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Bissette Sketch & Art Sales Update:
As of this AM, my sketches and original art have a new sales venue.
Everything should be self-explanatory, and every available sketch and/or original art piece originally showcased here at Myrant is now in place and all prices are current.
As announced last week, new sketches will continue to be posted first on Myrant, at their best-ever pricing. After their Myrant debut, prices will be bumped up a bit and the sketches will be available on both the Comic Art Fans galleries and the Myrant Sketch Store until sold. So, if you like what you see in the Comics/Sketches debut gallery window above, jump on it — it’ll never again be so affordable. ‘Nuff said.
You can also see among those fan galleries featuring sketches purchased here since January — and again, my deepest thanks to all of you who supported the first phase of this adventure by buying my sketches here on Myrant. Very much appreciated, and you’ve funded much (including the ongoing daily Myrant galleries and posts) with your generous purchases. Thank you!
[Right: The New Dead cover art ©2009 Stephen R. Bissette and Cayetano Garza, Jr.; color and digital production by Cayetano Garza Jr.]
Cayetano Garza Jr. (Cat Garza) and I are hard at work on a new project:
The cover art (back and front) and four color interior illustrations for the upcoming Subterranean Press signed hardcover limited edition of The New Dead, the forthcoming collection of all-new zombie short stories edited by Christopher Golden!
The anthology features my newest short story, “Copper,” meaning I will be signing the limited edition hardcover as a contributing author and artist. Sweet.
Cat’s been doing a terrific job coloring the zombie artwork I submitted from my extensive backlog of zombie and walking dead sketches, and they’re coming out beautifully! I love everything Cat’s been doing with my work in this procession of collaborative digital work he and I have been exploring and enjoying since last year.
This is our most expansive endeavor to date in terms of page count — and no doubt the best is yet to come.
SpiderBaby Archives: Taboo Origins, Part 7
This latest multi-chapter account of the formative years of Taboo is another SpiderBaby Archives series of documented posts offering snapshots of my personal and professional comics history.
Per usual, this is proffered as being my own memory (which is fallible) of and perspective on long-past events; others who were directly involved or kept abreast of events back then no doubt have different recollections, though I do my utmost to verify these accounts via artwork, dated documents, published accounts, and so on. I at all times welcome and encourage corrections, revisions, and always further documentation. Thanks!
[Taboo 3 cover ©1989, 2009 Michael Zulli; Taboo TM Stephen R. Bissette and SpiderBaby Grafix & Publications. Graphics below: Puma Blues #20 cover ©1988 Michael Zulli, Steve Murphy; art pencilled by Michael Zulli, inks by Stephen R. Bissette; High Society cover ©1987 Dave Sim; art by Dave Sim and Gerhard.]
To understand why Taboo was eventually published by my first wife (Nancy, now Marlene, O’Connor) and I under the new business imprint of SpiderBaby Grafix & Publications in the fall of 1988, instead of by Dave Sim‘s Aardvark One International imprint, you have to understand what happened to Dave’s third grand experiment in publishing.
Dave’s first experiment, of course, was Cerebus. It began in 1977; within a little over a year, Dave announced the true expanse of Cerebus — what it was, what it would be.
Cerebus #300 was published in 2004, succcesfully completing Dave’s first and greatest (to date) publishing experiment.
Dave’s second publishing experiment was the publication of work by other creators via his self-publishing imprint, Aardvark-Vanaheim.
There were six titles: the one-shot Strange Brew (1982), another one-shot AV in 3-D (1984) — which featured Dave’s Cerebus, Bob Burden‘s Flaming Carrot, Jim Valentino‘s Normalman and Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty‘s Ms. Tree — followed by the series William Messner-Loebs‘ Journey (launched 1983, lasting 14 issues with A-V before jumping to Fantagraphics in 1984 for 13 more issues), Arn Saba‘s Neil the Horse (debuted 1983, 10 issues with A-V, last five issues published by Renegade Press), Bob Burden‘s Flaming Carrot (launched 1984, 4 issues with A-V, #5 copublished with Renegade Press, thereafter Renegade, then Dark Horse Comics and later Image Comics) and Jim Valentino‘s Normalman (7 issues with A-V, 1984-85; A-V/Renegade copublished #8, final four issues from Renegade). I should also note Renegade Press was the imprint of Dave’s ex-wife Denise Loubert, and it folded in 1988 (and leave it at that).
The third great experiment was Aardvark One International, which was Dave’s final experiment with publishing the work of other creators, save Gerhard‘s ongoing collaborative work on Cerebus and the occasional limited use of the back pages of Cerebus to showcase or preview work by new creators (including my own 24-Hour Comic and Tyrant).
As already noted, the horror anthology project — first publicized as The October Project, later dubbed Taboo — was part of the Aardvark One International experiment.
Only one series — Steve Murphy and Michael Zulli‘s ecological philosophical sf epic Puma Blues (23 issues, 1986-88) — actually resulted. The last couple of issues of Puma Blues were published by Mirage Studios, home of Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman‘s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as were the collected edition paperbacks — but the only Aardvark One International venture to see print under that imprint was the bulk of Puma Blues.
