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  1. #1
    pygophile and podophile Dr. Cheesesteak's Avatar
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    Default IDW's Black Crown is closing

    https://www.newsarama.com/47056-idw-...ack-crown.html

    Sad. I never read any of the titles, but know ppl who thought they were good.

    Kinda makes me curious on the business aspect of imprints for non-Big 2 publishers. Black Crown was technically owned by IDW, not Shelly Bond, right? Do they front the money for these titles and low sales led to the closure? The titles weren't basically already completed/paid for by the creators and IDW just prints them for a fee?

    This made me realize I'm only really familiar w/ Image's publishing process for creator-submitted work. Not Dark Horse's or IDW's or Vault's etc. Do they all do things differently? Does it matter if a writer submits their work to Dark Horse to go under the main vanilla imprint or under Bergers Books (just as an example)?
    Comics were definitely happier, breezier and more confident in their own strengths before Hollywood and the Internet turned the business of writing superhero stories into the production of low budget storyboards or, worse, into conformist, fruitless attempts to impress or entertain a small group of people who appear to hate comics and their creators. -- Grant Morrison, 2008

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Cheesesteak View Post
    Kinda makes me curious on the business aspect of imprints for non-Big 2 publishers. Black Crown was technically owned by IDW, not Shelly Bond, right? Do they front the money for these titles and low sales led to the closure? The titles weren't basically already completed/paid for by the creators and IDW just prints them for a fee?

    This made me realize I'm only really familiar w/ Image's publishing process for creator-submitted work. Not Dark Horse's or IDW's or Vault's etc. Do they all do things differently? Does it matter if a writer submits their work to Dark Horse to go under the main vanilla imprint or under Bergers Books (just as an example)?
    Yeah there are major differences between the publishers. Granted my information could be somewhat dated by this point, as I haven't really looked into the business side of comics much since ~2015... but Dark Horse generally offers (offered?) page rates for example, meaning a set price per completed page is paid. Not sure if the creators get some sort of bonus in case the comic becomes a major hit, or if that's the gamble: get paid upfront, with less guarantees when it hits shelves. Marvel & DC generally work on this basis too.

    This starkly contrasts with Image's "you front the cost, any profits are yours 3 months down the line" model. While the price of entry was higher, the pay-off could be enormous if your series did anywhere close to well. Even low-selling comics like Rocket Girl were vastly more profitable for its creators than working for Marvel/DC, iirc.
    I wonder if Image has changed some stuff around though, because there's fewer big name teams working at them it seems at the moment - could suggest a change in payment structures?

    Boom! Studios is interesting because their creator-owned line is (or was?), confusingly, a partial ownership shared between creator and the company. I think that was done because the movie studio 20th Century Fox had a first-look deal for any new Boom! projects -- if the creator had full control, they obviously could also pitch to different film studios. I assume this deal has transferred to the new Disney-Fox conglomerate, but honestly wouldn't know.

    IDW I'm less familiar with, but I assume they work with page rates like Marvel/DC/Dark Horse since most of their output is licensed work. License holders will likely strike a deal outlining "we demand x amount of comics product based on this license to ship monthly", so page rates are more effective at drawing in a consistent stream of creators than just sitting there hoping someone happens to pitch you a Transformers idea.

    Some publishers even have open submissions for anyone, I know 2000 A.D. did/does, for example. And maybe Oni Press did for a while too? That's yet another method of attracting talent. I imagine it creates mountains of work for their editors sifting through submissions, but I guess it's worth it to attract lower-cost projects that are already in an advanced stage of production?

    As for these sub-labels, like Berger Books, Black Crown, arguably ICON and Vertigo too... There's probably some measure of compromise there. The lines are likely more carefully curated under stewardship of established editors, so I presume this results in an expectation of higher quality material. In turn, it'd be logical for the company to offer either more generous pay rates, more creative freedom, more ownership over the product's intellectual property, or any variation upon these.
    Alternatively, there's the possibility that these "vanity labels" (not a very nice term) are generally not profitable. I don't see ICON making any money currently, for example, especially now that Kick Ass has moved to Image. However, having a label imprint like that around might help in other ways: they're something to sway high-level creators with ("Please stay on Spider-Man, Mr. Bendis, we'll let you publish more Powers work under ICON!") or maybe publishers just take a bath on them in hopes they result in a Kick-Ass/Alias type of cross-media marketable IP once in a blue moon.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Cheesesteak View Post
    Kinda makes me curious on the business aspect of imprints for non-Big 2 publishers. Black Crown was technically owned by IDW, not Shelly Bond, right? Do they front the money for these titles and low sales led to the closure? The titles weren't basically already completed/paid for by the creators and IDW just prints them for a fee?
    I don't know the ownership structure of Black Crown, but it's easy to see why IDW might be interested: the esteemed previous editor of Vertigo wants to produce a shared universe of new intellectual properties, and can likely attract big name creators based on her past work. "Shared universes" are super marketable right now, see the continued success of the Valiant relaunch (who were able to sell their company to DMG and through them sign movie deals with Sony), or the upcoming Lion Forge imprint.
    If IDW could secure something similar, maybe sign several TV/movie deals (all these streaming platforms are desperate for new exclusive content), Black Crown could've been successful in that regard?

    Keep in mind this whole post is all purely speculation, based on when I followed ComicsBeat's sales chart analyses and several podcasts more closely. I don't work in this industry and haven't kept up with the business side of comics for a few years now, so take this more as a general overlook. Besides, contracts are rarely complete copy+paste jobs, so there's bound to be minor differences on an individual project scale.

  3. #3
    pygophile and podophile Dr. Cheesesteak's Avatar
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    Interesting read, even if speculation and inference.

    Does make me think of something like Brian Wood and Dark Horse (before the recent split). I'm not sure of the details of what he's "allowed" to create, but iirc, they had a contract w/ each other, and it was a specific one for him, not just some general "we'll print whatever you make" deal. His work wasn't Dark Horse IPs, so maybe he had to churn out X amount of titles, but they could be his own work? Either way, guess it doesn't matter. Point being, there seems to be a lot of "case by case" situations.

    But yeah, creator rights, publishing rights, who gets what money, etc always interests me in comics. Whether it's creator-owned, publisher owned, licensed, etc. Like, I still wonder why Disney has so many of its franchises NOT published under Marvel (moreso curious about their decision for that, rather than the legalese of it).
    Last edited by Dr. Cheesesteak; 10-02-2019 at 06:39 PM.
    Comics were definitely happier, breezier and more confident in their own strengths before Hollywood and the Internet turned the business of writing superhero stories into the production of low budget storyboards or, worse, into conformist, fruitless attempts to impress or entertain a small group of people who appear to hate comics and their creators. -- Grant Morrison, 2008

  4. #4
    Astonishing Member Captain Craig's Avatar
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    Default

    Wasn't even familiar with Black Crown. A ship that passed me in the night.
    "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings" - Optimus Prime

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