Warlord of Diamond

5/5/2009 by Dan Vado

Here is a quick post to set a couple of things straight regarding the Warlord of Io mini-series and Diamond Comics decision not to list it in Previews.

First thing is a small issue of semantics. Lot of people are using the word "rejected" when describing what happened with the comic. While this is an easy assumption to make, it is not 100% accurate. It would be more accurate to say that they declined to list the product as formatted. The Warlord of Io one-shot which came out earlier this month sold pretty poorly and did not make the benchmarks laid out by Diamond. Their assumption (probably not inaccurate) was that if a $3.95, 48-page comic could not sell well enough to make the benchmark of $2500, then a $3.50 comic with similar content would not make it either and that subsequent issues would all be below the minimum.

I can't and don't take issue with the reasoning, I can argue that the benchmarks being too high, but, seriously, the one-shot only sold 900 copies in the direct market, so who really made money from that?

Diamond did say that they might be open to a larger, more expensive comic (say something at 48-60 pages in the 6-7 dollar price range) but that seemed to be a wasted effort given that a product that size would only serve to cannibalize the sales of an eventual trade paperback, which Diamond would certainly list when or if it ever saw the light of day.

The other small bit of confusion is about whether this comic has already appeared in Previews. It has not. The decision to not list the book means that consumers and retailers will not have the opportunity to say they do not want this comic.

While James and I are both disappointed with the turn of events, I for one was not surprised. I had hoped that perhaps 23 years in business and the previous success of Rex Libris might buy us a little grace on this project, but I am not stunned, as the marketplace has been telling me for years that the only thing they want from us are comics by Jhonen Vasquez. The funny thing about that is that the first issue of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac would not have made the current Diamond purchase order benchmark, so the subsequent issues would never have seen the light of day. The same can be said for Milk and Cheese, whose first issue barely sold 2,000 copies. We have always depended on being able to build circulation and readership on our books; the current climate seems to indicate that that is not going to work anymore.

Only James can tell you whether he plans on completing Warlord of Io. My guess is he will at some point, but that he will focus his current energies on something else and will continue to work on the Warlord project in his spare time. We will continue to offer Warlord as a download and we will be printing a small quantity of the declined book for sale on our website and at conventions.
Lastly I want to say that, again, this is to me is not solely a Diamond issue and that attempts to vilify them are off base. I have enjoyed a long and productive relationship with that company and I would expect to work with them as my distributor to the book market in the event that we publish a Warlord graphic novel and I do not wish them ill. I have said before that the issues and problems facing comics as an industry today had their seeds planted a long time ago and are just now coming to the surface. I have to take my share of the blame for some bad decision making in the past five or six years as well which no doubt have contributed to the fact that it is harder for us to bring work by someone like James Turner to market.
So, thanks all for the support on this, while it might be too late for Warlord hopefully some of our supporters can use this as an opportunity to at least take a peek at our upcoming comic book projects Captain Blood and Zeke Deadwood and, if they feel inclined, let their local retailer know in no uncertain terms that they would like to buy these comic when they come out.

- DV