Whinge- Australian comics where are you?

Working for yourself or for a publisher, chat about the business side here.

Postby Anomic on Wed Mar 30, 2005 11:00 am

so is this possible or does it fall into the too hard not practical basket?
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Postby Darren Close on Wed Mar 30, 2005 12:15 pm

You know, back in the OzComics forums days I remember reading and making a lot of threads like this as I wanted to see things improve. At that time there was a number of cynics that posted saying it won't work, nothing will happen - which really pissed me off. Here I was with a great idea and these cynical bastards just weren't helping.

Fast forward to now, and sadly I've become one of those very same cynics.

The problem is the apathy in Australian comics and the old adage "Talk is Cheap" couldn't be more apt. Everyone's ready to make suggestions on how to improve things, but very few actually put their hand up to organise it. The only exception that springs to mind is Gavin & Emma's PhaseTwo comics site.

I put my hand up for something called OZONE DISTRIBUTION and created a catalogue and everything for it. But guess what - no-one sent me anything. I had the vehicle ready to go with a tank full of enthusiasm, but no-one could be bothered to fill the cargo compartment. And even then, rather than support what I was trying to do, a lot of people said I shouldn't be ALLOWED to do it because as a publisher and owner of OzComics that it would somehow be a conflict of interest. How petty is that?

Some believed that the only way it could work would be for a moneyman to do it who had no interest in publishing themselves. There's only so many Mark Alessi's in this world, and look what he got for his troubles - bankruptcy.


Too much talk and not enough action - that's always been Australian Comics' greatest problem, and it doesn't look like changing anytime soon. Prove me wrong - PLEASE!
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Postby Daniel McKeown on Wed Mar 30, 2005 12:40 pm

Darren Close wrote:Fast forward to now, and sadly I've become one of those very same cynics.


It's seems to be cynicism to the bright-eyed new comer (not bagging anyone, we've all been there), but it's actually just seeing the shit go down enough times to recognize the pattern.

Darren Close wrote:Too much talk and not enough action - that's always been Australian Comics' greatest problem, and it doesn't look like changing anytime soon.


Not even that much talk these days.
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Postby Daren White on Wed Mar 30, 2005 12:58 pm

I think the re-order problem largely stems from the 1990s post boom era where many retailers were continually left with unsaleable stock. This resulted in the current mindset where if a comic sells out, the retailer doesn't automatically think "order more" but "whew I didn't get burned this time". Marvel's single print-run policy and proliferation of trades seems to have made this the workable system. Order low, sell out and then let customers wait for the trade, which will likely be available within a few months anyway.

Unfortunately that doesn't help small, local publishers much.
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Postby Anomic on Wed Mar 30, 2005 12:59 pm

What I am suggesting is I thought minimal and I am happy to design the sheet but I lack the technical knowledge of online databases. I get to Melbourne every 2-3 months and would be happy to report on the stocks on this basis. Cynicism is just failed Idealism and I think that this is a minimalist (hence realist) approach to what appears a perennial problem. Even if it???s only me doing this some publishers will at least have (albeit months apart) information on how their stocks are fairing.
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Postby makepeace on Wed Mar 30, 2005 3:36 pm

Anomic wrote:What I am suggesting is I thought minimal and I am happy to design the sheet but I lack the technical knowledge of online databases. I get to Melbourne every 2-3 months and would be happy to report on the stocks on this basis. Cynicism is just failed Idealism and I think that this is a minimalist (hence realist) approach to what appears a perennial problem. Even if it???s only me doing this some publishers will at least have (albeit months apart) information on how their stocks are fairing.


so in effect a bit of market research/statistical data for the publishers?
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Postby maggie on Wed Mar 30, 2005 6:32 pm

I tell you what. In the interest of giving this idea a fair chance, I will support the basic germ of an idea (but I'm gonna ask something in return) and build this inventory 'sheet'. I will make it so anyone can add (or remove) their book(s) to it, add slots for each location the book is stocked along with the number of books at each.

Board members (only - no anonymous riff raff) will be able to update these numbers based on their empirical evidence (i.e. - I was at Kings and saw 5 copies of 'Ned Kelly: Punishinator' today) at will along with a brief note (only the newest note would be saved).

What I ask in return: Try to make it work. Participate. Don't roll your eyes and shake your head, but just try it. Be fair. Don't fuck anyone over. Be honest. Don't add books that don't exist or aren't actually stocked. Be diligent. Make sure your books get updates - any book that is 'dead' (no updates for 60 days) gets dropped from the list (you can add it back if you want).

And what I personally want in return is all of you to promise to send me (in email, not PMs please) your publishing dates for any and all new books you publish (or have a planned publish date for) or even someone else's release dates you just know about (Aaron is the only one I can think of who's exempt from my plea as he's already doing this on his site.)

If 5 people will say here "I will make updates, pinky swear", I'll start building the database and front-end.

