Below is an archive of past major news and announcements from WCG Comics, primarily from the What's New link.
The Future of Rob Hanes Adventures
(Jan. 2006) – A new policy by Diamond Comics Distribution has put the widespread availability of Rob Hanes Adventures at risk. In short, Diamond has become more assertive in exercising its discretion to not carry a title that does not meet certain sales benchmarks. In fact, Diamond may now refuse to distribute a title that even already has been solicited and received orders.
Rob Hanes Adventures has earned many outstanding plaudits from critics and industry professionals. And, in recognition of the series' quality and the unique niche it fills in the comic-book market, Diamond has generously and consistently supported Rob Hanes Adventures over the years, providing promotion and assistance even though it has not been a major seller or advertiser. Nevertheless, a lack of advertising resources and the series’ irregular publishing history (due to the fact that the title is primarily a labor of love and not the author’s primary source of income), has made it a challenge to build sales and momentum for the title. WCG Comics recognizes that Diamond is, ultimately, a commercial enterprise and must follow appropriate business practices that will allow it to be profitable.
This urgent appeal asks all retailers and comics fans to support the series by ordering Rob Hanes Adventures through Diamond’s Previews catalog when it becomes available. (Announcements about the book’s availability are usually made at the WCG Comics website, through our e-mail newsletter, and via other news sources.)
WCG Comics remains committed to publishing and distributing Rob Hanes Adventures as an ongoing comic-book series. Fortunately, modern-day printing technologies and publishing models make the continued publication of the series viable. But obviously, a decision by Diamond to no longer carry the series would severely impact the widespread availability of the title and the ability for it to reach a broad audience, particularly comic-book fans who primarily purchase their comics at direct sales comic-book retailers. For these reasons, I am making this personal appeal.
Scroll down for additional information about Diamond's new policy...
Impact of New Diamond Policy on Small Publishers
In September 2005, Diamond Comics Distribution — the industry's primary distributor that supplies virtually every comic-book retail store in the country — announced a new policy that allows them to cancel a title if sales do not reach a certain benchmark, even after the issue has been solicited and ordered. While Diamond always has reserved the right to decline to carry a title it deemed did not meet certain standards or would not meet sales benchmarks over time, this new policy giving the company discretion to cancel a title even after it's been ordered places many small titles at risk, including Rob Hanes Adventures, and may make many small publishers think twice about soliciting a title.
Although I get the sense that, for many publishers, providing circulation numbers is tantamount to revealing a state secret, I’m willing to state for the record that recent issues of Rob Hanes Adventures have been on the “cusp” in terms of Diamond’s minimum sales policies, so this new policy probably does put my title at risk in terms of continued distribution through Diamond.
For the most part, though I understand Diamond’s position, I think it’s too early to tell whether the policy will have a “good” or “bad” effect on the industry, which can mean many things. Economically I presume the policy will help Diamond’s bottom line, though I don’t think by too much; I know, too, that some people have said this was a move to “prune” the catalog, so it’s likely that this will happen. There may be a “chilling” effect on some publishers — i.e., some people may think twice about soliciting a product — but frankly I’m not sure whether that’s completely a bad thing; having been a self-publisher for some time, I know that there are some publishers who have gone into business before they probably were truly ready (creatively or economically), or had a solid long-term plan in place. (I think this is partly the result of the fact that, compared to many other industries and entertainment mediums, the economic and technical threshold for publishing a comic-book is relatively low.) I’ve also seen the argument that the new policy will reduce the diversity of titles in comic-book stores, but again I’m not sure that will necessarily happen; my own personal situation notwithstanding, generally speaking I think good comics find their audience and can maintain success.
I also want to note that, as a publisher as small as myself who does not have the resources to purchase lots of print ads or to advertise aggressively through traditional methods, Diamond in my experience has over the years been exceedingly generous to and supportive of Rob Hanes Adventures by providing spotlights and other showcases for the series regularly — certainly more than I would expect without being a major Diamond vendor or advertiser. I like to think that this is partly due to Diamond’s recognition of the quality of the series, as well as an acknowledgment of the need for diverse work in the market place that falls somewhere between super-hero comics and more edgy independent fare. People familiar with my work know that Rob Hanes Adventures is an attempt to do a modern-day “mainstream” action-adventure series in a traditional (and, for the most part, unironic) vein, so I like to think that Diamond’s staff enjoy the book and believe it fulfills an important niche in this regard. They have tried to be fairly supportive of the series.
