Distribution - here's our solution!
The problem, in a nutshell, is that in about three weeks, copies of Harker issue 1 will be appearing in comic shops in the UK and the US. We're hopeful that these comics will sell well, of course. On the inside page of issue one, we talk about how we're a brand new British comic, and that we'll be appearing monthly. Given that we're working on issue five, we had every reason to believe this to be true when I wrote the editorial, and by the time we realised this wasn't going to be the case (due to the distribution problem discussed in my previous post), it was too late to change it, as the issue was already being printed. So how to get ourselves out of that one without looking stupid...?
First solution - we've definitely decided, at least for Book One, to abandon the idea of individual comics. Although Issue One will still be appearing in the comic shops, there won't be a printed version of issues 2-6. Instead, we're finishing issues five and six as planned (as I speak), and will then solicit a collected Book One in Previews - which will be a 140 (or so) page book containing what would have been issues 1-6, plus Issue Zero, plus extra stuff (a map, some cut out dolls, text pages, interviews, sketches etc).
However, we're guessing that (as with the comics), it's going to take three or four months for the collection to actually arrive in the shops, as that's the way Diamond / Previews works (you solicit three months ahead of it arriving in the shops). This would mean a long gap between the comic and the collection. This we don't want.
And so here we arrive at Our Cunning Plan - part two of our grand solution!
We're going to offer issues 2 to 6 on a monthly basis, as downloadable comics. They'll be cheap (maybe a quid or £1.50) and contain what would have been the printed versions, had we been able to get them distributed. So Issue One comes out in March in the shops (most of you reading this already have that, of course, from meeting us at the Birmingham convention), we'll release Issue Two, on a guaranteed date so that you know when it's coming out, as a download in April, Issue Three (again on a specified date) in May, and so on, right through to Issue Six. We'll then time the printed collection of these issues to be out in the comic shops in September, the month after we release Issue Six as a download.
We think this will work, and it's the best option we can come up with. Those of you wanting your monthly fix of Harker will be able to get it, starting with the first issue in three weeks in the comic shops, and then downloads of issues 2-6, one per month. You can choose to wait for the collected edition, of course, but if you want a fix each month, it'll be there for you as a high resolution download, including covers, editorials, letters pages etc, just as the regular comic would have had.
We don't think anyone has tried this with a regular monthly comic before, but we think it'll work. It also won't cost us a thing - we already have a website and a shop, currently undergoing redesign in time for the launch, and most of the material is already finished - so we may as well give it a go, as there's nothing to lose. We think this is a good solution, and it'll give us a chance to really test the market before we leap into Book Two.
I'd very much appreciate comments or emails - we may only get half a dozen people downloading it - or we may get hundreds. But then, they said iTunes would never work. Let me know what you think.
So one way or another, we're now definitely getting these darn comics out when we said we would, followed by the collection - hurrah!!