A Mess Is A Mess Whatever You Call It….

I have to admit that, at 0430 hours this morning I was seriously questioning comic publishing in the UK.

I’ve been at the Bristol Comic Expo and did a lot of straight-talking with publishers. Amongst these were two who had made snide remarks about not paying the people who work for me. NO ONE works “for me” -we work as a team.  Money made then it’s a 50-50 split.  This, I discovered, is far more than the mouthy publishers offer and I was given differing excuses (remembering that at least two were asking creators to pay 60% towards “print costs” if their books were accepted which is unacceptable, especially if the publisher is using print on demand).

Not one of the publishers present give creators page rates or even an up-front amount.  Most were offering such small amounts in the way of  Creator Royalties that I would be surprised if they ever make the 60% they pay back.  I had to sit down at one point after discovering that not one creator I met had received any money even after 4 years -“It’s a difficult business to sell in” was their tagline and so they would carry on waiting…..

It means that my Black Tower deal (if any money was made via sales) is the best going and, unlike  the other publishers, I offer to send creators sales print outs so they know I’m not lying to them and getting rich.  In fact, profit making wise I’d be the last to get anything.

Made me even madder to hear from banks that I’m (phrased VERY carefully) too old to set up an account and get a loan to buy stock to sell.  Oh, they say, every one of them, that if I start earning big they would be more than happy to open a business account for me to siphon off money. Bless them. I was introduced to a fella from London who is a Small Business advisor with a big bank and I mentioned the problem of banks not supporting comic business. I was told he had come across this and that a customer would stand a better chance of getting business loans if opening a strip club but comics….no.  He then said: “Of course, no matter how skilled or knowledgable you are I’m afraid your age is against you…off the record.”

I was even more shocked to hear from Independent publishers that they had tried to get their books distributed through Turnaround Books which is an independent distributor.  But Turnaround had declined and stated they did not want to step on Diamond distributors toes.  WHAAAT?????!!!

And Diamond, of course, has an illegal monopoly (I think monopolies are still supposed to be illegal?) so tells independent publishers it is not interested.

And comic shop owners were still cacking their pants if asked to take comics from publishers that were not Diamond distributed.  Certain book chains I also heard horror stories about.

What I did utter a huge sigh over were the publishers/editors who were NOW stating what I have been writing about on CBO and telling people for YEARS.  Their responses to all this was a shrug and a sigh.  Not one “lt’s do this” or “we need to do that” utterly frustrating.

I also heard, from people connected to Pannini (who were not, worryingly, present) that things were “looking bleak financially for Pannini in the UK” -time will tell.

But with the lulu.com problems I thought I’d look for other print on demand (PO) printers. Create Space seems a shambles.  The technical and feed-back problems I am getting with them has made me think of pulling out while Ka-Blam! have still not answered a technical question I sent them on 25th April and recently on their Face Book.

Fallen Angel Media just stopped POD without notice so that turned into a dead end.

People were recommending UKCOMICS but, visit their web site, as I’ve been doing since last Summer and info on creating a book with them is still “coming shortly”. I’ve messaged on their Face Book and emailed but nothing.  The guy running the business WAS at the Expo but I never caught up with him and everyone I asked said they had not seen him.

The question you have to ask is, with the burgeoning Alternative/Small Press scene and Independent Comics (all looking for a cheap and economical service) why has no printer in the UK -most all claiming that it is difficult to survive under the current economic climate- jumped in and offered the service?   This is a business saving industry for any printer if they can handle POD. Even if a printer has no computerised POD system set up then surely it’s still possible!

I look at Europe where comics and their creators are far more accepted, even the US, and I then have to think that comics in the UK is just going to remain a hobby while European comics move in and take over.


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