Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

February 28, 2006

Speakeasy Comics Shuts Its Doors

imageAn e-mail from unofficial company representative Vito Delsante (Delsante_E-Mail.doc) and an Internet posting or two from creators is how word seeped out yesterday afternoon that a comic book company called Speakeasy had closed. If you read this site regularly and hadn't heard of Speakeasy, that's because I basically never talked about them. Speakeasy seemed to me one of those weird comic book companies of which there always seem to be one or two around that didn't publish comics with near as much energy as it talked about publishing comics, its deals, its inability to get books out, its treatment by on-line media, its plans for new eras and new starts, and the burgeoning mogul status of its owner, in this case a gentleman named Adam Fortier. I don't think it's much of a stretch to suggest that companies like Speakeasy exist more significantly as items discussed and reported on-line than they do as a presence in comic book stores.

The unfortunate thing about this is that there definitely were comics published, which no doubt carried the hopes and dreams and hard work and expectations of their creators. I'm also pretty sure there was probably an okay book or two bearing the Speakeasy logo. Given a platform there are usually creators that will do something with it. But it's weird in that the comics I'm aware of that fit this description -- for example a comic called Elk's Run, and a comic called Rocketo -- I've only ever seen or heard about on-line.


* Alan David Doane seems to know more about the company than I do, calling it basically a CrossGen with no money. (CrossGen was a Florida-based company that tried a salaried studio approach to generate a shared universe that mixed superheroes, fantasy and science fantasy; it is remembered for the shoe-to-the-podium declarations of its initially well-capitalized owner Mark Alessi and the lesson that universe building is best left to the Jack Kirbys.) For those keeping track, Alan even gives us a new Doane-ism: "toxic cretin."

* Warren Ellis released an essay through his Bad Signal e-mail service this morning calling Fortier a nice, smart guy but declaring, "This, I'm sorry to say, is one publisher getting it wrong from start to finish: releasing too many books, without a support structure.releasing comics without a dedicated marketing plan." Ellis' site The Engine has a discussion of the news and is providing talent involved a platform to let people know their future plans.

* Newsarama has a talk with Fortier where he expresses dismay that it's difficult to break into a highly competitive industry at an immediately sustainable level. Okay, he doesn't really say that. In fact, if I'm getting him, Fortier indicates that since companies with millions in reserve (CrossGen, although he could have said Kevin Eastman's over-indulgent early '90s black hole Tundra, too) were unable to make it in comics, comics publishing may be closed to just about everyone. This isn't true, but it does indicate that right now you have to have sustainable capital, publishing skill, marketing ability, something some people want, and enough pespective to let those factors and not personal ambition define the enterprise. I didn't see any of that with Speakeasy, and I shake my head at comics' generous heart that such misbegotten dreams are allowed to linger.
posted 12:39 am PST | Permalink

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