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Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Mailvox: the deadly high end

Just to be clear, I'm most definitely NOT singling out L'Aristokrato here. He is very, very far from the only person to blithely suggest going out and hiring other artists for our various comics, he just happens to be the individual to whom I responded on the subject. This is actually an important lesson in entrepreneurship concerning a very common misapprehension, so there is no need to get defensive or argumentative, just pay attention and think through what I'm telling everyone. My original response is in italics.
More importantly, however, I believe you need to look into getting at least one, or two high level artists as part of your crew.
Your beliefs are absolutely wrong and indicate a complete lack of business experience. No one ever successfully disrupts a market from above. As a matter of fact, there is a new company that is going about it your way. Top artists, paying them all top page rates. I will bet they're gone within 18 months of their first publication. Sure, you get more attention. Lots of critical praise. But it only lets you hit a double instead of a single, and you need to hit a home run just to stay afloat.
I'm not sure why you've taken my comment so personally as to feel the need to add a baseless jab at me, instead of simply pointing out why you think I'm wrong. Though your observation is amusing, considering both that you know nothing about me, and that I've created and owned several successful businesses for sixteen years. More to the point though, it's true, I don't know much about "disrupting a market"; That's not an angle I've ever tried, or had to try, given the areas I work with, so it's entirely likely my observation is incorrect.
However, I didn't take it personally. He just said something very, very stupid that I have heard dozens of people say since October. It is irritating and unasked-for advice, and it is frequently offered in a smug, knowing tone: "You know what you need to do..." No, I don't fucking need to do that. To the contrary, following that idiotic advice would be fatal.

I have seen more than a few people, including my father, try to start a new business aimed at the high end of the market. Every single one of them failed. Not most of them, ALL of them. Every single one.

Now, L'Aristokrato may never have disrupted a market personally, but he has certainly seen new companies enter new markets throughout his life. When Honda entered the US car market, did they aim at the high end or the low end? How about Kia? When Diamond entered the video card market, did they come in as a low-cost provider or a high-end one? This is basic Business 102 stuff.

If you want to succeed in entering an existing market, the first and foremost objective has to be staying alive to play in the next round. And your ability to stay alive depends upon your resources. Sure, Mercedes can enter at the high end. So can Samsung. But a startup? No. See, we could have spent all the money from the Alt-Hero kickstarter on a single, beautiful, gold-plated 24-page issue using the most expensive artists we could hire. It would have been talked about and critically praised... and we would have gone out of business almost immediately.

Do you know how many pages of top-quality illustration $250,000 buys? 200 pages. And that's without script, without color, without lettering, without print charges and without shipping. We are committed to producing 576 pages (990 with Will Caligan's comics), and we have already finished the illustrations for about 80 of them.

Do. The. Math.

Look, I'm not at all sensitive about this and I'm not trying to be harsh. The problem is that this advice is not merely ill-considered and ignorant, it is downright lethal. If we were clueless enough to follow it, we would almost certainly fail. Unlike most people, I've actually seen this approach play out up close and personal. My father briefly published a magazine called People & Politics in the 1980s. He spent lavishly on it. It was beautiful, it was the highest-quality political journalism anyone had ever seen at the time, it featured in-depth interviews with every major political player from both parties, and it was universally praised for its ruthlessly even-handed approach. It even sold well, remarkably well for a brand new local magazine.

But it didn't sell enough to break even. Not even close. I don't think it even lasted a year.

And then, I saw one low-end Taiwanese company after another enter the graphics board business. None of their products were even close to as good as my father's cards. We kept retreating to the high end, from 1024 to 1280 to 1600 resolution. And our market share kept shrinking, until in desperation they tried to make a move into the chip market before the boards were replaced entirely by GPUs on the motherboard. It failed, for reasons that I've mentioned before. That company, once an $80 million company, has been dead for 20 years. That is why I know all about how markets are, and are not, successfully disrupted.

So we're not trying to compete with Marvel, DC, Image, and everyone else on the art. We don't have the resources for that yet. Sure, we want the art to be as good as we can make it, and that's why I've hired a number of industry vets like Chuck, Frank, and others whose names you would recognize. But we're not going to compete on the art, we're going to compete on a) the characters, b) the storytelling, c) the worldbuilding, d) the price, and, e) discount and availability.

And, of course, we're not going to shove the latest SJW Narrative in your face, unlike Batgirl, Superman, Thor, and whatever other comics have been converged lately. Will we succeed? Only time will tell. But if you want to give me advice, please have the courtesy to know what you are talking about, understand what the logical consequences are, and at the very least, be sure that your numbers add up.

In answer to some related questions from Scotty:
Why handicap a book with less appeal? Isn't this part of the problem with SJW comics? Why not give it every strength and every advantage to increase success? You want to compete with Batman and Spider-man, right?
  1. Cost vs expected sales.
  2. No, that's a totally different issue.
  3. Because maximizing strengths and advantages means maximizing cost and maximizing risk. That is not how to maximize one's chance of success.
  4. Hell no! We absolutely don't want to compete with Batman and Spider-man yet. We know we can't. We want to compete with the comics that are in the #200 range, not the top 10.

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131 Comments:

Blogger HalibetLector February 07, 2018 8:14 PM  

As a matter of fact, there is a new company that is going about it your way. Top artists, paying them all top page rates. I will bet they're gone within 18 months of their first publication.

Reminds me of CrossGen. They lasted 6 years, but they weren't really relevant after the first couple.

Blogger Shitavious Lordecai February 07, 2018 8:18 PM  

As they say, sell to the masses, not the classes.

Blogger Brad Matthews February 07, 2018 8:18 PM  

That is a really interesting look behind the scenes. Many "Not obvious" angles. Thanks.

Blogger mike mike February 07, 2018 8:28 PM  

Eastman and Laird's Ninja Tirtles come to mind when I read this. The originals were gritty, no color affairs. Now they have movies, cartoons, toys, napkins, etc...

Blogger Wynn Lloyd February 07, 2018 8:29 PM  

The bottom-up approach is so counterintuitive to what a totally inexperienced person would think. I would naively follow that guy's advice. It's been taken as a given that we should use the most premium ingredients with the best chef obtainable, with the restaurant I will create one day. And it would fail miserably.
Just like with the opposition to explaining yourself, its sound advice that goes against natural instincts, but looks like it makes perfect sense once you think about it. This post will save me a bunch of trouble in the future. Thanks.

Blogger Wraith February 07, 2018 8:29 PM  

Anyone in the motorcycle community will remember the story of Excelsior-Henderson. This is a brutal lesson regarding what happens when you try to start at the top without making a name for yourself first.

Vox is right. Harsh, but right.

Blogger Ingot9455 February 07, 2018 8:31 PM  

If the comics are well made, they'll find more and more audience.
But you have to still be around for that to happen.

There's even a card game about this. It's called 'Burn Rate.'

Blogger VD February 07, 2018 8:32 PM  

In fact, I gave VERY serious consideration to going all black-and-white. That would save on print costs and colorists. But I managed to negotiate a deal with the printer that allowed us to do color less expensively, so even Will's will all be in color.

We're doing the royal octavo size in order to let us retail at $2.99, which is $1 less than most of our targeted competition.

Blogger Werekoala1066 February 07, 2018 8:37 PM  

Is the LBB project still on?

Blogger VD February 07, 2018 8:40 PM  

Is the LBB project still on?

No, there are other plans that prevent that from happening at the moment.

Blogger Dave February 07, 2018 8:41 PM  

Great post Vox. Unfortunately we know it won't stop the bad art mantra we've heard since Day 1 of the crowdfunding campaign.

It's great to hear you and your team have a vision and a plan and are sticking to it. Keep doing what you're doing.

Blogger Lovekraft February 07, 2018 8:44 PM  

D & C in a recent video explained the modus operandi of the comic book creators: they have infiltrated most of the independent publishers, bully and push out deplorables and work their way into the majors. So anyone with talent is essentially faced with either drifting away into irrelevance, or bowing before the cult.

If being in the majors is the goal, it would be pointless for VD to hire this person. And should the majors do an about face and allow someone associated with, say, Arkhaven, the chance is Arkhaven would be dumped at the first chance.

It's VD's party and it's he who makes the rules.

Blogger Lovekraft February 07, 2018 8:45 PM  

What's the word on getting around Diamond to distribute to comic book stores?

Blogger VD February 07, 2018 8:49 PM  

What's the word on getting around Diamond to distribute to comic book stores?

