Dr. Gangrene's Cinetarium airs Saturday Nights at 9pm central on Nashville NECAT Arts CH9. It is also simulcast on the NECAT Roku channel (search for Necat). Or click to watch below.

Thursday, June 30

Alternative Comic Book Distribution Plan #1 – BRENNER PRINTING/SHIPPING

Greetings Maniacs!

The feedback to my posts on comic book distributors has been great, via email, twitter, comments, conversations and texts. I have never seen a company as universally despised as Diamond Comics Distributors. Decades of screwing over retailers, casually dismissing comic creators, driving up prices and failing to fulfill orders or even ship on time (so I’ve heard from my comic shop owner friends) have resulted in a monopolistic giant that everyone wants to see topple – I know I do. I’m more than happy to play David here… or at least present some alternatives as a champion to the little guy.

If you want to get your books into comic shops there is only one major distributor, and they, as I discussed yesterday, only deal with publishers who clear $2500 monthly (profit after Diamond’s 60% take). What’s a small press Indy comic creator/publisher to do?

Take heart folks – alternatives are out there, and I’m going to spotlight some of them here over the next few weeks.

Interestingly several of these alternatives are coming directly from printers. Which makes sense – they print it – so why not deliver to the shops as well?

Today I’m going to talk about Brenner Printing. Brenner has been in business for 35 years. I’ve dealt with them personally and they are professional, courteous, and deliver high quality work on time. Used to be Diamond Distributors would pick up directly from Brenner’s docks, allowing a nice convenient way for publishers to get their product to them and on to comic shops. Not any more though - that is yet another service Diamond has done away with.

However, notice the name change - Brenner Printing ans MAILING! Brenner has picked up the slack and now offers shipping for its customers! There is no minimum print run for printing and they will ship any amount to any number of addresses for a flat shipping rate. Let me repeat that last part – A FLAT SHIPPING RATE. No arrogant insistence on number of books or amount of money cleared, where you print or don’t print it (POD), no 60% taken off the top, no BS – they simply charge you to take the book from point A to point B. AND there is no limit to what type address they will ship to – comic shops, businesses, people’s homes – it doesn’t matter. They’ll box and ship it for you via UPS and several other carriers at a LOWER RATE than you could get. That’s right – their shipping rate is 30% to 40% lower than what you or I could just walk in and get!!

Want to print only 500 and ship half of them to various addresses and the remainder sent to you? No problem. Print 1000 and ship 400, sure thing!

The key here is hustling to PRESELL those issues – that’s where the great equalizer, the internet, comes into play. You have to be on top of your game, building a website, marketing that book, working those social media outlets, making phone calls, making appearances, giving away free samples and most of all – providing content that people want to buy. I can’t help you there. That part is up to you. But if you hustle to make the product and market it, Brenner can provide a way to get it to your readers.

I recently had a DVD distributor tell me he would distribute almost any DVD as long as it made money. He really didn’t care about content, just whether he could sell it. That’s the way a distributor should operate. They are not content police.

Again, that flat shipping rate is a big deal. I just can’t emphasize it enough. It cost the same amount to ship a book whether its cover is $1.00 or $5.99. Why should the distributor charge more if the cost of the book is more, like Diamond does? They shouldn’t!! Wake up people! This business model stinks, is unfair to the publisher, and is hurting the industry!!

Oh and by the way – the big San Diego Comicon is coming up. Haven’t printed your books yet? No worries – Brenner still has time to get them ready for the show, and they’ll even deliver them right there to the Comicon, so you don’t have to fuss with carrying them on the plane! There is a staging area at the show where you can simply pick up your waiting merchandise – how cool is that?

Check them out at www.brennerprinting.com or give them a call at 1-877-349-4024 and they’ll hook you up.

Vincentennial Post #14 - Vincent at The Magic Castle

This is a great candid shot of Vincent relaxing backstage at the historic Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA. I ran across this somewhere on the internet, and swiped it! Bwa haha!

This past weekend - A Ghastlee Night at Gilly's

I was on vacation all last week, so activity here was a bit slower than usual. I got back in town on Friday, then on Saturday my band took a road trip to Dayton Ohio to play a show at Gilly's Bar in Dayton Ohio with my good buddy and fellow horror host A. Ghastlee Ghoul. We had a great trip and I even drug my lab coat and goggles with me (by request) and hopped onstage with some other hosts who were in attendance with me and Ghastlee (Dr. Dark and Baron Von Porkchop) to give away some free prizes. Huge thanks to Ghastlee and friends for all the hospitality.

