bad signal

The comics talk today is going to
be alive with the late-breaking news
from last night that Speakeasy
Comics is closing its doors with
immediate effect.  Which comes as
no surprise to most people, as
Speakeasy made most of the classic
errors associated with new comics
publishers who think being a fan of
the medium is enough.  And
Speakeasy publisher, Adam Fortier,
bless 'im, is a superfan.  I met him
some years ago, in connection with
a project outside comics; a very
personable guy with a lot of money
who made the two animators he
was travelling with drive him all over
LA in pursuit of comics.

Adam always struck me as a smart
guy, who'd done his homework on
the medium, so I was kind of taken
aback when Speakeasy started
releasing book after book with no
visible marketing plan beyond the
usual "if you build it they will come"
that always spells doom.  Especially
in an overheated publishing
marketplace that now has increased
expectation placed upon it by the
internet conversation.

We used ELK'S RUN as an example on
the Engine a few months ago: why
was there no dedicated marketer
who could develop an ad that worked
for that book?  

As time went on, and financial
responsibilities were placed on the
creators, Speakeasy began to 
sound like a vanity press, despite
the efforts of people like Rich
Johnston -- who works in advertising,
and therefore orchestrated his
own marketing for his FLYING
FRIAR graphic novella at Speakeasy
-- hailing it as a radical new step
from a publisher to prevent it
bleeding money and assuring
continued operation.

Publishing isn't just a case of
assembling and trafficking books.
Speakeasy's moves just baffled me
from start to finish.  They filled
no obvious gap in the marketplace,
and, sad to say, I think they'll
vanish with not a ripple at all.

Except for the creators.  I think a
lot of people got their start at
Speakeasy, and I'm damn sure
there's people who had books in the
pipeline there who will now feel
robbed of their start.  All I can say
to those people is: it happens.  Almost
every pro creator has a false
start early in their career,
sometimes more than one.  It's
never easy.

Things aren't getting harder.  This
isn't market correction.  This, I'm
sorry to say, is one publisher
getting it wrong from start to
finish: releasing too many books,
without a support structure.

Adam's saying online that he's done
with publishing, and would like to
go back to just being a fan.  Some
might say that it's being such a
great fan of the medium that did
him in as a publisher.  But if he does
come back, he will do better.
Publishing comics is a harsh gig, and
he's been through pretty much the
most unpleasant learning curve
it can give.

The Speakeasy-related creators
on The Engine should be talking
about their plans for the future
on the Engine throughout the day.


-- W
Sent via mobile device
probably in the pub


Geomagnetic Planetary Hard-Drive

Geoff Manaugh is a mad genius:

… it occurred to me that if the U-Bahn system could somehow be hooked up to massive, earth-anchored magnets, and made, therefore, to produce a magnetic field of its own, that you could transform all of Berlin into a geomagnetic harddrive.

As a sail traps the wind, a planetary harddrive would use geomagnetism.

Provided constant motion on behalf of the trains, I thought, and given absolutely gigantic magnets of the right polarity and location, Berlin could start producing its own magnetic field – which meant that any city with a subway could be transformed into a harddrive. Harddrive London. Harddrive Beijing. Harddrive Moscow.

Of course, it’s obvious even to me that you’d have to do quite a lot more than just bury some magnets underground in order to transform a city into a harddrive – you’d need a shovel, for instance, and perhaps some strong anti-manic drugs; but my point is that if Christopher Wren could build a tower that simultaneously memorialized the Great Fire of London even as it acted as a scientific device, then perhaps you could turn urban infrastructure itself into a kind of working scientific apparatus.

You could turn all of Berlin into a geomagnetic harddrive….

(Thanks to Matt Jones)