Got back yesterday from the 2012 Gem City Comic Con, a great Dayton-area show run by a terrific and energetic young Nate Corddry lookalike named Jesse Noble. I endorse it unreservedly. Amazing show, lots of money drummed up for the Hero Initiative, well worth the trip for me.
And only one very tense moment.
On the way out–literally, in the parking lot after the show– I was approached by a man named Dennis Barger, who manages Wonderworld Comics in Michigan. He wanted to confront me about my stance on digital and I could tell he was ready for a fight…but what could in years past have fast turned into a contentious and angry argument instead turned into an enlightening and civil conversation for us both. I don’t know how that happened, but let’s humor me and assume that I must finally be growing up. Anyway.
Dennis very patiently let me explain that, while I absolutely valueand support the comics shops across the nation that currently sell my wares, it’s not financially feasible for me to go print-first and self-publish my comics. I’ll go over the numbers in detail tomorrow, but the short version of my argument was (and is) that even if I’m able to self-publish a monthly color comic that clocks in close to what my BOOM! series IRREDEEMABLE sells–and that’s a big “if”– it’s gonna cost me almost a dollar a copy just to print the damn thing, and that’s on top of what I have to pay a good artist, colorist and letterer for their work. In a nutshell–and you’ll hear me say this a LOT in the coming weeks–I would LOVE to keep producing comics retailers can sell, but unless those projects are financed by an established company and thus not fully creator-owned, I can’t afford to. It’s simple math. Some comics writers can buck the system because they’re (deservedly) millionaires. I am not.
Dennis countered by pointing out that while he gets that and he doesn’t begrudge me launching my own original material in digital form, he worries when he sees me designing and creating digital work for Marvel. He fears that by throwing my market weight (whatever it may be) behind a digital-only Marvel project that (as he sees it) cuts the retailer out of the distribution chain, I’m helping to cannibalize the existing superhero-reader market. And I had to admit, he had a point. I said I wasn’t sure I agreed with him, but I saw and respected his point of view, and he gave me something to think about.
But the most important takeaway from our exchange was that Dennis is hosting a hospitality suite for retailers during C2E2–and when I offered to stop by for an impromptu summit or two, he generously offered to make that happen. More details to follow as we hammer them out, but I love the fact that we can have a civil dialogue about this where I can explain that it’s not digital v. print–it’s digital AND print. We’ll podcast the results provided I don’t float away face-down in a pool of blood.