Monday, December 15, 2014

Snippets #13: March 28, 1984


       This is from a March 28, 1984 letter to my brother Don:

"The Turtles are finished. We did manage to stay on schedule… in fact, we surpassed our schedule, and had all the artwork done by March 19. This Monday I brought all the stuff to the printer, and we are currently waiting for it to be printed. Hopefully, that will be accomplished within a few weeks. I wrote up and sent out a press release to all the major comics fanzines, hoping tat we might get some free publicity (our advertising budget is a very frayed shoestring). Wonder of wonders! -- This week in the Comics Buyer's Guide, a weekly magazine/newspaper devoted to comics and distributed nationally, our press release was reprinted almost word for word, along with a piece of art that we had sent along with it. The space it took up would have cost us about forty-five dollars. I'll send along a reduced Xerox of the page so you can check it out.
Yesterday I got a call from a guy out near Concord, NH, who saw the notice in the Guide and wanted to know what our plans for distribution are. He does some distributing  of comics to stores in his area, and may want to deal some of our turtle books. I didn't give him a definite yes or no, as we are going to wait 'til after the convention before we start dealing with dealers. Also, he said that he would probably want to pay 40% of cover for the book -- supposedly that is the same amount that he pays another major distributor for comics. However, that would mean we'd only make 25 cents per book… not exactly what we would like to make. We'll wait and see; if the book really sells well through mail orders, we''ll sell it that way. But if it is really slow-moving, we'll probably bite the bullet and try to unload them on distributors.

……..

Probably the biggest news up here is that Jeannine has found a teaching job for next year, after filling out many applications. Amazingly enough (and to her relief),  she was offered the position after her first interview!….. The school is in Falls Village, Connecticut; she'll be teaching high school English there. So, come September, we will no longer be residents of New Hampshire. Kevin will probably move with us, so that he and I can continue Mirage Studios. Far out, huh?"

     [As mentioned before, we DID "bite the bullet" and sell to distributors at wholesale prices. Just goes to show how little we knew about the way this business was typically done when we started out in it.
     At this late date, I can't remember who the "guy out near Concord, NH" was, and if we ever ended up doing business with him. 
      In hindsight (which, as we all know, is 20/20), it's ironic that the "biggest news" when I wrote this letter was Jeannine finding a teaching job -- and NOT the first issue of the TMNT being done and about to be printed, something that would change all our lives radically. But that's life -- at that time, Jeannine's new job WAS way more important than our goofy little comic book. -- PL]

9 comments:

  1. Did you really only make 25 cents on the first prints of issue 1 at first when it was sold to distributors?

    Its interesting to read that you always thought Kevin would move with you to continue Mirage studios. Obviously this eventually changed when Kevin moved across the U.S. as the years went by, but was he really willing to continue moving from state to state back then?

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    1. I believe we did only make twenty-five cents per copy of the first printing of issue #1, which a little multiplication gives us a profit of -- what -- about $750? Not great, but as the reprintings happened, and the first printings of successive issues became significantly larger, those profit figures went up, especially because as print runs got larger, cost per copy dropped quite a bit.

      As for Kevin moving with us... we were BOTH very excited about the possibilities inherent in Mirage Studios, and when it came right down to it, it was simply more practical for Kevin, as a young, unattached man, to move where we did. And aside from moving to Dover (which wasn't a huge move, only about twenty miles from where he lived in Ogunquit), the only real "leap into the unknown" for Kevin was the move to Sharon, CT. And within two years of living there, we were doing so well with the TMNT comics that we could move anywhere... and in that case, it was back to the Northampton area, which we both knew and liked. For me and Jeannine, that move back to Northampton felt like our final move (at least area-wise -- we ended up moving three times in this area since 1986), and so far it has proved to be -- we're still here twenty-eight years later.

      So the long and short of that is, I don't know how many times Kevin would have been willing to move from state to state, as after the move from Maine to Connecticut to Massachusetts, it was no longer necessary or advantageous for him to be where we were, and vice versa. -- PL

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  2. To quote Forrest Gump "life is like a box of chocolates, ya never know what yer gonna get." Looks like this time you got a couple of the good ones!
    ~Mel

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  3. Yes, what Melanie says above. Everything is important, but we don't know what will stand out as we look back, or even, always, when looking straight ahead. Except that what was important was our shared path. xo

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  4. I'm curious to find out how long the rise of the turtles felt for you. Reading these snippets it seems like it all happened so fast, especially when I look at the dates. In just three more years you guys would have the cartoon, then the movie and everything else not long after.

    As a kid, I remember that a year felt like an eternity, as life is usually broken up depending on school year and summer vacation causing a sort of fast and slow effect, making it feel like the Ninja Turtles explosion lasted my entire childhood. As an adult, life moves so fast, 5 years pass in almost a blink, so I was wondering how quick it all seemed to move for you.

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    1. That relativity aspect of the passage of time is one of those almost universal realizations humans have as they reach a certain age, I think.

      For me, the rise of the Turtles seemed both quick and long -- quick because things seemed to leap from one cool opportunity to another, and long because we were right in the middle of it, trying to keep our heads above water in terms of maintaining our creative visions while simultaneously meeting deadlines and keeping the business running. -- PL

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  5. One aspect of self publishing hasn't changed much - a quarter is still about what you'll make on a self published book (if you're lucky!). I wonder if it made it better, from a business standpoint, to have multiple distributors to deal with, versus the one single comics distributor we have today...?

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    1. It's hard to say. Perhaps the competitive nature of having more than one distributor made it a little harder for any one distributor to get too powerful and start making all the rules, but I don't remember any distributor giving us better deals than any other distributor. And on a practical level, having to deal with multiple distributors meant multiple sets of paperwork as opposed to one. -- PL

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