I know, too, that publishers also have a responsibility to build sales and help Diamond promote the series. One of these responsibilities is to release product regularly and frequently — comic-books are, after all, traditionally a periodical business. Though each issue of Rob Hanes Adventures is self-contained, like many small publishers, I have not published as regularly as I would have liked (all for the usual reasons, i.e., I have a family, a full-time job, etc.). So it’s important, I think, for publishers to recognize their responsibilities and commitments as well if they truly want to succeed. I do think I’ve developed a devoted audience for my books and earned some industry respect for my work.
Having said all that, I have not yet decided how I intend to proceed given Diamond’s announcement. I do not make my living from Rob Hanes Adventures (regrettably!), but as I always have said, I remain committed to continuing the series in some form or another even if the comic-book model no longer became viable. Fortunately, there exists today a wider variety of options than ever for producing and, yes, even distributing a comic-book (i.e., on the Web, print-on-demand printers, etc.), though losing the option of Diamond as a distributor will obviously severely hamper the widespread availability of any series to most comic-book readers. I understand that Diamond still has the option of exercising discretion in applying the new policy but obviously it still creates greater exposure and uncertainty for small publishers like myself; I’m really not sure why the policy is designed the way it is other than it gives Diamond a very clear and quantifiable justification for canceling and no longer carrying a book (i.e., low orders).
I guess I will just need to remain in touch with Diamond and see how this will play out for other publishers. When the story broke, I was tracking it closely online to see what the response would be or what kind of options people were considering. There has been some anger, but generally I have found the responses to be measured and cautious, with many understanding Diamond’s position. However, no credible alternative ideas have emerged either that might serve as a potential “workaround” to the policy.
Publisher, WCG Comics
Writer-Artist, Rob Hanes Adventures.
Any decisions regarding Rob Hanes Adventures made in response to Diamond's new policy will be announced at this website and via my e-mail newsletter.
An Update from WCG
(Feb. 2004) - Please be assured that Rob Hanes Adventures lives! Although it's been awhile between issues, work continues on the series. In fact, the art for issue 5 is completed (see cover at right and preview
WHY THE LONG DELAY?
Life happens. As some people know, a year ago my wife and welcomed our first child into the world and this has obviously become a priority. Increased responsibilities at my "day job" and the purchase of a new home have also added to the delay.
I appreciate everyone's patience and understanding. My recent visit to the Comic-Con International in San Diego shows there are plenty of fans still anxiously awaiting more Rob Hanes Adventures!
WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE SERIES?
After issue 5, look for a return to shorter "done-in-one" tories. The Glowworm storyline brought depth to the series, but stepped away from my original vision for the series. So look for a return to the basics with stories that are tighter and more compact, more humorous, and more character-oriented.
Randy Reynaldo Interviewed in Comic Book Marketplace
An interview with Rob Hanes Adventures writer-artist Randy Reynaldo was published in Comic Book Marketplace (CBM) #86 (cover date October 2001, pictured at right).
Published by Gemstone Publications (publisher of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide and Overstreet's Fan Universe) and edited by noted comics archivist Russ Cochran, CBM covers comics-related collectibles with a particular emphasis on silver and golden age comics and comic strips. The interview was conducted by CBM Executive Editor J.C. Vaughn.
ROB HANES SPOTLIGHTED IN CBG
The review image-scanned below appeared in the Comics Buyer's Guide #1447. (Click here or on the image below to read the text.)
WCG RESPONDS TO SEPT. 11 ATTACK
Pictured at left is an "imaginary" cover to Rob Hanes Adventures, drawn in response to the Sept. 11 attacks. Click on the image to see it full size and to learn more about the drawing.
An essay about this new "War on Terrorism" supplementing this drawing is also available.
WHAT'S IN THE WORKS FOR WCG IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM!
Rob Hanes Solves the Glowworm Conspiracy in 2001!
(Jan. 2001) -- The year 2001 promises to be busy for WCG Comics' Rob Hanes Adventures! With several issues already completed in advance of publication, series creator Randy Reynaldo looks forward to keeping the series on schedule and expanding continuity and the Rob Hanes universe.
The most significant event in the series in the coming year are plans to resolve once and for all the "Glowworm Conspiracy" and reveal the true identity of the Soviet-era mole known as "Glowworm."
"Many fans of the series often ask whether I ever planned to resolve this mystery," says Randy. "Now that the series is back on track, I thought it was finally time to close this chapter of Rob's life."
