All The Rage Extra
By Alan Donald
Well, I asked for it, didn't I? As things stand the poll is fairly positive but some of the replies...
Sorry. What the hell am I yammering on about? Who am I?
Right, intro first, then into the crap, gotta remember that.
I’m Alan Donald, resident All The Rage King for SBC, and last week I invited ATR readers to comment on last week’s article and the column in general. Here are the comments and my replies. If you agree or disagree with anything then feel free to leave a message yourself, either on the Soapbox or Rage message boards.
Oh, and why am I addressing this here rather than in ATR? As you will see, most of this has very little to do with rumours or comics in general, although several posts do clarify a few points from previous ATRs. Comments from readers in italics, mine in bold.
“ATR December 1, 2002 : Comments
A few comments about this weeks column:
About the Diamond/Gemstone/Disney story:
Diamond has been running this for several years now. There is nothing new about them being a publisher. In fact, all you have to do is go to the Diamond homepage, click on affiliated companies and scroll down to Gemstone Publishing to find this :
Best known as the home of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, Gemstone Publishing was formed by Diamond Comic Distributors President and Chief Executive Officer Stephen A. Geppi as a conduit for his efforts in preserving and promoting the history of the comics medium. Gemstone separately acquired Russ Cochran Publisher and Overstreet Publications, which brought with them The Complete EC Library project and the noted line of price guides, respectively.
In addition to those projects, Gemstone publishes The Overstreet Comic Book Grading Guide, The Big Big Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, Hake’s Price Guide To Character Toys, The Overstreet Toy Ring Price Guide, and The Overstreet Indian Arrowheads Identification and Price Guide, and co-published Tales of Terror! - The EC Companion with Fantagraphics Books.
Gemstone also publishes Comic Book Marketplace, a monthly magazine for comic book collectors. Most recently, Gemstone added Scoop, a free, weekly informational e-mail newsletter, to its list of popular publications.”
I do take your point however I was taking a lot of care to try and get across the fact I was referring specifically to the Disney license as it is really a new venture, brand new comicbooks from one of the most recognised brands in the world
“About the Wizardworld.com story:
You mention that "it is good to see Gareb Shamus et. al. reacting swiftly like this." but I think they were already setting up Wizarduniverse.com before this happened. In the latest issue of Wizard I have (December 2002) on page 16 there is a listing for subscription/renewal/etc. concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org .I am not saying that Shamus et al knew that Wizardworld.com was going down, but they were probably getting set to open a new site anyway. They obviously had the domain name already.”
I’m guessing they already had the domain name as the suffix wizarduniverse.com is used for some of the email addresses listed on the Wizardworld site. As Wizard had been getting a few bounced cheques I would imagine Mr. Shamus must of had some clue. The site is under construction but it isn’t the type that could have sprung up overnight, that’s true but I find it highly unlikely that Mr. Shamus would have set up another site if things hadn’t been going wrong at Wizardworld.
“After all this nit-picking I'd like to say I really enjoyed your "order Spawn for a bigger Image discount" bit.
Hell, that’s one of the nice messages, no worries at all Jason. As far as the Spawn thing goes a few fans and retailers have sent me positive messages about this. If you have any ideas on how retailers can save money, play the system or generally any good advice then send it in!
“Re Disney & Diamond
This isn't the first time that Gemstone's published comics, they did the EC line a few years back. OK, ECs are a lot less mass-market than Disney, but nonetheless, they do have a history as a comic publisher. For that matter, they also have a history as a magazine publisher- CBM is up around #96 or so, they used to do "Fan" in direct competition with "Wizard", so on and so forth.
I recall something about Diamond needing acceptance by the brokered publishers before they could bring out new comics. This is very vague, just some sort of rumour (after all, their deals with the BPs has to be proprietory), but if it's so, I presume they've gotten clearance. Diamond is very careful about observing contractural obligations.
I can't see any publisher objecting: Disney is the ultimate kid-friendly franchise. Like Archie, it's non-competitive to the bulk of comic fare, and it's high-profile enough to hit Wal-Marts and such. Young reader outreach, leading to older reader retention for DM titles. Win-win.”
I except your point. Perhaps I went off the deep end here it just struck me that this is such a well known group of characters that... well anyway I don’t want to start repeating myself too much.
“Oh, and nice to see Diamond intend to screw over Don Rosa
Where do you see this? Diamond says they intend to publish Disney, they intend to use new and reprint material, they intend to use many of the same people who were part of Gladstone.”