That's already in place. It's just a matter of getting our first issues printed. We're getting our second test print back on Friday, and then we print Jeeves #1 and QM-AMD #1. Once we get Avalon #1 and AH#1 printed, we'll do the big mailing.

That's when we'll want help from everyone.

Blogger Lukas Brunnor February 07, 2018 8:51 PM  

Vox just gave away some of the most concise business advice I've ever read and he just gave it away for free. Shutup, heed the advice, and profit.

Blogger Dave February 07, 2018 8:52 PM  

Go back and compare the first couple of seasons of The Simpsons TV show. Now tell me where the critics are after 29 seasons.

Blogger Matt February 07, 2018 8:52 PM  

If anyone here remembers CrossGen comics, they know how much money was wasted, and how quickly they went under.

Blogger VD February 07, 2018 8:53 PM  

Unfortunately we know it won't stop the bad art mantra we've heard since Day 1 of the crowdfunding campaign.

Of course not. That hasn't been a problem and it won't be a problem.

Blogger Danby February 07, 2018 8:55 PM  

It doesn't matter how much you spend, you're ALWAYS starting at the bottom. Even Samsung moving into a new market with established leaders is starting at the bottom.
Intel, one of the largest, most powerful companies in the world, started at the bottom in the video GPU business, and has stayed there, eating up market share that Nvidia and ATI could have used to stay profitable. Why does AMD own ATI? Why did they abandon the race for the top with Nvidia? Everybody needs a GPU, maybe 1% of the market has any use for a $400 video card.

You see it all the time in the restaurant business. Guy Fieri went out of business, Bobby Flay went out of business, Marcus Samuelsson went out of business, Cat Cora went out of business, Grace in Chicago, one of the very few Michelin rated 3-star restaurants in the US, went out of business, all in the last month.
McDonald's abides.

Blogger David The Good February 07, 2018 8:56 PM  

There was a cash-only chicken wing joint in a business area of town where I used to live. A business-minded person I know wheedled out some info on their finances because he was also thinking of going into the restaurant business. They were clearing a half-million a year. No frills, a couple of people, take your wings and walk out. Maybe a picnic bench or two for seating and a long counter inside. Tiny place, great profit margin.

Blogger Alexandru Constantin February 07, 2018 8:57 PM  

Post like this is what makes me come here every day. Outstanding business advice.

Blogger Lovekraft February 07, 2018 8:58 PM  

Sorry if you've covered this before but you WILL be shipping to CBSes or direct? I will want all first prints of the first issues no doubt and will order direct if that's the only option.

BTW, did I mention Alan Moore's 'Providence' yet? One of the most disturbing books I have ever read. Can't get certain images and themes out of my head.

Blogger Man of the Atom February 07, 2018 8:59 PM  

Lovekraft wrote:What's the word on getting around Diamond to distribute to comic book stores?

Diamond? Vox has the Mark 2:22 action going here in so many respects! I'd guess Diamond isn't even in the equation. Cyclic variable.

Blogger VD February 07, 2018 9:00 PM  

Sorry if you've covered this before but you WILL be shipping to CBSes or direct? I will want all first prints of the first issues no doubt and will order direct if that's the only option.

Both. See Castalia House Direct on the left sidebar? They'll be available there as well as in whatever stores carry them, and on Amazon as well as through regular bookstores.

Blogger Dave February 07, 2018 9:00 PM  

Restaurant biz is extremely fickle; don't they fail at the highest rate of any business?

Blogger tz February 07, 2018 9:07 PM  

You need to be Apple with Steve Jobs to do the high end.

Unless you are rich and want to do a vanity project like Carlos Slim's or Bezos' Blogs, you need to first worry about cash flow, and second, profit. There is a reason cock roaches predate the dinosaurs.
The free market is totally Amoral. It isn't fair, and doesn't care about any morality. It is about what actual people will buy with their money. The alt-media is about filling that need which was abandoned by the mainstream, but in the most efficient way possible.


Meanwhile (OT): Little (((Boteach))) has lost his reach explaining that Tel-Aviv is the most gay-friendly city in the whole world, and why Jews are honoring Caitlyn Jenner.

This is on Breitbart. Boteach has done what I don't think Richard Spencer and a myriad of minions could.

Blogger Forge the Sky February 07, 2018 9:10 PM  

Thanks, useful perspective. My father also started and runs a (very) successful business and this clearly elucidates some principles he seems to hold intuitively.

The way he expresses it is: let it grow slowly, don't try for quick expansion gimmicks. The additional revenue you gain will leave as quickly as it came.

The idealism - or egotism - of trying to be 'premium' rather than simply good-and-improving sinks many a dream.

Also: align your incentives with those of your customers. He has never paid a red cent on advertising, in a market where everyone else spends an appreciable portion of their resources 'getting the word out.' Pay attention to giving the customer good service, and they will recommend you to others, and you expand just by word of mouth. You're incentivized to do a better job to grow your business, and so you only grow stronger and stronger - rather than alienating people by making them feel you're just out for a buck. They feel you're in this to HELP them - because you are, both ideologically and fiscally. Money doesn't have to compete with conscience, unless you're foolish enough to set them at odds.

Blogger Michael Maier February 07, 2018 9:12 PM  

Just a thought: I would like to see more deliberately B&W comics. As in, the art is drawn specifically for that, not just colourless comics.

Certain genres / books would lend themselves to that well.

Blogger Danby February 07, 2018 9:14 PM  

Dave wrote:Restaurant biz is extremely fickle; don't they fail at the highest rate of any business?
Perhaps second to comics publishers
And McDonald's abides.

Blogger tz February 07, 2018 9:16 PM  

This is economic 4GW.

People ask why the insurgents don't pool their money and sell their ARs to get one or two Tanks. They miss the point.

This is media insurgency. The rag-tag band with the old weapons that can still be deadly and win at the moral level instead of the physical level.

They have perfect production, graphics, printing, paper, etc.

We have stories with heart and mind. They are interesting. They have depth while the legacy media has beautiful facades.

Blogger billo February 07, 2018 9:20 PM  

I'm showing my age, but this reminds me a little of the old Dungeons and Dragons stuff. Many years ago, when I was in college, I and my roommate picked up the boxed set of original D&D booklets on a lark. We sat down with some friends, read the rules, and played for eight hours on the very first try. The thing was, the copy editing and the illustrations were clearly amateur, but we didn't care. And, the same thing was true with the early editions of Traveller and GURPS, which we also played. During the 80s and 90s, there was this proliferation of RPGs, and almost all of them were the same. A few started out with great production values and graphics, but they didn't seem to last any longer than the ones that didn't. I haven't played in years, but still have a big box of old systems in my basement somewhere.

Of course the later editions became much more polished. But that was after it was already a success.

Blogger Longtime Lurker February 07, 2018 9:21 PM  

Beachhead before breakout. And if you can't hold the beach, fuhgettaboutit!

Blogger Forge the Sky February 07, 2018 9:21 PM  

An instructive exception that proves the rule.

There's a very high-end clothing store near where I live. In spite of being a small-ish city, people from around the nation fly in to visit it, as the staff spends collective months a year just traveling through Europe finding the best fashion from the small designers everywhere. The store is huge and lavish, they serve cocktails and wine to prospective customers, and if I want a wardrobe overhaul I'll text the dude I know there and he'll set up a room waiting for me with clothes to try on. Posh stuff. They started from nothing, straight up.

Also, the city I live in has a fair number of billionaires that operate as the defacto regional oligarchy. This fact is not unrelated.

The store was started as an interest project by one of these billionaires, who perhaps saw some longterm profit in it but who mostly did it because he wanted access to a place like that locally. It took them about 15 years to get into the black, and another 5 before they stared being able to apply profits to the actual store rather than loan interest. And all this is largely due to the fortunate fact that the city is booming economically.

Do you have a few hundred million to play with? If not, you will not be able to compete with them. To try would be a fool's errand.

Blogger CM February 07, 2018 9:22 PM  

Hmmm... that's interesting. So basically, when you are an industry disruptor, its about building a customer base by competing for the customers that can't afford your competition. Build a solid reputation with them, you can start penetrating a higher band of product. Those in your original customer base who can afford it will move up and pull in other potential customers and just proceed upwards at a steady and maintainable pace.

Is that the idea?

Blogger Koanic February 07, 2018 9:34 PM  

Excellent advice.

Blogger Phunctor February 07, 2018 9:41 PM  

Come for the lulz, stay for the MBA.

