Saturday, August 05, 2006

LAST ELVIRA JOB EVER


And a bigger scan here.

I just fnished inking what will be the last Elvira Mistress of the Dark story for Claypool Comics. As it has been reported over the web last week on may blogs and comic news sites, Diamond Distributors finally dropped the ax on Claypool Comics for not meeting the minimum sales level they require to carry the publishers line of books. This is a sad comment on the business from many angles. But comics is a shit business a lot of the times from the business end. Dumb Babyman retailers who only order the top 20 books, never take a chance to expand the market. The result is if the comic isn't on the shelf, the reader doesn't have a chance to judge the product, comics are impulse buys based on thier availability to be "flipped through" allow the readers to decide for themselves if they want to spend the money. Often the result is a retailer ordering a few copies, selling out and never ordering an extra one or two copies the next time, thus growing orders. Marvel and DC are also just flooding the market now, this causes the reatilers to cut down to the bone on everything else it seems, as the money they make off an indy or small press comic is sometimes 40-45%, while its 55% or higher on the Marvel and DC book, or the other Premiere publishers like Image and Dark Horse. Simply put, it is often another reason retalers don't order books and even good ones have to watch what they order to keep up with the increased expense of ordering the full slate of the Babyman-Crossover Spectatcular 2006. This is old news, and Claypol is just another in a long line of publishers that fell victim to the stagnate marketplace and almost ZERO growth the entire business has had in achieveing the common goal everyone should want, "Influx of new readers".

That boat has sailed, sailed to Manga Island. Now it's not only Diamond's fault, no Claypool should have been a lot more agressive, you have to be with the current market. There still is so much crap coming out you need to be better at hyping your stuff and keeping plenty of Face Time with the readers out there who have a lot of product to choose from in comics, not to mention games, videos, DVD's, toys etc.

So here are a few pages from my last inking job over John Heebink's pencils. It was a fun job and probably the closest I could get today to doing the type of semi-humor book DC was so good at in the 50's,60's, and 70's, like Bob Hope, Binky, Angel and the Ape. I'm sure this also helped keep the material squarely out of step with a good part of retailers. But again, if comics were a mass market, not just "babymen shops", and they were available like they used to be in supermarkets, 7-11's ect., I think Elvira and some of the other books struggeling today would be able to find a sustainable level of readership.

But that my friends is "Star Trek Level" wishful thinking. Hats off to editor Richard Howell who called me personally to inform me of the impending cancellation but also to Ed Via the publisher who's making sure all the freelancers will be paid for work commissioned and outstanding. That's something that many of the publishers who flamed out in the last decade never did. I will miss getting to ink my best bud John's work and my semi-regular chats with Richard on the phone. I will miss the chance to do the few jobs a year I did for Claypool, they were always fun, and while the pay was lower than my Marvel or DC rate, it was fun, and fun counts for something, something that I think is often way overlooked in today's business. That's what made me want to do this for a living in the first place.



And a bigger scan here.

And a bigger scan here.

10 comments:

Kelly said...

Damn, now that truly is a f'ing shame. This is one I KNOW I would have liked a lot. Too bad I didn't hear about her until you started posting about her here.

JavierOlivares said...

NIce BLOG, Mike.
I´m a huge fan of Samurai Jack stuff, and your great DRAW magazine.
Very good storyboads i can see!!!
Best.

Mike M said...

Kelly, if you remind me I'll give you a few copies of some Elvira tuff next time. Yeah, it';s a shame...

Javier, gracias amigo. I really liked working on that show as well and really cool stuff on your blog too!

Dominic Bugatto said...

Nice work on the inks. Shame about the company going belly up , but alas it seems a pitfall of the industry that's been an issue for decades. Readers have to take ownership as well for this situation. If they don't demand better / independant books from their local retailer that's part of the equation too. Unfortunately there's also a large audience out there content to buy 'sh*t' and not expand their tastes or take a chance on something different.

Sorry for the rant, great blog, thanks for sharing.

Brothergrimm said...

You're not by any chance related to Graham Manley, are you?

willceau said...

A real pity.

Thanks for the insight into the business end of funny books. I always wondered what happened to the much-missed spinning racks of comics in the local drug store. I often wonder what happened to the local drug store. The little drug store where I once bought comics seemed to have more of a variety than shops today. In addition to super-heroes there were war, Western, funny and romance comics. Long gone. Sad.

Mike M said...

WILLCEAU, You know today's well run comic shop has a great variety of titles and genres, the problem is that nobody goes to them. It's like running a tabacconists, well, maybe even not that as a lot more people smoke than read comics. It just isn't something anyone for the most part goes out of their way for. Newstand distribution has changed quite a bit. Even mags like CARtoons went the way of the dodo in the 80's. You'd think that woukd always be an ever-green subject, especially with todays NASCAR being so mainstream.

Comics, like candy and soda are impulse buys.

Mike M said...

Bothers, Nope, not related...

Mike M said...

Dominic, It's like the Bermuda Triangle. retailors don't order, so readers don't see and distributors don't want to help much or have outdated modes of promotion as well. Does coke charge ACME to sell their advertising? Does ACME charge Coke for the ads? If you don't stock all of Cokes products, doesn't it try and cut you deals too. If Cokes' Coffee Coke drinks doesn't sell, even though stocked, doesn't bothe the market and the company deciode, mmmm, maybe this product isn't good, and change it up.

Comics isn't run this way, the top 3-4 companies get all the grease and everyone else tries and split the shitty part of the biz that is left. the main problem is the retailers, they make a comic available or not by ordering it and tracking sales, trying to grow their customer base. having only one main distributor doesn't help either. But enoughdepression for a Monday morning ;-)

Salem said...

That must of been fun you worked on Elvira, watching her movies she is almost like an animated character in real life, great inspiration for an artist to study and watch.