Roadways Collected Edition Available Only Through Amazon

When I first got into indy comics and fandom, almost twenty years ago now, I hung out on the CompuServe Comics/Animation forum, where I had the pleasure of meeting Steve Lieber, Ted Slampyak, Jeffrey Lang, and Nat Gertler (among many others). That team is the group behind a comic called Roadways, now reprinted in collected form.

Roadways was first published in 1994 by Cult Press. The four-issue miniseries was written by Lang, drawn by Slampyak (Jazz Age Chronicles, Little Orphan Annie), inked by Lieber (Whiteout, Underground) and later, John Drury. It’s the story of a physics professor whose assistant goes missing. When he tries to find her, he winds up in another world, one where a river called the Road flows through the realities.

It’s a classic science-fiction adventure in the style of Heinlein or Burroughs, where an intelligent man finds out just what he’s capable of by being thrown into a world of tribes and evil rulers, where he’s challenged physically as well as mentally. It’s chock-full of ideas — more so than there’s space for, maybe — and gorgeous, well-realized art. I love the square stone monster in the first chapter!

I won’t part with my signed issues, because they’re a fond memory of a particular time in comics, the black-and-white boom that allowed creators to put out their own works before webcomics became the preferred medium for that. But for those of you who don’t have them, you may want to order the new collection packaged by About Comics (who has posted preview pages) and available only through Amazon.com.

I’m not sure how successful the strategy of avoiding the comic market entirely is these days — I suppose it depends on how effectively you can get the word out to the potential audience through coverage like this — but I know it allows for a lower price point, and on long-lost material like this, any sale is likely considered a bonus. If the book is print-on-demand, which Amazon also offers, then there aren’t even any storage or print costs. My gripe is, as always, that such offerings don’t allow me to get a deal or buy on sale or pick up a discount used copy, but that’s not a detriment in the publisher’s eyes.


8 Responses to “Roadways Collected Edition Available Only Through Amazon”

  1. Nat Gertler Says:

    Johanna!

    Thanks for the attention to this project.

    Let me allay your gripes. While we’re avoiding Diamond, we will be offering this book and most of our other black-and-white Print On Demand books to retailers soon at a reasonable discount, just not through Diamond (retailers that aren’t on the CBIA should email me at questions@aboutcomics.com). While there are not used copies yet, Print On Demand books are no more immune that other books to being used (while we hope that everyone who buys this book will cherish it forever, perhaps some will eventually die and their estates will be unaware of the magic within!)

    And while Amazon lists the book at cover price, there actually is a discount available – as with most under-$10 books, this is part of Amazon’s 4-for-3 deal. Order four eligible books, and the cheapest one is free. Find four $9.99 books, and that’s a 25% discount. (To help get you there, I can recommend The Weasel Patrol, funny funny stuff from Ken Macklin and Lela Dowling, previously offered through Diamond but now being kept in print as another of About Comics’s Print-On-Demand offerings.)

  2. Nat Gertler Says:

    “‘no more immune that’ = ‘no more immune than'” says publisherboy busy making breakfast and lunch for his kidsters.

  3. Jim Kosmicki Says:

    Thanks for the heads up on this. I remember this series from Cult Press, and also remember that I really liked it. I bought most of what Ted Slampyak did back then – going to Amazon to order this, I noticed that he apparently has two volumes of his “Jazz Age Chronicles” available, also probably print on demand. that was another series that I remember really enjoying in that B&W publishing boom time. I believe that I have a couple of the original collections of that series, but they were not well printed. If I’m happy with the quality of the Roadways collection, I’ll most likely be picking up “Jazz Age” too.

  4. Jim Kosmicki Says:

    Nat’s plan kind of reminds me of the pre-Previes days. The comic shop would get an envelope full of brochures and flyers from whatever publisher wanted to be included. The benefit of that version of ordering was that the quality of the ordering information was a HUGE indicator as to the probably quality of the final product. Badly photocopied flyers with misspellings or ungrammatical sentences helped the ordering decisions quite a bit.

    the one question that I would have for this new plan is how the word gets out to folks who don’t regularly buy from a comic shop anymore. Obviously blogs like this help, but I order from a comic shop and two online services – and if I don’t pre-order it from Previews, it’s not going to be there for me. Not too many shops seem to be in a position to order things just to take a chance anymore. I seem to be seeing a lot of only ordering what’s already pre-sold by subs and standing orders.

