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Category: 12 From Storage (Page 2 of 2)

Comic Book Distribution

In the mid-1960’s, Mort Weisinger explained newsstand distribution to me. A publisher contracted with a National Distributor. DC Comics used Independent News, which was owned by the same parent company, National Periodical Publications. Through some strange circumstances I’ll explain later, Independent News also was Marvel Comics’ distributor.The National Distributor was like a bank as much as anything else. It financed the creation of the publishers’ magazines or comics by paying the publisher an advance based upon the anticipated sales of each issue.

The National Distributor arranged with local distributors to deliver to retail outlets. These local distributors, called Independent Distributor Wholesalers, or “ID’s” almost without exception had a monopoly in their city or region. Pittsburgh, for instance had Triangle News. If you bought a magazine or a comic book anywhere in the greater Pittsburgh area, Triangle News had gotten it to the point of sale. The New York area was a large enough market that it had Hudson News, Kable Media, and I don’t know, maybe more. At that time, there were, as I recall, more than 500 ID’s in the United States and Canada.

The National Distributor set “draws” for each ID, that is, how many copies of each given comic book or magazine would be shipped to them. The total of all the draws, plus copies to be sent to subscribers and office copies comprised the print run for each comic book or magazine. ID’s were seldom interested to participate in setting their own draws, and you’ll see why in a minute. Except, once in a while, an ID would decide to simply stop carrying comics, therefore making their draws zero, if you call that participating. Only very rarely did any ID’s request higher draws on any comic book, as many did with The Life of Pope John Paul II. We even got reorder requests from ID’s on that one.

Wise publishers did not accept the National Distributor’s draws and set the draws for every title for each ID themselves, based on past sell-through performance. Publishers, who were paying to print and ship those copies were a lot more careful. The idea of “order regulation” was to minimize waste—give each ID as many copies as they were likely to sell and a few besides, just in case the issue got hot for some reason.

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Comic Book Distribution – Part 2

More on Newsstand Distribution

Mob involvement? Well….

Anytime you have businesses holding monopolies in certain territories, like the linen business south of Canal, or the poster “sniping” business (putting up advertising posters on walls and fences) in Manhattan, garbage hauling in the New York metro area, or the parking racket—did I say racket?—I meant industry, around New York…

…or the periodicals distribution business…

…the notion of mob involvement has to cross your mind.

The founder and patriarch of Hudson News, Robert “Bobby” Cohen, was famously “connected” and “involved” with organized crime. Once he copped a plea on twenty counts of bribery in exchange for being sentenced to probation instead of prison time.

Fun Fact: Bobby Cohen’s daughter Claudia was Ronald O. Perelman’s second wife. Perelman had control of Marvel for a while, of course. After I was gone, by the way.

Claudia Cohen and Ronald Perelman

During the early days of the Direct Market, Marvel’s V.P. of Circulation, Ed Shukin, a long-term veteran of the magazine distribution trade, made it very clear to me that among those we dealt with on the newsstand distribution side there were some pretty nasty characters, and he was openly concerned about the possibility of violent reprisals.

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Comic Book Distribution- Part 3

First This

One more thing about mass-market distribution….

The other day, while making a point about digital piracy, Nick Yankovec said that “…most of the stuff available is overpriced and not good enough.”

Yep.  In response, I said this:

I think I’ve been pretty clear in all my rants that “not good enough” is the main problem with comics today. Price and other concerns exacerbate the problem.

(…)

Quality is key.

November 18, 2011 6:47 PM

People in and around the comic book industry, and especially creators who aren’t knowledgeable about the business side, often blame poor sales on bad distribution.

I attended a Friends of Lulu meeting some years back at which the main thing being discussed—as is often the case—was the poor and declining sales of comic books, in that instance, especially those by, for or about women. Every one of the several dozen people in that room agreed that the problem was distribution. Except me.

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Items of Interest – And Gary Gygax

About Iron Man….

Steven R. Stahl made an interesting comment:

Steven R. Stahl has left a new comment on your post “A Gem of a Day“:
I’d be interested in an analysis of Iron Man, Mr. Shooter, mainly because I don’t think the character works well. He’s a combination of two characters: an inventor of a suit of armor and a millionaire playboy who has a vague desire to do good. There have been moments when the combination has done well, but not many, and Stark’s identity as a corporate chieftain is very thin. His various businesses have never existed in any substantive sense, except to cause trouble or to be attacked.
There’s also nowhere for Stark to go as a character if he doesn’t age. A playboy becomes repulsive if he ages to the point that he’s unattractive. Stark’s no exception.
I wouldn’t call Iron Man a failure as a character, given the movies’ successes, but he is a failure as a literary character. A novelist might separate him into two characters and then proceed.

SRS

I agree that Iron Man has rarely been handled well. There have been story problems and “literary” disasters in the portrayal, presentation and development of the character from the beginning. The ridiculous origin in Vietnam, is one. But I believe that the core of the character is solid. Genius, in fact. I believe Iron Man is not a failure as a literary character inherently, but far too often has been misunderstood, mishandled and misrepresented by comic book creative people.

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Surprising Sinnott and Items of Interest

Surprising Sinnott

Sometime in late 1957, when I was six, star artist/inker Joe Sinnott visited Marvel’s offices, which were then located in the Empire State Building.

And he never came back!

Well, not for a long time, anyway.

The first time I saw Joe Sinnott was in 1975 at Phil Seuling’s Comic Art Convention, AKA “Seuling Con” and “July Con.” It was in the Hotel Commodore on 42nd Street in New York City. A fan had stopped Joe in the corridor, asked him for a sketch and handed him a hard-cover sketch book. Joe cheerfully complied. An admiring crowd had formed around Joe to watch him draw, staring as if he were performing magic, which, of course, he was.

I’m tall enough so that I could peer over the throng and see what Joe was drawing. Standing in a hallway Joe drew a perfect, beautifully rendered figure of the Thing. With a pen. In two minutes. He gave the guy his book back, politely excused himself and hurried on his way to a panel or something.

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Made to Order

First This

JayJay wrote a short story that I really like. She tells me that she now has it available online for small change. She also told me she gave me credit as editor because I made a few nuts and bolts suggestions, like “try this sentence again in English,” and “spell ‘its,’ the possessive, right.” (JayJay here. Jim is too humble as usual. He pointed out such a major storytelling flaw in my first draft that I still can’t believe I made a mistake like that and didn’t see it.)

: )

Being associated with that story is good for my rep.

Here’s the cover:

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