Wednesday, June 29

Diamond Distributions - A Little Clarification

Howdy all. I've been on vacation the past week and didn't spend much time posting here. I recently wrote a series of posts about comic book distributor Diamond distributions:

The Greed of Diamond Distributions
Why Digital Comics should remain cheap
How Diamond is Killing the Comic Book Industry 

Since then I did some further investigation and looked into things a bit more, made a couple of phone calls and turns out I was a little misinformed on Diamond's practices.
Things are actually worse than I had stated.

Diamond Comic Distributors raised its order minimums from $1,500 to $2,500. They charge based on how much money a comic book publisher makes, not on number of books sold. That's an important distinction. It is the amount of money the publisher makes - BUT - that amount is the amount the publisher makes AFTER Diamond takes it's 60% cut for distributing the comic.

So, again, Diamond is encouraging publishers to raise the cost of their books, which decreases the amount of books sold because, hey, this just in - the economy sucks right now!

What Diamond really has done is give a giant middle finger to small press comic publishers. They don't want to fool with them. BUT take heart - there are some alternatives available to small press publishers, and more springing up all the time. I'll be looking at some of those in the next few days, alternatives that are 100% DIAMOND free! Excelsior!

Tuesday, June 28

Vincentennial Post #13 - Vincent's AFTRA Card

Vincent Price was well known in film and on stage, but many of us knew him from his frequent radio and television appearances.  If you haven't listened to Vinnie as THE SAINT in the radio series by the same name, search out a couple episodes.  And for a good example of Vinnie's sense of comedy, find him in an episode of the Red Skelton Show--he did several.  Here's Vinnie's AFTRA card, something he could not have done these shows without!

(collection of Robert Taylor)

Sunday, June 19

Vincentennial Post #12 - Vincent Price's Screen Actor's Guild Card

Vincent Price's Screen Actor's Guild Card. Another awesome piece from Robert Taylor's personal collection. Check the expiration date on this one - October 31st. Very cool. Don't know if that is the expiration date for all SAG memberships but it's cool nonetheless.

Vincent Price's first film was SERVICE DE LUXE in 1938, his last major role in EDWARD SCISSORHANDS in 1990.  The organization that made it all possible, the Screen Actors Guild--and here's Vinnie's own SAG card from ' 71.

(collection of Robert Taylor)

Saturday, June 18

Vincentennial Post #11 - Vincent's luggage tag

 here's another piece from the Robert Taylor collection, an original silver name tag that Vincent used while traveling:
Vincent Price first began traveling in 1924 when he went to summer camp in Colorado, and his first world trip--a tour of Europe--took place in 1928/29.  Vinnie continued to travel throughout his life, getting to film locations, making lecture tours, doing theatrical appearances all over America (and in England!).  What better gift to give the constant traveler than this silver luggage tag?  He used it until airport luggage handling began to take a toll on it and then he put it away, a little dented and bent but still able to hold a shine
 (collection of Robert Taylor)

Movie Meltdown #126 - the Unmaking of an Epic

Check out the podcast Movie Meltdown, episode 126 - it features an interview with my buddy Dave Conover talking about his new Book, War Eagles, The Unmaking of an Epic. War Eagles was a planned movie by Merian C. Cooper and Willis O'Brien that almost got to shooting stage that would have featured a lost race of Viking warriors astride giant prehistoric eagles doing battle with Nazis over the skies of modern day Manhattan! Hell Yeah!


Here's Movie Meltdown's description of this episode:

  This week we interview author Dave Conover about his book: War Eagles - The Unmaking of an Epic. This is the amazing story of a film that never happened and the greatest story NEVER told…until now. 
And somewhere along the way, we mention…Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine, Merian C. Cooper, RoboTech, the world is on the brink of war, John Wayne, Peter Jackson, a secret weapon, a German P.O.W. camp, Flying Aces Magazine, a circumpolar flight, the Death Star of 1939, Clash of the Titans, calling Forry Ackerman at home, dinosaurs, Raiders of the Lost Ark, a giant zeppelin, MGM, John Ford, dropping a nuclear bomb on New York, the summer of ‘77, Hitler invades Poland, Willis O'Brien, King Kong Lives, the alternate script for Dracula’s Daughter, Ray Harryhausen, fighting Nazis, Mighty Joe Young, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, giant eagles, Technicolor, The Searchers, the death ray, tracking down clues, fighting allosauruses, copyrighting Mickey Mouse, a lost tribe of Vikings, controlling the Helium production, Sonny Bono, King Kong, The Flying Tigers, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth and…Buy War Bonds!