Blogger Azure Amaranthine February 07, 2018 9:42 PM  

So, carrying this over to an evolutionary or adaptive perspective, reproduction is a necessity, before quality training or upbringing even become issues. Obviously training and upbringing feed back into the cycle, but the cycle doesn't even get off the ground without enough reproduction.

That explains a lot.

Blogger tuberman February 07, 2018 9:45 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger tuberman February 07, 2018 9:50 PM  

You know, I suspected this approach all along, and I suspect it will work very solidly. And, that's just at first.

Then, there will be a huge jump in popularity. Why? This, 80% of everyone are sick of all things SJW.

Blogger The Rev February 07, 2018 9:53 PM  

Thank you for sharing this. I appreciate the chance to learn from those who know.

Blogger Zarathustra's Bastard February 07, 2018 9:53 PM  

Huh. I never would have thought of that. Any business / entrepreneurship books you think worth reading, Vox?

Blogger James Dixon February 07, 2018 9:56 PM  

> We want to compete with the comics that are in the #200 range, not the top 10.

And yet I strongly suspect you'll be competing with the top 50, though not the top 10. Comics have slipped that much.

Blogger Zimri February 07, 2018 10:05 PM  

This post reminds me of Barack Obama, and how he learnt to win.

He read up on his father in Kenya, and all the mistakes *he'd* made. So he ensured not to do any of the mistakes his dad made.

Blogger Longtime Lurker February 07, 2018 10:11 PM  

@40: Check out The Decision Book - 50 Models for Strategic Thinking. It's concise. The authors devote two pages to each concept. Well illustrated too.

The Gap-in-the-Market model could be easily adapted to evaluate Arkhaven's strategy vis-a-vis the more established competition and any other newcomers.

Blogger John Bradley February 07, 2018 10:13 PM  

There was a cash-only chicken wing joint in a business area of town where I used to live. [...] Tiny place, great profit margin.

I recall being shocked to learn that the guy who owned the little takeout pizza/cheesesteak place I used to go to owned a Ferrari.

I also recall thinking that getting a CompSci BS degree might not have been the best decision I ever made. And this was back when companies still hired actual Americans to do their programming.


Blogger James Dixon February 07, 2018 10:22 PM  

> I also recall thinking that getting a CompSci BS degree might not have been the best decision I ever made.

If you have the skill sets required to do both, then working for yourself is almost always a better option than working for someone else. Most people don't have the necessary skill set to do so.

OpenID vfmshadow0342 February 07, 2018 10:26 PM  

@39

Agreed.

Blogger Harris February 07, 2018 10:28 PM  

interesting.

Blogger L' Aristokrato February 07, 2018 10:32 PM  

Alright Vox, let's not turn this into a silly internet slap-fight. I'm not responding to further any arguement, only to clarify things.

I think you've misapprehended my comment; Or could be I didn't express myself properly, since English is not my first language. Either way...
I did not mean to say you should go and hire the best artists RIGHT NOW!!! That's self-evidently foolish. Rather, what I meant was that it should be a goal to get really good comic professionals once that is, or becomes, a viable, potential option. A goal, not a priority.

As a comic consumer, or at least one who used to be and would like to be again, I think that's an important goal.

I may be wrong, and my observation may be off-mark.
My academic background is in medicine and beyond those areas, my entrepeneureal endeavors have to do with real estate. I don't so much deal with business invovation. While I've seen new companies enter new markets in my lifetime, this isn't a facet of industry I'm particularly knowledgeable in; I never had to be, since my basic undertakings have worked out pretty well thus far. Although Assuming I can't possibly understand business because of this, is patently fatuous; It's like me claiming you can't know anything about health, because you can't perform brain surgery.

Thing is, once you can add at least one other "big name" alongside Mr.Dixon to be a writer in your line, and if you can get at least one upper level artist, you'll probably have other comic publishers beat in every area, including all around quality and credibility. Maybe even Marvel/DC, the way they're going. Particularly if you consider all professionals who were/are/will-be purged, for not toeing the ideological line.

Speaking purely as a singular consumer, I'll check out what you have to offer, for sure. But if you succeed and I don't see marked improvement over time, chances are, I'll stop reading.

BTW, I know a thing or two about drawing, inking and coloring. If you, or any of your artists ever need any constructive feedback in those areas, I'm happy to help. I won't toot my own horn here; In this regard, I rather whatever value I can bring speak for itself. Let me know and I'll send you a message, if you want it.

Sorry if I'm prolix, but I just wrote it all and didn't feel like editing this down...

Blogger Jack Ward February 07, 2018 10:37 PM  

Off topic, darn it, but could not resist to paraphrase something someone sent me:

To those judges that decreed it was OK not to stand for the National Anthem. Would they be so delighted if, when they entered the courtroom and the bailiff shouted out for all to rise and all the folks in the courtroom took a knee?

Blogger Dave February 07, 2018 10:38 PM  

Is a DLC imprint bumping the high end? Vox, I asked the SRS guy (industry veteran?) from the Chuck Dixon thread his opinion on Rebel Dead Revenge:

I just had a look at Rebel Dead Revenge and I am very impressed with the art and storytelling on display. This is pro work with an interesting topic. The figures and animals are well constructed as is the panel work. The coloring is simple yet beautifully executed and fits with the type of story being told. Overall it is a pro comic that would look at home on the self next to any of the big publishers. Well done.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash February 07, 2018 10:38 PM  

Thing is, once you can add at least one other "big name" alongside Mr.Dixon to be a writer in your line, and if you can get at least one upper level artist, you'll probably have other comic publishers beat in every area, including all around quality and credibility.

Thing is, he did. That's whose work you are criticizing. A Big Name who's worked on Batman and Superman. I think his artist won't be calling you for help.

Blogger James Dixon February 07, 2018 10:38 PM  

> You know, I suspected this approach all along, and I suspect it will work very solidly. And, that's just at first.

OK. I suspect Vox knows this (or has an even better grasp of it than I do) but most people probably haven't thought this through.

Once the comics become even a moderate success with the established artists and writers Vox already has on board, the situation will change suddenly and dramatically.

Anyone in the industry with a political bias to the left of Mao has already been marked for removal by the SJW's. Many are still working only because they're still useful to the bottom line (Ethan is a good example).

But SJW's always double down. They're already going after the fence setters like Ethan. As soon as they see viable competition from their right, they'll double down into a purity spiral. They can't help themselves. Any and all suspects will be purged in a matter of months.

Simply put, Vox will have his pick of talent to choose from, and if he's set up to allow those artists to market their own independent creations through him, he'll rapidly have a supply that will match any publisher out there.

OpenID Überdeplorable Psychedelic Cat Grass February 07, 2018 10:39 PM  

Fascinating inside look, Vox! It never would've occurred to me to go to the low end.

OT: Got an OpenID and ready to keep sticking it to the Left!

Blogger Mr.MantraMan February 07, 2018 10:47 PM  

Top dollar comics would be throwing pearls before swine in my case. I'm not a comic regular but I have put two Arkhaven comics on my Fire tablet and enjoy them

Blogger SirHamster February 07, 2018 10:55 PM  

Azure Amaranthine wrote:So, carrying this over to an evolutionary or adaptive perspective, reproduction is a necessity, before quality training or upbringing even become issues. Obviously training and upbringing feed back into the cycle, but the cycle doesn't even get off the ground without enough reproduction.

That explains a lot.


Shows up in other fields, like SW development. Iterative "good enough" develops momentum and quality.

Blogger wreckage February 07, 2018 10:59 PM  

Let's look at commercial success. Behold, here is modern mainstream sci-fi. It's all big names and Muh Themes and so on, and makes barely a cent.

Now here's Romance. Writers who bang out (ahem) a book every couple of months. It is exactly what the readers want and not ONE ERG of effort more than that. It is utterly dominant in its market and makes absurd amounts of money.

But we can also compare the indie space opera sci-fi lines, which again, sell like hotcakes and make good money; by low-risk, ultra-low-capitalization, fast production; providing the customers with exactly what they want AT THE PRICE THEY WILL PAY. That's what value IS.


Vox is wise. Heed Vox. What he is telling you here works on levels he hasn't bothered to elucidate, largely because they're so very mundane.

Blogger wreckage February 07, 2018 11:00 PM  

@36 @55; bang on. Absolutely on the money.

Blogger Badmojo February 07, 2018 11:01 PM  

Innovator's Dilemma - disruption always comes from below in the low margin/value customers with a product that can't reach the high end. As it builds traction and interest, the product improves and the addressable customer base expand.

At some point, it starts eating the "high end" market and eventually wins out.

