In the third one of these in recent memory, another fine comic book publisher of quality indy comics is in trouble. It’s for the same reason as always – bankrupt distributor screws publisher for large amounts, decimating their working capital and hampering their cash flow. This time it is Alternative Comics out of Gainsville FL. The publisher, Jeff Mason, was extremely good to me during the radio show days, so I definitely would like to see him and his excellent company weather this storm.
It has in the email “For Immediate Release”, so I’m assuming that it is cool to repost in near its entirety. The short version is this: Alternative needs cash flow now, they aren’t set up to take individual customer orders so what they are asking folks to do is to go to their local comics shop and buy up their titles, so the comics shops will reorder and they will get the money they need. This is more indirect than typical and it isn’t something you can do as easily online, but please do if you can. I’ll be heading to one of my shops and buying a few titles as soon as I can. There is always room in my day for more Jon Lewis or James Kochalka. Here now is the text of Jeff’s letter:
Dear Comics Fans:
I’m Jeff Mason making a direct appeal to you, our faithful readers, in a time of serious financial difficulty. If you could find a way to buy some of our books listed below, you would greatly help in our time of financial crisis. Please check off the books you want below and then buy these books from your favorite retailer. You can also use the checklist in the back of your copy of Alternative Comics #2 that was given out by your local comic book store on Free Comic Book Day. If your retailer does not stock our comics and books, they can use this form below as a way to order our in-stock titles form any of our distributors.
Alternative Comics is suffering some very dire cash flow problems and I am turning to you for help. In the spring of 2002 our book trade distributor, LPC, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy owing Alternative Comics a lot of money. I had hoped that I could weather the storm by taking money from my savings and by borrowing on credit until receiving the agreed-upon 42% of what LPC owed us. Now over two years later, LPC is still in bankruptcy proceedings and I am completely out of savings and credit.
In the past (prior to LPC) I had ample working capital – I had great credit terms with my various printers. Now (post LPC) I have absolutely no working capital and must pay up front to print every book.
For each publication, I now wait for all of the retailer advance orders to come in to Diamond, then I contract Diamond to assign the payment they’d pay to me to my printer to print the book. This contractual agreement costs money and cuts into our razor thin margin.
Lack of cash on hand has also caused me to have to shrink print runs on some books. This increases the cost per unit of each book, and speeds the looming reprint costs.
I’ve been increasing my publishing schedule over the last two years, and in hindsight, I expanded too quickly. Alternative Comics is moving forward with a much more reasonable, much more foresighted publishing schedule, with some really amazing projects in the works! Alternative Comics’ cash flow problems have been the only reason for not yet reprinting Bipolar #1 and Humor Can Be Funny as well as having been the only reason a number of books have been arriving late or re-solicited.
I am asking you to please buy Alternative Comics books from your local retailers. In my fanciful imagination, the best result would be for retailers to quickly sell out of all Alternative Comics books in inventory to customers and hurriedly place nice reorders with distributors.
Alternative Comics has no staff other than myself, so I am unable to handle orders directly. I ask that readers buy from your local comic book retailers, and retailers to buy from your favorite distributors.
The single most important variable for our publishing efforts is the number of comics or books advance ordered by retailers. Retailers decide their advance orders of books based on what you, the reader, let them know you want to buy. Currently, we have the following books scheduled for release in September 2004. These books are in all of the distributors’ catalogs right now. If you want to get copies of these books, please let your local comic book retailer know!
JUL04 2534, A Few Perfect Hours and Other Stories by Josh Neufeld (Xeric Winner), $12.95
JUL04 2535, Escalator by Brandon Graham, $12.95
JUL04 2537, SLOWPOKE: America Gone Bonkers by Jen Sorensen, $12.95
JUL04 2538, Turtle, turtle by Jed Alexander, $11.95
JUL04 2539, Waterwise by Joel Orff (Featured Item), $14.95
If you can find it in your hearts to help Alternative Comics, I will be eternally grateful.
Publisher – Alternative Comics
Update: Here’s a link to an online shop at which you can buy Alternative’s books.