Spolier Alert: You will in fact hear the end of this movie…that never happened. Does that still count as a spoiler?


Thursday, June 16

How Diamond is killing the Comic Book Industry - and a solution

I had another interesting comment yesterday to my WHY DIGITAL COMICS SHOULD REMAIN CHEAP post. This one was regarding Diamond Distributions (and I suspect it was actually written by someone at Diamond). I wanted to spotlight it because it brings up another important point. They said:


You do realize that Diamond takes 60% and that most retailers buy from Diamond between 45-55% off cover price? That means Diamond is making anywhere between 5-15% depending on the size of the retailer? I'd hardly call that an "obscene cut of profits".

It's a cost of doing business. And if you can't sell 2K comics (which is basically 1 comic to each store out there)... you really shouldn't be in the comics business.


Okay, two things going on here. First, the Diamond rate…

Yeah, Diamond does take 60% of cover, or more in some cases I've heard. BUT they no longer pick up comics from the Brenner printing docks. I just found this out when I made a call to Brenner today. Nice. Thanks Diamond. Fortunately Brenner ships books themselves and has a good rate.

By the way, I can't say enough good things about Brenner Printing. All my interactions with them over the years have been top rate. Friendly, professional and they deliver on time.

Diamond is doing business like they did 30 years ago - it's a broken model. Makes no sense to pay 60% of your cover to someone to distribute a book. Diamond should be charging a flat rate to distribute your book. Point A to Point B. That is what Diamond does. They take your book to the comic books shops. Period.

This whole routine of charging a percentage of cover is ridiculous. Does it cost them any more to distribute my book if I charge $4.00 for it than $1.95? No, it doesn't. So why should they make more money to distribute my book if I charge more money? All this does is encourage me to charge more, which is bad for the industry.

So what else do you get for Diamond's rate? The privilege of being in their catalog, which is seen by every shop in America - 2000 according to the email above.

Here is a way for Diamond to cut costs. Do away with the catalog. The paper catalog. Lose it and put that sucker online. Make it password protected so only retailers have access to it. Make it searchable, so retailers can quickly find books by company, genre, page count, cost. That'll save you some money right there. Charge a small fee to every company to be listed in the catalog. More income that companies won't mind paying - say something like $20 a month, or $5 per issue. Something like that. More money coming in.

Move to a flat shipping rate based on weight of a package. Eliminate minimum print runs. Now you've suddenly added hundreds if not thousands of small press companies to your distribution routes. You're bringing in new income!

THIS would allow the publishers to cut costs of their comics, because now you don't have to pay 60% off the top to a distributer. Lower costs mean customers can buy more comics. This in turn grows the industry and makes it healthier and perhaps keeps it from dying, which is what it is slowly doing right now. Everyone benefits.

So Diamond makes a small amount off actually delivering the book, and then retailers buy from Diamond between 45-55% off the cover of that book. Now how would that business model be unfair?

Now for the second part –

And if you can't sell 2K comics (which is basically 1 comic to each store out there)... you really shouldn't be in the comics business.

Really? And who are you to dictate that? If I have 500 comic shops out there that want to read my comic book, why shouldn’t I be able to deliver it to those 500 readers? That is arrogance, some sort of entitlement that makes Diamond think they’re the guardians of quality and keepers of the comic book gate. They are distributors. Nothing more.

Again, the entire model is outdated and inefficient. Time for a change. I really, really hope something better comes along, because all Diamond is doing is encouraging publishers to charge more, which in turn discourages readers from buying, which is slowly killing the industry.

Wednesday, June 15

Vincentennial Post #10 - Vincent's Baby Shoe

Another super rare item from Robert Taylor's Vincent Price collection is this baby shoe from 1911. Robert was able to purchase a number of items directly from the Price family. This is one. Here is what Robert had to say about this shoe...

