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The State of the Industry

I often wonder how interested in the behind-the-scenes machinations people who read our comics are. Not behind-the-scenes as in how artists write and draw or what office life is like at SLG Headquarters, but really behind the scenes, the place where we furrow our brows and worry and wonder what's coming next in this industry of ours.

I talked to someone interested into reading prose books and who was thinking of taking up writing a while ago, and whereas his interest was in craft, mine now lies more in the realm of business. "How do you keep writing until you have a whole story?" he asked, which is a legitimate question, but I was like, "Oh, I just keep writing and revising until I have one, and oh my god did you know that book sales were down 13% in November?! Advances are being cut! Staff is being cut! A woman who was an editor for one company for twenty-five years was laid off! That is like my worst nightmare! How can I find a publisher for my novel in an economy like this? What is going to mean for other new writers? What is it going to mean for literature? OHMYGOD, MY DREAMS, THEY ARE DYING."

My point is that if you value the product, you might want to understand the state of the industry. So if you value independent comics and graphic novels, you might want to know that things are not going well in the comics industry right now. There's only so long those of us working in the industry can put up a chipper front before the smiles become shaky and unnatural. Things are bad, folks, just like they're bad all over the country in all industries, and we're battening down to weather through it.

If you want to know more, I suggest you read this article by my boss, SLG's President Dan Vado at The Comics Reporter. It's about the new ordering benchmarks implemented by Diamond Comics, the biggest (err, only) distributor of comics to comic book stores. The benchmark has been raised from $1500 to $2500, which means we have to sell more comics if Diamond is going to list and fulfill orders for them. It puts all smaller publishers in a difficult position, and probably means the end of independent serialized comics. Unfortunately, the book market isn't doing very well either, with Borders seemingly constantly on the brink of bankruptcy and bookstore sales indeed down 13% in November (compared to 10% for all retail).

So I want you to know that each and every person who reads our comics and graphic novels really does make a difference to us, and I'm glad you're out there.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 19th, 2009 10:34 pm (UTC)
I had no idea it was all that bad. Wow i feel like my gut's been punched! Kinda makes my dreams of being a comic book creator feel kinda hopeless. I will always make comics even if it means no money, cause it's who i am. But it makes me sad to think what this might mean for my chances of getting published anytime soon. I hope SLG makes it through okay. It seems to be smacking everyone all over the industry. My friend who has worked at his comic shop for 10 years is getting fired cause his boss says he cant afford to keep him (his only employee!)
I hope SLG makes it through ok!

(Oh on a side note I wanted to know when the winners to the War at Ellsmere contest are going to be announced. I noticed there weren't a lot of entries, so if it was decided that there wouldn't be winners I understand. I just wanted to know)
Jan. 19th, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the kind words!

I have the winners -- I'll be announcing them soon!
Jan. 19th, 2009 10:56 pm (UTC)
And my professor said that this was the best time for comic book creators-sigh-Well, even if things look slim, I am going to try to keep working on my comic and hope for the best.

Good luck! Well you be attending New York comic-con? I know you mentioned it before but i don't know if its official. Thought I might ask =).

Jan. 19th, 2009 10:59 pm (UTC)
Oh my. I wish SLG the greatest of luck. It's a hard time right now, but hopefully we can pull through. I am trying my best to be positive. Even though things are bad, I don't think anyone should give up just yet. Just keep strong and draw comics even though it's rough. =)
Jan. 22nd, 2009 01:16 am (UTC)
It is indeed a sad development for creators, established and not so established.
It is puzzling for some of my students ( I teach visual art to high schoolers) to imagine that with the prevalence and seeming success of comic book inspired movies that the core product (the books themselves) is collapsing in its current form. I think the key is understanding the synergies and opportunities in all media, although print is traditionally the media that I love. My own publisher has recently changed from calling themselves "publications" to "media". When that happened I had to think, "Wow, they are repositioning themselves, this will be a leaner royalties quarter than I had hoped."
Thanks for your insight into the developing situation.
Jan. 23rd, 2009 12:54 am (UTC)
Not terribly familiar with the "behind-the-scenes
machinations" that you mention, why is it that Diamond
is - for all purposes - the only distributor? Also,
if that's the case, is there a niche market for a
distributor who deals with indis? Or am I just naive?


Edited at 2009-01-23 12:55 am (UTC)
Jan. 26th, 2009 06:54 pm (UTC)
There used to be more distributors, but they all went out of business. Many publishers signed exclusive deals with Diamond, and that contributed to those other distributors' non-viability. There's more to it than that, but I'm not completely up on all the details. There's a company called Haven (they used to be Cold Cut) that specializes in indie titles.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


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