Stupid Publisher Comments

In which I laugh at less-than-stunning word choices and other entertaining faux pas.

From a press release announcing that the Webcomics Examiner (no longer available) is moving to weekly (instead of quarterly) updates:

Says editor Joe Zabel, “The quarterly magazine format served us well, but we decided to change to a new look that showcases each individual article to the max.”

Awesome! Are the articles totally gnarly, too?

From a mostly-content-free Publishers Weekly article on the availability of 300:

Recently, Toronto retailer Christopher Butcher wrote on his blog that Dark Horse was not making enough copies of 300 [...] particularly now that the movie version is filming in Montreal. PW Comics Week contacted Dark Horse director of publicity Lee Dawson, who explained that the book is not out of print. He acknowledges that there was a brief delay while books arrived from the printer in China, but says the book should be available in the immediate future.

First off, shouldn’t the word “available” be somewhere in the first sentence? (It’s not in the bit I clipped, which is just a description of what 300 is.) More significantly, if this is an important enough issue to allow Dark Horse space to respond publicly, they should have been pressed on what, exactly, is the “immediate future.” As is, it sounds like the infamous software industry non-specific “real soon now”. (Perhaps they were asked, and they refused to respond. If so, I would have liked to have seen that noted in the article, that they refused to be more specific.)

Chris Butcher has already responded (link no longer available), pointing out that “a brief delay” isn’t an accurate description of the months the book hasn’t been available, that they used the same excuse when they ran out of Hellboy books, and that it would have been nice for PW to link to him. (Although that’s blog etiquette, not common in publications.)

More from Dawson:

Dark Horse has had some criticism in the past for not having enough books available when movies based on their titles launch, but “it’s incredibly hard to predict how any kind of media coverage will affect a book’s sales,” says Dawson. “Especially with a book like 300.”

Poor Dawson, his job is hard because he can’t see the future. So’s mine, and probably yours, too. (Disclaimer: I write graphic novel reviews for PW, and the author of this piece is my editor. Hopefully she will take this in the humorous spirit intended.)

The lead article in this PW mailing is entitled A Tough Year for Comics Start-Ups and looks at some of the problems Alias and Speakeasy have brought on themselves. Alias’ new communications coordinator, Ryan Scott Ottney, has a conspiracy theory to blame:

Ottney points to bad communication as one of the factors that weighs against a new company. One of the culprits: the Internet. “There have been several publishers within the last few years that were killed by bad press and Internet campaigns, and they did very little to counter those claims. Once something is out there, true or false, people will always believe the worst and it will snowball from there.”

Yes, people like me who like pointing out your mistakes (for entertainment and to educate others in what not to do) are all part of an organized campaign against you. Sheesh. I’ll agree with him that bad communication plays a strong part, but the finger of blame should be pointed firmly at Alias principal Mike Miller shooting his homophobic mouth off online.

And who, exactly, are the “several publishers… killed by bad press”? CrossGen had a lot bigger problems than marketing (and their internet press was relatively good, with a number of scarily devoted fans talking them up). Dreamwave wasn’t taken down by people talking about how they weren’t paying people, but because they weren’t paying people. I guess Ottney believes in blaming the messenger.

(Ottney also writes The Legend of Isis, published by Alias. It’s one of those busty, bare midriff good-girl books that calls into question Alias’ assertions that their goal is to publish comics suitable for all ages.)

The PW article points out that Ross Ritchie’s Boom Studios is doing comparatively well, due in large part to their modest goals and belief in being realistic.

With only two books published a month, Richie has been able to snag A-list talent, including Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatties, whose Hero Squared has been a modest success for the publisher. Boom was even named Best New Publisher by Wizard Magazine. Richie says that staying small is part of his strategy, comparing his venture to HBO. “I didn’t want to have product every night in prime time, but the things I do I can do really well.”

(Thanks, Kevin!)

Similar Posts: New Speakeasy News § A Look at Dark Horse § Dark Horse Doesn’t Have 300 Available § Refusing to Review Self-Published Books § Navigating the Contemporary Publishing Landscape: An SPX Panel


7 Responses to “Stupid Publisher Comments”

  1. Rose Says:

    Well, the PW comics thing is internet-only, right? I can’t see any possible reason not to link to a pertinent post, especially because Chris Butcher is well-known in the blogosphere but not, I assume, the whole world at large. This just drives me crazy, and it’s worse (this is not a PW slam) when comics journalists are willing to link to their own prior arguments but not to the opposing views they’re referencing. I really don’t understand the mindset one bit.

    I’m also curious about the Victoria’s Secret Service title Alias has planned, because I thought Victoria’s Secret had a particular reputation for trademark infringement litigation and a team of super-powered super models (I may be mischaracterizing it as I googled and then didn’t go to any of the sites that mention it) doesn’t seem like such a stretch from underwear references. Nor is it likely to be all-ages.

  2. ADD Says:

    So if I’d started a MARVEL DEATHWATCH instead of CrossGen, Meridian would still be around today?

  3. Lyle Says:

    “There have been several publishers within the last few years that were killed by bad press and Internet campaigns, and they did very little to counter those claims. Once something is out there, true or false, people will always believe the worst and it will snowball from there.

    Sigh. I’m just reminded that, if you try to Google out some information about Mike Miller’s rants on the DC boards you’ll only find pages claiming that Miller was blacklisted from the industry for openly talking about his Christianity, suggesting that there was an internet campaign seeking to ruin his career because they didn’t approve of his beliefs.

  4. Johanna Says:

    The PW thing is primarily an email newsletter, I think. I suppose it’s the old-fashioned “we don’t want eyeballs leaving our site” attitude.

    I’ve wondered the same thing about Alias’ comic title. And “all ages” to Mike Millar seems to mean sexism ok, gay BAD.

    Lyle, that’s a shame to hear that his history has been whitewashed. He’s awfully visible for someone who’s been blacklisted. :)

  5. Heidi M. Says:

    Hello kids…

    As a blogger myself, I do apologize for not linking to Chris’ original post. Everything in Comics Week goes through the normal copyediting process taht a magazine piece would — I believe we are the only onliencomcis publication that has an actual staff — and sometimes we add links AFTERWARDS to aid in the copyediting, because html makes things much harder to copyedit. I forgot to put it in later. No big conspiracy theory. We should link more, but because of the way CW is put together 00 like amagazine and not a blog — it takes a little more effort.

    Anyway, the piece has been edited to link to Chris’s post.

    And Johanna, I find your comments most enlightening, as always.

  6. Dan Coyle Says:

    Actually, the Internet did have a hand in hurting Alias: Mainly, Mike S. Miller’s constant use of the Internet making a jackass of himself and even in some cases working under an assumed name.

  7. Johanna Says:

    Heidi, thank you very much for letting us know some of the background, and for your magnanimity. :)

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