Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oh my God... take a look

I have to laugh and cry. My calendar – which I keep a copy of in my office at the paper to remind me how NOT to do something – is a collectible in someone's eyes.

I also keep a fossil mastodon bone on my desk to remind me that the alternative to evolution is death.

The Year in Fear project was an education. I had come up with the idea of producing a horror calendar and involved
my close friend Steve Bissette. Our other close fiend Mark Martin was the art director at Tundra and worked with Steve to produce a beautiful showcase for his art.

Well, the office politics at Tundra helped put a few nails in the project's coffin. Someone needs to write a book on how the publishing experiment set up by a multi-millionaire cartoonist managed to subvert all of its stated goals for of supporting creators and their work.

More than the office politics – I wasn't very popular there as I was an outsider who actually had done his job – The Year in Fear died because of ignorance. I thought the marketing person had done the research to understand how to sell calendars. God, was I a moron!

The chucklehead at Tundra in charge of this detail – naturally a relative of The Man – didn't have a frickin' clue. So the job of getting sales was left up to me.

After a poor showing in the comics trade, I though I should approach Spenser's Gifts, one of the largest sellers of calendars in the country at the beginning of the '90s. I drove to their headquarters in Atlantic City and saw a buyer who patiently explained to me that I was too late for that year's calendar sales cycle, that the calendar was too large and that it didn't have a hole so it could be hung on a display hook.


So I then worked out a deal with Fangoria magazine to sell the calendar through that magazine and we moved a few. By this time Steve and I had rescued a quantity of calendars that Tundra was ready to trash.

When the Fangoria deal came to an end, Steve and I cut the plates up so they could be sold as mini-posters when the tow of us had a table at Chiller Con.

Neither of us made much money on the calendar, especially considering there were people who were getting kill fees for their projects in the thousands.

So here's my lesson for today:
Don't trust a publisher to know how to sell your project and research your project's market thoroughly before making commitments to style and content.

By the way, I think I still have some calendars in my basement. I'll sell them cheaper than $50! And Bissette and I will sign them.

© 2008 by Gordon Michael Dobbs


Mark Martin said...

I think I created that logo! I'm having one of those weird "That looks familiar, did I do that?" moments, seeing it in the ebay ad. It sure looks like my work.

You left out the part about Stanley's calendar!

Mike Dobbs said...

Yes, that's your logo!

Ah the Stanley story...I thought that would be too tawdry and ultimately sad to post.

SRBissette said...

Mark, you designed the whole calendar!