Friday, 16 September 2016

An Inhospitable Retail Environment

glamourpuss #2 (July 2008)
Art by Dave Sim
Sequentially reprinting Dave Sim's letters and faxed correspondence to me, with occasional annotation from me.

Today’s entry continues the discussion about the early sales numbers on glamourpuss, a discussion that included Craig Johnson and Lenny, and (peripherally) me.

16 July, 2008

Jeff and Lenny:

My best guess is that once you drop below an overall “one copy per store” ratio (estimates vary between 2,000 and 3,000) then that’s the edge of the psychological radar screen where your work ceases to exist in the mass comicbook mind.

The severe cutting is a result of Marvel and DC glutting the market. Whatever you sell between Wednesday and end of the first weekend, that’s all you’re going to sell. So, if the store orders eight copies and has five left over on Monday, they’ll cut their orders to three on the next issue. Of course, that doesn’t really work with indy comics since indy customers are not usually “every week” people -- and they expect to be able to walk in and buy the first three issues of glamourpuss if they only go in once every six months, which isn’t going to happen in 99.9% of stores. Paradise -- whose employees and owner are the only ones to sign the petition and therefore the only North American store I’ll go into -- had issues 2 and 3 of Terry Moore’s ECHO but no #1’s. And ECHO is monthly, so you’re talking about a less-than-three-month supply of back issues.

It’s really a matter of Marvel and DC creating an environment which is inhospitable to anyone except Marvel and DC: an ongoing, massive glut of Colgate versus Crest flavours to occupy all the rack space and no market (or cash) for back issues.

I’ll be speaking to Sandeep today or tomorrow and I’ll get him to do a package of #3 artwork. We can certainly work the solicitation period, but I suspect all that’s going to do is give the stores an “out” during the week of release (“Why did you release the artwork two months ago? Now everyone’s forgotten the book and I’m stuck with all these copies!”). Oh well, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.



Tony Dunlop said...

How depressing. If this situation had existed in 1982 I'd probably never have become a Cerebus fan. I "came in" when #37 was the latest issue, and my local shop had back issues all the way back to #20 (sans the mysteriously-rare #21) at cover price.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

To think, back in the day, there was a time when we actually thought comics shops would break away from the Marvel / DC model!

-- Damian

Tony Dunlop said...

If the situation Dave describes had been true in 1982 I probably wouldn't have become a lifelong Cerebus fan. I "came in" when #37 was the current issue on the stands, but my favorite shop at the time had in stock all the way back to #20 (with the exception of the mysteriously-rare 21) at cover price.

Tony again said...

Weird! I posted entry #3 because #1 wasn't showing up; days later, here it is...

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