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother February 07, 2018 11:05 PM  

After the cheap piece of shit instrument stole another 600k worth of business from me, even though my solution was the customer's officially acknowledged best practice choice, my old boss at my first sales job told me this:

"Never underestimate the power of cheap".

Blogger Brad Matthews February 07, 2018 11:06 PM  

Good times

Blogger Careless Whisper February 07, 2018 11:07 PM  

This could be a dumb question, but has anyone put together a store locator for the first launch titles?

I certainly see the value in hectoring the local shops to "spread the gospel", so to speak. But I'm really interested in seeing if any of the brick and mortar businesses near me are in on the ground floor.... I feel like that's the kind of place that particularly deserves my dollar.

Blogger Careless Whisper February 07, 2018 11:11 PM  

All this talk of big name talent is making me wonder what Steve Ditko or Jim Steranko would think about this sort of an operation. Can't imagine that the right-wing old timers wouldn't like a platform...

Blogger David Bakin February 07, 2018 11:11 PM  

Isn't the goal also (perhaps secondarily) to grow the market by appealing to people who aren't traditional comic book buyers?

Because I'm not and never have been a comic book OR graphics novel reader. I don't know any of the artist or writer names you guys are tossing about.

But I am a _great_ fan of Wodehouse and so I bought "Right Ho, Jeeves #1" for a whopping $2.99 just for the hell of it and I love the adaption and _especially_ the hilarious art.

So I'm hooked, and I'm going to be buying more comic books or graphics novels or whatever you call it from Arkhaven as they come out. As long as they're entertaining, I'll keep coming back.

Blogger dh February 07, 2018 11:15 PM  

Growing the market is almost always a way to fail. IF you are lucky and if you have a good product and you have good channel opportunities, you can nudge the market, especially if it's a new market.

But generally the market is the market is the market, and one supplier isn't going to change it that much.

Apple for example has spent tens of billions trying to grow it's market into developing economies, and it still has very little relatively to show for it. The market is the market. Look at it as a nice little bonus if you expand it.

That's not the same as tapping into an underserved end of the market. I can't tell you how many times I've gone into a bookstore with the intent to spend some money, only to leave without spending anything. Everyone of those excursions is a lost sale opportunity for someone who is better at selling me stuff I want. Converting those opportunities into sales isn't growing the market, it's matching the product to the existing underserved market.

Blogger bob kek mando February 07, 2018 11:29 PM  

here's an example that should be amusing in a few years:
https://www.mvmtwatches.com/collections/best-sellers

they're doing the "Internet direct from the factory SAVINGS!" thing that the is being done in shaving
...
for "luxury" watches.

this should be an interesting car crash.

OpenID eddie February 07, 2018 11:34 PM  

"When Honda entered the US car market, did they aim at the high end or the low end? How about Kia? When Diamond entered the video card market, did they come in as a low-cost provider or a high-end one? This is basic Business 102 stuff. ... I know all about how markets are, and are not, successfully disrupted."
No, it isn't, and no you don't.

If you're using "disruption" in the technical, business-jargon sense, neither your dad's businesses not Alt-Hero are/were disruptive. That isn't to say they weren't innovative or even revolutionary; but they all were trying to make a better version of what was fundamentally the same product. Your dad's magazine was a better newsmagazine, and Alt-Hero a better comic book. As you yourself have pointed out, the opening for Alt-Hero exists because Marvel/DC abandoned their traditional readers, and they are there to be recaptured. That's pretty much the textbook opposite of disruptive innovation, which is aimed at creating an entirely new value proposition and an entirely new market.

If you're using "disruption" in a non-technical sense, just to mean "major change" ... well then you're still wrong, because there are tons of examples of companies transforming their industries by starting at the high-end. Apple got into the mobile phone business by selling a crazy expensive product. Starbucks started out as a single store selling wildly expensive coffee. Ditto whoever figured out that there was a market for packaged, marketed water (Perrier, I guess). And so on.

None of which means you're wrong about the way you're running your business (I know nothing about comics, and your approach seems sound to me). But you're clearly wrong in extrapolating from a couple personal experiences to make a broad generalization to all industries.

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother February 07, 2018 11:38 PM  

Eddie,

I disagree with you. You can not stay in business if you don't sell anything. You have to sell your product if you want to stay in business. If you start at the high end, with no credibility, no customer base, no name recognition, you will fail.

If your product is too expensive, with no margin, you will fail.

Blogger Thot February 08, 2018 12:21 AM  

Danby wrote:Everybody needs a GPU, maybe 1% of the market has any use for a $400 video card.

*looks at animation/video editing workstation*. I wish it was only $400. Anyway I like the art for Mr. Dixons book and Alt-Hero and what I have seen of Mr.Caligans. To think you are going to come in and destroy the two big dogs whose fans have been attached to characters that have decades worth of history and character development, no matter how badly they have mucked it up, is a suicide mission.

People who are interested in comics look for both story AND art. As long as neither are a complete shit show you have a chance.

Art wise lets look at two artists: J "sweet bejeebus I draw womens sexy" Scott Campbell https://i.pinimg.com/736x/d0/5b/e0/d05be07406932c3121fbd86446cedb98--j-scott-campbell-lwren-scott.jpg and John "Work Horse" Romita Jr. https://i.pinimg.com/736x/08/75/04/0875040c6dae60e0008a0276a1522fee.jpg .

I really enjoy both styles of illustration but some would say the Romita stuff is 'crap art' compared to Campbells stuff. Once you start reading the story that Romitas art is accompanying you would not want any other person on it. Campbells stuff would not have done well with that story. I guess what i'm trying to get across is the melding of both the STORY and the ART is what makes a good comic book. And before you have both with several pages in front of you, you really have no idea how to criticize it or think big name artists would do any service to it. Campbells 'Danger Girl" stuff has great art but didn't stick around, the story wasn't that engaging. Also artists who are established are not as 'hungry' as newcomers and with steady work and encouragement you will see their skills evolve.

Anyway that's my "unsolicited opinions on comic book craftsmanship". Marketing wise.......I got nothin.

Blogger Stickwick Stapers February 08, 2018 12:30 AM  

A lot of people forget that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles started off in black and white, because that's all the producers could afford. It was pretty radical and broke some other comics "rules" back then, too. We all know how that turned out.

There's a saying: art through adversity. It's why pop culture institutions like The Simpsons and TMNT were so witty and daring in the beginning -- they had to be to survive, because the production values were so low.

So, y'all better enjoy these heady early days of Arkhaven. Someday you'll want to be able to say you were a fan from the beginning and not the guy who kept saying it'll never work.

Blogger wreckage February 08, 2018 12:37 AM  

Except Apple didn't start out with the iPhone as a newcomer to the marketplace. Apple was worth something 70.06 BILLION USD the year before the first iPhone. Apple had been around for 30 years at that point.

That leaves you with two named examples: Starbucks, which I doubt was more expensive than any other boutique coffee shop coffee at the time, and "Perrier or something".

From what I know of the history of most beverage companies, I would happily bet that they did not, in fact, "start out" selling high end bottled water, in fact I'd bet that their initial offering was cheaper than in-house soda water for mixers, assuming they weren't in the bottling, beverage or food business for 50 years beforehand anyway.

As far as I can tell you still have zero examples; that doesn't mean you're wrong, of course there's going to be someone, somewhere that started high end..... but i can't think of any.

Blogger Limited Blogger Profile #1985 February 08, 2018 12:41 AM  

Vox has neatly explained why the business of someone I know is failing. She went for the high end. "We use the best, locally produced ingredients, not cheap crap from China!" Meanwhile, the cheap crap from China users have pretty much run her out of business.

Arkhaven's approach reminds me of early Dark Horse. They did a lot of b&w art, even on their licensed works like "Aliens." But they had great storytellers. Mike Richardson never tried to compete with the Big 2, but he's #3 anyway.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash February 08, 2018 12:55 AM  

Eddie, sometimes the disruption isn't the product. Vox's diruption is to the market itself.

I've been around long enough to remember when Starbucks was a coffee shop at the Pike Place farmer's market in Seattle. Just down the arcade from Market Spice Shop. Their disrupting innovation wasn't the coffee, or the price. They abandoned the traditional coffee shop clientel of either beatniks, hippies, protest singers and Communists or Urban Sophisticates, and instead aimed directly at suburban soccer moms. In other words, Starbucks absolutely and completely disrupted the market by addressing a completely unserved segment.

If only someone could do that with comics....

