Friday, April 24, 2009

From The Tomb - Needs your Vote!

On the end of the phone or boozing at conventions, I often end up in the middle of that conversation, the one about the lack of choice/not enough variety in the comic shops. When i have, it always concludes the same; 'if you don't buy the 'alternative', you'll end up without one'.
And right now, Diamond Distribution are having a good go at removing the 'alternative'. They've recently raised the purchase order benchmark for comics and magazines from $1500 to $2500, which effectively means they want the smaller publishers to sell more books or raise the cover price(this in the middle of a recession). There's a few exceptions, and they're willing to consider a period of probation in certain cases, but basically if they don't reach that benchmark, they don't get in Previews and don't get distribution.
I'm not naive, i understand a business has to adapt to survive, and it's no surprise that Diamond are about making money, not encouraging or supporting artistic expression. But along with it comes a massive power shift, because, technically, they're vetting the small sellers, measuring their worth - they're deciding what YOU read. Well, at the very least deciding what you'll see on the shelves.
You're gonna get less choice than ever, cus the small press guys are sinking fast, some already sunk, and you're also gonna get less publishers willing to spend the time putting out a new book if there's no way to distribute.
What to do? It's really very simple, you gotta vote with your money. No point crying after another book/magazine is cancelled. If all you see is the same crap on offer, that's partly your own fault. And if your solution to solving the problem of an over-polluted wall of superhero comics is just not buying any comics, then that's no solution, that's a cop-out.
I know print isn't cheap, but maybe you just buy a coupla pints less one Saturday night, maybe buy less Marvel or DC crossover epic tie-in spin-offs, maybe you don't have that bucket of chicken or maybe walk to town instead of drive. Spend a few quid on something new, just the once, see if it presses your buttons. Cus if you don't, fuckers like Diamond, will choke all the life outta the medium.

That brings me to From The Tomb.

Peter Normanton has quietly toiled away, in his dungeon, for 10 years or so on 27 issues of this glorious, gaudy, gory, blood-stained love letter to the lurid delights of horror comics. I was gutted to hear of it's cancellation, then elated to find it had dodged the hangman's noose. But doesn't mean it'll be easy for Peter to keep on going, not without some support, not without subscriptions. I'm constantly bemused by friends who profess a passionate interest in the horror genre, but don't buy the mag.
With a strong bias for the more gratuitous pre-code horrors, beautiful full colour inserts reproducing covers and pages from rare and obscure horror comics, interviews, checklists, review sections, new and old comic strips, and a EC-MC tongue in cheek wit and relish, you should have NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER! Really. Come on! In fact you should feel a little ashamed. Get you cheque book out, or bug your spotty-faced till-boy at Forbidden Planet to order it in. GO ON!!


Brian Lue Sang said...

That's crazy stuff about Diamond! Wow. When you think of everything that goes into a comic (time, effort and everything in between) it's heartbreaking to hear shit like that.

Vote with dollars! I agree with you 300%, Shane. This way gems like From the Tomb can be kept alive and well, rather than fighting for a chance), and, hopefully, it will help give birth to more adversity in the medium.

shane oakley said...

brian - cannot argue with that. as the saying/phrase goes, 'people get what they deserve'.
...and mostly what they get is crap.
i'm wondering how many visitors to this blog actually care enough to 'vote with dollars?' judging by the fact you're the only one to respond with a comment.
not very promising.

John said...

No, Shane. I mean, you're right, of course YOU'RE RIGHT!

But let's say most visitors may (like me) have thought 'Yeah good point, I'll pick something new up next time I'm down the comic shop. Damn Diamond, and damn the fat cats at city hall'.

Well perhaps not the last bit, but you get the idea. And I don't think I'm being unrealistic to expect most people who read your blog to disagree with you (I'd be surprised if most of your regulars bought mainstream in the majority anyway tbf).

I didn't realise that distribution was monopolised in this way, though, it's a real shame.

shane oakley said...

ullo, john - yep, i realise i'm probably preaching to the converted, and those that aren't, could hardly disagree. i don't really see any other argument, nobody, other than the most retarded MARVEL junkies would want a medium without any alternative to superheroes.
i wasn't expecting a rally of blog readers marching the streets screaming 'WHAT DO WE WANT? - WE WANT CHOICE!', but a few cheers of support wouldn't hurt, or pledges to help peter and his fine mag.

i'm also alarmed to see so few people actually addressing the issue, silence from people who may be working on books that don't reach that 'benchmark'. it's not just about saving the medium from stagnation - it's saving careers. if they have a blog, they SHOULD be making some noise.

thankyou for you comment/vote of support, i hope you give FROM THE TOMB a try.

John said...

It's funny you mentioning FtT as I've just emailed our local comic shop about it.

I don't know how many people read my blog (not many I imagine) but I will mention your post on there. As you say, it's people's careers. Indie stuff (with music as well as comics I've found) is great to rummage around and find a little gem. Be a shame to lose that.

paulhd said...

Tom Spurgeon has a post using Warlord of IO, by James Turner (his Rex Lebris book is aces) as an example of how damaging Diamond's strategy is. I wish I could support every comic, but I, pretty prententiously, think of myself as a 'patron of the arts' when I buy comics. Hunting for the 'good stuff' and supporting it is part of the fun for me.

shane oakley said...

same goes for me, paul. i always jump to the indy stuff when thumbing thru PREVIEWS, i'm hungry for the 'new'. y never know what you'll find.
years back , before he was a DARK HORSE golden boy, one of those books i tried was the self-published GOON, which i preached and praised about, to anyone who'd listen.
but it ain't easy getting folk to move from their 'comfort zone'. that's the real problem, the real challenge.

and,yeah,very sad about SLAVE LABOUR/AMAZE INK, the new DIAMOND POLICY had hit them hard. and it's only gonna get worse...