Ah, this is Alan getting too worked up and over stating a point. I was merely pointing out (in a clumsy way) that they were using Don Rosa’s name to sell their product whilst he was on strike because the Europeans were doing something similar.
“Look. I don't like Diamond. I despise being forced to deal with a particular company if I want to remain in business. I hate Diamond's inability to effectively handle customer concerns. I am revolted by Diamond's self-congratulatory attitude towards everything they do. I am dismayed by Diamond's diminution of services to retailers.”
Which is, in general the point of view I get from many retailers that contact me. My generally negative slant on Diamond is coloured by my experience of retail opinion, if loads of retailers wish to write in and congratulate Diamond I would adapt my style accordingly.
“But I will never question their honour. Everything I've ever seen or heard about Steve Geppi indicates that he is an honourable man. Everything.
Please! Do not presume that Diamond is out to "screw" anyone. They may be clumsy and stupid, they may be hard-nosed at times, they may be misguided at times, but Steve Geppi still owns the company, and he always tries to do what's best for the industry. Geppi owns Diamond. Geppi owns Gemstone. Geppi's an honourable man. Nuff said.”
Fair enough. I had gotten carried away it was most certainly not a direct attack on Mr. Geppi. With the exception of a Mr. T. McFarlane I don’t believe I have ever or will ever set out to attack an individual, I do try on the whole to be positive rather than negative. You obviously think I went too far, I apologize.
“As far as Rosa goes, he's in dispute with European publishers. The North American rights are different from European rights. Saying that the same problems are going to happen here is much like saying Chinese food is the same in Hong Kong and Peoria. Same basic thing, maybe, but prepared by very different people. Rosa had major problems with Disney several years ago, which seem to have been resolved. (If "Rosa said his beef is not with the Walt Disney Corporation; it’s with European publishers" is any indication.)
It's Disney-Gemstone-Rosa, NOT Disney-Eurodeal-Gemstone-Rosa.
We'll see how this plays out, but I'm betting on better times for Rosa. Maybe he'll be "on strike" in Europe, but producing new material for the American market. He'll most probably be paid "new money" for the new American printing of his European works, providing he's retained North American rights to it.
(BTW, that Geppi is an honourable man" is in no way an allusion to Marc Anthony's speech.)
Fair enough. Except see this week’s ATR for more on that Disney deal, which casts a little doubt on the above!
““Hermitage”, wherein Ellis implies he’s going to reduce his time on the internet even further...
Considering that Ellis seems to have about 1,948 works-in-process from DC over the next year or so (the litany at the RRP seemed endless), he'll probably have to make a choice between some of his activities. In a face-off between seeing his family, eating, or being on the net, it's kind of understandable that he might be reducing his presence here.”
“Parker has sent in a nice e-mail about Marvel. It’s not so much not a rumour but, as s/he puts it, falls into the category of "we'll whore our characters any which way for a buck."
Marvel's been doing these character appearance things for many years. It's sort of a running industry joke: "Guess how many minutes before Spiderman's mask gets soaked with spit."
I suppose it's "whoring" in much the same way that Santa Claus parades are "whoring", but not as hard-core "whoring" as an author or artist appearance. After all, Spidey and Santa are fictional. Creators are real. Sort of Hentai vs photography...”
HEY!!!!! I resent that, take it back now! Santa is real, so screw you, buddy!
“Bill Willingham of Fables fame was getting a little bit too demanding and stroppy on the Fables message board, so DC gently encouraged him to dip out and just leave the fans to it.
We've approached this subject on another (closed) board. It's a subject I'm sort of developing:
With the vertical integration of communication in the comics field, there must be a point where the concept of completely free speech ends, and responsibility to your (commercial) partners begins:
A publisher or creator acts (or posts) outrageously, turning off fans. This has to result in diminution of sales.
In the case of a publisher, how long will it be before creators choose different publishers, ones who are less controversial, more commercial? How long will it be before retailers reduce orders for publishers that, while exemplary in production values, jeopardise their sales potential by running off at the mouth?
In the case of a creator, how long before a publisher will choose not to employ someone who alienates customers. How long before other parts of the creative team refuses to work with someone for fear of being tarred by the same brush.
Everyone has a responsibility to everyone else on the team, but where does the right of free expression end, and team responsibility take over?
It's a very tricky subject, because it's all part of a very subjective analysis of perception. Marvel may allow Millar to run wild, because Jemas runs wild. Crossgen won't allow their people to step out of line at all, because their PR is very carefully controlled. DC is somewhere in the middle.
