Fighting for Scraps

As I'm sure you've noted (since every site I've been to today has mentioned it) Brian Hibbs has a new Tilting at Windmills up at Newsarama. Really good stuff that relates (if somewhat tangentially) to what I've been talking about recently, the back half of Previews. Too many small publishers see Marvel & DC as their competition when, in reality those two companies are only a small part of the obstacles companies face in developing into a successful publishing entity. I've mentioned companies that have found their niche, but even those companies have the potential to expand their own readership and the market in general by marketing in all three phases that Brian points to.

The other key element that I've pointed to in the past few days is quality work, which when translated into ordering from Diamond, means quality creators. Isn't it interesting that so often the conversation is framed as competition between companies, rather than competition between product? How often do you hear about Random House vs. Simon & Schuster? Or Miramax vs. Dreamworks (except during Oscar season of course)? Even when put in the context of competition, books and movies are usually compared by title or creator, not publisher. Somehow the industry has developed the mentality that everyone is fighting over the same scraps and each company had better get its share before everything disappears. It's clinging to an attitude like that in the face of ever increasing quality and content that frustrates me to no end. At least once a week I have an customer wander in while waiting for a table at the restaurant next door and they leave absolutely blown away by the quality of what they see. To assume that they have any interest in what company publishes what is beyond ridiculous.

Just one company profile today, NBM aka ComicsLit. I don't want to go so far as to say that everything they publish is outstanding, but so far I'm impressed with their track record. First, they import some really interesting work, like Isaac the Pirate. Probably more importantly, though, they publish books like North Country (a great read that should be getting much more attention) and Brownsville which is one of the best graphic novels I've read in quite awhile (okay I'm only 2/3 done but I'm giving the rest the benefit of the doubt). What's great about NBM's output is that so much of it has such broad appeal. Isaac is a great read that I could sell to an art student or a fan of Pirates of the Caribbean. And Brownsville is a comic I can get my grandfather to read.


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