (Walt always wanted to keep innovating, didn’t he??)

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