What type of audience is the creator/publisher trying to reach? Something that offends Marvel fans might be a sales booster for Anti-Marvel fans, and Anti-Marvel creators might purposely post to promote their image as being desirable to the "Anti" crowd.
I very much enjoy the works and posts of both Willingham and Zimmerman, and consider it unfortunate that either has to curtail part of their activity, but it's smart to keep an eye on the bottom line. Let the work stand on its own, let the work sell itself. If public pronouncements are counter-sales, stop them. The point of the exercise is produce good comics, and to reach as wide an audience as possible.
And of course, there's the problem of who is reading the posts. If CreatorX posts something that FanTrollX doesn't like, you can be sure that FanTrollX is going to spread it as wide as possible, in a fashion as uncomplimentary as possible. FanTrollY and FanTrollZ (also anti-CreatorX, but less rabid) are, of course going to paraphrase and spread still more. Pretty soon it becomes truth, and PlainOldFanX, having seen it all over the place, forms an opinion based on multiple postings by seemingly reasonable people. A reputation is destroyed.
People lose sight of the fact that this is a medium that requires the use of smileys and such. The reader doesn't necessarily understand elements of humour, let alone nuance or interplay.
The whole situation makes a good case for sock puppetry: You can exercise your right of free expression, without jeopardising the well-being of your colleagues...
~`So sayeth "Amazona", who notes that he's pretty much stream-of-consciousness developed the subject...”
Yes, quite. If I’d had the time (i.e. if the news hadn’t come to me at the last minute) I would like to think I’d have covered some of the bases you did above.
“As a retailer the nice thing about Spawn comics being so late is the fact that you can always get the highest image discount on your order. It works like this… Image has a discount rate that is determined by the dollar amount of image you order. The more money you spend the higher the discount. The nice thing about Spawn being late is you can get a better discount by just ordering a ton of Spawn. Then when Diamond sends you a notice that Spawn is late therefore eligible for adjustments to your order you just lower the number to what you actually sell but you still keep the high discount rate that you initially earned. It's quite lovely.
So, small retailers and those not using this loophole already pay attention there'll be a big outlay to begin with but once you get running with it you won't notice and you'll recoup all you've spent and get your Image comics cheaper!
This is wrong in several ways:
First, Image discounts no longer have Image-only plateaus. They dropped the old method a few months ago. Image discounts are the same as a retailer gets on the total Diamond order, and are tied to the total amount a retailer orders from Diamond.
Admittedly, a retailer could (theoretically) boost the entire order value by over-ordering Spawn, but considering that Diamond plateaus are thousands of dollars apart, it's pretty risky.
Next, a concern, that which makes it "pretty risky": You see, Todd once skipped a couple of issues (#19-20 IIRC), shipped #21, and later went back to (re)solicit and pick up the missing numbers. All a little joke "Todd can't count!" is the way Image described it. Suppose he does it again? There's something like 8 issues of Spawn in the pipeline. I forget the numbers, but let's say 900-908. Instead of doing #900, Todd just skips ahead to #908, ships that one on time, and cancels #900-907. It's not late, it's not in violation of terms, and the retailer's stuck with the "ton" of Spawns. Considering that Todd did it once before, anyone want to take the chance that he won't do it again? Care to bet your business on it?
Finally, there is no "big outlay to begin with" or recoup. Retailers only lay out money when the books ship.
So aside from being morally questionable, the concept is wrong on two factual issues, and dangerous to boot. Whoever came up with the idea needs to know a little bit more about Diamond terms before getting cute.”
First point, a)if you have only just set up in business you have to pay up front b)if you have exceeded your credit limit you have to pay up front and c)if you have fallen behind on payments you have to pay up front. There is a “big outlay” for some people.
Second point, I reprinted the email as it came to me. It suggests a way for retailers to save money. I assume retailers will be intelligent enough to check out the regional discount situation and to carefully consider the risks for themselves. Judging by the positive replies I’ve had from retailers there is something in this. Your points, however, are well made and retailers should take note if they haven’t considered this already.
“Does anyone have an update to the Alan Grant rumor from September 29th? Thanks!”
Unfortunately all I've found out points to this rumour being false. Shame really as I personally would have loved to see Mr. Grant's return but that's the way it goes sometimes...
Now into the messages that accompanied the poll. As the poll stands (at the time of writing) nearly 60% of voters rate the column as being between Very good! But room for improvement and Excellent! Around 20% rate the column as superb and only 25% of the vote (I know that doesn’t add up) is shared between the bottom 3 grades of Average, Sub Par and Donkey Poo. Not exactly a landslide by anyone’s standards but it’s better than Dubya’s Florida victory. I see it as encouraging with a remit to get better soon.