    I like Nat’s stuff – I’ve bought most of what he’s put out and want him to succeed. I am his potential audience and willing customer – how is he going to let ME know that he has product available that I’d want to purchase?

  5. Johanna Says:

    Nat, thanks very much for the additional information. I’m glad to hear there’s a retailer outreach aspect to the project, since I’d like to see more people get a chance to read this story.

    Jim, great to hear that Jazz Age is also available. I’ll have to see how those match up with what I already have. As for your later question, you sign up for the About Comics mailing list on their web page — that’s one option for staying informed.

  6. Nat Gertler Says:

    Jim: Thanks for the concern. I fully acknowledge that this method is likely to reach fewer readers than traditional distribution. However, it can sell a lot fewer and still be far more profitable. In this case, this is a book that I would not have published if I was still going through Diamond, because I think I could not have reached Diamond’s initial order minimums on it. Doing it POD, however, was an easy decision (particularly since I already had the files from an earlier digital release of the work… which is, by the way, why it’s being released as a smaller book.)

    Having said that: my sense is that Previews readership is way down from what it once was, and simply listing in Previews itself does not generate that many sales. Yes, I am dependent on getting word out via publicity means, but there are two advantages to being POD rather than traditional-print-and-Diamond on that. One is up front: in the traditional form, you really have to publicize the book twice, once at ordering time (to let the retailers and preorders know) and once at time of release (to get the non-preordering customers into the shops to soak up the copies retailers ordered.) I’ve never been the best at publicity, and it’s hard enough getting one bite at the apple, let alone two. Via POD, I could wait until the book is immediately available from Amazon… and in this case, I waited a few weeks until we were able to set it up on Amazon’s UK branch as well. I don’t need to build up customer desire that will last a few months until the book is out; the customer can have it in their hands tomorrow (if they want to pay for rush shipping.)

    The other is longer term. I can publicize this whenever I want, and the book will be available. In contrast, let me point to The Weasel Patrol, a fine book I published in 2009. Sales weren’t great, and Diamond chose to stop stocking it… which means that Amazon could no longer stock it. If an opportunity were to pop up to publicize that book, it wouldn’t do any good, because people couldn’t get it, despite me having copies eating up warehouse costs every month. But two weeks ago, the book came back as a Print On Demand item. At any time that I can make someone aware of the book, it’s available.

    It also lets me do books where you aren’t the target market. For example, I now have out Bridge Mix, a book of Charles M. Schulz’s cartoons about the card game bridge. Even if you’re a Schulz fan, you don’t want this book, you want It’s Only A Game, which has all of these cartoons and many more from the same source. This book is not for the Diamond audience… but it is slated for review in Bridge World magazine, it should go well with those folks.

    But Jim, if you want to make sure that you know about what we have coming up – head over to http://www.aboutcomics.com/contact.html and sign up to be on our press release mailing list. This week alone you would’ve heard about Roadways, about our first audiobook release, about our new short comic from the creator of the Men In Black, and about lifestyle changes planned by one of our characters.

  7. Jim Kosmicki Says:

    thanks for the update, Nat, and I will sign up for the emails. I am one of the apparently few folks who bought “The Weasel Patrol” when you first offered it. I appreciate that you are trying to keep some of the better indie comics of the 80s and early 90s in print.

  8. Non-Stop Video Release Promoted With Safety Video Parody » DVDs Worth Watching Says:

    […] To promote this week’s release of Non-Stop on Blu-ray — that’s the latest Liam Neeson action movie in which he’s an air marshal on a plane under threat of hijacking and murder — Universal has released the following airplane safety video parody. It’s a cute way to highlight clips from the film, and I like the way the illustrations get wackier as the action builds. The artwork is by Ted Slampyak (Jazz Age Chronicles, Little Orphan Annie, Roadways). […]




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