In these tough economic times, big announcements about comics expanding their reach into new markets comes few and far between. But BOOM! Studios delivered two unprecedented bits of good news yesterday with word that their just launched line of kids comics based on Disney's Pixar and Muppet properties would branch out into newsstand distribution, thanks to a deal with Kable Distribution Services , and that the first two titles in the line -Â Roger Langridge's "The Muppet Show" and Mark Waid and Marcio Takara's "The Incredibles: Family Matters" - had sold out in comics shops.
With the word on distribution setting tongues wagging, CBR News contacted BOOM! Marketing and Sales Director Chip Mosher, who proudly explained, "We are excited about the newsstand distribution deal. We are excited about getting these comics in the hands of kids everywhere. That's our goal. I don't know of a person who works at BOOM! who didn't start collecting comic books and going to their local comic shops who didn't start on the newsstand. And we really believe in the Direct Market. We also believe that the newsstand market is an area of growth which can grow Direct Market sales also."
Mosher went into more detail on where and when the comics could be found, what titles will make up the full line and what's next for the Disney deal.
CBR: Chip, the press release was pretty brief on everything. At what point when you and BOOM! founder Ross Richie and editor-in-chief Mark Waid were setting up this kids line did the conversation turn towards newsstand distribution?
Chip Mosher: I think Mark has said this in public a lot - comic books retreating from the newsstand was a big mistake. There are people who just don't go to comic book shops every Wednesday or every month, and there's not a lot of comic books for kids. We wanted to correct both with this Disney/Pixar line and knew we'd have a chance to do so.
Did you guys put the books together in editorial and get everything passed by Disney before approaching Kable?
Yeah. It's always easier to get deals like that when you have pages to show people. Once we were at the point where we had approved artwork to shop around, that's when we decided to get them involved.
The books just hit in comics shops this week. Are the #1 issues going to be following on newsstands this month, or is it going to take longer to catch up?
We have a newsstand edition, which is a little different, going out right now into Barnes & Noble. So you should be able to go to Barnes & Noble and find them. And as the deal progresses, we'll be getting them into more and more places.
Everyone knows how sales and marketing work when it comes to the Direct Market. When it comes to the newsstand, what's the process for Kable on finding places for them to sell and getting retail outlets interested?
Kable handles and has successfully handled the Archie line for I don't know how long. They have really great relationships with people that want to get kid-friendly comic books on the newsstand that they've built through Archie. They've got their own sales force to help place the items, and that's why we went with them.
In the past, newsstand editions varied from the DM stuff with a different paper stock and maybe some other changes. What are your BOOM!'s editions like?
It's the same price point and on "The Incredibles," it's the 1A cover, and on "The Muppet Show" it's the 1A cover.
Down the road, will you be looking to support the books with ads and such as Archie does, or are you just focusing on story pages alone?
Right now we're baby stepping into this relationship. Obviously, the newsstand market is a returnable marketplace and it has felled bigger companies than us. So we're trying to do it in a way that's basically the same way you've seen BOOM! grow in the last four years. It's steady and slow and built up over a period of time. We're not the company that makes the big announcement, makes the big splash and then burns out two months later. We are the "put your nose to the grindstone and work real hard" company. And I think we'll win the race that way.
The press release mentioned that the initial three books - "Incredibles," "The Muppet Show" and "Cars" -Â as part of the deal, but looking in the back of the first issues that hit this week, there are a lot of series you've got planned with Disney. Are all of them going to be connected to the newsstand deal?
That is a certifiable "yes." In our June shipping books, we'll have "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles," "The Muppet Show," "Cars," "Toy Story" and "Muppet Robin Hood."
And it seems from this ad that "Monsters Inc." and "Wall-E" titles will follow later in the year?
I can not comment at this time on what you may or may not see on the editorial page of the first issue.
Any chance that you'll move any other BOOM! titles to Kable, or are you only focusing on the most kid-friendly books?
That's exactly it. As we go further down the road, we can evaluate those other options.
Didn't you also distribute your Warhammer comics to video game stores on some level?
We had what's called a pack-in with "Warhammer: Age of Reckoning," the hardcover graphic novel, with the special edition [of the game] and if those were tallied by Bookscan, that would have been one of the top graphic novels of last year.
Has there been any response from the Disney guys you work with on the newsstand deal?
Everyone's very excited about this. Disney's excited about us being in comic books stores and the newsstand market and getting the comics to as many people as possible. And I'd really like to mention Paul Morrissey, who is the editor of the whole Pixar Disney line and part of the great editorial team Mark Waid has built here. Paul comes from TOKYOPOP and was the editor of "Fruit's Basket" which sold over 100,000 copies for every volume. Paul is a really big part of the success, and his commitment to quality and his eight-year background in editing comics has been a real part of the success of this line.