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May 20, 2008

Brian Hibbs' Tilting at Windmills finds a new home; Fantagraphics goes Diamond-exclusive

Comic Book Resources | Brian Hibbs' Tilting at Windmills | BEGINNINGS AND ENDS
...there's breaking news this week as Fantagraphics Books, Inc. (FBI) announces it is going exclusive with Diamond Comics Distribution as its Direct Market distributor... In several practical ways, this isn't a particularly significant change -- it isn't like there are any other substantial functioning national distributors to choose from, it is almost like saying that the land has gone exclusive with the sea, y'know? I guess what freaks me out (well, let's not oversell that, make it: "freaks me out") is that at this point there's, shy of Marvel going insane and starting their own distributorship again (knock wood!), really no chance of any competing national distributor ever forming again. FBI is pretty much to the last of the "significant majors" to sign - at this point probably three-quarters of Top 20 Diamond publishers are now exclusive - and FBI, love 'em or hate 'em (I'm personally in the "Love 'em!" camp) was probably the highest profile hold out. To a degree this sends a signal that an era is over - if iconoclastic, rebellious, art-driven Fanta-frickin'-graphics has signed with Diamond, then it means that Diamond has completely won the Direct Market.... ... while I think that Diamond is mechanically a fine partner (in terms of pick and pull, accuracy in fulfillment, and fixing problems), I'm always concerned with continuing to concentrate more power into one set of hands, and the more remote this makes any chance of wider distribution choices in the future. It largely seems to me that the remaining significant publishers (among them Drawn & Quarterly, Slave Labor, Avatar, and Top Shelf) really should be looking closely at exclusivity themselves at this point, if only to ensure parity with FBI, and to ensure that their inventory is actually available when retailers want it. And that kills me to type, honestly.

A Titan Passes: Comics Retailer Rory Root

The Savage Critic(s) | Brian Hibbs | A Titan Passes: RIP Rory Root
I feel like I've just been punched in the chest. Rory Root, owner of Comic Relief in Berkeley, and a tremendously great friend of mine, just passed away following a brief coma after surgery for a ruptured hernia this weekend. Rory and I had a lot of shared paths in comics retailing -- we both worked at the Best of Two Worlds chain in the Bay Area. He managed the Berkeley store, and I managed the SF one, before we each opened our own stores, he two years ahead of my own. Rory was a confidant, a friend, a mentor, and always always ALWAYS, whether I wanted it or not, a sounding board.... Comic Relief, once upon a time, had a second store in San Francisco, about eight blocks away from mine. He hadn't opened it on purpose, in fact, he was there to help out a friend who had gotten locked into a bad lease due to the actions of another. At no point we were enemies, however -- he used to call me "Mr. Macy", and I'd call him "Mr. Gimble" like we were out of A MIRACLE ON THIRTY-FOURTH ST., sending customers freely back and forth between the stores, knowing that making sure people got the book they want was infinitely more important than any kind of rivalry. When CR went in, sales actually INCREASED because there were now two excellent comics shops within walking distance of one another.... But there are few retailers, publishers or creators who spent any amount of time with the man and didn't walk away learning a dozen things about how comics work the way they do, and what things that could be done to make things better. It is the loss of that generosity of his knowledge (and it was truly encyclopedic and broad) that is going to be the loss that the comics industry is going to face over the next years. If only we had a few dozen Rory Roots, we could have utterly transformed the entire industry.

May 17, 2008

Will Elder has passed on

mickeyrodent.jpg Journalista! | May 15, 2008 EXTRA: Will Elder dies
I’ve just received word that Mad Magazine pioneer and Little Annie Fanny co-creator Will Elder died earlier this morning. He was 86 years old. I have no specifics regarding the cause of death; the funeral will take place on Sunday in New Jersey. A longer report will appear here tomorrow.
Journalista! | May 16, 2008: The Bob Montana Memorial Orgy
Let me first point you to Will Elder’s Wikipedia page, which has a rather good biography of the artist, as well as his Lambiek page and of course Elder’s homepage, where you can see a video in which Harvey Kurtzman, Al Jaffee, Terry Gilliam and Jerry Garcia discuss Elder and his work. Scott Edelman has the official press release from DC Comics, current owners of Mad Magazine. Here are news reports from the New York Observer’s Matt Haber and French-language site ActuaBD (Google translation), and here are tributes and remembrances from Tom Richmond, Mark Evanier, Will Pfeifer and Evan Dorkin.

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