Readers of the series will know that Rob recently discovered that his father Patrick was believed to be dead and recently re-entered Rob's life. At the same time he learned that his father was still alive, Rob also discovered that his father was believed to be a notorious Soviet-era spy known as "Glowworm" who had infiltrated the U.S., and had disappeared when he was exposed when Rob was still only a child. Now operating as Felix Shannon, an international arms dealer, and still on the run, Patrick Hanes has told his son that he is innocent.
An upcoming issue of the series scheduled for later this year will finally resolve this question. The story arc scheduled over two issues will also give readers an opportunity to learn more about Rob and his past.
Settling the Glowworm Conspirancy will also allow Reynaldo to move forward with new stories that will expand the series.
"I have ideas for stories that are more comedic and take place in the states -- I think people will be surprised by them and that they will broaden the appeal of the series," Reynaldo said. He mentioned the variety and breadth of Will Eisner's Spirit as a model for the direction he wants to take the series.
The beginning of 2001 marked the beginning of a new millennium--and a new start for Rob Hanes Adventures!
RHA #1 Spotlighted in PREVIEWS Catalog!
(Aug. 2000) -- The debut issue of Rob Hanes Adventures #1 is SPOTLIGHTED in this month's Previews catalog from Diamond Comics Distributors! See p. 292 (item #AUG002165).
You also will see it highlighted in the "Small Press Spotlight" section of the catalog on p. 191, as well as specially featured in Diamond's retailers-only Dialogue magazine!
(See below for more details about the issue...)
ROB HANES ADVENTURES to Launch October 2000!
(July 2000) -- WCG Comics will debut Rob Hanes Adventures #1 in October 2000. (See cover reproduction below.) (Yes, this is a slight postponement of one month from earlier announcements.) The long advance lead time will give us an opportunity to publicize the book and build awareness for the new series.
Four issues are already completed. This will allow us to remain on a regular schedule. For now, the series will be quarterly; admittedly, a more frequent schedule like bi-monthly would have been preferable for our goal to build sales, but we wanted to choose a schedule that was realistic, and which we could keep.
The new series features new logos, and a new overall design for the covers. We're particularly excited about the first issue story that will re-introduce comics fans to the series, "Where in the World is Rob Hanes." (See below for more detail, or go to Sample Art to see full-page sample previews of the story.)
Thanks to everyone for their patience and continued support during an extended working hiatus that has been much too extended. I promise readers will not be disappointed -- and that there's definitely more Rob Hanes on the way!
—Randy Reynaldo, Publisher
WCG on Hiatus
(April 1999) -- WCG Comics is on hiatus for 1999.
My preference would have been a spring release, but I was reluctant to re-launch the series without a firm plan in place. I am now aiming for a Y2K release.
While no definite plans are in place yet for a re-launch, I am still working on new stories and will post works-in-progress and updates on a regular basis. When Rob returns, the debut issue will re-introduce the character and the series, taking into account the time Rob has been away. I hope the new spin I have in mind will re-vitalize the series for both new readers and longtime fans.\
New Rob Hanes Story Scheduled for Love in Tights #2!
(Jan. 1999) -- A new Rob Hanes story will be published in Love in Tights #2 due in February 1999. The series is a superhero romance anthology series published by Slave Labor Graphics and edited by J. Torres.
In the 8-page story entitled "The Secret Life of Julianne Love," Rob becomes romantically torn between a secretary he works with at Justice International and a superheroine known as Guardian Angel. Unbeknownst to Rob, however, Julianne and Guardian Angel are the same person! Things come to a head when Rob and Julianne are sent to Paris on assignment and are attacked by the Sapphire Witch and her minions!
At left is a thumbnail image of the splash panel for the story. Click here or on the image to review the splash in more detail and in larger size.
For more information about the anthology series, check out the Love in Tights website.
Rob Hanes in the FACTOR
Rob Hanes makes a cameo appearance on the back cover of the Factor #1, published by About Comics...
ASD "Beta" Issues Now Available
(Nov. 1998) -- Two "beta" ashcan issues of Adventure Strip Digest #1 and 2 are now available from WCG Comics.
WCG has not released a new story since 1997 due to agreements that were signed with, first, Caliber Comics and, later, Image, that were not successful and resulted in no new published work. In order to fill the void, two issues have been published in an ashcan "beta" format. The stories were originally scheduled to be released as the first two issues by Image Comics.