Vincent Price's baby shoe from 1911.  His dad, VLP Sr., wrote in Vinnie's baby book that on the way to his baptism, little Vincent kicked off one of his baby shoes and though they all searched high and low, even retracing their path through the city, the missing shoe never turned up again!  The remaining one was saved, though, and spent many decades pressed flat in the baby book until rediscovered in 2007 and returned to a three-dimensional state.
 (from the Robert Taylor Collection)

Vincentennial Post #9 - The Book of Joe

 I didn't think I could become more of a Price fan until now - how neat to know he was a dog lover too... of course he was. I HAVE to find a copy of this book now...
After his divorce from his first wife, actress Edith Barrett, Vincent Price spent a lonely time until Joe, a mixed-breed dog, entered his life.  Joe was with Vinnie for many years, and during his second marriage, to costume designer Mary Grant, when a succession of other dogs all had names beginning with "P", Joe was known for a time as "P-Joe"!  Vinnie wrote this book about the unforgettable Joe, one of his dearest and most unforgettable companions.
(from the Robert Taylor Collection)

Tuesday, June 14

Why Digital Comics Should Remain Cheap

I had a reader leave a response to my post about Diamond comics saying that he had heard the argument about keeping digital comics cheap and that he disagreed. I responded back, but afterwards thought it important enough to warrant its own post. So here are my thoughts on digital comics and pricing, and why keeping them cheap is good for the industry:

Hi Eric - good comments. I am not so concerned with what Netflix has done for the HOLLYWOOD movie industry as the independent industry. It has given a HUGE platform for indy filmmakers whose work might otherwise never be seen. I am constantly running across little indy films on Netflix, some good, some bad, and love it!

The digital comics transition is going to be interesting to watch, but my whole point is this - without the costs of printing and Diamond taking their obscene cut of profits there is no reason to gouge your loyal fanbase. And yes, that is who the majority of comic book digital readers will be, people who already read comics. However, by offering lower cost digital books more of these readers might be tempted to check out some newer titles they otherwise might not:
1. Have the money to buy or
2. Even have ever heard of

Let's suppose a company establishes an online catalog of books, makes them available for .99 cents each and says you get one free with every ten you order. That is eleven books for ten dollars. DAMN! Not bad. How many more might they check out - at that rate why not? And if they like it they'll probably want to buy the hard copy, which they can get straight from the publisher, allowing him or her to make more money…

Diamond's business model discourages retailers from taking chances. It also makes it neigh impossible to make money for a creator.

Let's look at a book that charges 2.99 per issue. Pretty commonplace, right? Actually might be low nowadays. Anyway…
They sell 1000 through Diamond. That's 2999.00 - BUT Diamond takes their 60% off the top - 1799.4 - meaning the creator actually gets $1199.6 from Diamond. I know printing costs have risen, but let's conservatively say printing through Brenner where Diamond can pick up the stock off the docks (thus no shipping charges) costs 1200.00 bucks for arguments sake. There is no profit there and you just sold 1000 books.

Let's say that same book charges 3.99 per copy. 3999.00 profit minus Diamond's 60% rape of 2399.40 leaves $1599.6. A little better. But minus your 1200 printing cost you're left with a whopping 399.6 bucks. Average of .39 cents per book profit.

At .99 per book for a digital sale you'd only need to sell 400 books to make the same profit as a 1000 copies of a 3.99 print book distributed through Diamond (and this is using our conservative printing costs - actual printing costs nowadays are, I'm sure, much higher) .

I just do not think people are going to pay much for a digital book. You can't collect it, people can pirate it… but keeping it low encourages people to take a chance on new comics and why not buy it, it is so cheap anyway?

This is why cheaper digital books are good for the industry. If you make it expensive people simply won't buy it - You don't have a physical item that you can collect and it just isn't worth 3 or 4 dollars to buy it. That is an honest opinion. Plus the higher the cost the more you're encouraging people to pirate it. Again an honest opinion.

Monday, June 13

Vincentennial Post #8 - Vincent Price's personal clock

I enlisted the help of my friend Robert Taylor for this Vincentennial post. Now many of you may know Robert from convention circles, and that is in fact where Robert and I first met, at Monster Bash in PA over a decade ago (man how time flies)! We hit it off right away (I can't in fact imagine anyone NOT getting along with Robert). He has a terrific, warm personality and a million stories. I also discovered he has a fantastic horror and sci-fi collection including some ultra-rare Vincent Price one of a kind memorabilia. I contacted Robert to see if he'd be interested in sharing any of his collection here and he graciously agreed to do just that. First up in the Robert Taylor collection is this alarm clock - Here's Robert's description;

Robert - Vinnie's Jaeger LeCoultre travel-alarm clock, which he carried with him on every trip for many, many years.  The leather case is very worn, evidence of the long service the clock gave Price on his frequent travels all over the world!  Behind the clock, Price's own framed photos of his beloved mother and father, Marguerite and Vincent L. Price Sr.
(from the Robert Taylor Collection)

Vincentennial Post #7 - Movieland Wax Exhibit

  This is a Vincent Price Wax exhibit that stood at the famous Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park, CA. It was established in 1962 but sadly permanently closed it's doors in 2005. The Vincent Price scene was from House of Wax, which is, if you think about it, the perfect choice for a wax figure of Vincent. This picture was taken off a postcard of the exhibit. You can see the entire now defunct museum here.

