It’s a Scandal!

Cowboys & Aliens comic cover

My goodness, SUCH bad behavior going around!

Buying the #1 Slot

Dave Lewis is upset about Platinum buying high sales rankings for Cowboys and Aliens (link no longer available), their first (and to date only) comic publication.

1. Cowboys & Aliens was generally not sold for its $4.99 cover price. In many cases, including Midtown Comics, it was given away for free.
2. Entertainment Weekly chose this week and this location, for whatever reason, by which to gauge industry sales (not Diamond’s list, not Wizard, etc.). They chose to include promotional items in their tally and ignore price-point or sales in total dollar amount.
3. Platinum Studios paid retailers to order and sell the book. The company cut checks back to retailers for more than the cost of their orders as a ridiculous incentive to have it in stores.

[Scott] Rosenberg, credited as the creator of C&A, has pulled a fast one on us. On EW (perhaps), on its readers, on Hollywood, on comic shops, on comic creators, and on the industry. There may be some people who liked the book — that’s fine, there’s no accounting for taste. But to suggest that C&A is the top of the industry in any category other than sleaziness is absurd.

Cowboys & Aliens comic cover

Update: Christopher Butcher has a wonderful suggestion (link no longer available): contact EW and politely express to them how they’ve been snookered or how misleading this coverage might be to their readers. He’s got all the addresses.

ADV’s Anime Awards

David Welsh finds problems with the American Anime Awards, saying that they seem like a bad fit for a show that’s billing itself as the literary alternative to San Diego. He points out links where Ed at MangaCast (link no longer available) questions the nomination process and validity of the manga choices (an apparent afterthought to the anime-driven programming), and Anime News Network interviews organizer Milton Griepp, who may have revealed more than he intended about ADV’s backing of the whole thing.

Idiot Publishers Screw You Over

Chris Butcher recounts how Open Book Press screwed over a webcomic creator (link no longer available). The result is a must-read, as Butcher presents things every creator should consider when looking for a publisher.

Always remember that publishing comics is for fools. I know lots of fools who publish comics, and I love them dearly. They believe in the medium and are dedicated to craft and storytelling and Capital ‘A’ Art. They are beautiful, wonderful fools and I love them for publishing. The role of the fool is one that I personally enjoy, and it takes a bit of the crazy to try and force good comics into a marketplace that generally hates quality and likes… well, you’ve seen the top 100 list. However, it is important to know the difference between a fool and an idiot. An idiot uses his time on national television not to promote himself or his company, but to instead lend credibility to his competitors so they might more easily crush him down the road. You do not want an idiot publishing your comics.

I was snarky about one of Open Book’s early press releases back in March, when they tried to capitalize on Speakeasy’s demise.

Addendum: What’s a Professional?

The thing that struck me oddest, though, was when Elayne Riggs showed up at Heidi’s post on the story to rail against aspiring creators who want to be professionals:

I wonder how much of this POD rookery (at least for inexperienced writers and artists) is part and parcel of the “entitlement” mentality, where people think just because you believe you have the ability to write and draw you therefore have some inherent Right To Be Published (and to Make Money from it). Back in the days of fanzines, before printing became as accessible and relatively inexpensive as it is now, the line between fanzine-level and professional-level crafting seemed a lot clearer. Most fanzine creators (especially artists) would never begin to presume their stuff was good enough to be sold professionally. (I’ve started to see this happen with blogs as well, where many bloggers are confusing a hobby with a would-be profession. Just because you can type and now self-publish your words using blogging tools, it doesn’t make you a professional-level writer deserving of recompense.)

So wanting to make money or get paid for your work is bad? Or is it only bad if Elayne doesn’t think your work is good enough? Methinks jealousy at those who make a profit with their words or art is rearing its head. “Back in the day, I settled for crappy zine repro, and I never got to be a pro, so it should be good enough for you!” I’m surprised the mimeograph didn’t make an appearance in her recollection of the good old days.


  • A. David Lewis

    Thanks for covering this, Johanna, as well as my rant. I have taken Chris B.’s suggestion of writing a (calm, level-headed) letter to Entertainment Weekly, since I doubt they were co-perpetrators in this. I’m not even sure Midtown is to blame, as I confirmed (before writing my screed) that other publishers nationwide were paid for carrying the book.

    This is not an illegitimate business practice, but it does constitute the book being “promotional material” rather than counting towards a sales item — neither Diamond nor Wizard, among others, would count this sort of product in their Top Sellers listings.

    Certainly, my feelings about the book creatively/aesthetically colored the tone of my blog entry: I did not like the book. But, that’s just my judgment, and that’s why that slant was only used on my blog. (I went guns a-blazing!) However, I respect others who disagree (and I even respect the creators, as I have written many things others don’t like). For me, though, it added insult to injury that Platinum was propping up a book that had not met its creative potential. That is solely opinion on my part but also a significant source of my ire in the Loose Pages posting.

    Thanks again!

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