What’s Happened to Ape Entertainment?
Although I’m far away these days from the business of running a comic store, I still make a habit of reading Diamond’s cancellation list monthly. Part of that is simple morbid curiosity — it can indicate problems if a company starts cancelling a lot of books or particular titles.
This month (January 2014), I noted that Ape Entertainment had a wide range of books listed, the oldest of which dated back two years. All were listed as cancelled for lateness (that’s the “1” code at the end of the line). None were “Will resolicit”, which publishers tend to use when a book is running late but they still intend to offer it later. Here they are, rearranged by date solicited. (Previews lists alphabetically.)
JAN120805 CASPERS SCARE SCHOOL TP 1
MAR120739 6TH PLANET GN 1
APR128015 HERO WITHIN I AM HEROIC TP 1
MAY120831 RAMIEL WRATH OF GOD #4 1
JUN120784 HERO WITHIN I AM HEROIC #2 1
JUN120785 RAMIEL WRATH OF GOD TP 1
JUL120740 HERO WITHIN I AM HEROIC #3 1
AUG120780 HERO WITHIN I AM HEROIC TP 1
AUG120775 KUNG FU PANDA DIGEST GN NOODLE CART 1
SEP120773 HERO OF ALEXANDRIA #2 1
SEP128021 STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE DIGEST 1
SEP120776 STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE VOL 2 #3 1
OCT120783 DRAGON RIDERS OF BERK #1 CVR A 1
OCT120788 HERO OF ALEXANDRIA #3 1
OCT120786 POCKET GOD GEM CELL RESEARCH GN 1
OCT120787 STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE DIGEST VOL O2 BERRY GOOD TIMES 1
NOV120854 DREAMWORKS ADVENTURE MAGAZINE #3 1
NOV120855 HERO OF ALEXANDRIA #4 1
NOV120856 STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE VOL 2 #4 1
DEC120792 DRAGON RIDERS OF BERK #2 CVR A CGI COVER 1
DEC128033 TURBO PREQUEL GN 1
DEC120796 STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE DIGEST VOL 04 SNOW 1
JAN130835 HERO OF ALEXANDRIA TP VOL 01 DENMARK 1
FEB130710 STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE VOL 2 #5 1
APR130794 STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE VOL 2 #6 1
MAY130793 PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR VOL 3 #1 1
MAY130794 STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE DIGEST VOL 05 HAVE A LITTLE FAITH 1
JUL130772 KUNG FU PANDA TWO NOODLE SHOPS ONE SHOT 1
JUL130773 PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR MORTZILLA VS KOWALSKI ONE SHOT 1
JUL130775 SESAME STREET #1 IMAGINE WITH ELMO BOX SET 1
This made me curious. After regular releases through May and June, the only things Ape has released since then are these:
Genie the Genius #1 (Of 3), $2.99, September 11 (due August)
Genie the Genius #2 (Of 3), $2.99, November 13 (due September)
and a HalloweenFest Sesame Street minicomic for that comic shop market event. Genie the Genius, it turns out, is the project of former NFL player Boomer Esiason and co-published by After Hours Press, which “specializes in the writing and production aspects of creating comics and IP development.”
Ape Entertainment didn’t offer anything in the current Previews catalog. In December, they offered only five variant covers of Sesame Street #2. That’s due out at the end of February. November, nothing. In October, for sale in January (this month), they solicited a Genie the Genius collection (unlikely to come out on time, given that we’re still waiting on issue #3); two Poison Elves one-shots and a collection (which isn’t really in keeping with their kids’ books); and a graphic novel called Killer Diller. I could keep tracking this back, but soon enough you start running into the cancelled items listed above.
Is the company still operating? There are open orders, mostly Poison Elves titles, that haven’t yet been cancelled. But this is not a good track record. I’ve spoken to at least one Ape creator who was expecting his book to come out late November, but there’s no sign of it yet. We’ll know the answer soon enough, based on whether anything ships this month and whether next month’s Previews (out next week) has a similarly lengthy cancellation list for the publisher.
Update: Heidi got a statement from Ape COO Brent Erwin that says they’re reorganizing, plan to resolicit some of the cancelled titles, and will have some digital releases this month. Here it is:
As Mark Twain said, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”. As you know, our business partner David Hedgecock left Ape very late last year to pursue an opportunity as a Managing Editor at IDW, we wished him well and hope nothing but success for him. At the time of David’s departure, my other partner and I decided to take the opportunity to reorganize and streamline Ape which we are still in the process of doing.
We recently worked with Diamond to cancel outstanding orders on product that was beyond its normal shipping window. We didn’t want old orders hanging out there for retailers to have to deal with. We do plan to resolicit certain books at a later date, it just doesn’t make sense to announce that until we know exactly when we will. We have a lot of great product ready to launch.
We are currently planning the release of our “Fruit Ninja” comic app at the end of January for Chinese New Year along with other digital initiatives. We have also been in talks with Hollywood about a few of our properties so we have been keeping very busy.
So I file this in the “I hope for the best, but I’ll believe it when I see it” category.