Saturday, June 11

Vincentennial Post #6 - Vincent Price 8-track Trivia Game


That's right, Vincent licensed his name to a TV Trivia game. This was put out by Milton Bradley in 1980, and as you can see, other than the name it has little to do with Vincent. The game consists of an 8-track tape cartridge and instruction booklet. Not sure if Vinny voices the 8-track, but I kind of doubt it.

 Apparently it was made to be played in this monstrosity - the Omni Entertainment System. I can't imagine this was really a lot of fun, but you never know, I suppose...

Contemporary Makeup Artist Photo Exhibit

Here's a really interesting show happening in Pasadena - it's a photo exhibit of makeup artists like Stan Winston, Rick Baker, etc... but not their work, this exhibit features close-up, black-and-white images of these artists' faces.They were taken by photographer Deverill Weekes from 1994-2011, and the show takes place June 6th at the Pasedena Convention Center. More details below...

Dick Smith

Stuart Freet

Kevin Haney

Friday, June 10

Bela Lugosi's Tales from the Grave #1

I ran into Kerry Gammill at Wonderfest a few weeks ago and got to talking about the new Bela Lugosi book.  I knew it was a horror anthology and that Bela was the host presenting all new short horror stories, but hadn't had a chance to look at it until then. So after going through it a couple of times I thought I'd review it here on the blog.

Now, in full disclosure I have to admit that I'm friends with several of the creators involved with this comic, which can sometimes make things a bit awkward when reviewing work. But despite that fact I am going to give an honest review.

Priced at $4.99 it is a little pricey, but you get 48 full color pages for that price. Not bad. Two of those pages feature an article by Gary Rhodes called "Lugosi and Dracula: How they Re-Created Each Other" which is really well written and informative and is a nice addition to the comic book content. Kind of makes it a little more magazine-ish, in a way.

There have been other comics with horror actors as the host - Boris Karloff had a series of comic books through Gold Key that ran from the 60s through the 70s called Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery. Karloff appeared on the covers and briefly inside but it was pretty much standard comic fare otherwise. Much like the short story paperback collections he put his name on, Boris really had little to do with the comic otherwise. Since 2008 Blue Water Comics has published Vincent Price Presents, a comic series with Vincent as the host - but I have never actually read an issue of it. Of the big three horror icons - Boris, Bela and Vincent - Bela Lugosi in my mind may be best suited as host of a horror anthology. While I'm fans of all three there is a natural creepiness and coolness to Bela that just sort of sets him apart.

Bela Lugosi's Tales from the Grave is published by Monsterverse Entertainment. It is dated October 2010 but I think it might have actually come out a bit later than that.

Kerry Gammill is the Publisher, Kez Wilson the Art Director and Sam Park the Marketing Director. All three share editing duties.

The first issue sports a handsome Basil Gogos painting of Bela. Now, if you want to get a painter for a horror book there is none finer than Basil Gogos. They guys really did it right there and this is a great painting, the original of which is owned by none other than Rob Zombie, who gave Monsterverse permission to use the piece for this issue. Way to go Rob!

The book begins with an introduction page where we meet our central characters - Nosferina, Hugo, and Bela himself. The art for these pages, as well as the first story, is done by Kerry Gammill. Kerry is such a great artist I'd really love to see him draw the entire book. I have been a fan of his since back in his Marvel days, and Kerry definitely has the Mighty Marvel sensibility to his work. Kerry's story is written by Sam Park and is a "Frankenstein-esque" tale called UNPLEASANT SIDE EFFECTS about a scientist working on a chemical to revitalize dead cells. Good story, one of the highlights of the book.

The final story in the book features another terrific one page intro, again drawn by Kerry Gammill. The art for the final story, called THE MIDNIGHT MUSEUM,  is done by Terry Beatty, probably best known in convention circles for the covers he paints for Scary Monsters Magazine. It is written by Martin Powell, and is slightly "House of Waxish" in theme. It stars a villain who looks suspiciously like Bela himself. Another really good tale, both in story and art. They definitely opened and closed the book with their strongest stories.

