Quick Aside, Swear to God

We interrupt our regularly scheduled "Best of the Rest" segment to bring you a story about one of those best creators/titles:

Tom Beland announced via press release today that his top notch comic True Story Swear to God is moving to Image. Congratulations to him, he makes it pretty clear in the press release that he's excited about the move and the decreased workload it should provide (which he hopes will translate into more TSSTG more often). What I'm immediately reminded of is Bone and Strangers in Paradise circa 1996. Both went to Image for the exact same reasons (really first utilizing the model that Image employs so often today: bring us a completed book and we'll print and ship it for you). Independents were getting squeezed hard after the bubble burst and, probably more importantly, the distribution wars began. Rather than be stuck without a viable distribution option, both chose to take refuge at publishers with a bit more clout.

I've seen it theorized (and both sides have been heatedly argued at the CBIA) that independents are feeling a similar squeeze in the current market. The popular reason that gets tossed around is that Marvel and DC are flooding that market, but that's far from even the primary reason. Single title publishers are instead feeling the pinch from being surrounded by companies like the now defunct Speakeasy and the fading Alias. Both consume a nice chunk of the back half of previews with several full pages ads that make it oh so much fun to dig through. It makes it very easy to miss a publisher with just one title available when they're buried among companies with ten identical comics covering six or seven pages which retailers know are not going to ship on time. So the solution is to either spend a large sum of money competing for the chance to stand out with a full page ad or sign on with Image or Dark Horse and "move on up" to the front of the catalog, instantly improving your visibility.

This seems to be an early indicator that the little guys are feeling the crunch again, regardless of the reasons why. The only question (outside of when we'll see the Erik Larson dream sequence) is, will TSSTG follow the pattern and go back to self publishing after a year or so when print runs are up and Mr. Beland feels comfortable that the retailers and readers will follow him back, or has Image perfected their formula to the point that such a move is an unnecessary headache?


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