Sporadic Sequential
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Riding Dark Horse

Some amusing & interesting bits in Dark Horse's latest Pony Express newsletter:

Dark Horse's Star Wars line of comics is having some sort of series-spanning crossover, but Dark Horse doesn't quite have the solicitation technique for these kinds of events down yet.
This promises to be one of the biggest events ever to shake the Star Wars galaxy!
You forgot to promise, "NOTHING WILL EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN!!"

Self-deprecating humor or lack of self-awareness? "Ring ring!! Do I hear the tardy bell?" Well, you're Dark Horse, an expert on tardiness, so if you say it's a tardy bell I'll take your word for it.

Publisher Mike Richardson waxes philosophical on how to fix comic shops and comes to conclusions similar to those offered by other recent commentators. (Hey, is Richardson cribbing from the blogosphere?) Other insights offered by Richardson:
  • The success of shojo manga was largely an accident. I'm sure that comes as a surprise to publishers like Tokyopop and Viz, who actively courted female readers for years with titles such as Magic Knight Rayearth and Fushigi YĆ»gi. "I swear, we licensed the latest manga from Kazuo Koike, but the Japanese publisher sent us this girly stuff from some company named CLAMP!"

  • Richardson relates the story of what happens when one of their books received some notable media attention:
    A number of years ago, Dark Horse published a book, Another Chance to Get It Right, by mainstream author Andrew Vachss and artist Geof Darrow. The book was held up on screen during the Oprah show while a phone number was flashed for less than ten seconds. Over 150,000 phone calls were received by viewers attempting to order the book. Unfortunately, we received complaints for weeks afterward that the book could not be found in bookstores or comic shops.
    It seems like a strange example to use in order to discuss the supposed shortcomings of comic shops since retailers could hardly be expected to know (months in advance, no less) that Oprah was going to mention the book on her show. And even if they had, would Dark Horse have been able to meet demand? Given their spotty track record having enough material on hand for sure-fire sellers (e.g., Hellboy, Sin City, 300) when it's known well in advance that there will be media interest, it hardly seems like retailers are the ones at fault in this scenario.
Still, I do give Dark Horse credit for offering a diverse assortment of material that could appeal to varied demographics. And despite Richardson's odd, distracting details, I think the heart of his message still stands: More diverse material will attract a more diverse audience.*

*[Assuming adequate distribution, marketing, etc.]

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