This is my first of a planned series of an outsider’s perspective of various publishers. My focus will be on the smaller publishers who I hope to see become bigger players.
Every publisher that seems to have some level of success seems to have a game plan and a vision of what they want to be in the market. I have no insider information on BOOM, and again everything here is strictly my opinion, but in the nature of full disclosure I will have to say that Chip Mosher the Marketing and Sales Director has become an e-mail friend of mine and I think he crafted one hell of a great story with Left on Mission. You can buy the trade here or ask your retailer to order it.
I see BOOM as a publisher of good stories. They did not seem to be concerned about being a horror publisher, super-hero publisher, science fiction publisher or action/adventure. First and foremost they seem to be interested in do you have a good story to tell. In this way I view BOOM as a true publisher. The only difference between them and Random House or Harper Collins is that BOOM does graphic novels. To name a few of their graphic novels we have Enigma Cipher, Giant Monsters, Hunter’s Moon, X-Isle, Talent, Tag, Hero Squared and more.
I love this idea, because as BOOM has proven to me that they are a name I can trust I’m very willing to order a new BOOM series even if I do not know the author or the artist, because I can trust they will not publish an unprofessional book. That is not to say that I will buy everything from them, if the premise is not to my liking I will pass or I may not like the first issue of a book, but that was because of a taste issue and not a quality issue.
I think that being this type of publisher makes life very difficult because you have to sell each new mini-series to the reading public. With the way the direct market is set-up today, BOOM breaking through to comic retailers is a damn tough road. Every month you may have a new mini-series and every month you have to sell a new story to the buying public. I believe BOOM’s true goal with this material is to build a strong library of trades and sell these books to the larger public and hopefully underwriter the cost of producing these graphic novels with the sales of the mini-series.
Still any publisher needs to build a business base to be able to keep enough cash coming in so license deals and building a few franchises is never a bad thing. I believe that Potter’s Field will be one of those franchise books that can be done slowly over the years, but at least it will be a name the retailer can recognize. BOOM is working to build their Lovecraft theme horror books into a franchise also, which again helps to build orders and familiarity with a product. Remember DC and Marvel can role out a Batman related mini-series or another X-Men mini-series that has a guaranteed fan base, BOOM is working to build franchises that Fear Agent, BPRD and other books have done.
Next up is the license side of things. This is a great way to have a built in fan base and be able to generate a good cash stream to allow your company to flourish and fund riskier ventures. Warhammer has been that first license and from what I hear the books are well done (no surprise), but as Warhammer is not my interest I have passed. The Pixar license could be golden for BOOM. The reason is comics for younger readers is still an untapped market and partnered with Pixar they should be able to have access to distributing these books maybe into Disney stores and other such desirable retail outlets and away from the specialty comic stores (where those books would die a horrible death). Finally my favorite deal they have is to produce Farscape comics, this I can’t wait for as I’m a huge Farscape fan.
Another thing BOOM has done to earn my trust was to hire Mark Waid as their Editor-in-Chief. What he has done is restore my confidence that the books they solicit will get published. The lag time on some books was absolutely horrible and I think would have killed BOOM as people quickly forget a book in an ADD world. Once Mark came in, after a few months you started to see books hit the stands when they were suppose to hit the stands and new series came out on a regular schedule. Plus I heard at the BOOM panel we will see Mr. Stuffins finally get completed and I loved the story of the Teddy Bear who gets and AI program and thinks he is a secret agent.
At that panel I heard Ross Ritchie and Mark Waid both speaking about the company and I was impressed by the fact that why they have tons of ideas and want to do a thousand things, but they are intelligently and slowly building the business. I think Ross has the right idea or how to make BOOM a long term company and not another shooting star company (Virgin / Crossgen / Malibu).
I believe that BOOM maybe uniquely situated to take advantage of the Kindle and other E-Book platforms for graphic novels. Once you can download a graphic novel I believe the playing field becomes a little more level. When you have the “Left on Mission” type stories competing with “Thunderbolts” or “Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighter” stories, a world wide audience will choose the “Left on Misson” type stories over the capes and tight crowd. Plus you can market to a marketplace of 100 million people, not 250,000.
I would love the opportunity to interview Ross Ritchie and see if my views are right or wrong and I would love to hear what their long term plans are and if he agrees that the direct market is not where BOOM can grow from. I do know that have some exciting plans for 2009 and Mark Waid is going to be doing quite a few books as writer for them and building his own little corner of BOOM (I wonder if that will be their venture into a straighter super hero book).
I also understand that BOOM works with creators where there is less money upfront, but ownership is retained and there maybe help in trying to sell these stories to other media outlets.
Last and not least, BOOM has recently upgraded their website and they have a fair amount of free content for your review and the site is worth taking some time and checking out, you can do that by clicking here.
Bottom line, from an outside perspective, BOOM is a company that has quality graphic story telling being their first objective and that makes me as a reader willing to gamble on their books a lot faster then many other publishers. Second they seem to be a company who has their act together and has a plan to make sure they are financially stable, but will still be willing to take risks with what they publish.
Check out the products from BOOM and read one of their graphic novels and see what you think.