Wednesday, October 12, 2011

BOOM Studio – About to Implode?

I loved BOOM studios a few years back and was happy to try and sample almost any book they produced. A guy named Chip Mosher and Francesco Francavilla did a book called Left on Mission which I thought and I still think is one of the best spy stories ever done as a comic book. I think this book holds up to Criminal and other noir type stories and Francesco has certainly gone on to make become a name in the industry. Chip signed up as Marketing Director for BOOM and has been a driving force for the company. Today I read that he has moved onto comiXology and I have to wonder how much longer BOOM has to last. 

BOOM at first was publishing tons of different genre books and was doing things like Giant Monsters, Left on Mission, Cover Girl, Two Guys and Two Guns (or something like that) but their publishing schedule was erratic and they did not have a signature book. Then the big change came Mark Waid signed on as Editor in Chief. Mark gets the trains running on time and then contributed to be BOOM’s lineup by launching Irredeemable and Incorruptible. They still had different genres and things were starting to look like it was coming together for BOOM. Heck they managed to get the publishing rights for the Disney books after Gemstone folded, added Farscape, 28 Days Later and BOOM looked like the next IDW. But that has all seemed to die.

When I heard they had picked up the new “Stan Lee” books some may have saw that as a big pickup, but Stan is well past his prime and I saw this as more of a last gasp. Then Mark Waid was kicked upstairs to creative director. I saw this as another bad sign. (The chronological order of events maybe off.) Mark really get their production in line and while he may have left a fine system the kicking to upstairs felt wrong to me. Also Mark was doing a lot of writing for Marvel. I started to feel like BOOM was not generating enough money. Eventually Mark left the company in entirely and was just basically a free lancer for them. That was another bad sign in my view.

Next Disney buys Marvel and you knew damn well that the Disney books were going to follow as soon as possible. 28 Days came to an end, the Farscape book is wrapping up, Irredeemable was flawed from the jump in my view. I feel as a limited concept I though Mark exploring the Superman type charcter going bad could have been a Watchmen type of long form story or another Preacher type series. The series done as an unlimited series lost its impact and me as a fan and I dropped the book sometime ago. The book no longer has the buzz it used to have and no one is talking about the Stan Lee books.

Now Chip Mosher has left. In my mind Chip was the heart and soul of BOOM, a true believer and a heck of a nice guy. Once again I have to question if money is becoming an issue, because I also see where BOOM has gone out to Kickstarter to try and fund a project. I wish Chip the best of luck and can guarantee he will promote comiXology to the hilt, the man is a non-stop marketing wunderkind. DC or Marvel will be calling to get him one day.  The bottom line to me is that BOOM appears to be cash strapped and dying a slow death.
The BOOM line up consists of Stan Lee books with Mark Waid only listed as the co-writer of one book, Elric, Hellraiser, Planet of the Apes, Iredeemable, Incorruptible and a few other miscellaneous titles. The problem is that so much of this stuffed is licensed material the margins are razor thin. 

Finally I do not see any new talent running over to BOOM. IDW has been generating bigger hits with their license material and they are even working deals with Marvel to package some art books. They have Darwyn Cooke, Joe Hill and John Byrne cranking out material for them. Dark Horse has the Mignolaverse and the Whedonverse to go with Star Wars and some other projects, Image has tons of creator owned series almost a new one every week. BOOM is now the on the outside looking in. 

I loved a lot of their material and maybe the right project can still make it happen for them, but right now I would not be surprised to see BOOM disappear with a year or two. I hope I’m wrong because BOOM has the promise of being a graphic novel publisher that could have built an evergreen list of graphic novels across all the genres. I keep hoping the industry is ready for that, but Vertigo’s crime novels and others just never seem to make the grade. 

I think maybe BOOM should partner with Th3rd World Studios, Red 5, ONI Press and Terry Moore or offer a better deal than Image to get some up and comers to come a writer a book under the BOOM banner. BOOM needs to do something because from where I’m sitting I think the money is gone and the talent is not waiting for the checks to clear anymore.

In order to run a successful business you need a business plan and I always got the feeling BOOM has a vision, but was always making up the plan as they went along. Good luck BOOM and I hope I’m wrong.

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