Your last post, regarding GA, is well-written and honest, and both are much appreciated. (The ego-boost side of it is flattering, and I loved your Champagne Edition mock-up, as well!) As you might expect, though, odds are pretty slim we'll be going back to do Frank King's GASOLINE ALLEY, and here are some thoughts from my point-of-view about why that's the case:
A) We wouldn't want to undercut D&Q. First, because Dean and I are fans of comic strips as much as we are in the business of reprinting them, and we recognize the great service D&Q has done in making King's work available to modern audiences, _and_ doing such fabulous work on the historical/autobiographical research. Second, because while it _is_ an open market, I believe the major players in the strip-reprint game share our belief that one shouldn't "poach on the other guy's preserve." When the beast starts consuming itself, that's when the viability of all the players are threatened and everyone -- including readers/fans -- risks losing out big-time.
[The FLASH GORDON situation was unique, by the way. King Features-US granted LOAC the Raymond FLASH-JIM license; King-UK granted Titan their FLASH license; neither side of King knew what the other was doing. In big companies, stuff like that can happen. We'd prefer not to be competing in the FLASH GORDON marketplace with Titan (they likely feel the same, and if King had to do it over again, I bet they'd do it differently, too), but it is what it is.]
B) Believe it or not, it's not a matter of me "never speak[ing] ill of the competition" as much as it is I don't have ill to speak about them. As noted above, I was a comics fan for literally decades before I began writing in and about the medium. Growing up, I used to scour my hometown outlets for comic books and magazines and had my set of comic strips in our daily newspaper (investigating the offerings in other papers was a great thrill for me whenever my family would travel for visits). I'm still a fan, and as a fan I feel indebted to the folks at Fantagraphics and D&Q -- to Charlie P. at Classic Comics and Peter M. at Sunday Press -- and to the others who work hard alongside us to make so much fabulous material available once again. If one believes part of America's strength derives from its "melting pot" environment, then isn't what we see in this current comic strip reprinting renaissance a smaller reflection of that same "melting pot"? Classic Comics has their preferred formats; we have ours; D&Q has theirs, and so on. The diversity of looks and approaches adds froth, while the amount of material being made available -- and our _understanding_ of that material, thanks to the amount of research being done -- is unprecedented. I see no reason to hiss at our friendly competition, I applaud them now, as I've publicly applauded them many times in the past.
C) Another reason to applaud them: we can't do it all. Some folks assume LOAC is plugged in to IDW the way, say, Vertigo is plugged in to DC; not true. Trying to describe the machinations of the LOAC/IDW business relationship would turn this already-too-long post into an epic (and I bet I'm not even aware of all the ins-&-outs!), but the physical putting-together of LOAC books is typically the work of Dean and Lorraine, me or the writer-of-record (Jeet for LOA, Brian W. for RIP KIRBY, etc.), and production assistance by folks like Joseph Ketels and Jackson Glassey. There's a permeable-to-an-extent membrane bewteen LOAC and IDW -- notice Scott Dunbier steps through it to edit LOAC series such as BLOOM COUNTY and CORRIGAN -- and IDW provides invaluable support, too (supplying this forum space is just one small example of that). But Dean owns LOAC, and if he wanted to move it lock, stock, and barrel to another publisher, he could do so.
Because LOAC is more garage band than full-fledged orchestra, there is only so much work we can take on, and the profit margins on the line wouldn't support simply adding staff to increase output. There's more good strip work out there to be reprinted than we have the capacity to reprint ... so again, as fans, it's a good thing others are working in the strip-reprint field alongside us. It's not to say we all don't have our disappointments -- Dean and I began discussing the idea of reprinting BUZ SAWYER and only days later Fantagraphics announced they were reprinting Roy Crane -- but we're glad that so many quality publishers are out there to give such good homes to the stuff we can't publish ourselves. That's my honest perspective on it; that's not just some party line I'm spouting.
So ... if you've stayed through my blathering, let me reiterate I'm not typing all this to try to change your opinion, which I respect and applaud for the way in which it was presented. You're entitled to call it the way you see it, and who am I to say you nay? All of this is just to try to offer you my "insider's" perspective (such as it is), and to offer a look at some of the thought processes that go into the decisions we make. Fair 'nuff?
Best wishes --
- B -