Monday, April 23, 2012

Indy orders.

Considering that it represents a relatively small portion of my orders, it takes quite a bit of time to go through the Indy comics. In this case, "Indy" is defined as any comics or graphic novels coming from other than Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and Image.

I'd love to order everything.

But there are 85 publishers, and hundreds of items (thousands?). Much of it is described by a couple of lines. Almost impossible to know what you're really getting.

Having a reliable track record helps, but Indy/Reliable is almost an oxymoron. So you use your experience to try to guess at what each thing is.

At this point, I should point out that I have an overall budget in mind before I start. I can stretch the budget if the product looks worth it.

For Indy's, I look for names or titles I recognize, ideas that intrigue, and -- as I mentioned -- reliability. Top Shelf, Oni, Fantagraphics, and others always get a look. Sadly, if you are a brand new company without a track record, and your material doesn't stand out in some way, you may very well get overlooked. I simply don't have the time or the space to carry everything.

So I can count on being offered, Oh, I don't Know, a 100 different vampire stories, a 100 different "bad girl" comics, a 100 different "young artist in the city" comics. I try to get a "sampling" of each type.

To Begin:

SLAVE LABOR COMICS: This was the home of Jonen Vasquez of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Squee, and of Roman Dirge, of Lenore. Squee is back on the list, as well as J.T.H.M. and some of Jonen's other minor stuff. Reordered all of it.

ANTARCTIC PRESS: They always have intriguing titles, steampunk and such, but I can't seem to sell them. Darnit.

ARCHIE: SOP is for me to order one of each Archie title. They'll pile up, then sell out, but one a month seems to keep the supply up.

ASPEN: Remember what I said about reliable? Frankly, these guys can jump in a lake.

AVATAR: Top writers, combined with lesser known artists. I always wonder if these are leftovers from the likes of Moore and Ennis, or if the subject matter is too extreme for other publishers... Order here and there, for fans of the extreme.

BLEEDING COOL: The first issue of a new magazine by a significant website. Hope this will fill the hole left by Wizard. Ordered 8 copies, which is 8 more than I usually order of mags.

BLUEWATER: Lousy biographies of famous folk, with lousy art. All about : Wow! There's a comic of Paris Hilton? No thanks.

SIMPSONS: Same as Archie, always order one.

BOOM Studios: Always seems to be on the cusp of being a major player. Has lots of licensed, as well as original material. Sells, like most of the indy's, in ones or two.

For many of this Indy's, I'd just as soon wait for the graphic novel complete, and even there wait for some press and or requests.

Extermination: Ordered.

Fanboys versus Zombies: You know what? I think this is played out. Pass.

Planet of the Apes: Farscape; 28 Days Later, etc. You'd think there would be someone who wants these, but it requires the confluence of two small sets of fanboys and comics.

Adventure Time: Wasn't aware of this license until I had people coming in looking for it. Ordering #1 again, and upping more orders on the rest.

Lady Death and Tarot: Every 4 months or so, I'll get some mullet haired guy looking for these, which he may or may not buy. ("I used to LOVE these comics!") Have quit ordering them.

RASL: by the creator of Bone. I tried liking these, but I can't understand them. Order them anyway, because I think it's my fault.

DRAWN AND QUARTERLY: A quality publisher, and I always try to order something from them. This month, Goliath graphic novel, which I missed the first time around.

DYNAMITE: Has become nearly one of the big boys, on the strength of their licenses.

I think I'll repeat what I said before.

Licensed product with a supposed fanboy base? It requires the intersection of fanboys of that licenses, and fanboys of comics, and they don't always cross.

Star Trek? (Actually a IDW title, but the perfect example of a strong subset not necessarily translating into sales.) Would seem like a no-brainer, right? Well, not so fast. Lots of picky fanboys of Star Trek, but apparently very few of them like the comics.

That's the classic example to me, but there are many others, in this company alone: Vampirella; The Spider; The Shadow: Tarzan; Dark Shadows; Army of Darkness; Red Sonja; Bionic Man (and Woman); Warlord of Mars; Game of Thrones; Lone Ranger; Zorro, and so on and so on.

I order for subscribers, mostly.