Thus, if someone who thought of Aardvark One International as being in any way a ‘traditional’ publisher — though it wasn’t, by any stretch of the imagination — and if that someone were mad at Dave Sim, but was making money selling Cerebus and didn’t wish to cut off their own nose to spite their face, there was only one visible perceived “easy target” for lashing out at Dave Sim.
So, back to the first of Dave’s massive Cerebus softcover reprint volumes, High Society.
For a number of reasons, High Society ended up not being sold through the Direct Sales Market via distributors like Diamond Comics or Capital City Distributors.
The only way to buy a copy of High Society was direct from Dave, via mail order or by phone or FAX using your credit card.
That initial printrun sold out in short order, sold out by April 1987.
Thus, Dave’s experiment in direct marketing was a great success.
This naturally made distributors and retailers envious and angry. They wanted to sell High Society — after all, hadn’t they “made” Cerebus? Weren’t they sustaining Cerebus via monthly sales?
So, Dave decided to test the waters for selling the second printing of High Society via direct order and via the Direct Sales Market.
However, if the latter were to come to pass, distributors would have to preorder a sufficient portion of the printrun — 5000 copies, to be precise.
Dave would even steer his customers to the Direct Sales Market.
[The following is ©1988, 2009 Bill Moulage; Bill, if you're out there, drop me a line, please. From Puma Blues #20, “Aardvark-Diamond Chronology,” “The Main Events,” pg. 18-19.]
At this point, it’s important to understand why Dave didn’t care to take any calls from anyone except Steve Geppi, founder and head honcho of Diamond Comics.
Dave was founder and publisher at Aardvark-Vanaheim — head honcho.
Head honchos talk to head honchos.
Bill Schanes could call Aardvark-Vanaheim and speak to Karen McKiel (at that time Aardvark-Vanaheim Administrator) all he wished, but Dave had nothing further to discuss with any representative of Diamond Comics.
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, I have a problem with DC Comics. Go ahead, stretch your imagination — it could happen, right? So I call DC and insist upon talking to Paul Levitz only.
Ha. Good one, that. Paul is not going to take my call. He’s got nothing to say to me. I’ve only in my lifetime only heard from Paul Levitz once (when I knew more about the movie production The Return of Swamp Thing than anyone else seemed to, because John Totleben and I had an inside contact in the special makeup-effects world.)
To this day, it’s almost impossible as a self-publisher to get any further up the chain-of-command with distributors than your appointed sales rep at the distributor. I could somehow get Tyrant back out there — had new issues to solicit. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, I could (though it’s my understanding that current Diamond rules wouldn’t make that possible). If I solicited S.R. Bissette’s Tyrant® today, and could not muster sales sufficient sales to be distributed by Diamond, I could not easily contact Steve Geppi — I might be able to muster a conversation or two with Diamond reps, maybe even banking on my name to work my way up the chain a bit — but I would not be able to speak to Steve Geppi. It’s not too likely.
Diamond has rules; under those rules, I’m out of luck.
Aarvark-Vanaheim set a threshold, Diamond didn’t sell enough copies in pre-order.
Distributors had to meet a numbers threshold for High Society‘s second print run to be sold through existing Direct Sales distribution. They didn’t.
So — as far as Dave was concerned, Dave had nothing to discuss with Bill Schanes or anyone at Diamond — unless, that is, Steve Geppi wanted to talk to Dave, head of one business firm to the head of another business firm.
Head honcho to head honcho.
If Steve didn’t want to talk to Dave, if Steve instead instructed one of his employees to call Dave, well, Dave had nothing to say to any ‘underling’ at Diamond. Steve Geppi’s employee could talk to Dave’s employee. End of conversation — before it even happened.
This may seem arcane or egotistical to some or many of you — but hey, Dave had a point. He was proprietor of Aardvark-Vanaheim; he was creator of Cerebus.
He was Steve Geppi’s equal and peer.
Bill Schanes was not.
In the 1980s, if you wanted to be treated with any measure of respect in the comics industry, you had to insist upon mutual respect. You had to define those parameters and rigorously maintain them.
If the head of Diamond needed something from the head of Aardvark-Vanaheim, he’d have to talk directly to the head of A-V.
Frustrated, Diamond employee/”underling” Bill Schanes issued a threat — so, Dave, we can’t carry High Society second printing?
You’re going to issue more of these fat $25 packages and not offer them to us?
We won’t carry Puma Blues, then.
Take that, Dave Sim!
This is business.
This is hardball, right?
Well, it’s also playground politics:
You won’t talk to me? You won’t bend to my will?
Those two kids you hang with, those two punks you publish, we’re going to beat them up.
(It’s a lot like Bush Administration foreign policy: Saudi renegades with box-cutters took out the World Trade Center, tried to take out the Pentagon, and were foiled aiming for the White House? Hmmmm, we’re allies with Saudi-Arabia — let’s attack Afghanistan. Let’s attack Iraq. Smaller countries, easily conquered — ya, that’s what we’ll do.)
Tired of this game, Dave went public.
As you might well imagine, a lot of us were paying attention to these events –
– particularly those of us about to be published by Dave Sim.
To be continued…