Humanoids return finds a rocky road

1277135567 Humanoids return finds a rocky road
CBR’s Alex Dueben talks to Humanoids E-i-C Bob Silva about the French publisher’s return to the US market after deals with DC and Devil’s Due, but Silva says the retail market has not been kind to their offerings:

When we first spoke, your plan was to release most books as miniseries before collecting them. Now, of the first three miniseries you announced, you’re canceling two of them due to low pre-orders. How does this change your publishing plan?

What we’re seeing from the numbers that we got is that it looks like the market is not ready to support multiple comic book miniseries from Humanoids at this point. Maybe we’re wrong. Maybe it has more to do with the titles that have been chosen, but clearly, with the numbers that we received, there’s no financial benefit at all to publish either “Unfabulous 5″ or “Bouncer” in the miniseries format. “Whispers in the Walls” we will. “Whispers” is a new series, and maybe there’s a bit of confusion as far as what’s being released with “Bouncer” and “Unfabulous 5,” but of the three series it was the only one that really made sense to publish. What we’re going to do now is experiment and see if there are other series or titles out there that potentially have that appeal for the mass market comics format.


This is only a simpling of Silva’s stream of “that didn’t work” and “maybe someday” talk — sounds like on this particular day, the obstacles were a bit much for him.

It’s sad that the market is so unfriendly to high quality material of this kind, but Silva says digital may be the way to break through, which prompts some plangent thought from Augie de Blieck Jr.

Thankfully, Humanoids is working on something else: they’re going to release those series that the Direct Market won’t support in a digital format first, then go back and release them in printed editions afterwards. And if this works, you know what we’ve learned? That the Direct Market doesn’t matter worth a damn. That Direct Market retailers are not the final arbiters of what sells in the world of comics, and that there’s hope for a great many books that the current system fails every month. No pressure, Humanoids.

Comments

  1. Christian says:

    All I know is that I waited forever to be able to read a collected version of I am Legion. I ordered two copies and I hope they get here without a hitch.

  2. Synsidar says:

    There’s not a single word in the CBR article about advertising. How many comics publishers run ads in any sort of non-comics media to attract attention to their publications?

    SRS

  3. JoshF says:

    It really is a shame that the US comics fan can’t expand to include such great material as the offerings from Humanoids. They have excellent stories, are and outstanding production values. I always hope for better, but when even high end US publishers like Buenaventura can’t make a go, how can I expect Humanoids to succeed.

  4. Y’know, speaking as a store which did order all of Humanoids line — at levels equal to or higher than 77 other titles from “Premier” publishers — I have to suggest that the failure of these to gain traction is almost certainly due to the fact, as far as I can tell, the sum total of Humanoids publicity and promotion for these books was their catalog listing in PREVIEWS.

    It is pretty difficult to get people to be interested in things — especially different than what they’re used to — if you don’t bother to tell them that those things exist in the first place.

    It is the publisher’s responsibility to promote their wares.

    -B

  5. also the size. Just had them released in the same French BD format: make the size the gimmick. Humanoids would’ve saved money on printing too

  6. Anonymous says:

    speaking for myself as a comic fan, i spent all of my childhood hearing about the comics of Bilal and Jodorowski/Moebius and others as these mythic otherworldly masterpieces that i’d only get to see glimpses of in reference books.

    once they came out here i found myself completely underwhelmed.

    this is just my opinion, but maybe they don’t sell well because they simply haven’t aged well (if they were all that good in the first place).

    would kill to be able to complete my Blueberry collection though…

  7. The problem, as I see it is the reader, myself included, has been “fooled” to many times by Humanoids (and other companies) and its tiring to hear that something is coming out and it doesn’t. OR its of poor quality, like I Am Legion, which is beautiful but somehow the production was 5th grade.

    The oversize hardcovers are incredibly beautiful and sold ok but fans loved them. Then DC comes along and the format is changed, abandoning the original “fans.” But new fans aren’t interested because its all material that’s been available in other formats for years.

    Then only part of the series comes out and we get poorly produced comic size book, which are, again, only partially released.

    Now they’re back and expect people to rush over and buy the books.

    The worst part of this is the books Humanoids puts out/reprints from Europe are FANTASTIC! I would rank Metabarons, for one, as one of the top 10 Graphic Novels of all time.

    IMHO.

  8. It also doesn’t help that when they re-released Metabarons recently, they released volumes 2 and 3 before releasing volume 1 (and it’s been a few weeks now with volume 1 nowhere to be seen).

  9. pulphope says:

    Bouncer is an incredible book. Boucq is an incredible artist. The story deserves to be in print in English. I’m a lifelong fan of the man’s work.

    Mad Woman is a fine, fine piece of work (especially the first half). Moeb is peak form.

    Anonymous–all the Blueberrys are currently available in French and Spanish. Moeb still churns one out a year (as of last year at least).