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother February 08, 2018 12:59 AM  

Arkhaven is 100% disruptive. It is hitting a market no one is serving, in a way no one is serving, and that way will disrupt the revenue streams, customer base and margins of established Concierge book companies. The disruption Arkhaven is and will cause will drive ossified SJW competition out of business and change the way comic book publishers do business ,just as e books have fatally disrupted traditional publishing houses and book stores.

Blogger tublecane February 08, 2018 1:30 AM  

This reminds me of the third and fourth Rabbit novels by John Updike, which I read last year. There's a father and son. The father is from the Silent Generation, working-class background, generally diligent but prone to streaks of extreme irresponsibility. The son is a Boomer, and naturally irresponsible all the time.

Dad manages a Toyota lot, raking it in during the oil crisis. But his mother-in-law is the owner, and his wife will inherit. He married into the upper-middleclass, which gives the kid advantages. He drops out of college, having knocked a girl up, and is hired on to manage the trade-in department (pushing aside the father's buddy, who in the previous book cuckolded him).

The kid has Big Ideas about selling classic cars; he and all his no-goodnik friends aren't into Jap crap. When he doesn't get his way, he throws a temper tantrum and smashes up some of their stock.

Later, he manages the whole thing when dad retires to Florida. He becomes a coke-head, defrauds the bank--making up phony customers to get loans for fake sales, or whatever--with the help of a homo accomplice who's dying of AIDS and could care less about consequences.

They lose the Toyota franchise. The mother, now owner, won't turn in or fire her son. The family has to make up hundreds of grand to the bank.

The kid's big idea is to shift to selling Yamaha jet-skis, which he sees as the Next Big Thing. He resents pushing metal. Gotta be chasing higher-end dreams.

Blogger Noah B The Savage Gardener February 08, 2018 1:38 AM  

It's astounding how many people enter into business ventures without even making crude attempts to estimate their costs and likely revenue. This is something that every aspiring entrepreneur should do for himself before spending a dime on startup costs.

Blogger MJ Meyers February 08, 2018 1:44 AM  

Perhaps this is why benefactors can be so deadly to a movement. Someone giving unsound advice that contributes a couple thousand to a freestartr can be listened to in a way someone contributing a million cannot. And perhaps bad direction can offset or do worse than nullify the positive effect of the money contribution.

There's a reason people like Mike Cernovich are far more effective than PACs getting millions of dollars.

We are all specialists in something. If we're better than our specialists, we're morons for hiring them. Rather than tell your specialist you're paying what to do, ask them why they're not doing something you think would make sense. If you're unsatisfied with their answer, give your resources to someone else going forward.

Blogger tublecane February 08, 2018 1:44 AM  

@16-T.V. lately has a serious problem with shows having to be good out of the gate. They don't find an audience right away, or can't find their groove quality-wise? Goodbye.

Nevermind that Seinfeld and the Simpsons built up. They were okay to good but not classics until their third or fourth seasons, at least. Everybody knows this, but it didn't have much effect. I guess decision-makers can't tell what's going to build well. What are they paid for?

There are also way too high-concept shows, I think, with giant budgets. Like they're all epic event television miniseries from the old days. Only so many of them can be Lost or the Walking Dead. Come to think of it, I think Walking Dead was more modestly budgeted at first. It didn't get big til later. But you know what I mean.

Rome on HBO had that problem. It was a very story, though like all higher-end premium t.v. gross and depraved. But it was way too expensive, and they only got two seasons. The second season crammed several season's worth of material into one, because they knew they were finished.

I wondered why Game of Thrones resembled a soap opera, with some higher-end action and effects. Rome is probably to blame.

This whole problem is endemic in Hollywood. Instead of making $200 million tentpole movies over and over again that have to make a billion or else, they could make a bunch of middle-brow fare with modest budgets. Which sell on, I dunno, story?

Blogger Bob Loblaw February 08, 2018 1:46 AM  

Wynn Lloyd wrote:The bottom-up approach is so counterintuitive to what a totally inexperienced person would think. I would naively follow that guy's advice. It's been taken as a given that we should use the most premium ingredients with the best chef obtainable, with the restaurant I will create one day. And it would fail miserably.

Long ago I had a good friend who owned a restaurant. One time he mentioned the previous owner had a chef, while he only had a cook. When I asked him what that means he explained there are two kinds of people who own restaurants - restaurateurs and businessmen. Restaurateurs have typically become wealthy in some other industry and want to create the ultimate dining experience for people they know. And 99% of them lose money.

Incidentally, that's one of the reasons so many high end restaurants fail. It's difficult to compete with people who are willing to lose money.

Blogger SirHamster February 08, 2018 1:56 AM  

Snidely Whiplash wrote:I've been around long enough to remember when Starbucks was a coffee shop at the Pike Place farmer's market in Seattle. Just down the arcade from Market Spice Shop. Their disrupting innovation wasn't the coffee, or the price. They abandoned the traditional coffee shop clientel of either beatniks, hippies, protest singers and Communists or Urban Sophisticates, and instead aimed directly at suburban soccer moms. In other words, Starbucks absolutely and completely disrupted the market by addressing a completely unserved segment.



In a sense, aiming for a lower status (but numerous) consumer is a "lower end" product.

Certainly I hear the coffee lovers criticize Starbucks for having burnt coffee. And yet here Starbucks is.

OpenID cyrus83 February 08, 2018 2:04 AM  

Customer service is something that should not be overlooked. While the importance varies by business type, providing excellent service can be a significant factor in whether a business succeeds or not.

My dad started a manufacturing/tech business back in the 90s that's still around. The thing that always strikes me as being most critical in the business's success is the investment made on customer service and support. Service calls were taken at virtually any time after normal business hours and on weekends, and service trips would also be made.

OpenID eddie February 08, 2018 2:14 AM  

"Except Apple didn't start out with the iPhone as a newcomer to the marketplace." Yes, they did. They were a huge company, and obviously their capital helped, but the iphone was their first entry in the phone market.


"Starbucks, which I doubt was more expensive than any other boutique coffee shop coffee at the time," Nationwide boutique coffee shop chains didn't exist before Starbucks. They (and a few others who followed) basically created a market for $5 coffee where none existed before.

Perrier, in this country, did indeed start out as high-end. When you're talking about water in first-world country, paying ANYTHING is high end. Pre-1980s, the single-serve bottled-water market didn't exist; if you wanted water instead of soda or tea at the restaurant or store, they gave you tap water. the idea of paying fifty cents or a buck for "spring water" was considered ridiculous by a lot of people ... but Perrier and the rest marketed it well, and people paid for the luxury.

You see this a lot in industries where brand image is crucial -- in the clothing/shoes industry, it's very common for brands to start out as "premium" and then go downmarket when they fall out of fashion. Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Armani etc. Samsonite luggage was once luxe. Happens in food, too, though can't think of one atm. Hilton hotels started out as the creme de la creme, now they're almost midmarket.

In many industries, it's very, very hard to sell a luxury product once you've become known for being affordable. Toyota and Honda had decades of credibility as manufacturers, but when they wanted to go into the luxe space, they had to do so as Lexus and Infiniti. On the other hand, when someone like Jaguar wants to step down from the high-end space they've occupied from their inception and sell a soccer-mom SUV, it's no big deal.

Mind you -- I'm not saying that this THE way to start out. Just that it's A way that has worked at times, and failed at others, just as starting downmarket has worked for some companies and failed for others. There is no one formula that always or never works. I'm not saying that Vox is wrong in his business plan -- just that he's wrong in thinking he's onto some universal truth.

As for others, I can't respond meaningfully unless you define what you mean by "disruptive."

Blogger Snidely Whiplash February 08, 2018 2:16 AM  

What Starbucks markets, their key product, is self-image. The secondary product is chocolate and other flavors of sugar. Their coffee is, at best, tertiary.

That said, I noticed a huge, unadvertized, improvement in their coffee 3 years ago.

Blogger tublecane February 08, 2018 2:35 AM  

@79-You have to think of these things relativistically. Any bottled sparkling water is a luxury. People can just drink out of their taps; I do every day. But given the sparkling water market, where did Perrier fit?

Your point about Apple above was addressed. If you have the resources, you can do that.

I am reminded of an episode of Mad Men. They're discussing how to market margarine. Do you highlight taste or price. Turns out the price difference is negligible. Someone brings up butter, which costs more. But butter us butter, they realize. It's fresh. There's no comparison. It's in a whole other league, apart from margarine.

