Last month CBR News brought you the latest on "Advent Rising," the new comic based on the Majesco video game, written by Bill Jemas and Rob Worley, to be published by 360ep. The series was set to debut with a standard-sized comic in October for $2.25, but things have change a little bit and for the better. CBR News has learned that when "Advent Rising" #1 ships in October it will be as a double issue, pulling together the contents of issues #1 and #2 at no additional cost to fans or retailers. We caught up with 360ep's CEO Bill Jemas, 360ep Director of Development and Editor Teresa Focarile as well as writer Rob Worley to find out what their plans are for "Advent Rising" #1 and to see how they came to this idea.
"What we want to do is get as much of this content as possible into the hands of as many comic fans as possible because we think the content is good, strong and fun and we think the best way to build the franchise is to have people read this," Jemas told CBR News late last week by phone. "I don't think there's a comic book company worth their salt that doesn't feel that way about their best projects."
Originally the plan was to offer "Advent Rising" to retailers with an alternate cover. If a retailer buys five copies, they get one alternate cover free. "Retailers like that because those alternate cover books tend to sell at a high margin and give you a couple of facings on the book," explained Jemas. "On reflection and internal discussion, we felt that wasn't as strong an offer as we should make. It doesn't show really that 360ep is really putting our money where our mouth is."
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Along the way Worley finished the second "Advent Rising" book, which Jemas and company really liked. "So, the group got together and figured out that it would be fun to take the first issue and make it a double issue," said Jemas. "So, for $2.25 we're offering 64 pages. Not to bore you with detail, but that's 57 pages of content and these books have extra content anyway. What the offer boils down to is 'Advent Rising' #1 is 64 pages for $2.25 and the alternate cover offer for retailers is still in effect."
Worley explained that if you look at the originally intended first issue, that was only half of the first act. "Taken by itself, it probably doesn't hook you as well as the first act as a whole," Worley told CBR News by phone last week. "So, what we're giving everybody is the first act, issues #1 & #2, as a whole, which really gets all the players into place and puts everything into motion. That should get people hooked into the story. If you look at the 'X-Men' movies, where the first movie was all set-up and the second movie was all action, we're sort of giving you the set-up and the action in the first double-sized issue. And hopefully people will like it and want to see what happens in the next one."
"We're working real hard not to need a skip month and to actually keep to our original, or darn near close to our original schedule," Editor Teresa Focarile explained to CBR News. "As planned, a month after this first, now double-sized, issue comes out the second issue will be out as well."
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"We're in an industry where standard operating procedure doesn't work very well," continued Jemas. "I don't know DC's finances, but my impression is that standard operating procedures don't work very well for anybody except Marvel. That there's not enough single copy issues sold in the comic book marketplace to make the investment in doing single copies a rational financial investment use of funds. So, what we're trying to figure out is whether a little bit more investment spending on behalf of publishers would make the business make sense to the publisher.
"The best example of that at Marvel was we decided to invest a little more money to build our graphic novel business. That was an investment no previous management at Marvel was willing to take, even when the previous management was rolling in dough. There was a ton of money out there and no one was willing to invest it in the graphic novel business. They wouldn't invest in extra editorial time, in upgrading to the type of writers that could handle a six-issue arc, nor would they invest in the inventory level and product placement in retail. So, Marvel changed the comic book business model enough so that it pushed the investment against the initial content against an entirely different distribution channel. Spreading that six-issues against an additional revenue stream made the math work. It was the additional investment of cash that made the original investment more valuable and have a greater chance of return. I think that's what's going to happen here. Someone, through experiments like we're talking about here, will come up with a good way to make the investment work, provided the property and content is good."
In terms of cost to the retailer, Jemas doesn't believe there should be much, if any, additional shipping cost that'll be picked up by the retailer. Maybe a tiny increment, but nothing material.
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Essentially, with a $.25 cent issue both the publisher and retailer end up making no money, whereas in this case only the publisher takes the hit and that's an investment Jemas is willing to make. "On some level that's what we had to come to grips with," explained Jemas. "Small comics publishing is a series of unfortunate investments, followed by the occasional blockbuster movie. We would like to be able to hold our head above water in the comic industry without the big, blockbuster movie. Maybe the way to do that is to open up our wallets a little more and invest in the comic book channel.
"I think the best idea that came down the pike, which we may do with our next series, is to say buy the first issue and get the second issue for free as a separate, second issue. But, we were way too late on that because you had to find a way to communicate that properly to retailers where they understand they're giving away the second issue for free as opposed to selling it, whereas just putting it all together in one, bound up cover made everything easy and you still get a nice value at 64 pages for $2.25."