Thumbs up ....
I'll confess and say that I voted 'Very good, with room for improvement' .... :)
Unfortunately poor Alan almost seemed to inherit a column that no one wanted or could find the time (or resources) to do. It seemed as though ATR was a big drawcard for the SBC site (so many acronyms!), so it's continued existence was important, but no one was really up to the challenge.
Young Ian made a good go of it in terms of his stories, but ultimately I don't think he searched for enough and I'm guessing that 'real life' kinda got in the way for him. I understand and can relate, but it didn't help when he was promising things and not delivering (particularly when columns were late).
Enter Alan, who at first seemed just a bit like 'Mr Reliable' who was here to caretake the site and make sure that people got used to it being a weekly on-time column again. Alan was also attempting to make a full column and not just a small collection of stories. That was where Ian failed because he had some really good stuff/sources (maybe even a little better than Alan at the moment), but that doesn't mean anything if you can't get your stuff together.
Now, I think that Alan is definitely finding his voice as such and seems much less like the caretaker of the column. ATR is his now and he's starting to get his dues with being quoted around the Net on various message boards. This used to be done with sniping and complaining about the 'new guy' on ATR, but a lot of stuff now is just being quoted as fairly reputable stuff. That's a good move .... I'm sure Alan is also building a better library/collection of sources now.
So, my reasons for saying that there is 'room for improvement' is because there just is. Alan has grown into the role in leaps and bounds and really come up in my estimation (I really didn't like the column at first), and now I see the wonderful and inherent potential within. The only thing now is to keep up that growth and continue getting great stories and great sources that will add to the fact that we now have a reliable and meaty column again.
Big thumbs up and hope that all makes sense! I look forward to today's instalment .... :)
P.S. In regard to seeing his family, just give him a short conjugal visit .... ;)”
It makes perfect sense. Thank you.
I voted 'sub par'. I get the impression week after week that Alan has to stretch to get a full column, including lots of information that frankly doesn't belong in a rumor column. I mean, frankly, if the information comes from a company putting out a press release it's hardly a "rumor" is it?”
Um...ATR hasn’t really been put across as just being a rumour column for sometime now. Recently I have taken pains to point out that it is a Rumour/Opinion/News column.
“Take this week's column: Crossgen's Travellers, The Truth going an extra issue, the Savage Dragon solicitation bit...none of those are rumors, it's just press release info.”
Do most fans go round reading press releases? C’mon, honestly? Do even retailers? I am pulling information together from disparate sources and presenting it with my opinion. It’s possible that you may have read some of the stuff elsewhere but have you really thought about it? With my column I try to make people think, they may not agree with me but by disagreeing they have formed an opinion.
“The Fables message board bit might have been something if examples of Willingham's behavior had been given, or at the very least linked to.”
This is an EXTREMELY good point. I would normally do this (see the Green Lantern story from a while back) I’m sorry, I didn’t get the time. I did search the Message Board in question but frankly it was very late in the day and I had a baby bouncing on me... Very good point and one I take note of.
“I'm no big Johnston fan by any means, but he at least seems to get some info that hasn't been reported by other sites already. Very rarely does that happen at ATR; I just feel like Alan isn't in the loop enough, relying on stuff from other sites emailed to him by ATR readers.”
I do take your point here BUT I think that you are very much overstating the issue. It is very rare for an ATR column to go out without at least one scoop if not several threaded throughout the article. Honestly, look back properly we do actually get quite a few tit bits, well normally, this week is a bit lean...
“It's not a terrible column or anything, but I am never surprised by what I read in ATR anymore.”
Should all the rumours go together and then the News/OP-ED stuff go into different sections? You may not be surprised but do you enjoy it, that is THE most important thing.
For the first time in years, I probably won't be back next week. The revamped column started out lukewarm and went steadily downhill from there, where I'm concerned.
More concretely, "All the Rage" has recently been filled with official press releases (which I read NEWSARAMA for), annoying fanboy praise/ bitching on the writer's part (which I could find in WIZARD or in bad online reviews, if I were interested in it) shortsighted pseudo-analysis of sales figures (which I read Paul O'Brien's column for, which happens to be a lot more knowledgeable and substantiated) and generally a lot of fluff that seems to have the primary function of stretching things out (if I read a column like this one, I think it's a safe bet that I already know what "CrossGen Comics" is, for example).
