Gladstone/Marvel cataclysm

Fri Jan 20 14:51:19 CET 1995

AUGIE:  "... Heroes World (an Eastern comic book distributor in 
America) was recenly purchased by Marvel, sending shockwaves 
out through the industry..."
BRUCE HAMILTON:  "Marvel recently cancelled its contract to buy 
the traditional Disney comics from Gladstone for newsstand 
distribution, so now we have no direct dealings with Marvel."

Gladstone's now stuck with distributing the comics in 
whatever less-financially-attractive way they did it from 1986-
1989:  through the normal, non-Marvel way.

Gladstone's deal with Marvel involved Marvel BUYING an entire stock 
of Disney comics, sending them out to newsstands, and then swallowing 
the returned unsold copies itself.  Now Gladstone will have to 
swallow the returned copies.  There's only one advantage as I see it, 
and that, I imagine, is that other distribution companies will do a 
better job getting Gladstones into the newsstands than Marvel did.  
After all, Gladstone will be paying them to do same.  But since 
Marvel was the OWNER of the Gladstones it distributed, Gladstone 
couldn't complain a whit about their poor distribution.  Marvel had 
bought them, and Marvel had itself to answer to if they decided 
distribution was poor.

But It WAS up to Gladstone, as I see it, to help Marvel along (as 
well as themselves, of course -- let's not forget that) by 
advertising a lot in magazines such as HERO, and by constantly 
announcing their new stories and innovations to the fan press.  
They didn't bother.  Maggie Thompson pointed out to me that 
Gladstone never sent the CBG any press releases or comments 
about what they were publishing, even though the CBG would have liked 
to have run articles about it.  No complimentary copies either for 
Thompson to review.  Only proofs of the ads they wanted to 
have used on the back covers.  That was it.

Gladstone's management -- be it Bruce Hamilton's decision, or that of 
someone else -- decided that they didn't need to advertise anywhere 
but on the back of the CBG.  Unfortunately, now it looks like they've 
paid the price.  Even if they get better distribution from going back 
to their 1980s method, they'll have to swallow a lot of returned 
copies.  Things are going to be very different.

My personal expectation is that DONALD AND MICKEY will be on the 
ropes.  Either it will be forced to change its format to include more 
popular Mickey stories, or the decision will be made that Mickey 
himself is the reason for the poor sales (despite the comparatively 
good sales of WDC&S), and D&M will fold.  I hope the former course is 

Actually, maybe Gladstone will have Archie distribute its comics, as 
with the 1985 one-shots (did anyone notice the "Gladstone distributed 
by Archie" logo on the digest versions of USGDG and DBPG?).

I hate to say this, but I think that Gladstone's management made this 
bed.  Now they have to sleep in it.  I only hope that Gladstone is up 
to the challenge.  Otherwise, you can bet Marvel will end up with the 
license, somehow.  Marvel will find a way to make them sell, because 
Marvel has Influence.  (I capitalized that to make it look important, 
but now it looks like Influence is another comic book publisher.  It 
certainly sounds like one.)

David Gerstein

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