But if you look at butter in isolation, there are of course varying levels of quality and variable marketing strategies.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash February 08, 2018 2:37 AM  

You have this weird idea tha the adjective disruptive can only apply to the end product. That is false. It means the same thing in business as it does in everyday English. "Disruptive" applys to anything that disrupts the market. That disruption can be a new technology, like quartz regulated watches or ebooks. The disruption can also be a business model, a new demographic, a superior distribution channel, anything that overturns established market structures and forces the other players to scramble to catch up.

Arkhaven has 2 potential disruptors, targeting ex-comic-readers and non-comics-readers, the vast majority of the potential market that the established players have abandoned, and going around the established distribution channels that are strangling the industry.

The play may fail, but if it succeeds, it will truly disrupt the comics market.

Blogger VD February 08, 2018 3:33 AM  

If you're using "disruption" in the technical, business-jargon sense, neither your dad's businesses not Alt-Hero are/were disruptive. That isn't to say they weren't innovative or even revolutionary; but they all were trying to make a better version of what was fundamentally the same product.

You are completely wrong. You have no idea what is going on.

OpenID eddie February 08, 2018 5:32 AM  

"It means the same thing in business as it does in everyday English. "Disruptive" applys to anything that disrupts the market."
No, it does not. In everyday language, it means much the same as "innovative" or just "very different." In business jargon, it's a specific, technical, term with a defined meaning. Which isn't to say that some people in business don't also use it in the everyday sense; hence, my request for Vox to define how he was using the term.

"You are completely wrong. You have no idea what is going on."

Well, that's certainly a devastating retort. My arguments are rebutted.

Blogger VD February 08, 2018 5:59 AM  

Well, that's certainly a devastating retort. My arguments are rebutted.

Very well, you're both wrong and stupid, as I will now demonstrate. Answer this question: Did Honda disrupt the US auto market?

Second, you have literally no idea what we're doing yet. All you know is what I have told you, which is very far from the whole picture. So for you to claim on that incomplete basis that we are not disrupting the comics industry is observably stupid.

Furthermore, you're so clueless that you didn't understand my father's business was not disruptive, it was the one disrupted by the low-end VGA card manufacturers. His company was the market leader in high-resolution computer graphics for most of the 1980s.

I know what I'm talking about. You clearly don't. And trying to hide behind some contorted definition of "disrupt" that you invented yourself isn't going to save you.

Blogger Bob Loblaw February 08, 2018 6:02 AM  

Snidely Whiplash wrote:What Starbucks markets, their key product, is self-image. The secondary product is chocolate and other flavors of sugar. Their coffee is, at best, tertiary.

That said, I noticed a huge, unadvertized, improvement in their coffee 3 years ago.


Starbucks is a desert shop masquerading as a coffee shop. People think "Oh, I'll just pop down to Starbucks and get a black coffee with no sugar. Then they walk out with a double frappuccino something or other plus a 500 calorie coffee cake.

They're the American version of Tim Hortons.

Blogger James Dixon February 08, 2018 6:17 AM  

> ...but the iphone was their first entry in the phone market.

The iPhone was the first mass marketed smartphone. It had the market to itself.

> Perrier, in this country, did indeed start out as high-end.

In this country. Which completely invalidates your supposed point.

Starbucks was already successful regionally before it expanded nationwide.

> Mind you -- I'm not saying that this THE way to start out. Just that it's A way that has worked at times, and failed at others,

It works if you have the money to survive long enough to implement it and there's a big enough market. Neither is the case here. Comics are already to expensive for your average person to buy. Do I really need to note that in the 1960's comics were $0.10?

> Well, that's certainly a devastating retort. My arguments are rebutted.

When you really don't have any idea what you're talking about, it's hard to rebut your arguments in terms you'll understand.

Blogger wreckage February 08, 2018 6:19 AM  

@79 Perrier has been around since 1898. And its marketing push came after it was acquired by the giant nestle company, who sold it as a mass market beverage instead of a weird niche health product - albeit a weird niche health product with a marginal cost of production of damn near zero, which again, messes with your use of it as an example.

I get what you're trying to say, but you're pointing to very rare events, and in fact, they're rare enough that your examples are mostly bad.

Additionally, if you look closely, Vox IS actually trying to ~disrupt~ the comics market. Have a look at what he's hinted at, there's some VERY interesting details there!

Blogger The Abe February 08, 2018 6:31 AM  

Alt*Hero and affiliates are the beacon. The talent will follow the sign in the heavens.

Todd McFarlane spent a year or so getting ignored and up-yours cards back in the mail, before he was hired. Sending out an estimated 700 submissions, to no avail. Less than ten years later, He had an appearance as himself on a television show, and had a property developed for film and HBO. None of this was a self-evident outcome at the time he got his start.

Commercial art is and always will be a buyers market. A friend of mine whose art you've probably seen but no idea who he is still trades under his own name and an alias with different rates.

The phase two or three "coup" to be had is just as likely signing the next big thing as hiring a veteran with name recognition.

Blogger VD February 08, 2018 6:49 AM  

"Except Apple didn't start out with the iPhone as a newcomer to the marketplace." Yes, they did. They were a huge company, and obviously their capital helped, but the iphone was their first entry in the phone market.

"Starbucks, which I doubt was more expensive than any other boutique coffee shop coffee at the time," Nationwide boutique coffee shop chains didn't exist before Starbucks. They (and a few others who followed) basically created a market for $5 coffee where none existed before.

Perrier, in this country, did indeed start out as high-end.


Apple had $70 billion. Starbucks didn't disrupt anything, by your own admission. Perrier first entered the USA 70 years before it became popular and it was a sponsor of the 1984 Olympics. It is has also been owned by a massive international conglomerate since 1992; as it happens, I am a friend of one of its top executives.

You have absolutely no clue what you are talking about. None of your counterexamples are even relevant to the topic at hand. Just shut up and stop embarrassing yourself.

Blogger The Abe February 08, 2018 7:11 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger The Abe February 08, 2018 7:16 AM  

Also, one need look no further than "George" magazine as a caveat about trying to start off at the top. Despite having every auspice you could have hoped for on paper, it was losing money long before its founder perished.

What's more ironic, it's raison d'être is one that would have gelled well with the internet age and allowed it to transistion fairly seamlessly out of the present death trap of print media.

As the book of proverbs notes, "Better to be lowly and have a servant than to play the great man and lack bread".

Blogger RC February 08, 2018 8:33 AM  

One of my businesses has given me the opportunity to know a hundred+ entrepreneurs in the landscaping business. Every single one has started very small, usually a mower and an old truck and then worked their ass off.

Most of them die there but the smart ones look for opportunities, getting larger contracts and then proposing other services. In ten years, many of them are $5M to $10M in turnover and have the resources to take on even bigger opportunities: pushing snow in the winter, providing Christmas trees to businesses in the off-season, hanging Christmas lights, serving estate clients, starting tree farms. I could go on, but I've gotten to know many families who've built $30M businesses from scratch through beachhead/breakout and incremental growth, changing their family tree. None of them came in with huge resources.

Given the success to be had, a number of VC firms are rolling up these businesses. I doubt they can be efficient enough to compete long-term. We shall see.

OpenID livebowman February 08, 2018 8:53 AM  

Ah the "people of the mind" (of Ayn Rand) who think the big plans they have in mind are perfect, and blame the prudent entrepreneur of not investing enough, not taking enough risks, etc.

The same people support big public programs, and then blame "capitalism" or greed when they fail (as they always do).

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother February 08, 2018 9:22 AM  

Yes, Eddie. We know what disruptive means. There are several businessmen commenting here. I gave a you tick by tick explanation why Arkhaven is disruptive. As another commenter noted, it's not only the end product that is disruptive it's also the process by which the disruptive product is marketed and manufactured.

Blogger Loyd Jenkins February 08, 2018 9:42 AM  

Your post is so insightful, I feel like I should have paid for it (but I won't feel guilty about getting it for free). There is a lot there, that needs to be ruminated.

The comments just add to the value. I thank all of you for sharing. Valuable stuff here.

Blogger RC February 08, 2018 10:00 AM  

I have one example regarding landscaping entrepreneurs that could be instructive to aspiring entrepreneurs: Roger Braswell. He started his landscaping company several decades ago in North Carolina and was looking for a machine that could move dirt and be easily transported. He found a machine called the Dingo, made in Australia and imported some into the U.S. They were so well-suited to his purposes that he negotiated a contract with Dingo that made him the exclusive U.S. distributor, a contract that he later sold for a substantial sum. He parlayed that into a contract with Home Depot to provide tool rental and equipment rental in their stores and grew that business, Compact Power, alongside Home Depot. Just a few months ago, he sold Compact Power to Home Depot for $265M cash. Do you think he knew where he was going when he started his landscaping business? No way. He was just opportunistic and took measured risks along the way: beachhead/breakout. The last I talked to him, he still owned a small landscaping business.

