Gladstone Articles From Comics Buyer's Guide ZeldasTriforce at
Tue Jun 7 07:32:39 CEST 2005

Hi all!

I found a few articles about Disney comics in Comic Buyer's Guide #1599 
(December 2004) that I thought were pretty interesting from a historical 
perspective. One bad thing I can see is the the circulation figures of WDCS from the 
darkest days of Gladstone, is still better than Gemstone's current sales.


Retraining Readers: Several big ideas in comics have involved chaniging the 
format. But even if you lead a horse to Perrier...

The idea: NEWSPRINT COVERS.--- It's hard to imagine after a decade of 
publisher oneupmanship in the realm of paper quality, but some publishers have 
actually tried going in the other direction. Seeking to make cheaper comics 
avaliable, Gold Key in the 1960's offered titles including Tarzan: Lord of the Jungle 
#1 (Sep 65) with a newsprint cover. Gladstone did the same in late 1995 with 
Uncle Scrooge and several other titles, hoping to hold the line on its comics 
at $1.50.

What went wrong: Readers, who had only been exposed to newsprint covers with 
giveaway comics such as Adevntures of the Big Boy, rejected both attempts. 
After a year and a half -- in which the average paid circulation of Uncle Scrooge 
went from 80,235 copies per month in 1995 to 33,698 in 1997, Gladstone also 
went back to standard covers, raising the price to $1.95.

20/20 hindsight: While readers might be willing to go back to an earlier, 
cheaper format, they draw the line at going to something they never had to begin 
with. Slick covers were a customary embellishment for comics and probably 
always will be.


High Concepts Brought Low... A variety of big ideas that met with less than 
total success.

The idea: DISNEY COMICS... BY DISNEY --- Hey, The Walt Disney Company 
apparently said one day, Bruce Hamilton's Gladstone publishing company is making 
money by licensing our characters for U.S. comics, why don't we cut out the 
middleman and keep all the loot for ourselves?

What went wrong: Hamilton had built a following by producing high-quality 
hardcover reprints of the work of Uncle Scrroge creator Carl Barks and parlayed 
that into regular comic books. Walt Disney's Comics and Stories came from 
Galdstone for #547 (Apr 90) and Disney for #548 (Jun 90), finally returning to 
Gladstone in late 1993. Gladstone couldn't recover from the break in production. 
After Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #600 (Dec 95), for example, it took the 
series exclusively to the direct market and switched to an upscale, prestige 
format, with a price raise from the previous $1.50 to $5.95, finally ending in 
February 1999 with a cover price of $6.95 and a paid circulation of 5,375, 
almost exclusively in the direct market.

20/20 hindsight: If it works, don't break it. If you're not schooled in the 
comics market, be cautious when you work out projections. (Maintaining the 
$6.95 price, Gemstone retained the prestige format for WDC&S and began releasing 
new issues in July 2003).

Derek Smith
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