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High Hopes and Shallow Pockets

Making Of / 16 June 2021

From Chair/Creative Director Mike Gagnon

Well it sure has been a crazy few months, transforming my life and career to create something to make the world a better place. 

In truth I'd wanted to take my work in a different direction and create something that was a not-for-profit for awhile. TO me not-for-profit comics is a no-brainer, assuming that it's done the right way.

That right way is a process we're still testing and figuring out.

In fact, just a month before the official announcement that my studio name would be donated to this new not-for-profit to get it up and running, my plan was a much more extensive and robust line of products and content.

And then reality set in. A shoe-string budget, a skeleton crew made up of mostly volunteers and the will and determination to work myself into a grave do not make an entertainment giant.

But that's okay. That's not what we want to be. 

Maybe the biggest challenge has been to change my own way of thinking and approach since I've been working so long in for-profit entertainment. 

ADBP doesn't need to be a top 5 publisher or try to compete with Captain America and Superman to do good in the world, but we can take some of the things represented by those characters and turn them into a real world philosophy that will leave the world a better place when we are gone. 

The plans and ideas had to be scaled back drastically, in spite of my constant chomping at the bit and creative energy always looking for an outlet, propelled as if by rocket force. 

My original thinking, in spite of the mountain of challenges ahead of us, was that if we could successfully pull off a print project that would support comic retailers first, the biggest, most challenging and most stressful project would be out of our way and when we started looking at other projects, such as motion comics and video games, they would be a relief after dealing with the print project. 

A great idea in theory and a sentiment I still stand by, but there are only so many things we can do and we can't change the world over night, even if it is to help recover.

Logistically and economically, the world and the comic industry have not recovered yet, even if things are starting to re-open in a lot of places. 

Comic retailers especially, are struggling to be able to buy the regular monthly titles that they KNOW they can sell and keep existing clientele. New titles and clientele are not even on the radar or in the budget for a lot of retailers. 

On our end, print provides the least amount of profit of any project that we can do, with incredibly tiny margins, we may be clearing a profit of $1 per book. 

The high hopes and ambition that we had to produce a monthly graphic novel one-shot series that would get readers of all ages coming back to support local stores every month is a solid idea, it's just not economically feasible for a start-up small press not-for-profit publisher to maintain a monthly print only series right now.

Failing to adapt and move with the times would likely cause our new little NFP to go belly up before it ever really had a chance to take off.

So, coming to this realization, and being a small start-up, we have the advantage of being able to make changes and adapt to economic conditions in real-time. 

The logistics of print for a new monthly series just don't work and don't provide the return we need, making our fundraising and poverty relief efforts very slow, which is not what we want. 

So, as of August, with our upcoming Read and Colour: Native American Heroes release, we will begin offering a digital download option for read and colour as well, with bonus content, lessons and activities. 

Native American Culture is a very important issue to me. So our Native American Heroes edition of Read and Colour will be available in both print and digital editions. It will be our last monthly print edition as well. From here on out, Read and Colour and all of our other publications will be released in digital format. 

Digital release lets us ship a title, sell, collect payment and donate it to worthwhile causes much faster. Where we are collecting money the same day, pretty much instantly with digital, it takes months to receive sales royalties on print products and after expenses, shipping and a million other middle-men that need a slice, we're looking at pennies per book in profit. 

We've also been working our team of freelancers and volunteers to the bone and they deserve a break. 

Our focus is not selling books, but to take profits and turn them into food, water and shelter for the public. 

We are still committed to completing a 12 volume run of Read and Colour, but after August, we will switch to a bi-monthly schedule and digital only format, allowing more time, better quality and higher profit margin per sale, meaning we will be able to donate more money to worthwhile causes. 

We actually have a backlog of other projects, series, and ideas waiting to be released to the world and excited fans for a good cause, but we just aren't a big enough company with enough staff or volunteers to implement them all at once, so you'll just have to be patient while we continue to produce the wonderful goodness that we have in store for the future. 

Will we continue to produce any print content in the future? Yes, but from here on out our print projects will be less frequent and will only be available as fundraising exclusives or based on digital bestsellers and fan votes. 

Though some people might take this message as a bad omen or a struggling company, it is in fact the opposite; being small and not-for-profit means we can cut off the branches that aren't growing, or may be more than our tree can support right now. By making changes and trimming off the problems now, we can ensure that our tree continues to grow and be healthy until it can support a larger number of branches. 

I'm looking forward to showing you exactly what our team can do and where it will go in the future. 

Thanks for reading,