Claypool Reactions

Various voices have reacted to the news that Claypool will be ceasing print publication:

Peter David blames the distributor (which seems to me to be ignoring Claypool’s years of low sales).

Mark Evanier says it’s because they only were interested in publishing comics.

Matthew High (in the comments thread at my previous post) blames it on the company’s refusal to consider putting out different formats. I admit, I’m partial to the “they should have done collected editions” argument because I so much prefer that reading method.

Last, in December 2005, Paul O’Brien had a typically insightful analysis that talks about their lack of marketing, focusing on their poor website design.


10 Responses to “Claypool Reactions”

  1. Rohan Williams Says:

    I was supposed to interview someone in charge at Claypool via e-mail last year, and they never responded to the questions. Just saying…

  2. MARKUS Says:

    I’m puzzled by Evanier’s response. He can’t have failed to notice that Claypool sucked at what they were interested in, if it was publishing comics. The covers, the website, the TPB situation, the lack of promotion for a Peter David book, at the end of the day they were simply incompetent to an astonishing degree at their chosen profession.

    Calling that “a shame on so many levels” and blaming the market is a bit like complaining that people are not lining up to buy your pointless and incompetently drawn autobiocomics or that your favourite character’s series is axed because it was utterly generic and thus failed to attract a readership beyond those simply happy to see the character. Oh, … wait!

  3. Johanna Says:

    I wondered about something else — Claypool had to be running at a loss for a while. If someone wants to keep throwing their money away year after after to call themselves a comic publisher or a comic artist, should distributors and retailers have to support that?

  4. Deepak Ramani Says:

    I agree with Paul O’Brien that poor marketing didn’t help. When was the last time Peter David made any attempt to promote Soulsearchers and Company?

    At his blog, I found seven entries that mentioned Soulsearchers and Company, and only one that really seems like a piece of promotion for the book.

    In his post, PAD says that a source of frustration will be when fans say they’ve never heard of the book. That just leaves me wondering: If the creator of the book can’t even find time to promote the book on his own blog, why blame fans for not knowing anything about it?

  5. Jer Says:

    I think that Evanier has a point, though he exaggerates a bit. Claypool (or at least Richard Howell) really did seem to want to make COMICS. Not graphic novels, not trade collections, not advertisements to Hollywood for movie deals, not advertisements to Hasbro for toy deals, but actual, serialized monthly graphic fiction distributed as pamphlets. That’s not how the market works any more, though. At the very least, if they wanted to get people into their books, they needed to do more collections of older issues, because trying to jump onto any of those books mid-stream was not very rewarding.

    I also think that Claypool was hurt by their lack of color. They are black and white comics that don’t have an indy appeal — their appeal is definitely more mainstream. If you want to do that AND keep your books confined to the comic book stores as monthly pamphlets, the lack of color is going to kill you. (In a collected setting, in bookstores, possibly not so much. But they weren’t going for that audience.)

    Finally, Johanna, while I agree that Claypool’s was probably operating at a loss, we don’t know for sure. Maybe Howell had the process so streamlined that even with the poor sales he was still bringing in enough to pay for the whole thing. If that’s the case, THAT would be impressive in and of itself. I wonder if we’ll ever find out.

  6. Paul O'Brien Says:

    I can’t see any reason why retailers or distributors should feel obliged to support a publisher as microscopic as Claypool. They were selling only a few hundred copies of each issue. They can’t possibly have been turning a profit. It’s 2006 – if they really want to put out comics at a loss, they can do it online. Nobody is denying them an audience. And they never had an income stream to lose.

    It’s a shame nobody involved with Claypool seems to be willing to acknowledge that the big problem with their business was not the obstacles of the direct market, but the staggering ineptitude of Claypool’s promotion. Larry Young consistently makes the top 300, for heaven’s sake. If you’re publishing a Peter David book and can’t make it chart, then you’re doing something horribly wrong and you need to address that.

  7. Paul O'Brien Says:

    “Finally, Johanna, while I agree that Claypool’s was probably operating at a loss, we don’t know for sure. Maybe Howell had the process so streamlined that even with the poor sales he was still bringing in enough to pay for the whole thing.”

    Extremely unlikely. Claypool hasn’t even made the top 300 since January 2005, at which point their top-selling book – ELVIRA #141 – scraped to number 287 with 780 copies. With a cover price of $2.50, that’s just under $2,000. Deduct the retailers’ cut and Diamond’s cut, pay the creators and the printers, and pay Elvira’s licence fee, and really, what have you got left?

  8. Dan Coyle Says:

    David always mentioned SS and C in interviews and the like. I don’t think he was able to get the support for it that, say, Fallen Angel enjoyed because it wasn’t very good IMO. None of the Claypool comics I’ve read- and I tried Deadbeats several times- were that great. I sort of liked Elvira. Sometimes. But Deadbeats had unappealing art and forgot that one of the reasons people watched Dark Shadows was that the actors brought the staid vampire soap opera antics to life. David Selby, Richard Howell ain’t.

  9. Lyle Says:

    Actually, do we know if Claypool itself was running at a loss? From what I’ve seen of the story, I know that Claypool’s product wasn’t profitable enough to be worth Diamond’s efforts and that Claypool can’t make their print business work without Diamond, but I haven’t seen anything saying that Claypool has been operating at a loss. Throughout their struggles with Diamond, I figured they had somehow figured how to make the numbers work.

  10. Johanna Says:

    Rumor has it that it was funded by someone’s inheritance, so profit/loss wasn’t a big issue for them. Whether or not you believe that, what other income sources does Claypool have? As Evanier points out, there’s no licensing or product money coming in.

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