Caliber Titles Online
I remember Caliber fondly from when I got back into comics last decade. Now, they’re putting many of their titles online. Press release:
Caliber Comics, one of the leading independent publishers of the 1990’s, is making many of their titles available as downloads from drivethrucomics.com. The titles will be available as pdfs which can be used with Acrobat Reader and the majority will sold less than the original cover price. [sic]
Caliber, which helped to launch the careers of many of today’s top talents, will feature primarily titles that were owned by Caliber or Gary Reed, the publisher. Series include Deadworld, Realm, Oz, Helsing, Seeker, Worlds of H.P. Lovecraft, and many of the Tome Press titles. Most of the titles have not been available in print for years.
Reed said that he evaluated different options from various suppliers and thought drivethrucomics.com had the most appeal. “I like that they offered the files in the popular pdf with Adobe Acrobat,” he said, “as it enables just about anyone to have access instead of having a special reader or format.” Regardless of cover price, Reed noted, that all of the comics will be priced at $1.99, which is half of some of the issues’ cover price. “Once we get all the titles up there, we’ll embark on some incentive sales,” he said.
The plan is to make about 400 different issues available which will include titles controlled by Caliber as well as titles still owned by the creators who are also making them available. The initial launch will feature over 200 issues with more added on a continual basis. “The creator owned titles that were published by Caliber are listed with Caliber primarily for simplicity,” Reed said, “but the creators will get the bulk of the royalty as they deserve.” Reed said he was glad to have a way of making the titles available finally after years of turning down requests for issues. “I didn’t have any copies of most of the stuff and even searching online, there were just so many titles that were unavailable anywhere.”
Many of the titles that appeared under the Caliber imprint have been collected by other publishers. These titles include Baker Street, Dicks, AKA Goldfish, Kabuki, The Crow, Renfield, Big Bang Comics, Saint Germaine, Sudden Gravity, Inferno, Red Diaries, International Cowgirls, Pakkin’s Land, Jinx, Ship of Fools, and others. “Not everything is suitable for reprinting,” said Reed, “so it’s good to have a means of getting some of this work back out there.” Reed also said that there will be previews of some graphic novel collections also made available such as issues of Renfield, Saint Germaine, and Baker Street.
I went and took a look and found nothing that I’d buy. Note that some of the titles listed at the beginning of that last paragraph aren’t included in the online bundle. (Apparently, they’re just meant to convince us that Caliber was cool.) Turns out that the books I liked from them were creator-owned, so many of them have gone away. What’s left is heavily tilted towards horror, which as regular readers know, isn’t for me. Still, this demonstrates how online sales provide hope for giving new life to defunct independent comic series.
They also demonstrate one of my pet peeves when it comes to older titles returning, either online or in print. You HAVE to tell new readers why they might care! “It was big back in the day”, whether talking about Nexus or Grimjack or whatever, doesn’t mean much to someone who doesn’t know the basics about the series. Who are the characters? What’s the premise? What kind of reader might like the story? Many of these returns/relaunches seem to be talking only to customers who were around when the book first was, which leaves out a lot of potential buyers. If your book was last published twenty years ago, and you want to sell to anyone under the age of 35, then you have to reintroduce your title to the market.