Saturday, 24 January 2015

Deni Loubert: "I Turned Down Running Image Comics"

(from 'I Have To Live With This Guy' by Blake Bell, Twomorrows 2002)
...[Renegade Press] never really recovered from Glenwood going out of business. Glenwood was the regional distributor and owed me a lot of money. I owed my printers a lot of money and I brought them a lot of business. At one point pretty much every black-and-white book was coming out of Preney Print all through my recommendation.

They met with me about eight months to a year before we closed and said, "You've got a huge debt we don't think you'll ever be able to pay. We're going to forgive you the entire debt and write it off the books. We're going to say you brought us all this business, count that as payback and put you on pay in advance." I felt that was fair. If they hadn't done it, I would have been out of business then.

We took another look at the budget. I started charging more for PR and tried a lot of different things to figure out what the market wanted. We had core books like Ms. Tree, Neil The Horse and Flaming Carrot that sold well. We had books that were almost vanity press. They would sell two or three thousand, like Maxwell Mouse, that I thought should have succeeded. I wanted to do books for girls, but when I did them, they didn't sell.

You are looking around and who's succeeding are the people doing platinum covers, doing marketing techniques. We can do that, but that's not what I got into this for. This was before Image Comics, too. I felt like there was no place left for the small independent publisher who just wanted to do good stories.

In terms of how you market books, I was probably ahead of the curve. I had an instinct for it, but I just didn't have a lot of practical knowledge. Face it, I was a girl working in a factory that started putting out her husband's book.

I've learned a lot about running a business since I closed Renegade. I would have cut it back to the books that actually sold. I would have done more licensing. That really was the way to keep us afloat and I didn't recognise it at the time... I was too much of an idealist...

...Jim Valentino came to me and said, "I'm talking to Rob Liefeld and these guys to do basically what you did with Renegade. We want to form a consortium," which was what Renegade was. It was a co-op. He said, "These guys sell big numbers. You want to come run it?"

I went, "I don't want to run another comic book company for as long as I live!"

It was the wrong answer. I turned down running Image Comics because I had just closed Renegade and emotionally was not in a place to do it.

Deni Loubert was Aardvark-Vanaheim's publisher for the first 70 issues of Cerebus. Deni and Dave Sim were married between 1978 and 1983. After their divorce, Deni moved to Los Angeles to start her own comics publishing company, Renegade Press, which closed its doors in 1989. She was inducted into the Joe Shuster Hall of Fame in 2010.


Travis Pelkie said...

Hmm, that's an interesting possibility of what might have been. The way I understand how Image worked at first, they were so big they were able to weather a lot of criticism for a few years, and then once things got tricky, they made the smart move to bring in Larry Marder to get the trains running on time, if you will. Add in what Valentino did with bringing in a lot of indie books to the Image fold, and you've got the foundation of today's Image, which I believe is the third biggest US comics company.

Would Image have run the same course if Deni was involved from the start? Possibly she could have gotten the original members in line quicker, but overall, I'd doubt that she could have improved things all that much. Not a knock on her, just saying that Image was so big at first they could have had virtually anyone running the show at the start.

Is Deni doing anything in comics now?

Geoffrey D. Wessel said...

When I met her at the 1993 Chicago Comicon (where I'd also met Dave Sim 5 times, had a few smokes with him too), she was working for the Pinis. But can't seem to find anything about her now...

--- Geoffrey D. Wessel

Geoffrey D. Wessel said...

WAIT HOLD ON. I found this. Who knows how current it actually is tho. But she doesn't seem to be in comics anymore, no.

--- Geoffrey D. Wessel

Jeff Seiler said...

I just got a blank screen when I typed that in.

Not that I much care, but is it a clothing company?

Anonymous said...

The "Sites" part of "FitsRightSites" seems to refer to websites.

Jeff Seiler is the guy who thought "that 'taking the Albatross with me' was a reference to Deni". He seems to have a negative opinion of her.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, pkg

Tony Dunlop said...

Boys, if you can't be nice I'll turn this car right around, and we won't go to Uncle Dave's house at all.

Anonymous said...

""You've got a huge debt we don't think you'll ever be able to pay. We're going to forgive you the entire debt and write it off the books. We're going to say you brought us all this business, count that as payback and put you on pay in advance." I felt that was fair."

Given that they could probably've sued her to the Golden Age, I'd say yeah, that was probably fair.

Mitch Grady.

Ardria Welch said...

Jim Valentino has said over and over that this conversation never happened.