Cartoonists: professional belt tighteners

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Comics are a business that is relatively insulated from the ups and downs of the economy: things are ALWAYS marginal. While there’s no doubt but that the global recession has impacted the comics industry — especially with customers dealing with price increases — quite frankly, there wasn’t a lot to cut back. There’s a good living to be made in comics, and many people do, but no one is buying a yacht — or not very many anyway. And maybe comics are a survival industry because it seems like everyone is just one or two issues away from square one.

Former Wizard employee paints grim picture

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Over at iFanboy, one of the former Wizard employees has given a tell-all exit interview that’s pretty juicy. Here’s how the employees found out what was going down:

Wizard Magazine goes public and digital, ends print edition – UPDATED

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Numerous reports this morning that the print version of Wizard Magazine is shutting down, effective immediately, with all staff laid off and
assignments canceled. According to Bleeding Cool, ToyFare magazine will continue. And based on the number of tweets coming out of the Wizard World convention business, the Wizard World shows will also continue.

According to a press release just released from Gareb Shamus, Wizard will continue as an online “Wizard World” Magazine. In addition, the previous Wizard corporation is being replaced by Wizard World, a new public company, which is being traded as a penny stock.

Russ Cochran Publishing in trouble?

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From what we’re hearing, it’s going to be a rough year in the business end of comics — the herd will be thinned. And here’s one that’s lagging behind as the hyenas circle: Russ Cochran is one of the survivors of the pre-direct market days as an independent publisher, specifically known for his extensive reprinting of the EC comics long before classic comics reprints were commonplace. His publishing company was purchased by Diamond in 1993, and formed the foundation of much of the Gemstone line of EC and Disney reprints. While Gemstone’s actual publishing has been shut down (after running up hefty printing bills), Cochran continues to put out his own line of EC reprints, licensed through the Gaines Estates. However, according to a recent mailer, even that modest business is in trouble:

I’m going to have to be completely honest with you now. My business, which has been in existence since 1971…that’s FORTY YEARS…is in financial trouble, and unless something changes soon, I will be closing my doors before 2011 is over.

Tidings of gloom #1: Josh Blaylock

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Josh Blaylock is back and blogging.

The publisher of Devil’s Due, which seems to have gone on hiatus after selling many of its characters to Arcana, has moved to a tell-it-like-it-is blog and various ventures like his events company Pop Cultour. Although the most recent years of Devil’s Due was filled with charges of non-payment to freelancers, no one can say Blaylock isn’t a student of the game. He has some very good advice re S! corporations here, and another blunt post called
Will February ’11 Be a Comic Book Direct Market Massacre? Like many industry watchers, he feels the price CUT coming in February is of some concern:

Spidey teams with Bloomberg for jobs

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In the proud tradition of Superman fighting landmines and other great didactic comics of the past, Marvel and the Mayor’s Office of NYC have teamed for a comic book teaching New Yorkers about resources available for their job hunts. “Spider-Man, You’re Hired” “features an unemployed Peter Parker starting his job search, is the Administration’s latest effort to connect out-of-work to New Yorkers to job training and placement services.”

Another culprit for declining comics sales….too much internet buzz?

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Over at iFanboy, Josh Flanagan continues this week’s succession of toilet metaphors for the monthly sales figures with “Q3 Comic Book Sales Are in the Crapper”. We don’t agree with Flanagan’s overall distress — there is no need to “cross fingers” that comics will get through this rough patch. Let’s get one things straight in all this mishegoss: comics will continue on in some format either like or unlike the one we have today. Period. People have been proclaiming the death of comics for over 50 years and something new always comes along. The particular aspect of the present day comics industry that you or I are involved with may not make the jump but something else will. Them’s the breaks.

That aside, the article is interesting for the comments section, which doesn’t go for the knee-jerk complaint that big events are killing comics.

Good bye, Giant Robot New York

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Wow, New York is getting even crappier.

News had been floating around for a bit, but a trip to their website confirmed that Giant Robot NY is closing next week. An offshoot of Giant Robot stores in LA and San Francisco, the East Village shop served as a gallery space for artists and cartoonists, as well as a place to snag books, toys, and wondrous gizmos. It was also the herald of the wave of Asian cultural influence that swept over the US in the last decade.

Midtown goes Downtown

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TweetVia PR, word that Midtown Comics will be opening a downtown branch in the Wall St. area very this fall. With two existing branches — Times Square and Grand Central — already serving the commuter crowd, this looks to cement Midtown’s place as one of the biggest retail accounts for Diamond: Midtown Comics will open […]

I came in here for the special offer

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TweetIt’s Black Friday, people. Remember to be kind to the harried and overstressed retail employees.

Nickelodeon Magazine folds

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Tweet The Beat has confirmed an LA Times report that Nickelodeon Magazine, the last studio kids magazine, has been canceled: Viacom is shutting down Nickelodeon Magazine this week and will lay off about 30 staffers. Launched in 1993, the magazine, with a circulation of more than 1 million and a total audience of more than […]

The game changer

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Tweet Was talking to a good friend the other day, one I had worked with back in my magazine publishing days. (I worked at various publications, trade and consumer, for several years, including a long stint at Disney Adventures.) He reported that he and just about everyone I had worked with on staff have been […]

Some trimming at Dark Horse

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TweetThe Beat has learned that editor Rob Simpson was recently laid off at Dark Horse. Simpson, an industry vet who formerly worked at DC, was the Senior Editor in charge of Dark Horse’s prose books line, which includes original novels, nonfiction, a series of Playboy Interview collections and various fantasy novels — including the recently […]

Alt weekly comics strips given no reprieve

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TweetTom Tomorrow reprints correspondence that indicates that things aren’t any better for alternative weekly comics than they were a few months ago. To no one’s surprise the “temporary” Village Voice Media suspension of cartoons continues indefinitely. I haven’t been contacted myself, but one of my colleagues got this email: I had said we would review […]

Comics magazine death watch

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TweetRumors flew yesterday that Wizard had canceled Anime Insider, its J-culture-themed magazine, and Newsarama confirmed: In an email to Newsarama, Gramling writes, “…after several years of producing Anime Insider magazine, Wizard Entertainment has decided to discontinue its publication. The last issue will be Anime Insider #67. We thank our dedicated staffers for all of their […]

All remaining Virgin Megastores shutting down

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Tweet Hello, Amazon! All six of the remaining Virgin Megastores in the US will be shutting down by summer: After nearly two decades of rocking the music world with a mix of brash stunts and splashy CD releases, the remaining six Virgin Megastores in the United States will shut their doors this summer in another […]