PR: What Not to Do: Share Too Much of Your Business

A company whose works I’ve recommended in the past sent out this press release recently.

ACTION LAB’S ZOMBIE TRAMP GOES IN HOUSE!
The popular Danger Zone series becomes Action Lab Entertainment’s first company funded series.

Dan Mendoza’s grindhouse revenge series, Zombie Tramp, started it’s undead rise as a critically acclaimed independent title that recently saw new life at Action Lab Entertainment’s mature readers Danger Zone imprint.

Zombie Tramp cover

The Story follows Janey Bell, Hollywood’s most popular high-priced call girl, who through the machinations of her transvestite madam and a crooked LAPD sheriff was bitten by a zombie and imbued with strange new powers, has been called an instant classic.

Now with two fan favorite volumes of the creator-owned work nearly complete, Action Lab: Danger Zone is proud to announce that starting with a special introductory Free Comic Book Day issue, Zombie Tramp will be going to the next level as the first Action Lab funded series. Zombie Tramp will also become the companies second ongoing monthly series, joining Jeremy Dale’s smash hit all ages fantasy series, Skyward.

Action Lab, which primarily works with creator owned and creator-generated material, will be financing the production of Zombie Tramp, and relaunching the series with the May FCBD issue, and brand new number one of the ongoing series to follow that up starting in July.

Series creator Dan Mendoza will continue to write the series, while being joined by co-writer and editor, Jason Martin (Night of the 80’s Undead, Super Real), and future superstar artist TMChu. As we find our titular zombie-powered former call girl on the road, learning her budding abilities thanks to the newly acquired “book of the dead”. Janey starts out in Sin City, taking on the local sex trade and the elusive mastermind who controls Las Vegas from the shadows. The series will feature covers and interiors by talented newcomer TMChu, including nude variant covers, and variant covers by series creator Dan Mendoza.

I’ll ignore the typos (please, people, learn to use “its” properly), missing hyphens and apostrophes, and mismatched verbs, and I’ll avoid pointing out that even the covers that aren’t “nude variants” aren’t something I’m comfortable running on this site. (Seriously, the FCBD issue cover isn’t family-friendly, which I thought they were supposed to be.) My bigger point is this: Why would we care who’s paying for what, so long as the creators are receiving adequate compensation?

This only makes me think, “oh, so the rest of your books are all self-funded?” which may or may not be true, but the question is raised by the existence of this press release. I’m sure we’re supposed to see this as a statement of faith in the title — and who wouldn’t see commercial potential in a comic that combines hookers and zombies? — but it’s the kind of backhanded praise that inadvertently makes the rest of the publisher’s line look worse (because clearly, the publisher didn’t have enough faith in them to fund them, only this one). I suppose there’s an argument to be made that customers want to know this kind of thing, since a self-funded series is marginally more likely to run out of money and quit appearing on shelves, but the same could be argued for small publishers.

Ultimately, it comes back to the question: What does a publisher offer to a comic creator? If they’re not providing some kind of funding, more marketing than a creator can do on her own, and other business services, why are they a better choice than going it alone?


5 Responses to “PR: What Not to Do: Share Too Much of Your Business”

  1. Soon Says:

    If they were making a point about it being their first ongoing, as opposed to mini-series and graphic novels before, it does cloud the image and brings up notions all its other titles are only self or crowdfunded.

  2. Comics A.M. | Pioneering comics journalist Bhob Stewart dies | Robot 6 @ Comic Book ResourcesRobot 6 @ Comic Book Resources Says:

    […] Publishing | Johanna Draper Carlson critiques a publisher’s press release that raises questions it probably didn’t intend to. [Comics Worth Reading] […]

  3. Mikael Says:

    Maybe they’ve reached a point in publishing where they are finally able to pay for comics to be created. Which could signal a kind of work-for-hire type corner of their line among the rest. Why should that be a bad thing? Plus – did you bother to email any of those questions to the publisher?

    For Action Labs – it’s just about first in the “other publishers” category in Previews. That goes a long way for some retailers who can’t be bothered to push further in the book. Or creators want to use publishers for their Diamond Account. Or they don’t want to deal with printers. Etc etc etc

  4. Johanna Says:

    That’s a good point, but if this marked some kind of new era for the publisher, I would have expected them to indicate that. (Such as “we hope to convert more titles soon” or something.) As it stands, though, my opinion is that this would have been a better release for the direct retailer market, not the general public. And yes, it’s tricky to maintain that boundary in the comic field, since there’s so much overlap, but you can at least try.

    Your list of possible reasons someone might want a publisher is a good starting point. If using a publisher is better for a creator in whatever way the creator needs, that’s a fine choice. It’s just that there are some publishers out there that actually don’t provide much — or, in some of the cases you mention, they’ve actually poisoned the well, as with those who’ve been kicked out of Diamond — so that creators should make sure they’re actually getting benefits they can’t reasonably achieve on their own.

  5. A Says:

    On top of the points you made, the number of typos and errors in this publisher’s press releases on an ongoing basis make a poor impression.

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