  10. Thanks for all the thoughts. We are honored by the genuine responses we’ve been receiving regarding our return to the US comics market.

    We are determined to reestablish our presence in the US comics market. Part of that plan is to have a closer relationship with the wonderful retailers out there like Brian Hibbs. We wish we reached out to you sooner. For that we are sorry and hope to change.

    We are also continually exploring the ideal formats to present our material in. Those of you disappointed in the lack of a traditional European size will be happy to hear that we’ve come up with a way to satisfy those readers. It will only be something we do in very limited runs on very special collections. The first one to see this format will be the Moebius and Jodorowsky Incal collection (in the original Chaland colors) to be released at the end of 2010.

    Metabarons Vol. 1, Vol. 4 and Whispers #1 should be in stores mid-July.

    Pulphope (Paul Pope?), couldn’t be more right. I love what Boucq’s been doing on Bouncer. A brilliant artist doing incredible work on a beautiful Western story.

    Thanks a bunch,

    Bob Silva
    EIC, Humanoids

  11. Peter Urkowitz says:

    Moebius in the original colors is great news! I very much prefer that classic flat-color style to the more heavily modelled coloring on later editions that obscured the linework. Thanks very much for that!

  12. Pedro Bouça says:

    The big problem is, they are not going to sell on the US.

    WHy? I’ll explain.

    The Direct Market simpley doesn’t want it (or anything besides the Big Two superheroes). Nothing to do about it, it’s a fact of life that the DIrect Market is hostile to comics not done to its incredibly limited specs.

    Which means that Humanoids should be directing its production to the bookstore market. Cinebook has had some sucess publishing french-belgian stuff in english on the UK bookstore market. The problem is, they have quite a lot of quality all-ages stuff, while Humanoids has pretty much only mature stuff. That’s a hard sell, just ask manga publishers! Naruto and One Piece sell by the truckload, Golgo 13 and 20th Century Boys? Not so much.

    I don’t think they have much of a chance, sad to say. It’s hard to sell non-Big Two Superheroes on the Direct Market. It’s hard to sell mature genre comics on bookstores. And it’s VERY hard to sell European comics on the US. I’ve seen the numbers from previous Humanoids attempts.

    They should get used to the fact that sales WILL be limited and put them out on the original format anyway. What good is to sell, say, 1500 smaller sized books instead of 1000 oversized ones? The smaller, cheaper format WON’T make the books miraculously sell 10k copies!

    And it bears mentioning that manga only took off on the US when publishers gave up trying to fit it on the US comics format and started using one closer to the original.

    (Not to mention that, as an european, I think that trying to peddle our cultural masterpieces on the same ordinary format than the disposable US comics crap is an offense to the creators and the comics artform. But that’s just me.)

  13. >>>The Direct Market simpley doesn’t want it (or anything besides the Big Two superheroes).<<<

    ???

    Here's my Top 50 Books since the first of the year:

    WALKING DEAD TP VOL 11 FEAR THE HUNTERS
    WILSON HC
    FABLES TP VOL 13 THE GREAT FABLES CROSSOVER
    KICK ASS PREM HC
    UNWRITTEN TP VOL 01 TOMMY TAYLOR BOGUS IDENTITY TP
    ASTERIOS POLYP GN
    BOOK OF GENESIS ILLUS BY ROBERT CRUMB HC
    CHEW TP VOL 01
    Y THE LAST MAN TP VOL 01 UNMANNED (OCT058020)
    SCOTT PILGRIM GN VOL 01 SP PRECIOUS LITTLE LIFE
    HELLBOY TP VOL 09 WILD HUNT
    BTVS SEASON 8 TP VOL 06 RETREAT
    SCOTT PILGRIM GN VOL 02 VS THE WORLD
    BOYS TP VOL 06 SELF-PRESERVATION SOCIETY
    LOEG III CENTURY #1 1910 NEW PTG
    SCOTT PILGRIM GN VOL 04 SP GETS IT TOGETHER
    WALKING DEAD TP VOL 10 WHAT WE BECOME
    Y THE LAST MAN TP VOL 02 CYCLES (OCT058281) (MR)
    ALL STAR SUPERMAN TP VOL 02
    EX MACHINA TP VOL 09 RING OUT THE OLD
    OTHER LIVES HC
    TROUBLEMAKERS HC
    EIGHTBALL GHOST WORLD TP
    GRENDEL BEHOLD THE DEVIL HC
    NO HERO TP
    SCOTT PILGRIM GN VOL 05 SP VS THE UNIVERSE
    SERENITY BETTER DAYS TP NEW PTG
    WALKING DEAD TP VOL 01 DAYS GONE BYE
    WALKING DEAD TP VOL 02 MILES BEHIND US
    100 BULLETS TP VOL 01 FIRST SHOT LAST CALL (SEP068078)
    BPRD TP VOL 12 WAR ON FROGS
    CROSSED TP VOL 01
    DMZ TP VOL 08 HEARTS AND MINDS
    EX MACHINA TP VOL 08 DIRTY TRICKS
    FABLES TP VOL 01 LEGENDS IN EXILE (APR058372)
    FREAKANGELS TP VOL 04
    IGNITION CITY TP VOL 01
    INCOGNITO TP
    PREACHER TP VOL 02 UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD NEW EDITION (M
    WITCHFINDER IN THE SERVICE OF ANGELS TP VOL 01
    CRIMINAL TP VOL 04 BAD NIGHT (NOV082430) (MR)
    EX MACHINA TP VOL 01 THE FIRST HUNDRED DAYS
    FABLES TP VOL 12 THE DARK AGES
    PLANETARY HC VOL 04
    SANDMAN TP VOL 01 PRELUDES & NOCTURNES (DEC058090)
    SANDMAN TP VOL 02 THE DOLLS HOUSE (APR058268)
    SCALPED TP VOL 01 INDIAN COUNTRY (MAY070243) (MR)
    THE ARRIVAL GN (C: 1-1-2)
    TRANSMETROPOLITAN TP VOL 01 BACK ON THE STREET
    Y THE LAST MAN TP VOL 03 ONE SMALL STEP (MAR068027) (MR)

