Back in the beginning of October, there was some muttering on a few sites and tweets about the closing of Haven Distributors. I did not put out a more formal announcement because I knew exactly what would happen, with this being the information age and all. First I called my suppliers personally so they wouldn’t get the news off the internet when word leaked… which it did the minute I sent out an email blast to customers. Gotta love Twitter.
If you read this news by way of Rich Johntson, you would have only seen a quick little blurb that he rattled off in which he made it sound like Haven simply failed as a business. Period. No context. No caveat. Just… we’re done. This struck me as curious when he then asked me how Bleeding Cool could help after being so dismissive. Uhm, sure. Thanks o_O
Comics Beat and Comics Worth Reading gave the story friendlier coverage with a little more perspective. Thank you Heidi for the nod to Tony Shenton. He was great to work with. Johanna asked me some questions by email, but nothing from my reply was ever posted. Can’t say I blame her too much. As she accurately pointed out in her article, Haven was never really THAT big in the news. She had other things to move on to.
The one site that did go to the next level of reporting was Robot 6. Brigid and I had a nice conversation, and so she got a lot closer to the full story, with some added commentary from me on the state of the industry in general.
The bottom line is this… Despite the fact that I always put myself out there as the face of the company, I did not actually own it. I was at the mercy of the owner, who financed the business. Correction: Under-financed. Woefully under-financed. I was the guy who had to make excuses for a perpetual lack of resources. I simply never had the capital that I needed to expand, or to take advantage of any momentum that I managed to pick up.
The business did not fail because our discounts were too low, or because there is no room in the market. DC’s new 52 had no impact on us at all. I just couldn’t reach out to enough retailers when I was the guy placing orders, managing inventory, and packing the damn boxes by myself for most of the company’s lifespan. The vast majority of those customers who did make the leap away from the big D became avidly loyal supporters. It was getting more to break their inertia and start thinking differently that took more time than I had when I was juggling so much by myself. Then at points when we were starting to get ahead, that’s when Mr. Magoo would turn off the tap and I had to return to bootstrap financing. And all sense of progress went up in a puff of smoke.
Does that make me sound bitter? Maybe it does. I’ve been accused of having a chip on my shoulder. But that’s what happens when you talk to so many retailers and publishers who are voicing their disdain of the current distribution model to which this market is shackled. I’m not talking about general griping over petty little problems. I am talking tangible, visceral hatred of the way that Diamond does business.
I’ve seen how much business independent comics SHOULD be doing in this market. I’ve seen how many retailers SHOULD have been ordering from us — if I had been able to give them a better online ordering system, a monthly catalog, and a steadier stream of new books to order, all of which cost money that I thought I would get from the alleged financier of the company, but never came.
So what happens next? Will some other entrepreneur give it a shot and get it right this time? I’ve got it on good authority that the answer is yes. They just need a little more time.
- Yesterdays Rant about Independent Comics Being Doomed (comicsforge.com)
- Where to shop now that Haven is closed for all you online only retailers (comicsforge.com)
- Sad news in Comics Distribution today Haven Distro to shut down (comicsforge.com)
- One more thing to doom independent comics (comicsforge.com)
- >A New Haven For Independent Comics (stumptowntrade.wordpress.com)
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