These guys are inspirational. Check out Robert Parsons in Illinois, a great story of a man who lived his convictions, started from nothing, weathered storms (literally), and built a fantastic business.

Blogger James Dixon February 08, 2018 10:02 AM  

> Answer this question: Did Honda disrupt the US auto market?

While both Honda and Datsun (now Nissan) had an effect, I believe it was Toyota that was the prime disrupter of the US market. I'm open to correction if my memory/understanding is incorrect.

Blogger heyjames4 February 08, 2018 10:08 AM  


Per http://www.comichron.com
The average price for north american comics is 3.99$ per issue
The number one sellers usually top out at 100k units per month, that's Batman.
Sometimes there's a big pushed event or mainstream crossover that goes higher, but not always.
The number fifty seller gets less than 50k units per month, that's mid-tier comics from DC/MARVEL/IMAGE
The number one hundred seller less than 25k units per month, that's bottom tier comics from the Big 3 or a media tie-in for something you might have heard of.
The number two hundred seller gets less than 10k units per month, that's tie-ins and indie's for things you haven't heard of.
The number three hundred seller gets under 5k units per month.


You got to start somewhere.
You think Vox can't get 5k units per month at 2.99$ out of the existing Castalia House audience?
With Vox and his team Arkhaven will at least contest Image for #3, which will create a beachhead in converged territory for friendly talents to gather and support each other.
And that's before going mass market with super and non-super hero stories. The goal isn't to be DC/MARVEL, the goal is to be Kodansha or Shonen Jump.


I've been thinking about this scene from Lawrence of Arabia, where L is negotiating with one of the shieks for a troop of warriors.
He plans to take fifty men across an uncrossable desert, into territory controlled by the enemy, to assault a fortress guarded by thousands.

Because fifty men led by a madman to achieve the impossible are fifty men that other men can join.

That's Vox. That's Arkhaven.

OpenID dreadilkzee February 08, 2018 10:39 AM  

There are exceptions and there are rules. Even in the great Samsung case they bought their way in but the brought their own money to survive on. I would surmise part of the reason they could take the tops spot was because they also owned many of the parts that everyone used (Hello Samsung Snapdragon).

Samsung came to the phone market late but they took on the crazy task of competing with Apple and their hundreds of thousands of fanbois. They did this by simply providing the best technology often outperforming iPhone as the two become locked stepped in a never end leap-frog race.

However, unlike iPhone, Samsung had the capacity to play in both the high and low end.

But Samsung is the exception. They brought the capital to play and simply bullied their way into the market. As exceptional as Vox is, he doesn't have a billion dollar war chest to buy a market. And frankly buying into a dying market is not a good business strategy. Samsung capitalized and bought in early on a hugely expanding market not one that is shrinking.

That said don't sale yourself short, There is some good art from what I have seen and those guys will get better. They are just not the established artiest that DC and Marvel have.

Blogger LP9 February 08, 2018 10:49 AM  

That wasn't advice it was a blatant sabotage attempt.



Blogger ReluctantMessiah February 08, 2018 12:19 PM  

I can't recall how many Kickstarter projects do the exact mistakes VD warns about. They go for the top quality, wow factor. But it's just a flash in the pan and they close shop in a year.

OpenID eddie February 08, 2018 12:44 PM  

“Very well, you're both wrong and stupid, as I will now demonstrate. Answer this question: Did Honda disrupt the US auto market?”

Again: you still haven’t defined the term. Are you using it as defined in Business School, or by Webster’s? I tend to think the latter, but until I know what you’re saying, I can’t answer.


Second, you have literally no idea what we're doing yet. All you know is what I have told you, which is very far from the whole picture. So for you to claim on that incomplete basis that we are not disrupting the comics industry is observably stupid.

I didn’t make any claims about what you’re doing beyond what you’ve told me. What I said was that
1) if you meant disruption in the technical sense, neither Alt-Hero or your dad’s newsmagazine were disruptive. Unless Alt-Hero is going to be a holograph or something like that, it’s not a total disruption. It’s words and pictures, on a page or screen, that people read for entertainment.
2) If you mean disruption in the generic sense of a major change to an industry, it may well be, but my point there was that plenty of companies do in fact start out higher-end, and only later go downmarket.


"Furthermore, you're so clueless that you didn't understand my father's business was not disruptive, it was the one disrupted by the low-end VGA card manufacturers."

I said nothing about his VGA card business. I specifically referenced his newsmagazine.

"I know what I'm talking about. You clearly don't. And trying to hide behind some contorted definition of "disrupt" that you invented yourself isn't going to save you."

No.

“Disruption” became a buzzword in business after Clayton Christensen defined and described it in a very specific way. This is, if not quite Business 102, something no smart post-2010 undergraduate business major would be unaware of.

https://infogalactic.com/info/Disruptive_innovation
https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinehoward/2013/03/27/you-say-innovator-i-say-disruptor-whats-the-difference/#7881ac676f43
https://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2015/01/economist-explains-15

Again, I’m NOT saying that is the right or only or even most common definition; just that it’s a different definition than the generic one, and I wanted to consider the possibility you were using the word in that sense. Since you’re now suggesting it’s a definition I made up, I take that as a given that you were unfamiliar with the term, and we can move on.

"Starbucks didn't disrupt anything, by your own admission."

I made no such admission. I said they basically created the market space they now occupy. If we were using of “disruption” in the technical sense , creating a new market is a big part of the concept. If we’re gonna use it in the ordinary sense, I don’t see how one can possibly argue the point. Thirty years ago, “coffee shop” meant a mom-and-pop place with linoleum floors serving up a fresh cup of joe. Nowadays people are at least as likely to think of a hip place serving up $5 Yuppiechinos.

That’s a major change, Starbucks did more than anyone to make it happen, and they didn’t start with black joe and slowly introduce the Yuppiechino; they began with wildly expensive coffee and convinced Americans to buy it.

"You have absolutely no clue what you are talking about. None of your counterexamples are even relevant to the topic at hand. Just shut up and stop embarrassing yourself."

Again, not a devastating comeback.

I’ve specifically said I’m not critiquing the way you’re running Alt-Hero. I’m critiquing your suggestion that startups can only ever do so at the bottom end of a given market. That's nonsense, and I've given several examples of firms that have done the opposite.

Blogger Redpill Angel February 08, 2018 12:53 PM  

The original comic for Men in Black featured really sucky artwork. Years ago, we were acquaintances with the guy who wrote it. My husband runs into him from time to time at comics cons. He's never really needed to work again. Story is much more important, and as an artist, I know the artist can and will improve.

Blogger VD February 08, 2018 1:04 PM  

Again: you still haven’t defined the term. Are you using it as defined in Business School, or by Webster’s? I tend to think the latter, but until I know what you’re saying, I can’t answer.

You're full of shit, Eddie. The artificial distinction you are making is totally irrelevant.

I said nothing about his VGA card business. I specifically referenced his newsmagazine.

You're full of shit, Eddie.

neither your dad's businesses not Alt-Hero are/were disruptive

Businesses. Plural. You clearly referenced the graphics card business.

Again, I’m NOT saying that is the right or only or even most common definition; just that it’s a different definition than the generic one, and I wanted to consider the possibility you were using the word in that sense. Since you’re now suggesting it’s a definition I made up, I take that as a given that you were unfamiliar with the term, and we can move on.

I have no more interest in responding to you. You go ahead and start your business disrupting things at the high end.

Blogger L' Aristokrato February 08, 2018 1:12 PM  

Snidely Whiplash wrote:Thing is, once you can add at least one other "big name" alongside Mr.Dixon to be a writer in your line, and if you can get at least one upper level artist, you'll probably have other comic publishers beat in every area, including all around quality and credibility.

Thing is, he did. That's whose work you are criticizing. A Big Name who's worked on Batman and Superman. I think his artist won't be calling you for help.


I did no such thing, you obtuse dolt.
I never said a single word, negative or otherwise, about the current artwork. I simply remarked about the potential advantages of getting top tier artists if/when possible.
As for Mr. Dixon, I've only ever said it was a good thing to have him.
Although, when it comes to that, yes, I am better than the current Arkhaven guys, as well as most people at Marvel/DC. Though I didn't offer to help to massage my ego in that regard, but because I think I can give some tips and feedback which can improve the product; Tips and feedback that I myself was given in the past. I have an interest in seeing Arkhaven succeeding. Vox and his guys can, and will do whatever they want regardless. Either way, my offer stands.

