Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My interview with David Seidman of Claypool Comics

A few months ago, Diamond--the major distributor of new comic books in the U.S., raised the sale ammount comics must have in order for them to distribute them. Recently, David Seidman from Claypool comics made a public plea for people to check out their comics, since the received notice that two of their books were below Diamond's sales minimum. We offered to get the word out, and talked with David Seidman to find out more about Claypool comics. Hopefully you will check them out, and let us know if you're interested in checking out their comics.

Neptune (N): Tell us a bit about Claypool Comics.

David Seidman (DS): Claypool's not in any one place. We're a "virtual office," with our editor in one location, our publisher in another, our production offices in a third, and our freelancers all over. We've been around since 1992, when longtime friends Ed Via and Richard Howell founded the company with Ed as publisher and Richard (a Marvel and DC artist) as editor.

N: What are your major titles?

DS: ELVIRA, MISTRESS OF THE DARK is the adventures of the horror hostess. It's a saucy, sassy anthology with stories and art by a variety of creators, including fan favorite Kurt Busiek. A bit of trivia: Paul Dini's first comics story appeared in ELVIRA #1.
DEADBEATS is a punk-vampire soap opera, created and written and pencilled by Richard Howell. If you like Buffy or The Walking Dead or 30 Days of Night, you'll like DEADBEATS, with its sexy heroes and villains, intelligent scripting, and elaborate art.
SOULSEARCHERS AND COMPANY, written and co-created by Peter David, stars a team of super-powered investigators of the supernatural. They're not terribly competent, though, and Peter has a great time filling their adventures with plenty of comedy and satire.

N: Recently you made the announcement that the major distributor of all things comic, Diamond, is threatening to stop distributing a couple of your titles. What are they, and why is Diamond doing this? How will it impact Claypool Comics overall?

DS: About three months ago, Diamond announced that it was raising the minimum sales that titles would have to achieve and would strongly consider dropping any titles that fell under that minimum. About two weeks ago, Diamond told us that it plans to stop carrying DEADBEATS and SOULSEARCHERS with the issues shipping in February unless we can raise their sales. Since Diamond is by far the major distributor to comics shops, its dropping DEADBEATS and SOULSEARCHERS would wipe out much of our line. We don't like being in this situation, but we appreciate Diamond's giving us a warning so that we can get our sales up.

N: WHY should people check out Deadbeats and Soulsearchers & Company? >Will readers be lost if they jump in right now?

DS: "Jump In" is the right phrase. The issues on sale in January and February -- ELVIRA #153, SOULSEARCHERS #76, and DEADBEATS #76 -- are "Jump In" issues written and drawn for readers who aren't familiar with our comics. We also make other issues as easy to enter as possible; for instance, we devote our inside front covers to explaining the main characters and story points, so you can follow along easily no matter where you start. If you need more detailed information, we've got trade paperbacks that collect the first several issues of each title, and our back issues are always available for order.

N: As someone who works in my comic book store, it can be tricky to convince people to try independently published comic books. What would you tell people to get them to take a chance on something new and different?

DS: Look at the track record. For more than a decade, Claypool's been publishing Marvel and DC veterans like Peter David, Kurt Busiek, George Perez, Amanda Conner, Paul Dini, Al Milgrom, Joe Staton (Justice Society), Dave thingyrum (X-Men), and Jim Mooney (Supergirl and Spider-Man). What's more, trying our comics isn't much of a risk. Our cover price is only $2.50, much lower than most other comics.Mostly, though, we offer old-school entertainment. If you've ever wondered whatever happened to the kind of comics you've always loved, you'll find them here.

N: What kind of struggles do small, independent publishers like Claypool face that large publishers like Marvel and DC do not?

DS: Pretty much what you'd expect. Big publishers have more money and fame than we do. But every company, big or small, has problems, and we don't spend a lot of time comparing ourselves to everyone else. We've got enough on our plates in simply making the books good and getting them out the door on time!

N: With limited budgets and non-traditional comic book characters, how do you market your products to readers?

DS: Every way we can afford: news releases to comics retailers and journalists, presentations and handouts at conventions, a website (www.claypoolcomics.com) that shows off our books in detail, and so on. For the "Jump In" issues, we're printed cards that retailers can put on their counters or stuff in customers' bags, posters for retailers to hang in their stores, and a flyer that will list ordering information for retailers.

N: Where can people go to find out more about Claypool, its comics and its creators?

DS: Our website's a good place to start: www.claypoolcomics.com .

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