Face Value Comics is the world’s first featured comic book hero(es) with autism. We hold this copyright without apology. With the same attitude, we explain our decision to make Issue #1+ available as long as demand is viable.
#1- Some fans are just learning about this comic book, and can’t find it. Imagine if a professional baseball player announced their autism diagnosis. Their rookie card would fetch a higher-than-expected demand, but becomes more difficult to find over time. Fans wanting that player’s merchandise may pay exorbitant fees by third-party resellers who use capitalism effectively. Since the comic provides some educational and therapeutic ideas, maybe it’s more valuable than some baseball cards. Fans seem to want our comics, so a responsible creator should meet the demand.
#2- We’ve willingly terminated our relationship with Diamond Comics Distributors (DCD). Unquestionably the world’s largest distribution chain about the comics genre, DCD treated our fans just like any other fans. We alerted DCD about how our fans are not quite like typical comics fans; (grand)parents with a child on the autism spectrum may not know about pre-order details. Today, we could waltz into a common bookstore and find best-selling books on their shelves at cover price (adjusted for inflation). After a few weeks, fans couldn’t find copies of Face Value Comics Issue #1 in stores. Some stores were unwilling to risk investments on the unknown title written by an unpublished writer, even with 50% off cover prices to re-sell at full price. Some stores held their limited copies for ransom; one North American comics retailer asked $35 for Issue #1 (MSRP: $5). On ebay.com, history shows how copies sold for twenty-times their cover price. Read again- these copies actually SOLD for $100+, not just listed for $100+ by third-party resellers. Demand is high, and entrepreneurs took capitalistic advantage of this knowledge. Thankfully, ebay.com helped cement our copyright claim in public opinion, and we are grateful for that opportunity. We knew and then informed DCD about these practices as an alert to the comics’ demand. Although we re-printed a second printing and were offered a third, we still had to resolve a majority of these problems ourselves.
When DCD declined to comment about their professional relationship to the NBC Nightly News, we scratched our head. Why would the well-believed monopolistic distributor not want to share in socially good commentary? This declination stung our founder, especially after meeting DCD’s hand-selected team to assist us- a team who constituted of individuals with a personal connection to autism. For DCD, this seemed like a personal investment as much as a professional risk. While we respect their decision to keep the attention about the comics and not their influence, they failed to grasp how much their public endorsement of actions already taken would elevate public opinion.
With our partnership to re-launch Issue #1, we agreed to a bi-monthly (every other month) schedule. Issue #1 was re-released in August. Add two months. Issue #2 released in October. Add two months. Issue #3 did not release in December as intended because we were inexplicably bumped. Other comics scheduled to release in December hit shelves on time, so why not ours, and why was it delayed? Still, we wanted to reach as many fans as possible. Remember, the lure of Diamond Comics Distributors casts a wide net. Anyone with a tiny bit of background about comics knows DCD is king of distribution (and printing) among comics, and really one of the only avenues to fans.
When we asked for more help to advertise, develop strategies, and advise us about content, DCD declined. If you are wondering what happened to the same hand-selected team of professionals with a relationship to autism went, you are asking the same question we did. We were told that our marketing strategies are working well, and that we didn’t really need DCD’s help. We already outsold many popular titles, and stand as one of the most successful independently-published comic book in DCD history. We did this work through our own blood, sweat, and tears. How do we build a website? What about blogging? When should we post to social media, and should we pay to promote these comments? We cobbled an impressive pile of notes gleaned by reading a lot of e-books from subject-matter experts. Help has been offered and been good. However, we are an independent comic book for a reason. If we want to have upside down pages, we will. If we use different colors, or different spellings, what would you expect from an independent comic book? Do you want the same thing as on shelves now, or an honest attempt at doing something new for kids’ sake?
#3- We want to make the comics available to the public as long as there is a demand, but inventory control means housing unsold comics in our living rooms. How much room does three-thousand comics take? Trust us- you don’t want to know!
How much do we charge for shipping and handling, especially when fans want personalized notes and signatures? Do we charge extra for signatures? Our writer doesn’t believe we should charge for signings, because the books are more important than we are. In fact, he didn’t reveal anything about our art team or his own adult autism diagnosis until the books were printed in fans’ hands. We believe that the integrity of the comic must stand above possible gimmicks or knowledge of any work done previously. If fans like the book, they’ll like it because of content, not because some autistic comics fan/therapist wrote it.
Therefore, we will soon make available copies of Issue #1 available for print-on-demand and digital download. This process means fans can visit our website in the near future and click to order the comics. If you want a single copy, the printers will get an invoice to print a single copy and ship it anywhere in the world. While this may mean higher international prices, we also have new friends willing to serve as distribution hubs in the United Kingdom, Australia, and China. Digital downloads are non-printable files suitable to read on electronic screens. With the launch of one new title, we will make those issues available to print at home because they’ll be in black-and-white colors. By comparison, our artists’ colors are so rich and robust that we can only print about five pages before emptying our personal ink cartridges.
4) We kill third-party resale prices. With the ability for anyone to buy a print-on-demand copy, resellers cannot re-sale over cover price without losing reputation. We support capitalism, yet we don’t want our fans to be price gouged over low supplies of our comics.
In summary, we’re making Issue #1 available indefinitely, because 1) new fans haven’t seen it, 2) we do as good of a job marketing and distributing the comics by ourselves at our own schedules, 3) this opportunity requires no initial investment and subsequent storage on our parts, and 4) we reduce third-party resellers hold on inflated prices.
Finally, we realize that we may need to change how we print the comic book. For $5, comics fans could buy the latest issue. In this issue, typical comics offer 32 pages. Grab a typical comic off the shelf, and count the number of advertisements. Now, grab our comic and count the number of advertisements. Issue #3 is well over 40 pages, with NO advertisements. In a way, fans would have to buy TWO traditional comics to get the same amount of story in just one of our books. This suggests how we may want to print fewer pages of a book, or slightly increase the price closer to the $5 original cost to self-publish, or, we should offer advertisements. Whom should we endorse or allow to promote in our books as a trusted resource? Not wanting to polarize our audience by selecting Ad A over As B, we may never print advertisements. This is information we openly share to our fans about the adventures of making the world’s first comic book hero with autism.
You add meaning to our lives by your unflinching support. What started out as a fun idea has become what some professionals are citing as the first mainstream child-friendly resource about autism to the first generation of autistic youth. We never planned for this honor, so we cite you as the source for our overwhelming popularity. People talk about increasing autism awareness. We’ve made top-selling international news stories and international awards, so we met the demand for positive attention about autism. Next, people strive towards autism acceptance. With record-breaking sales for an independently published comic, and with a line of action figures already completed and released within the coming month, we see how public demand for autism advocacy places us in the autism acceptance discussion, too.
Join the fight…against misunderstanding. This post shows and tells you why we’re going back to our roots. Expect more awesome stories. Expect the unexpected. This isn’t a gimmick sale, nor a flash-in-the-pan. As a team, we’ve personally invested everything we have into the success of the comics. The returns on investment are richer than any monetary value known to man. Thank you, fans…