Dark Horse’s Delayed Collections: Where Are Blacksad and Sinfest?

Dark Horse has some very nice collections, from their growing webcomics line to old favorites like Hellboy (and its spinoff B.P.R.D.) and even rescued series like Larry Marder’s Beanworld.

However, perhaps because of their printing process and/or locations, their solicitations are frequently extended for these books. For example, Beanworld Book 3 was solicited in July of last year. Items in that catalog normally come out starting in September; this book was published in December, an extra three-month delay. The ship date information is listed when the books are offered, so customers should be aware of it, but it is a change from how many companies operate. (And I’ve known people to get burned if they aren’t paying attention; they see books in the September or October listings that they expect to arrive before Christmas, but in reality, they’ll come in the next year.)

Why I’m talking about this now, though, is due to two Dark Horse books I was eagerly anticipating that have been delayed beyond even this usual extended period. First is the Blacksad hardcover, bringing the Ibooks material back into print with some new content. It was offered in November 2009 with a then-listed due date of March 2010. That didn’t happen.

By checking the Dark Horse website and Amazon, I’ve found that it’s now due end of June/early July. (The dates don’t match, but since they’re within two weeks of each other, that’s not of much concern.) I appreciate that Dark Horse is keeping the website updated with new information; that’s a big help. But is there a better way to notify eager customers (who often have to commit to preorders in comic stores) of schedule changes? They have a newsletter, but it’s all ads and sell copy, not product updates.

Sinfest Volume 2 cover
Sinfest Volume 2
Order this book – but it’s a gamble!

Of more concern to me is this: What happened to Sinfest Volume 2? Originally solicited in July 2009, the book was marked on the website as available in April 2010 (of which today is the last day). However, now I can’t even find a page for the title on their site; they only list book one. Amazon shows the book with a publication date of April 15, but says “Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we’ll deliver when available.” That’s not a good sign, since there’s no evidence they were ever in stock.

I read through six months of Previews Product Changes and Cancellations and Shipping Updates to see if any information showed up there, but it didn’t. (Since those pages apparently aren’t Google-able. And OMG, how does Marvel get away with the sheer volume of changes they make every week from what was offered and purchased?! Then I found the best example of how the system is broken: notes that say “oh, this book isn’t really 160 pages, but only 40, but we’re not changing the price.” That’s a recipe for disappointed customers who feel ripped off.)

Am I doomed not to have a nice continuing reprint of my favorite webcomic? Or should I just be patient and hope it shows up at some undefined future point? The problem with this approach to their stock is that I’m now thinking of Dark Horse as a roulette wheel. If my number comes up (which may take a while), great, I get the book I want. But I may never know when I’m on a losing streak and a book just disappears. Am I missing some way to easily get updated schedule changes on Dark Horse products?

10 Responses to “Dark Horse’s Delayed Collections: Where Are Blacksad and Sinfest?”

  1. Chris Marshall Says:

    Dark Horse is notorious for this behavior – always soliciting then moving dates with no explanation. But I’m sure production issues are the root cause.
    I have Blacksad coming out June 30 (via Dark Horse’s website). No word on Sinfest.

    Great to meet you at C2E2. Keep up the good work!

  2. John Jakala Says:

    As Chris points out, Dark Horse has a history of repeatedly missing release dates. They’re one of the main reasons I gave up pre-ordering: It was too much hassle tracking everything to make sure I got what I paid for. (Although at times I did take perverse glee in tracking DH’s inability to meet its commitments.)

    I’d actually recommend foregoing pre-ordering DH’s books altogether and instead checking TFAW’s Nick & Dent section from time to time. You can usually find recent DH releases for 50% off there.

  3. Kendama Says:

    *sees Blacksad cover*

    I can haz lung cancer?

  4. exar Says:

    glad i’m not the only one wondering about the delay with the Blacksad HC.

  5. BobH Says:

    I never did understand why Dark Horse got that extended solicitation schedule for their books. I notice DC and Marvel slipped into a similar thing a while back, especially for their hardcovers. I can see how it saves them money, but they really should hit those far-future ship dates on the nose in exchange for the money they save.

    As another example, I just checked for a book I’ve been waiting for, the new edition of Jerry Robinson’s COMICS: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY. They first listed that in 2006, it never came out, then relisted it for April 14, 2010, and I just checked and their site now lists September 15, 2010.

  6. DanielBT Says:

    This doesn’t bode well for their announcement of their deal with Carla Speed McNeil’s Finder series. I desperately want to see more of her work after Sin-Eater, and am afraid that I might not get the chance to do so.

  7. Johanna Says:

    Oh, Daniel, I wouldn’t go that far.

    As I understand it, a lot of book printing these days is done in China or elsewhere far overseas to save money, so tracking quality and shipping around the world can add a lot of time to projects. But moving April to September, for example, suggests a change in direction or promotion priorities or even budgeting changes.

  8. Ray Cornwall Says:

    It’s the Friends of Lulu’s fault!

    Oh wait, wrong thread.

    Seriously, Dark Horse pulls this stunt all the time. They oversolicit, and then take forever to deliver the goods. But the books are usually pretty good.

    Remind me to tell you the time I caught a huge printing problem in the first printing of the hardcover for Sin City: A Dame To Kill For and was the first one to let Dark Horse know.

  9. Guy Smiley Says:

    Yeah, I’ve been awaiting Sinfest 2, too. Still read it online every day, but I want to buy the books not only to enjoy the strip in handy paper form, but to thank/support Ishida for makin’ the damned thing.

    I hope Dark Horse gets it out there soon. I don’t even have a job these days, and I still wanna throw money at it.

  10. Johanna Says:

    Me too! It’s the books you want the most that seem to take the longest.




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