The rest of the stories in the book vary in quality of both art and story. Most are pretty good and feature Bela in the intro and wrap of the stories. The exception is THE GOOD DOCTOR, by John Cassady - Bela is nowhere to be seen in the story, the characters look like something out of a kids cartoon and the story is a comedy that misses the mark. Out of place with the rest of the book, and it's the only story not in color - although the MARK OF THE ZOMBIE by Rob Brown is sepia colored.

The book is rounded out with illustrations and caricatures of Bela by Frank Dietz, Paul Garner, Kim Loh and Jeff Preston. The Jeff Preston piece in particular is really striking - fully painted, reproduced in Black and White - good stuff.

Overall TALES FROM THE GRAVE is a great horror anthology with that classic horror feel. It really treats the memory and likeness of Lugosi with respect and is definitely a book worth picking up. Monsterverse just announced a digital release of the book through iverse as well, so you ipad folks out there can pick it up that way too. Good stuff and I look forward to where they go with issue #2!

Vincentennial Post #5 - Hangman

I've been thinking about the Vincentennial and decided what could be a better way to honor the 100th birthday of my favorite actor here on the blog than doing 100 posts dedicated to the Master of Menace? So that's what I'm doing - I'll still mix in some other posts as well, but I'm going to give you ghouls 100 Vincent Price related posts.

Featured below is the 1976 Milton Bradley Hangman game featuring Vincent on the cover in western attire. I need to pick up a copy of this - I have the Shrunken Head kit, and this game would make a nice addition to go along with it.I see them on ebay fairly cheap, so should be no problem to pick up one.

Thursday, June 9

20th Anniversary event - The Rocketeer

My buddy Scott Essman at Universal forwarded this one to me, so I'm passing it along. Looks like a great event - wish it was closer, darnit!!



Tickets On Sale Now at www.elcapitantickets.com or at (818) 845-3110

Event to Also Feature First-Ever Digital Projection of Newly Restored Feature Film, Rocketeer 20th Anniversary Collectibles and Film Exhibit

BURBANK, CA, June 8, 2011 – Acclaimed director Joe Johnston joins an out-of-this-world panel as D23: The Official Disney Fan Club celebrates the 20th anniversary of The Rocketeer. Johnston, whose work for Disney includes The Rocketeer, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Hildalgo, also helms this summer’s highly anticipated Captain America: The First Avenger. He joins the Rocketeer himself, actor Bill Campbell, make-up designer Rick Baker, screenwriters Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo and renowned illustrator William Stout to honor this Disney film favorite.* Writer/producer/director Kevin Smith – whose film credits include Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy and Dogma – will host the panel, which also includes rare film footage and photos, immediately before a special screening of the film on June 21, 2011, at the legendary El Capitan Theatre, where the film premiered two decades ago.

The evening celebration includes the first-ever, public presentation of the new, digitally remastered and projected version of The Rocketeer. All audience members will receive a complimentary Rocketeer 20th anniversary program and D23 Members and their guests will receive a special commemorative Rocketeer gift.

Following the screening, the celebration moves to the Hollywood Museum, located in the nearby historic Max Factor building, where guests are invited to explore four floors of movie memories and exhibits highlighted by a special presentation of props and costumes from The Rocketeer, curated exclusively for this event by the Walt Disney Archives.

Rocketeer fans will also have access to a selection of commemorative and limited-edition Rocketeer merchandise and collectibles, available for purchase from D23 and event co-sponsor, Creature Features. Merchandise includes Bulldog Cafe coffee mugs and T-shirts, Rocketeer black light and 20th anniversary posters, assorted commemorative T-shirts and pins, Hughes Industries giclee prints, and the limited edition Cirrus X-3 double pin set (packaged inside a miniature replica of the Hughes Industries 1939 New York World’s Fair prop folder used by Howard Hughes – actor Terry O’ Quinn – in the film). A highlight of the merchandise offerings is the highly detailed Bull Dog Cafe Art Directors Model, limited to an edition size of only 23.

