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Baden Kirgan p2

Baden Kirgan describes some of the realities of publishing comics in Australia...

READERSVOICE.COM: How did you go about getting distribution for Black House comics and novellas?

BADEN KIRGAN: We distribute through newsagents and over the net. I approached Gordon & Gotch about the newsagent side. I think they had been burnt before by Australian comics but they could see the quality we were producing, which calmed some fears. Combined with the fact we had a credible business behind us they took a chance and it’s been a good relationship. We set up our own web store to sell to the overseas customers and that has been a big success. We are looking to include more titles from other small publishers as time goes on.

RV: What sort of print runs do you do?

BK: It changes from title to title. Some books we do short runs of 100 or so but the major titles are more than 2000 and less than 50,000.

RV: What are some of your plans for Black House publications?

BK: We hope to have comic store distribution in the States by mid this year. We have put this off until we had enough titles to really justify the expense and we are just about there. We are also working on an animated adaption of one of our titles and looking at taking on conventional novels. We have a trip to the US planned around the San Diego Comic Con in July and we are hoping to use the opportunity to start up a few new projects we’ve had on the backburner for a while.

RV: What would be involved in a week for you?

BK: My week still revolves primarily around the commercial print side of our business but I would say twenty per cent of my time is dealing with Black House in one way or another. Most of that is dealing with the web store, reader and distributor queries, new projects and dealing with submissions.

RV: What are the limitations of the publishing industry you’ve found in Australia, as far as your genre and media are concerned? Is it commercially viable as a sideline only?

BK: The size of the market is the limitation. Comics are surprisingly expensive to produce, with a lot more people involved. You need good volumes to make good money. In a market like America a mid-tier book can sell 10,000 – 50,000 copies easily, quantities which are just beyond any realistic expectations here. Any publisher here who wants to succeed commercially needs to publish in the U.S. – not necessarily from day one but any business plan that doesn’t include US distribution is doomed to fail.

RV: Say someone was interested in getting started in publishing with their own label, what advice would you give, once they’d done a course in editing and publishing say, and how should they keep abreast of the industry in Australia?

BK: I’m not sure about the capital P Publishing industry and the few of us involved in comics are making it up as we go along, so I’m not sure what advice I could give beyond if you want to make money be professional and profitable. Good artists and good writers who have a professional attitude and can deliver what they say they can are essential for any publisher, as is not overprinting or overestimating your coming success. It’s going to take longer than you think!

-copyright Simon Sandall.