Bluewater Talks “ComicFleaMarket.com,” Justin Bieber, And The Future Of Indie Comics

Bluewater Productions announced today their partnership with ComicFleaMarket.com, who will be exclusively distributing a number of their comics — including some of their biographies as well as titles like “Vincent Price Presents” and “Legend of Isis: Revenge of Horus.” I chatted with Bluewater’s president, Darren G. Davis, today about the decision, why he feels more indie publishers might turn to this route in the future, and the perils of distributing graphic novels to “big box” retail chains.

MTV Geek: What made Bluewater decide to switch some of their titles to ComicFleaMarket.com?

Darren Davis: This is a way to get our specialized and niche titles that haven’t met Diamond’s new sales benchmarks to the readers. We aren’t trying to alienate comic book retailers; they can order the titles through the Comic Flea Market site.

Geek: How did Diamond’s new benchmarks make it harder for Bluewater to distribute their comics through them?

DD: It’s really difficult, because according to these benchmarks your comics have to make a certain amount of money, or they won’t issue you a purchase order. I get it — they’re a bigger company. And if we have a book that only sold 500 copies, there’s no reason why they should distribute it. But it just doesn’t help me as a publisher. But I don’t condemn them for it.

Geek: Would you say that Bluewater has some titles with loyal fans, but in a smaller, niche way?

DD: That’s one of the reasons why we did the biography thing…it’s not like we wanted to be this big biography company. But we noticed that sales of “10th Muse,” “Legend of Isis,” all these other books started going down, so we needed something to keep us alive. And the biography sales really keep us alive.

It’s so weird that people think we’re 100% a biography company, because we’ve been doing this 10 years. When we first started we launched “10th Muse,” it was the 6th highest-selling comic book. And in the last four years since the last election, we’ve embraced the biography comic format.  But 50% of all the titles we’ve released have been fiction.

Geek: In terms of certain titles like “Legend of Isis” and “Vincent Price Presents,” are they only going to be available in print now through ComicFleaMarket.com?

DD: Correct, and that’s only the first round. We have a lot more planned with them. Because Diamond is now turning away some of our titles too — so those will all be going to ComicFleaMarket.com. We don’t want to alienate Diamond because they’ve been so good to us, but we are also a business.

I get the digital world, and we’ve sort of embraced it. But I personally still buy print; I still go to the store every week. So for me, having a copy of my own book, I get excited about that too. For regular books, I’ve broken down and use the Kindle. But for comic books, it’s just not my thing. But we’re on the Kindle, we’re on comiXology, we’re on all of them.

It’s just weird the way the comic book industry is changing. So I think places like the “Flea Market” are going to change the way things are done…there’s going to be more print-to-order.

Geek: Will your books on ComicFleaMarket.com be print-to-order?

DD: Some of of them will, and others won’t.

Geek: Will you have more things like the exclusive Anne Rice bio reprint edition offered on ComicFleaMarket.com?

DD: We definitely want to do more things like that. So for example, instead of having a second printing with Diamond, we’ll offer it through them. Or we’ll offer something that we sold out of, and won’t be reprinted in a trade paperback. For example, the Howard Stern one sold very very well, so it will probably be the next exclusive after that.

Geek: And how are bookstore sales for Bluewater? I know that you had some of your biographies like Justin Bieber in Walmart. How did that work out for you?

DD: It was a disaster. We had people complaining that they couldn’t find the Justin Bieber books in the stores. I probably wouldn’t do that route again. It hurt us pretty bad, because we got a ton of returns.  We were supposed to be part of this whole POP display, and we ended up not being a part of it. I get it, it’s Walmart, it’s a big store. But nobody could find the books. Nobody even knew they were put out.

Geek: Where do you think indie publishing is going? Through these different distribution routes, or more digital?

DD: I think both. There have been places like Haven and a couple of other distributors; but they’ve either closed or reorganized. But with something like ComicFleaMarket.com, they’re a printer — that’s the mainstay of their company. So that’s a big thing to have a printer as a distributor. So they can print 500 copies without any problems. And I really think it’s going to change the industry.

The big thing for me is that we always try to think outside the box, we never do what is considered the norm. And we’re wiling to take chances.

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