The Rocketeer follows the adventures of stunt pilot Cliff Secord (Billy Campbell) who discovers a stolen rocket pack and sets off on a series of heroic (and sometimes hilarious) adventures that attract the attention of Howard Hughes, the FBI, gangsters, a band of Nazis and one aspiring actress, namely Cliff’s girlfriend Jenny (Oscar® winner Jennifer Connolly). Directed by Johnston, the film also stars Terry O’Quinn, Alan Arkin, Timothy Dalton and Paul Sorvino. Check out the trailer at: http://d23.disney.go.com/expo/062111.EE.EVENT_Rocketeer.html

Tickets are on sale now to both the general public and D23 Members online at www.elcapitantickets.com or by calling (818) 845-3110. Event ticket cost is $50 per person. Event check-in begins at 6:45 p.m. at the El Capitan Theatre, 6838 Hollywood Blvd; panel and screening begins at 7:30 p.m. The Walt Disney Archives exhibit will follow the screening from 9:45 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. at the Hollywood Museum located at 1660 N. Highland Ave.

About D23
The name “D23” pays homage to the wonder and excitement that began in 1923 when Walt Disney opened his fledgling studio in Hollywood. D23 is the first official community for fans in Disney’s 88-year history. D23 gives its members a greater connection to the entire world of Disney by placing them in the middle of the magic through its quarterly publication Disney twenty-three; a rich website at www.disney.com/D23; a new collectibles line, The Walt Disney Archives Collection; and special events for D23 Members throughout the year, highlighted by the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, August 19-21, 2011.

Fans can join D23 at www.Disney.com/D23, all Disney Store locations within the United States, select shops at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, and www.DisneyStore.com/D23. To keep up with all the latest D23 news and events, follow us “DisneyD23” at Twitter and on Facebook.

About Creature Features
The name Creature Features has served the creators and collectors of science fiction, fantasy and horror as one of the film and TV industry’s most comprehensive resources of memorabilia for over 30 years. Owned and operated by Taylor White, this popular institution offers a vast array of genre-themed artifacts through its retail gallery in Sierra Madre, CA while also sponsoring film screenings, publishing books, producing classic soundtracks on CD and hosting a series of popular art gallery exhibits throughout Los Angeles. The company’s presence can also be seen at numerous conventions, including Monsterpalooza, Comic-Con International and WonderFest. For more information: www.creaturefeatures.com.

*Talent subject to availability.

The Greed of Diamond Distributions

The times they are a changing… so wrote Bob Dylan back in 1964, and that saying is as true now as it was then - change is one thing you can always count on. Technological advances have changed the way we do business in every walk of life, and the comic book industry is no exception. Comic books, traditionally a print and paper product, are turning more and more toward a digital art form. Digital comic books - seems a weird concept. Yet that’s the way things are going for a number of reasons.

As I’ve mentioned on the blog here before, I got my start in comic books. A fan all my life, it was my early ambition to work in the comic book field. I studied art in college and began doing a little freelance work after graduation, and eventually started my own comic book company, along with my friend Chuck Angell. We self-published a handful of comics, most noteworthy of which is BEST CELLARS #1, which featured the first printed work of a young local artist we met named Eric Powell.

While running this company, originally called OUT OF THE CELLAR COMICS and later changed to VOLUNTEER COMICS, I learned a lot about the comic book industry. Deadlines, workflow, hours at the art table were all things I had anticipated – dealing with Diamond and Capital City, however, wasn’t. Capital City? Yeah, they were a distributor who was Diamond’s direct competitor back in the good old days when there was more than one major comic book distributor. Diamond eventually bought them out – and then there was one.

Capital City was always easier to deal with and had friendlier customer service. Once Diamond became the only game in town this became even worse. I’m speaking from the viewpoint of an Independent publisher with low print runs. Diamond had no minimum print run rule back then, although they preferred you kept it over 1000 and would drop you if you had three consecutive issues with under 1000 issues sold. At least this is my recollection of things, as we’re talking about the early 90’s here.

One thing that killed my enthusiasm for the self-publishing venture was Diamond Distributions. I HATED dealing with them. It was bad enough that comics cost so much to print. Paper costs were always rising and it cost 1000 bucks or more per issue to print. On top of that Diamond would take SIXTY percent of the cost of a comic right off the top. SIXTY percent. Unbelievable! By the time you paid to print a comic and Diamond took their cut of sales you were lucky to break even. For a family man working a 40 hour per week job and trying to make ends meet it was a stressful situation. Look, I understand that Diamond is in business to make money. But the whole model sucks.

I got out of the comic book publishing game and turned my creative energy toward my horror hosting gig, which I’ve been doing happily for 13 years now and counting. Over the years since then Diamond has become increasingly unfriendly toward small publishers, and in fact won’t even carry books under a certain order number, or so I am told. Originally 1000 copies, they later raised this minimum to 1500, a difficult number for many Indy publishers. The little guy is simply unwanted by Diamond, it isn’t worth their time, which is a shame. Rather than work with the Indy publishers they would rather push them out and concentrate on Marvel and DC, as that’s where the money is.