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Last edited by maggie on Wed Mar 30, 2005 7:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby mark selan on Wed Mar 30, 2005 6:48 pm

I'll scope out the Adelaide stores
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Postby douglasbot on Wed Mar 30, 2005 7:44 pm

Minotaur in Melbourne is a 2 minute walk from me so i can keep their stock levels under close surveillance weekly.
I don't think the store on Bourke St (i forget the name) stocks Australian material.
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Postby Laocorn on Wed Mar 30, 2005 8:01 pm

I'm in, I get down to Phantom Zone Parra pretty often these days.

Although I'm pretty sure majority of the shops don't stock my comcis, ifthey have any in the first place :P
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Postby Egofreaky on Wed Mar 30, 2005 10:05 pm

I attempted to do some background research into something similar. I wanted to make an online ordering system that was basically a wholesale version of PhaseTwo, but instead of a central point, it would have been able to email all the comic artists involved seperately with the orders, and split the payments accordingly, and then update the stock inventory from the number comic artists originally stated as being available.
I had the technical know how for it thanks to some of my friends being 4th and 5th year Comp.Sci/Network Eng students who were gunning for a project. But so few of the stores I spoke to were actually interested in that. One even said he wasn't going to give his credit card details to an online operator. It didn't even get to the point of asking comic artists to test out our databasing system.
However, if someone would like to revive this idea, I think it'd be more workable than everyone reporting on stock levels at shops, as well as being more reliable. I'll try and rope some people I know into doing it again if someone can get enough people to commit to using the system.

Darren has an excellent point. Apathy is rife, and it leads to entropy.
EXAMPLE: I offered free advertising space (as in I didn't want anything but a thank you for it) to EVERYONE on OzComics for Iss.2 & 3... Only Knight Edge and NakedFella took advantage... and I've got over 100 stores taking OzTAKU!

Doug: Bourke.st is most likely Comics R Us (as Classic DOES Stock Australian stuff)... They're arseholes there anyway. the VERY stereotyped comic nerd.
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Postby maggie on Wed Mar 30, 2005 11:17 pm

I guess the question that begs to be asked is, "Do we/you really think locations will support a pull system as opposed to us supporting a push system?"

I've not seen much, if any, indication that the stores were interested in any way to being an active participant in the stocking of Aussie comics. I'd say I've seen a great deal of evidence to the contrary (even in this thread it's been mentioned). I'm sure there are the exceptions... but overall most of what I recall reading has been about how reluctant they are to give you the time of day, much less come to your website and place an order.

Avi, do you really think they'd get active (come to you and 'order') versus passive ("here's shelf space, the rest is up to you, kid")?

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Postby Laocorn on Thu Mar 31, 2005 8:11 am

EXAMPLE: I offered free advertising space (as in I didn't want anything but a thank you for it) to EVERYONE on OzComics for Iss.2 & 3... Only Knight Edge and NakedFella took advantage... and I've got over 100 stores taking OzTAKU!


Huh? Serious?

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Postby Anomic on Thu Mar 31, 2005 10:28 am

maggie wrote:I guess the question that begs to be asked is, "Do we/you really think locations will support a pull system as opposed to us supporting a push system?"
Maggie


Maggie I guess the idea is that initially interaction with comic shops would be minimal there really is no input from them therefore its easy and non threatening. Really it???s a chance for self-publishers to be given early warning re: stock levels at shops that already stock Australian comics. Once the self-publisher's have the warning they would be responsible for restocking, so it's a no brainer for the store.
But as makepeace has noted it is also in effect a bit of market research/statistical data for the publishers that would allow them to pinpoint sales (strengths and weaknesses). The data gleaned would also give self-publishers (individually or collectively) the information to mount a business case to the comic shops that don???t stock Australian comics.

The idea in my opinion needs to begin simply and be as non-threatening as possible, later there may be additions like those already discussed. As much as I hate to use jargon but?? the approach would be about cultural change and capacity building within the community. Just the fact that there are people coming into the shops checking stock in a more comprehensive way may rekindle interest in Australian content from those shops. The checklist may well be ???sold??? to them as a potential way to reduce their workload in that the contact between self-publishers and themselves will be streamlined, less on spec phone calls asking them to check the shelfs etc. In terms of self-publishers if the checklist idea begins to work for the early adopters usually 20% of any group (the rest are the failed idealists waiting for the thing to go arse up and watching from the sidelines with ???I told you so???) others may see the value in such a system.
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Postby Darren Close on Thu Mar 31, 2005 10:41 am

Egofreaky wrote:Doug: Bourke.st is most likely Comics R Us (as Classic DOES Stock Australian stuff)... They're arseholes there anyway. the VERY stereotyped comic nerd.
You know that's really weird, that's my regular store and Mark and Mitch are great guys, maybe you didn't try to get to know them. And if you mean by "stereotyped comic nerd" that they know what they sell, how is that a problem?

As for the whole store-stock issue, I really don't think you need to re-invent the wheel with new databases and other systems.

My suggestion:

1. setup a COMIC STORES forum
2. create a thread for each STORE that will be monitored
3. each new post in the thread updates the stock numbers. easy.
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