Ordered Boys and Jennifer Blood. Game of Thrones -- I think maybe the G.N.'s will sell better.

FANTAGRAPHICS; Another high quality publisher whose stuff SHOULD sell dammit! I always try to order something. Decided to get the 3 Dungeon Quest graphic novels.

Good looking Bruce Timm artbook, but it's 50.00. Are there any fans who will pay that? Can't resist: ordered.

HUMANOIDS: High quality Euro art, which I simply can't sell. Except Mobieus. Bring back Mobieus!!!!

KODANASHA: A big player in Japan, but I'm being careful with manga. Ordered Negima and Sailor Moon.

LAST GASP. If it were up to me, I'd probably carry everything in their catalog. A counter-culture bonanza. NAlas, here in Bend, Oregon, I can't seem to sell any of it.

NBM. Another high quality publisher, and I try to order at least one thing. I'm carrying the Rick Geary graphic novels of major crimes, which I think are wonderful -- and which never sell.

(Seeing a pattern here? The really good independents -- even they are hard to sell. But my theory is, if I carry a good sampling, I'll sell enough, to tourists and the occasional local.)

ONI: Another high quality publisher, and again I try to order something, at least. Courtney Crumrin, comic and graphic novel.

Bad Medicine: Looks good, from a good company. Ordered.

TOP SHELF: Another quality publisher; the decision is easy. The 3rd issue of the new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. A small book, really. Ordered a bunch, because I think it's going to take Alan Moore forever to finish.

VALIANT COMICS: Back when during the comic boom, they were a major player, and they made a major thud.

Still, there is still some residual good will there, and I've been ordering a few copies. We'll see.

VIZ: The obvious manga, from the biggest publisher: Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, Pokemon, Vampire Knight.

ZENESCOPE: The masters of 'bad girl' material. This stuff sells slowly, under the radar, and I think I'll treat it like Archie and Simpsons, and order a few every month at random.

One last trip through the catalog to see if anything is getting major marketing muscle that I didn't order. I find a couple, by major book publishers, that I'm pretty sure will be in Barnes and Noble, and I can't STAND the idea that B & N might have a graphic novel I don't carry --

And that's it, folks!

NEXT: Everything Else.


Anonymous said...

Hoping you'll still discuss your plans on how to order Before Watchmen.

Duncan McGeary said...


If this was a normal DC title from the old days, I'd have ordered maybe 8 or 10.

If they had been part of the New 52, I might have ordered 40 or 50.

I qualify for 25% returnability if I order 32, and can then order another 8 at no risk.

My order as it stands now is around 15 to 20, but I've since seen some of the artwork, and I'm thinking I'll go ahead and order the full 40.

40 doesn't sound like much, but 40 is a lot if I'm depending on people signing up.

Batman? An existing title is different. I could take the old lists, and sign EVERYONE who ever had a Batman title and come pretty close. So I can order 60 copies, with 50 assigned, maybe get 5 or 10 back, and probably end up selling those.

40 copies from scratch is different: I be better off ordering 60 copies, put them on the most likely shelves -- people who are heavy into DC, say most of the Batman and Superman and Green Lantern people, but I'd probably get a lot back.

Here's the thing, though. If I do that, even if I got half of them back, I'd probably still sell more than if I just put 40 copies out on the shelf.

So -- that's probably what I'll do.

In other words, either go big, or go small, but no in-between.


Duncan McGeary said...

If finances were shaky I'd probably order 15 or 20 and be damned. If they sold out, try to get more.

But business is on a roll, so maybe I'll order the 60 copies and kick myself later.

I'll put together a list of 50 regular DC readers and make the Before Watchmen some "optional" titles. (Just because they are on their shelves, doesn't me they have to buy them.)

Because I'm careful about using this technique, most people say, "Sure -- I'll try it."

So, I'm thinking I'll get 10 back, of the first one.

The real bleeding takes place with the second and third issues, of course. But I can hope they are a good read.

60 of each of the first four #1, is a 1000.00 worth of comics, which would be expensive if they turn out to be a flop.

Then again, I've sold dozens and dozens of the graphic novel, so maybe not such a risk.

What are you going to do?