I really think this is a large part in the decline of the industry. You are pushing out the very people who are your life blood. I guarantee I am not the only creator who got out of the business and no longer buys any comics at all. This isn’t because I don’t like them, but more than anything else because I can’t justify paying 3-5 dollars for a COMIC BOOK! Ridiculous. I know I sound like a grumpy old man here but I used to pay 75 cents for comics that were way better than anything Marvel or DC is putting out nowadays. And the costs keep going up because of rising paper, printing and distribution costs.

So now along comes the internet, which I call the great equalizer. And you know what? Publishers now have instant distribution to the entire world without any printing or distribution cost! Amazing. The internet is the new distributor and Diamond is sweating. The writing is on the wall. This is the future of the industry. Ipads, ipods, iphones and other digital devices have really opened up this market.

Diamond is trying to take their monopoly into the digital domain, and if they have their way they would control the distribution of digital comics too. They have partnered with iverse and offer digital comics that are available to customers THAT BUY THEM IN THE COMIC BOOK SHOPS. Huh? You mean I have to actually walk into a shop to buy a code to download a digital comic? Yup. And here’s the kicker – they still make you pay 1.99 for it unless you buy a hard copy too, in which case the additional digital version only costs .99.

This makes no sense. They aren’t distributing ANYTHING across the internet. Let me reiterate. DIAMOND ISN’T DISTRIBUTING ANYTHING ACROSS THE INTERNET. The internet is the distributor here. The creator makes it. Iverse puts it online. Diamond simply adds to the cost by making it available in their catalog. As physical print sales of paper comics declines further and further why bother with Diamond? Go digital and forget them. I’m talking to the Indy publishers out there. Marvel and DC are doing their own thing digitally.

The time is ripe for a smart new company to swoop in and knock Diamond off their exclusive throne. Cut out the middle man - What makes much more sense than Diamond’s backwards-thinking model is simply an online catalog or list of comics available digitally that you can download from your own computer. You shouldn’t have to go into a comic book shop to get a digital comic if you don’t want to, and you shouldn’t have to buy anything else to get the cheaper download. Simply have an online catalog of weekly comics. Maybe charge a small fee to be listed, or a yearly fee, that the publisher pays to be listed in this catalog. Make it searchable, by company, creator, genre and style.

Digital comics should cost no more than .99 per issue. There is no paper cost, and no distributer taking 60% off the top. This makes a far cheaper product still financially viable. ENCOURAGE people to order MORE comics - Maybe offer a discount if they order ten or more digital comics. This could grow the entire industry! And best of all no crappy customer service, shipping costs, misplaced or mis-shipped product.

What Netflix did to the movie industry is about to happen to the comics scene. The old distribution mode is outdated. This really opens up some opportunities for publishers. It is time for Diamond to go away. Leave Diamond twisting in the wind like they have done the Indy publishers over the years. Go digital and use the print on demand printers for the few physical orders you have.

Wednesday, June 8

Vincentennial continued - Vincent Price ads

Here are a couple of Vintage Vincent Price ads. Vincent was regarded as one of Hollywood's top stars in his prime, and brought on a a spokesman for a number of products. Here are a couple of them...

Monday, June 6

Vincent Price Walk of Fame

Continuing our celebration of all things Vincent Price, here is Vincent Price's Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame:

and a card that was published for the Walk of Fame listing some of his "stats":

and his star on the St Louis Walk of Fame:

Friday, June 3

Vincent Price Shrunken Head Apple Sculpture Kit

"Create your own collection of delightful Shrunken Heads" - Vincent Price

 That quote came right off the box, and I can just hear Vincent's voice saying it. This kit contained a plastic device that fit over a light bulb for shrinking your heads, fake hair and beads to add to it, as well as instructions for carving your shrunken head. A really neat item, I picked one up off ebay years ago. Just a cool piece of memorabilia that would never happen nowadays. Political correctness be damned, this is just cool!!

Thursday, June 2

The Vincentennial is Upon Us

Friday May 27 would have been the 100th birthday of the late, great Vincent Price. I'll be spending some time on the blog here celebrating the life of the master of the macabre. A true one of a kind - this picture is from his film Theater of Blood, where he plays an aging Shakespearean actor who gets revenge on critics who panned his performances - one of his best films.

Click pic to enlarge