Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Roshomon Effect

Backcover, Cerebus #183 (June 1994)
Photo by Gerhard 
(Click image to enlarge)
(from the 100 Hour Tour: Comics Bulletin, 26 February 2008)

I also went over and checked the Self-Publishing history that Jeff has up at Boneville.com and -- while it's certainly interesting -- I've never really thought of self-publishing as anything that was sufficiently static to examine in that way. I'd certainly agree with Larry Marder's ROSHOMON comparison in the sense that each person who went through the experience in the mid-90s experienced it a different way. 

I think a persuasive argument could be mounted that most of the participants in that time period saw the massive consolidation of the Direct Market with Diamond emerging preeminent in the distribution end of things as being apocalyptic. In retrospect I might have invested some more time and effort in letting people know that change is very much the norm in the comic-book field. It was, I suspect, a failing on my part to not try to get that across more. 

We certainly hadn't experienced those sorts of convulsions on the distribution side before, but I was a veteran of comic book companies that declared themselves to be the next big thing and pretty much while you were contemplating that, they'd disappear. Pacific Comics, Eclipse, First Comics. They were all pretty big deals and lasted long enough that everyone factored them into their thinking through the 1980s only to have them all just sort of POOF go away. 

I've also become more emphatic about on-time shipping since those days -- James Turner certainly credits me with drilling that into his head when he was first developing REX LIBRIS. Of the self-publishers who dominated the mid-90s there were barely a handful who came anywhere close to on-time shipping. 

Did I put too much reliance on there being this Huge Difference between when CEREBUS started and when everyone else started? I think that could be true. Put your book out on time and if things don't work, then come and talk to me.

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