Thursday, 9 August 2012

HARDtalk: The Dave Sim Interview (14)

You virtually invented the trade paperback as Stephen Bissette is reminding people to this very day in interviews and on Twitter. Since then it's become the dominant format which the Real Mainstream prefers to the periodical (although digital, here we come) to the extent that Page 45 now stocks 7,000 different titles rather than the original 50 and makes 80% of its income from them. Why on earth didn't you give your readers access to Glamourpuss in that format earlier (which could have supported the project), in six-issue bites which you could have then collected as an omnibus like Terry Moore did with Echo? Accessibility is all.

Sandeep was at the studio a few months back and, as I often do, I was shooting down one of his ideas because of how the retailers might react to me doing it.  And he said, "You know, loyalty to the stores is a great thing, but not if you're destroying your OWN business."  Which was a John Lennon-like "cruel, but fair" thing to say.  I coupled that with my conversation with Richard Starkings where he had said that he had just experienced something like a 400% increase in his digital sales on ELEPHANTMEN through Image/Comixology over the last quarter of 2011 --  just all of a sudden BOOM! -- and it seemed clear that I had to do something -- and relatively quickly -- in the digital sales end of things, which I had resisted because of loyalty to the stores.

There are a lot of stores that are VERY loyal to me and to CEREBUS, but they're in the same situation: if your sales are down by some percentage -- and no one really knows how much digital comics are cutting into store sales -- you have hard choices to make about what you're going to keep in stock.  Chicago Comics has all of the trades in stock, but a lot of stores just carry CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY.  They'll order the other books for you, but they don't have them on their shelves.  So we -- on both sides -- have to adjust to this new reality.  In my case it might mean repackaging CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY as many different ways as I can and that will be the extent of my connection to the direct market.  Like the HIGH SOCIETY 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION with the Gold logo currently being solicited as an exclusive through Diamond.  Signed and numbered but for the same price as the regular edition.
High Society: 30th Anniversary Signed/Numbered Gold Edition. On sale October 2012.
Pre-order now from Page 45 by 20 August to reserve your copy,
or ask at your local comics store.
If I only get orders for 50 of them, though...well, I'll have to consider if it's even worth coming up with ideas around CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY...and to choose to spend all...instead of most...of my time planning Kickstarter campaigns :), digital editions and other things.

The publicity attached to HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL and Kickstarter has definitely had an effect -- I'm now officially sold out of HIGH SOCIETY -- Diamond will be getting the last 198 copies of the current printing in the next couple of weeks.  That's definitely about 200 to 300% faster than the book was selling before June.  With the digital launch scheduled for mid-September and the 30TH ANNIVERSARY edition not shipping until October, this could get...interesting. It'll be signed and numbered out of however many Diamond decides to order

It's also hard to compare Aardvark-Vanaheim to Abstract Studios -- you know, why don't I do smaller collections of glamourpuss followed by the Omnibus volume?  Right now, Terry and Robyn are really just having to keep the page-count equivalents of CHURCH & STATE and HIGH SOCIETY in print and available -- soon to add JAKA'S STORY.  The problems, structurally, posed by 16 volumes are very different from the problems posed by 4 volumes.  Or 5 volumes.  Life was pretty easy back when I was only dealing with four volumes.  I can't use money needed to keep CEREBUS in print to do short runs of glamourpuss mini-volumes.  The money just isn't there.
Advert in The Comics Journal #263 (October 2004)
Okay, let's give Eric & Dominick the cliffhanger this time.

Can you tell us more about your next project THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND.  Is this to be a print version graphic novel or, like glamourpuss will it be digital only?  Is this new material or a reprint of the Alex Raymond material from glamourpuss, or some combination of the two?

Hey, good one!  Is "The Strange Death of Alex Raymond" going to continue in some form or am I just going to leave everyone with the cliffhanger of (spoiler warning) Alex Raymond and Stan Drake headed for the tree in the pouring rain in Drake's 1956 Corvette? Tune in tomorrow and find out. SAME Moment of Cerebus time, SAME Moment Of Cerebus channel!

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