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January 21, 2009

Chris Pitzer Clarifies On The Issue Of New Diamond Policy And AdHouse’s Comic Books


A lot of the blogs and news sites have picked up on word from Publisher Chris Pitzer at AdHouse Books that the decision of Diamond Comics Distributor, Inc. to raise minimums on solicited material has forced him to cancel vague plans for a fourth issue of his Superior Showcase anthology.

"The first casualty that I claim is Superior Showcase #4," wrote Pitzer yesterday afternoon. "I was working on bringing a new issue out this summer that would have been filled with new talents that I've met over the last year. People whose voice may or may not have been heard before. But, I'm going to kill that issue now. Why? Well, at $2.95 there's no way I'd get orders to put it anywhere near the new threshold. Numbers for #3 were not that great, and I can't imagine #4 would improve."

This is an interesting announcement for several reasons. Pitzer is an established publisher and although the sales on Superior Showcase have obviously been low, it's a reasonably well-known title as far as titles like that go. It's also not a #1 issue, and as asserted here in an earlier entry, it's the later issues of a title that are likely to feel the greater pressure from the new minimums. This is due in part to the fact that a series with a few issues under its belt will have a track record for discerning whether or not it's making the grade, while there's always hope for a series that hasn't published yet. Also contributing is what some feel is an extremely unfortunate market mechanism by which most titles' numbers fade as a series moves forward. AdHouse is also a typical small publisher in that the bulk of what they've been doing already is original trades, so while this may hurt a series or two it doesn't seem like a severe blow. This highlights something many e-mailers have been saying to me: Diamond's announcement doesn't kill a thriving alt-comics scene as much as it puts pillows over several of the faces in a room full of sick projects.

I asked Chris for a clarification, both in terms of this specific title and other titles under the AdHouse umbrella, like the award-nominated Johnny Hiro. He began with a re-iteration. "At present we have no plans for new 'regular' comics to be distributed through Diamond."

Pitzer confirmed there would be no more Johnny Hiro comic books in the immediate future, with some of the forthcoming material folded over into a planned trade. "People will be getting more Johnny Hiro, though. We have plans to release a collection in June, which collect issues #1-3, while adding 'issues' #4-5. When/if we get around to issue #6, Fred and I will have to make a decision, as well as my consulting my Diamond rep.

Pitzer also stressed that the lower price point which may be lost in future years hadn't really paid off for the company. "In previous years I stressed a lower price point of our comics to try and compete with the market. The numbers never really rose, though, which caused our comics to break even, or lose money." He pointed towards two potential outcomes. "So, in the future we'll either create higher priced comics for Diamond, or not really distribute, a la the THB comic we did."

The publisher reiterated that a confluence of factors that caused him to rule out a forth issue of the Superior anthology, not just this well-publicized one. "It was just the final nail that made me decide to pull the plug on that issue. As I stated, that series never really made money. It was just fun to do."
posted 7:45 am PST | Permalink

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