Blogger Robert What? February 08, 2018 1:13 PM  

I think I haven't read a comic book in forty plus years. But I might just change my mind for this.

Blogger Danby February 08, 2018 1:20 PM  

eddie wrote:That’s a major change, Starbucks did more than anyone to make it happen, and they didn’t start with black joe and slowly introduce the Yuppiechino; they began with wildly expensive coffee and convinced Americans to buy it.


As someone who was there and witnessed it, who bought coffee from the original Starbucks, I'm here to tell you that's the exact and diametric opposite of how it happened.

Vox is right, you're full of shit, eddie.

Blogger James Dixon February 08, 2018 1:33 PM  

> ... but until I know what you’re saying, I can’t answer.

You know damn well what he's saying.

> I’m critiquing your suggestion that startups can only ever do so at the bottom end of a given market. That's nonsense, and I've given several examples of firms that have done the opposite.

And it's been pointed out that none of your examples back up what you're saying. Yes, Apple, Nestle, and other pre-existing companies with lots of money can enter at the top end and survive it Elon Musk started at the high end with Tesla. That doesn't prove your point either.

At this point, you're simply lying.

> I simply remarked about the potential advantages of getting top tier artists if/when possible.

When the time comes, L'Aristokrato. We're not there yet. Give it another year or so for things to shake out.

> ...but because I think I can give some tips and feedback which can improve the product;

Write up some example suggestions and send them in to Vox. Let him decide if they're useful or not.

Blogger Danby February 08, 2018 1:45 PM  

L' Aristokrato wrote:Although, when it comes to that, yes, I am better than the current Arkhaven guys, as well as most people at Marvel/DC.
Of course you are.
Though I didn't offer to help to massage my ego in that regard,
Of course not. We all understand you're the best comic artist evar, but don't work in the comic industry because it's beneath you. We really do get that.
but because I think I can give some tips and feedback which can improve the product; Tips and feedback that I myself was given in the past.

Blogger tublecane February 08, 2018 2:24 PM  

@95-George magazine sorta "fell between the stools" by trying to be all things to all people. Was it supposed to be a Washington society magazine, a political thing, or a higher-class People? I don't know.

What struck me at the time, being a young male, were the artsy photographs, which often basically amounted to pornography. You can't easily mix Vanity Fair, People, Time, and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in the same pot.

Blogger Longtime Lurker February 08, 2018 2:33 PM  

This is what disruption looks like: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5364035/US-sells-oil-Middle-East-surging-production.html

OpenID eddie February 08, 2018 3:27 PM  

"You're full of shit, Eddie."

LOL. Again a cogent and thoughtful argument.

Blogger Wormwood February 08, 2018 3:31 PM  

Or....You could avoid hiring the top talent, and beat the bushes for raw talent. Get some back issues of the diamond ordering catalog and start to hunt down all the independents that exist or once existed, and start to flail those bushes. You can also cruise Deviant Art. I realize that you, personally, don't have the time for that, but you can probably find a volunteer that loves comics who can bird dog for you. That's the path I would take regarding your art problem.

Blogger SirHamster February 08, 2018 3:43 PM  

eddie wrote:I’m critiquing your suggestion that startups can only ever do so at the bottom end of a given market.

Vox's experience of every "high end" startup failing is not a suggestion.

Apple, Samsung are not "startups".

Blogger James Dixon February 08, 2018 3:47 PM  

> LOL. Again a cogent and thoughtful argument.

He's giving you more thought than you've demonstrated you deserve.

Blogger James Dixon February 08, 2018 3:48 PM  

> That's the path I would take regarding your art problem.

What "art problem", exactly? They have enough artists for the books currently scheduled.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash February 08, 2018 4:25 PM  

"You obviously don't meet the specific and highly idiosyncratic definition of a particular word I have in mind. No, I will not provide that definition, I will only provide a link to someone else that uses the word the same way I do. And that's why I'm right and smarter than you."

You're full of shit, eddie.

Blogger Stg58/Animal Mother February 08, 2018 4:38 PM  

Hahaha

Blogger VD February 08, 2018 4:38 PM  

Either way, my offer stands.

So send me a link to your portfolio and your page rate. That would be considerably more helpful than publicly taking shots at Frank Fosco.

Blogger James Dixon February 08, 2018 5:02 PM  

> That would be considerably more helpful than publicly taking shots at Frank Fosco.

That was more Scotty Richard Studio and Raben Wulf than L' Aristokrato.

Blogger The Observer February 08, 2018 5:19 PM  

> ... but until I know what you’re saying, I can’t answer.

You know damn well what he's saying.


Reminds me of those "but I did(n't) say exactly that!" people who crop up from time to time.

Eg: A:"Africa is more inbred than other continents."

B: (Displays picture of inbred whites)

A: "Here's my data that cosanguinity in Africa is considerably more pronounced than elsewhere."

B: "Oh! But I didn't say that it wasn't! I meant that whites do it too! Did I say that? You shouldn't assume, you fool!"

We all know what is meant, and at that point the person not arguing in good faith is just playing with words.

You can also cruise Deviant Art.

Anyone who suggests looking in that pile of filth should never be taken seriously.

Blogger James Dixon February 08, 2018 6:50 PM  

> ...nd at that point the person not arguing in good faith is just playing with words.

Thus, my comment: At this point, you're simply lying.

Blogger Jack Ward February 08, 2018 9:10 PM  

@114 Its wonderful that the USA is selling our oil overseas. Meanwhile, our gas prices continue upward as a result at a time in the year they should be falling. Thanks a lot to the greedy ones and Washington.

Blogger Last Redoubt February 08, 2018 10:31 PM  

@117 SirHamster

Apple, Samsung are not "startups".

Not only that, but especially in the case of the iPhone, the only piece of that puzzle that was truly new to them was the cellular part, and the market they were entering.

Designing (including designing the manufacture processes) of high-resolution touch surfaces? Designing displays? Designing low power mobile chipsets and tuning a nix-based OS for low power environments? Designing radios (wifi)? Designing interfaces for new circumstances? Working with flash storage and designing custom boards? Recompiling their software and OS chain to migrate to new processor architectures?

Under Jobs they'd been building the capabilities needed for that or similar projects for years, one iteration at a time.

And as to the phone market, they didn't do that THAT the traditional way either. "bound to fail", etc.

Blogger L' Aristokrato February 10, 2018 3:15 PM  

VD wrote:Either way, my offer stands.

So send me a link to your portfolio and your page rate. That would be considerably more helpful than publicly taking shots at Frank Fosco.


What shots?
I have not written a single bad word about either Frank Fosco, nor anyone else.
I did not even comment in any way about the current artwork at all.
By all means, look it up, if you don't believe me; But don't lie, nor assume someone else's words were mine.
Even my initial comment about maybe snatching top artists if possible was, whether you agreed with it or not, entirely unrelated to the current product.

Also, I wasn't asking for a job.
You said it yourself, that you take into consideration constructive criticisms. Well, in that regard, I have a professinal level of understanding concerning drawing, inking and digital coloring(no composition though).
I could offer some insights on how to improve, even with physical examples of modified pages. Showcase how to do those changes and such, which your artists and colorists could easily incorporate to their methods, if they wanted.
This is exactly why I never make any critiques in any comments section. I think showing what I mean is better than a random "you should do this" type comment. I rather you see the results of what I suggest, and let it speak for itself. Afterwards you can decide if it's advice worth following, or not.

Blogger Wormwood February 10, 2018 4:10 PM  

Yes, James Dixon there is an art problem. The problem is that some of the art in these books is bad. Vox seems to favor the written side more than the visual side, and that's understandable given his background.

As a kid I use to stand in the grocery store at the comic rack and read as fast as I could because I knew Mom was only going to buy me one. The art mattered, and at it's best it added authenticity to the story. I can remember when I read my first Simonson "Thor" and the art style complimented the Norse theme so well. It added to the experience, and to this day I still treasure those Simonson issues.

I can remember when Image came into the business and even though the stories were weak the art inspired. The art matters. If the SJW are in charge then there should be a lot of white guys riding the bench who desperately wanted to do comic art. You've just got to find them.

Blogger Wormwood February 10, 2018 4:18 PM  

I found this that hopefully will illustrate what I'm talking about regarding the art in general, and the Simonson example in particular.

http://comicsalliance.com/walt-simonson-thor/

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