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Friday, May 06, 2005

Alias Deathwatch Begins -- Not since the final, disastrous days of CrossGen has a comics company had to explain away both apparent incompetence and alleged perfidy; the difference is, this company hasn't even shipped one book yet to comics shops.

And therein lies the rub. Yesterday, Newsarama reported on Alias Comics and its failure to ship any of its titles on time -- or at all -- in the month of April. I noticed with interest a quote from Alias head and noted homophobe Mike S. Miller that "Nine of the titles will be in stores May 11th. Next week." My guess is that, although Miller thinks this somehow is a positive, it will indeed be "A day that will live in infamy." The first thing I would advise any new publisher is to start small with one or two quality titles and establish a reputation for quality and regular shipping. By blasting a mostly-uninterested marketplace (I don't see Blue Beetle getting shot or Sue Dibny getting raped from behind on any of the Alias covers released to the press) with nine of these titles on a single day, Alias is immediately creating retailer hostility by insuring that the titles will remain on the shelf and be fodder for the quarter bins mere months from now.

Following the Newsarama story, Rampaging Fanboy Graeme McMillan soon smelled blood in the water and swam in for the kill, asking "Is anyone really still wondering if Alias can deliver what they promise at this point?" This all prompted Miller, the apparent public face of Alias Comics, to rush to defend his company and its failure out of the gate to keep its promises to readers and to the market. In the comment thread at Fanboy Rampage, Miller fought off criticism from experienced industry observers like Brian Hibbs, Augie De Blieck Jr., Paul O'Brien and Tom Spurgeon, inadvertently revealing that Alias has diverted money for printing Alias's books from North America to Asia, in order to take advantage of cheaper labour overseas, and denying much-needed labour to North American workers in a troubled economy.

Miller apparently rejected the single best piece of advice he got, from retailer Brian Hibbs, who literally wrote the book on comics retailing: "Seriously, save yourself the trouble, because I absolutely guarantee you that with this kind of start, you're going to be one of the thousands of wannabe publisher corpses that litters the history of the Direct Market."



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