So, in short, the writer doesn't really seem to have anything to say -- at least in terms of the kind of thing I've been reading "All the Rage" for.
Sorry if I sound harsh, but, well, you asked.
That I did. Harsh it was. As for your points I believe I’ve addressed them all above. However as you’re not coming back you won’t ever know that will you? I would like to add that I never feel I am stretching a column out. I was given a remit, told to find a style, advised on some changes to make (i.e. more News and Opinion) and then sent on my way
I went for "Very good...improvement"
I like what Alan's doing here - it's a nice little nutshell compendium of interesting bits and pieces, mixed with op/ed.”
Whaaa-HEY!!!!!!! Thank YOU! There are some people who like the new style, I have been getting requests like “More op/ed, but not about me this time” and so forth, for those of you who hate what I’m doing please note I’m not pressing on here in a vacuum, I have been getting messages like this.
“It's not Rich Johnston, though, and as long as the "Rumour Barrier" and the smiley/rating things are still here, it will inevitably be compared to Rich.”
This is an extremely good point and one I will have to raise with the Big Kahuna, perhaps a facelift for the column maybe in order.
“This is not a value judgement. Rich is Rich, Alan is Alan. The column name may be the same, Alan may be a successor to Rich, but they have different approaches, different experience, different contacts, and different opinions of what is newsworthy.
You'll probably always get flack from people who were somehow expecting an RJ clone. It's also a bit unfortunate that you've taken over during a particularly "flat" period for gossip. Even Rich has been a bit sparse lately.”
I had noticed, I don’t have Rich’s contacts, that is going to take years to build up I do admire him for that. In many ways my style was dictated by Rich’s, I sort of set out to be deliberately different. As you said this isn’t a value judgement.
“I notice you've started including "op/ed" as part of your preamble. Good idea- it starts the move away from the RJ model. It's going to take a while to convert from "All The Rage" to "Alan's Thoughts & Rumours, but it will probably be worth being patient.
I have to go with Average. This column is less rumor mill (do you even need the Rumor Barrier anymore?) and more commentary/press releases/message board quoting. Nothing great, nothing terrible.”
Which is pretty much what is says on the tin. And as for the Rumour Barrier... C’mon the column contains a lot of “commentary/press releases/message board quoting” and news but there is a lot of rumours too. I am a little annoyed by the assertions that there’s no rumours at all, we have scooped the best of them and we’ve even cut so close to the bone we’ve had companies ask us to remove stories. Please if you don’t like the column then fair enough but don’t be silly, eh?
IIRC (and it is always possible that I don't) Gemstone publishing the Disney books is nothing new. I remember Gladstone and Gemstone as essentially one-and-the-same.
During my comics awareness (starting in the mid-80's), first the disney stuff was published by Gladstone (aka gemstone aka Geppi aka diamond), then Disney took back the rights and published themselves, then discovered they couldn't make any money from it and handed it back to Gladstone. Then the license lapsed a couple of years ago, and now things are just going back to the status quo, just a slight name change.
And, to be more specific, I think Gladstone was owned by Geppi, who also owns Gemstone and Diamond (as separate business entities). Anyone else remember differently?”
Thanks for the info.
Since you asked for an appraisal . . .
You're keeping up with Rich generally, so that's a good thing. I don't really think you or Rich have reached any sort of Hedda Hopper-like status, but the evening is still young.”
Huh? Hedda Hopper?
“One retailer, albeit young and inexperienced, called you a slime recently, so I guess you're making a sort of impact with the dodgy stuff.”
Where? Missed that. My local retailer only calls me that when I ask him to put something by in my box until next week.
“Personally, I'm not sure you have the dirt-digging moxie to do what it takes to get to the gold as a rumor columnist. I, myself, know all sorts of juicy stuff, yet neither you nor Rich have ever tried to pump me for info. Heidi did once, although half-heartedly. Not that I'd ever tell you anything, because I wouldn't. But the fact remains, you don't even really know who I am. This tells me you don't know who to target to get at the good stuff.”
I know nothing...you are going to at least email me a list of people worth contacting aren’t you?
“However, you are making a valiant effort, Alan, and I commend you for it. Keep the faith!”
Many thanks, and I will otherwise I’ll lose my other free gig, Sunday School teaching.
Well that will be that then.
What have we learnt, children? Some people like the new style. Some people hate it. The stuff posted on the message boards wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.
So, it’s up to you to fix that – post your abuse at the links below!
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