    There's EXACTLY ONE "Big Two Superhero" comic on that list — and that comes in at #19.

    The overall DM, as shown by the ICv2 lists show that only 22 of the Top 50 are "Big Two Superheros" — http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/17680.html — and that's counting something like WEDNESDAY COMICS as "Big Two Superheroes"

    -B

  14. yeah, but Brian: you don’t count :)

  15. Pedro Bouça says:

    Brian, you are hardly the whole Direct Market. Here is the Diamond list for 2009:
    http://www.diamondcomics.com/public/default.asp?t=1&m=1&c=3&s=816&ai=91091&ssd=

    It’s mostly Big Two super-heroes or works VERY close to it (like The Boys, Buffy or LEOG).

    I’ll grant you Walking Dead, but that’s a book that worked up the ladder by being a soap opera-style zombie story published (mostly) every month. No Humanoids book can ever hope to match it because there is simply not a big enough series to be published that way long enough.

    And that’s your TPB list, how is your regular comic list?

    Best,
    Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

  16. Hello everybody.

    We’ve got the full online versions of both Unfabulous Five #1 and Bouncer #1 comics for your viewing pleasure. You can see them on either your computer or iPad (they look awesome on the iPad!).

    You can go to http://www.humanoids.com for more info or use these addresses directly:

    Bouncer #1: http://www.humanoids.com/ibd/3
    Unfabulous Five #1: http://www.humanoids.com/ibd/2

    We’re hoping that this’ll give folks a better idea of the quality of both books. Let us know what you think!

    -MPB

  17. Illustration Story says:

    The biggest problem with almost any comp in US that wants to publish euro material is that they are like ‘pu”s’ and try to have the material printed in US pamphlet size. To destroy such great works of some of the artists that worked for years on a story is mind boggling. Pamphlets will be gone soon. I do not know any person personally who buys pamphlets and the future is traditional BD size (could be slightly smaller as long as proportions are good)..some ‘normal’ publishers such as IDW have FINALLY realized this and for ex publish Torpedo by Jordi Bernet in what I call regular size (it’s not oversized; oversized is like 35-40 cm)..So now Humanoids is printing most of their comic books at decent size and not at those yucky unnaturla proportions..why insist that a certain book has to be printed at US pamphlet size..what, you afraid that the story and comic is not worth it and are trying to cover it up by printing it in yucky dimensions (that wont help as pamphlets suck anyway)…Word of advice: keep the books as they were originally printed in respectable format and HC, that’s all.

    Drop digital comics and pamphlets and concentrate on ‘regular’ HC collections..no one cares about digital or pamphlets. It’s a waste of time and resources.

    And have these books available already so people can order online. No one cares about regular comic bookstores as you can hardly find any comic book stores anymore. Wake up.

  18. Hobo613 says:

    Update!

    I could not locate the following titles: Tikitis, Flywires and Metal on Amazon (.ca or .com), Chapters.ca or abebooks.com., etc.

    All of the ISBN’s bounced. Maybe this is the source of the problem? I was able to finally locate copies of Tikitis and Flywires after hitting about 3 retailers; and only after being persistent for 20+ minutes to staff that this publisher/titles existed…

    As for the format issue, I believe that mostly the US wishes to remain ignorant of many publishers, thus will find anything to complain about when an actual alternative is presented to them. My mind totally balks when I heard that the “I am legion” series would halt after only one issue despite the gorgeous John Cassaday/Laura Martin package. We have all seen far worse things published at the $7 ($10 CND) price point…

    I ended up bying the original french HC’s in order to complete the “I am legion” series. This cost me $75 CND to do, as I believed that this series would never be collected in the smaller format again(see DDP and DC/Humanoids).

    Lates’

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