Peter Simeti here, founder and publisher of Alterna Comics and in case you haven’t heard, we’re bringing back newsprint comics in a big way this May as we’ve also just brokered a distribution deal with PDG to distribute our comics to newsstands across the world.
So why single issues and why newsprint? It’s true that Alterna’s only published a handful of single issue titles in our eleven years and that we’ve mostly published graphic novels and digital comics — but the answer is a simple one. I’ve been looking for a newsprint printer since I started Alterna and until we found one, I really didn’t want to move forward with printing single issues on premium paper. Some exceptions were made over the years but by and large, it wasn’t a direction I wanted to fully pursue. But finally, the search is over.
So why was the search so difficult? Newsprint is a really thin paper and because of that, it’s only printed on a web press. Web press printing is generally only affordable once you hit a range in the tens of thousands, while traditional offset printing can take thicker, premium paper stocks at minimum runs of 500 to 1000. The small runs are more appealing to comic publishers sadly due to the fact that the current distribution system can make it hard at times to sell more than that. Comic books just aren’t everywhere like they used to be and the fact that merchandise is sold on a non-returnable basis to retailers means that your local comic shop has to be very choosy with the books they stock on their shelves. It leaves a lot of purchasing up to speculation and the harsh reality is that the average Marvel or DC title is just less of a risk than the average independent comic. So for whatever reason, when it came to newsprint, I decided to reach out to grocery store circular printers, catalog printers, magazine printers, and local town paper printers – we ended up finding a few printers that could do exactly what we needed. It’s ironic that we had to look outside traditional comic book printing companies to find a printer that could print a traditional comic book.
Why the low cover price of $1.50 an issue? Can that last? It absolutely will as we found that printing costs on newsprint are about 3 times less for these runs, so we’re passing on those savings to retailers and readers. We’re also selling very affordable advertising to support the runs of these books and we’re allowing other comic creators and publishers to advertise as well — another break from the traditional in-house only ads of most modern comics.
You can see our first four offerings right here, available for pre-order at your local comic shop now.
Aside from distributing through Diamond Comics Distributors so that your favorite local comic shops will have these books on shelves, we’ve also secured a deal for newsstand distribution. In fact – comic shops will have these books two months earlier than newsstands will as it’s our way of saying thanks to all the shops that have supported us for our eleven years and giving respect to the retailers that have been the lifeblood of the comic industry.
Since the books will be on a bi-monthly schedule (a series will release every two months until completion) by the time issue #1 is on newsstands, issue #2 will be in comic shops. This will allow newsstand readers to seek out more titles in the comic shop and immediately get the next issue there if they wish.
The addition of newsstand availability also brings me to the reason why I’m running this Kickstarter to begin with.
While we budgeted for the print runs that will go toward comic shops, we weren’t able to foresee the budget costs of expanded print runs for newsstand distribution (this is relatively uncharted territory) or the cost of BIPAD numbers (unique – and costly – UPC numbers required by the magazine industry) and because of those two factors, we’re hoping that the Kickstarter community will come out to support our endeavor as we’ll be the first creator-owned publisher in decades to have comic books available on newsstands. Newsstand publications also have to have different bar codes than their comic shop counterparts, which adds another bit of a road bump. That’s because the newsstand industry has a standard 2 digit supplement code and comic book distribution has a 5 digit supplement code. The cost to print different covers is minimal (interiors will remain the same) but it’s still something that we need to do.
The BIPAD numbers are about $150 each, which set us behind on our budget by $3K as we needed 20 of these to move forward with newsstand distribution (yes, that’s right, we’ll be releasing at least 20 newsprint comics over the next two years+!) – so the first $3K raised will go towards filling that unexpected expense. The next $2K will go towards supporting increased print run numbers for our first 4 books.
So as long as we reach our goal of $5K we’ll be all set to move forward – but it’d be great if we could raise more, as every $1K raised will unlock a small BONUS stretch reward for every backer (stickers, trading card, pins, coasters, window clings, signed mini-poster) and every $2K raised will unlock the ability to purchase a larger stretch reward at a discounted price (tote bags, shirts, beanies). The extra funding will also enable us to securely move forward on future increased print runs, and support them fully with advertising and promotional materials for your favorite comic shops and stores.