From what we’re hearing it’s going to be a rough year in the business end of comics– the herd will be thinned. And here’s one that’s lagging behind as the hyenas circle: Russ Cochran is one of the survivors of the pre-direct market days as an independent publisher, specifically known for his extensive reprinting of the EC comics long before classic comics reprints were commonplace. His publishing company was purchased by Diamond in 1993, and formed the foundation of much of the Gemstone line of EC and Disney reprints. While Gemstone’s actual publishing has been shut down (after running up hefty printing bills), Cochran continues to put out his own line of EC reprints, licensed through the Gaines Estates. However, according to a recent mailer, even that modest business is in trouble:
I’m going to have to be completely honest with you now. My business, which has been in existence since 1971…that’s FORTY YEARS…is in financial trouble, and unless something changes soon, I will be closing my doors before 2011 is over.
I’ve already had to terminate my oldest employee, Chris Rock, who was with me for 35 years. Chris worked on all the EC projects with me, he went to NYC with me to photograph the EC art for the EC portfolios, and it was very difficult for me to tell him that he was being laid off. This leaves only two other employees, Angie Meyer and Judy Goodwin, and right now my monthly sales through my website, eBay, and Amazon are not enough to cover their salaries.
I’m hoping to get permission from the Gaines Estate to continue publishing the EC ARCHIVES series, but unless this comes soon, my publishing days will be ended. With no new products to offer you, all I can do is to offer special deals on the items I do have in inventory. I would rather sell them to you, my faithful customers, at a lower price than to wholesale them to dealers and booksellers.
There are indeed some good deals. If you were thinking of buying some Cochran projects, now might be the time. In addition to the EC books, he also published well regarded volumes on classic musicians Les Paul and Chet Atkins. Cochran also sells very rare comics art by Herriman, Caniff and others of that caliber, like the already-sold Charles Biro BOY page above.