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Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Cartoonists on Distribution -- Yesterday's Five Questions for Jason
prompted this reponse from True Story, Swear to God creator Tom Beland:

When he's telling you about his thoughts on distributers, who is he talking about? Because, if it's Diamond, they've been COMPLETELY cooperative towards my work. And you have to realize that when I submitted TSSTG for distributing, I didn't even have the actual printing.. it was photocopied pages put together in a white binder with the name hand-written with an El Marko. They told me they looked at it and wanted to carry it and I've been with them for eight issues now, without EVER being asked to buy ad space.

The same can be said for FM International and Cold Cut Distributers. They've been amazing to work with from the get-go. FM and Cold Cut even carry my zines, which is not often done by distributers.

I think the biggest failure by indie creators is that they put all the effort into issue #1... and then issue #2 never comes out. They have to remember that Diamond is ALSO publishing and spending money in printing the catalog and in developing orders. They get orders for the first issue and the rest never come out. THAT'S what I hear from distributers at conventions. Also, and this happens with the bigger companies, but when they advertise a book in April and that issue doesn't meet deadline, why should a distributer carry that book? I've had four months in between issues, but Diamond knows that when I tell them a book will be ready that month, it'll be ready to ship that month. And the bigger companies provide more titles that bring in big bucks, so a late book won't damage them as much.

It sounds more like Marcy is going off hearsay and not on actual experience. But if it IS actual experience, he should say who he's been having difficulties with and find out if it's the industry all together or just an isolated problem.

Other than that, good interview. I'm really liking the concept.

I obviously don't have any firsthand experience with distributing comics, and no knowledge of Tom or Jason's experiences in trying to get distributed -- I can only say that I'd imagine every case is different, with a huge number of variables to be taken into consideration, not the least of which is Diamond's virtual monopoly over the direct market. That came to mind as I was writing today's review of Optic Nerve #9, a comic that is finished and printed and available for readers everywhere, except that it hasn't shipped from Diamond yet so many (most?) shops don't have it yet and won't for weeks -- and I'd imagine more than a few retailers are unaware that the book is available if they go direct to the publisher (Drawn and Quarterly) and probably through some of the smaller distributors like Cold Cut. What irritates me (and I am sure the creator and publisher in question) is knowing that the book is printed and available and that many interested readers (and I have heard customers asking when this issue was coming out, after a two-year gap since #8) aren't being clued in to the facts and will have to wait weeks to see the book. Things need to change.

Oh, and thanks to Tom for writing in -- and look for his own answers to the Five Questions in the near future. In the meantime, read this profile of Tom from The Orlando Sentinel (link courtesy of Journalista!).


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