The simple, classic story is that shortly after we opened in 2008, Noah Van Sciver came in and asked if we could sell copies of his comic, Blammo #1. We said sure, and took two. My partner and I Luke LOVED it, and so quickly asked for more. Every time we got some in, we'd sell out (because we were advocates for comics, but I'll discuss that more another time), and we'd harangue Noah for more. By issue #4, we discovered he was paying more to print each copy than the wholesale rate we paid him (50% of cover). So, we gave him $500 and said, 'print a bunch and give us a bunch'. Instead, he printed 50 copies of Blammo #6 in full color at $10 apiece, and priced them at $4. We got 10 copies to sell. So, for the next issue, Blammo #6, we took over printing his comic. That was in early 2010, and in the last eight years we've published about fifty comics, a bunch of prints, and made a movie.
I think this story sums up 100% of why we publish comics. To me, the very best comics are simply a way for a person to grapple with the big questions and to share what they've found out. The very best comics show evidence of intellectual curiosity, of compassion, of humor, of any of the many mechanisms we have for dealing with the realities of life - which include joy, sorrow, boredom, excitement, beauty, ugliness, and ultimately, death. What is it all for, great comics ask.
Cartoonists offer different answers, but our mission is to help those artists get their work out to others who may be asking the same questions. To make connections. To make people think, or laugh, or get choked up.
Every year I say to my pals, 'I'm done. I'm sick of comics.' And then I'll stumble upon a Robert Sergel comic and I'll feel great. Mike or M.S. will hassle me at shows until I read their books, and when I do, I fall in love all over again with comics. Tom Van Deusen will make me spit coffee on his comics from laughter, and Noah will make me want to give him a big hug he doesn't want. And that's what happened this year. As of last spring, I was OUT. And then these beautiful, wonderful, delightfully curious individuals give me the reasons and strength to continue.
I don't want to make too big a deal out of this, but right now, in this moment in our nationally history, and certainly in my life's story, so many of us are desperate for connection. For finding someone who says what we've been thinking, or who says what we didn't know we thought, but now does. It might seem trite, in the face of the evil that is taking over the world right now, to publish small disposable comics. But I can't think of a better way to cast out the darkness than to help -- in some real, human way -- bring people together.
So, that's why I'm a publisher.