Slave Labor Graphics' Sunday afternoon WonderCon panel was short and sweet, "because that's how I roll," said publisher Dan Vado. After he treated the devoted crowd to video trailers of upcoming SLG comic books and graphic novels, he opened the panel to questions, the first of which was how he liked dealing with Diamond Comics.
"Somebody ask me something else," joked Vado. "Is there a 'like' to that question? There is no liking. You either work with them, or you don't."
Vado further explained that the distributor's growth is much the same as the industry itself, saying "All of this started because people liked comics and wanted to be a part of it in some way."
"I don't know what I'm doing...well, kind of," said Vado. "Twenty-five years. Half my life I've been publishing comics. Did I know what I was doing? Did I know how to print a comic book? Did I know how to distribute it? No. I had to learn it on the job. That's the thing Diamond is doing."
Vado then talked about when Marvel pulled out of every established distributor's catalogue and self-distributed, and further lamented that they bought a company that tried "to distribute books world-wide with people who [didn't] know what they were doing, and [had] no experience in dealing with anyone outside the eastern seaboard. These are the people they threw in with. It created complete and utter chaos."
Vado added that this meant that publishers had to align with particular distributors, which eventually lead to distributors going out of business. Thus, after the dust settled, all that was left with was Diamond. "It's not Diamond's fault. They're trying their best. It's just a terrible situation that everyone's kind of in because there is no competition in the marketplace. Distribution couldn't survive, at least as far as the direct market is concerned."
Before starting the Q and A session, Vado had shown off the aforementioned video trailers.
First was "Birdhouse" from Bay Area native Vernon White, which Vado describes as a "tragic fantasy set in the modern day, but not quite." Vado only teased a bit because he didn't want to give away too much of the story.
The next two trailers were for books set for a July release, "The Royal Historian of Oz" by Tommy Kovac and "Warlord of Io" by James Turner. Vado pointed out that SLG is pricing the former's first issue at only a dollar. "Go tell your friends. Buy five copies, and give them away."
Other trailers that Vado shared with the audience were "Java Town" by Scott Saavedra, "Captain Long Ears" by Diana Tung and "Shadow Eyes" by Ross Campbell.
The last video Vado showed attendees was a short film made in the publisher's warehouse. The film was about one of SLG's employees, Brian, being followed around the warehouse by a hosts of SLG's Spooky squeak-toys from Jhonen Vasquez's "I Feel Sick" comics, ultimately being pummeled by an onslaught of squeaking Spookies. "Brian was a good sport. We liked throwing all those toys at him," joked Vado. "Over, and over, and over again."
Also towards the end of the panel, Vado reminded local attendees that every first Friday of the month, the publisher opens up their downtown San Jose, CA warehouse to take part in the city's First Fridays art-crawl with drinks and live bands. Moreover, a similar style party is planned for this year's Free Comic Book Day celebration.
"After scouring the area for comic books, come by my place. I have a shit-ton of comic books to give away! And check out the bands we'll have. We want people to hang out and have a little fun."