Two years ago, I made the decision to change the distribution model for Rob Hanes Adventures. This change was in response to Diamond Comics Distributor’s decision to implement a new policy regarding titles that did not meet certain sales benchmarks. While Diamond always has been very supportive of my series—and, in fact, encouraged me to continue submitting the title to them—I nevertheless felt that it was time to explore new ways to distribute the series. Fortunately, new technologies, including print on demand (POD) publishing and the Web, have opened new ways for cartoonists and publishers to get their work seen without being completely dependent on Diamond as the only game in town.
I’m glad to say that sales for Rob Hanes Adventures have remained fairly steady. POD publishing helps keep costs and risk down and, hence, there is greater opportunity for profit even with lower sales. Without Diamond, of course, it is virtually impossible to attain the same kind of market penetration. Regardless, this past year saw a significant uptick for me in online sales, and in sales directly to retailers. Even more encouraging was the fact that many sales were to readers who clearly were trying out the series for the first time since their orders were for the entire catalog. While I couldn’t always track how these buyers learned of my book, I can only assume that most heard about it on the Web, including the fact that the book was not available through Diamond to local retailers.
My only disappointment was that I was hoping to make up some of the shortfall lost through Diamond by distributing the series through some “second-tier” distributors, particularly Cold Cut Distribution. When Cold Cut was put up for sale, I must admit it was quite a setback.
I have not completely sworn off ever offering a book again through Diamond. Fortunately, however, the success of the book never was completely contingent on Diamond carrying the title. Producing the book is not my sole or primary occupation, which means I never have maintained a steady production schedule. Though in theory I hoped to make Rob Hanes Adventures a quarterly, in practice it’s been an annual. For a classic 32-page comic-book (even one as self-contained and densely-told as my stories), that’s not a recipe for success, nor is it very conducive to building a lot of momentum. But that is nobody’s “fault” except my own—just my reality to live with.
In any case, I take great pride in the fact that the book has stayed in publication for the past 15-plus years and, better yet, it has maintained a solid fan base even as new readers continue to discover it. That’s always been my primary goal and I’m just glad that there are people who continue to appreciate the series and what I am trying to do. I continue to enjoy the series and believe I’m only just now beginning to discover its full potential. Thanks to everyone who have continued to stay with me—
And here’s to an even better 2008!
Pictured above: An excerpt from the next issue of Rob Hanes Adventures. Click here or on the image to see it full size, or here for more sample pages from the issue.