"A lot of people have been patiently waiting for the next issue of Adventure Strip Digest to come out, only to see one setback after another delay the book," said Reynaldo, "I thought that this would be a good way for me to get the book quickly into the hands of key fans, subscribers retailers, and industry leaders to let them know I am still committed to the book."
Reynaldo said that before he goes back to self-publishing, he hopes to build a backlog of stories that will allow him to publish the series on a regular schedule when the book returns. But he did want to assure fans and readers that he is still working on the series.
In issue 1, Rob goes to Hong Kong, which is now in Chinese hands, to investigate smuggling and piracy. He also comes to grips with Justice International's new corporate owners, Drakorp Oil. Reynaldo said the tale begins a new story arc for the series.
In issue 2, Rob is sent to the Balkans by the United Nations to find out who is supplying a local warlord with supplies and fuel intended for U.N. military forces.
Adventure Strip Digest from Image Cancelled
(March 1998) -- Well, now that the news about Jim Valentino's "non-line" of independent comics published through Image Comics has officially broken , I guess it should come as no surprise that my own title, Adventure Strip Digest starring Rob Hanes, which was scheduled to debut in April 1998 from Image, has been cancelled. I'd like to use this opportunity to express my own feelings about this latest setback and to inform those fans who have patiently waited for a next issue of my series about my future plans.
First off, I want to say that this is NOT the end of the series. I have always said that even if I was unable to publish Rob Hanes as a traditional comic-book, I would always continue to write and draw the series - I remain committed to the series and its viability.
At the moment, I am considering my options. While I have not ruled out another publisher, given my experience over the last two years with two separate,prominent companies, I am understandably a bit gunshy at the moment. Returning to self-publishing remains a strong possibility, but at this time, given the state of the market and the financial situation of my self publishing imprint, WCG Comics, I have not made any definite plans at this time.
In the interim, I will most likely release the book as a limited edition ashcan/fanzine--in fact, for those of you who may not already know, this is how I began the series many years ago (hence, the title, Adventure Strip Digest). While this may seem like a step backwards, I believe that this is for now the best way to release the book and to get it quickly into the hands of those fans who have been waiting for the release of another issue. The ashcans will also let people know that I'm still hard at work on the series. They will also give me an opportunity to build a backlog of stories that can eventually be released on a regular schedule in comic-book format for direct-sales distribution.
I am, of course, greatly disappointed, especially because I know many of you have been longtime supporters of the book and have looked forward to new issues. I'm grateful for the great interest and support that I've received for Adventure Strip Digest and Rob Hanes from fans, distributors, retailers, and other industry professionals. I like to think that this is an acknowledgement of the quality of the book and, more importantly, because the series filled a real void in the market. There is a dearth in the current comics market of topical, entry-level adventure stories told in a classic, traditional manner, and I think the enthusiasm for ASD reflects that.
I do not hold anyone or any event "responsible" for my current dilemma. In fact, I admit to being part of the problem - because the book has not been able to support me, it has been always difficult for me to publish the series as regularly as I'd like, and my work does require some research. I do agree with the pundits and gurus who insist that a regular schedule for any self publisher (at minimum, bi-monthly) is essential for building an audience and maintaining good will. Without that constant presence, fans do forget you and will move on to something else. This is a periodical market after all.
And as cliché as it sounds, I recognize that this is a business and comics do not succeed solely because of quality. I've always appreciated the willingness of retailers and distributors to carry my book - again, I believe, a tacit show of support for what I was trying to achieve and for the quality of the book. (The one thing that helped keep me going, aside from the encouragement of my peers and fans, was the fact that when I was self-publishing, my sales never really dipped precipitously and, in fact, the numbers actually increased for some issues! We're not talking big numbers here, but this is not the norm for many series and was a positive sign.)
Nor do I think that there is any unwillingness or resistance on the part of readers, fans and retailers to try new work - if a book is good, provided it's released regularly, I'm confident that fans will support it. I do not pretend that my book was "art," and certainly not "high art"--nor was it, in the generally way the term is accepted, "alternative." I simply tried to tell good, intelligent adventure stories that used modern-day headlines as the inspiration for stories, and foreign locales as my settings, with memorable characters and a dash of humor, sex appeal and fun. I haven't entirely fulfilled my vision for the series yet, but I like to think that as the series progresses (and, as promised, it will), people will begin to see the full scope of what I am trying to achieve, and begin to feel EXCITED about each pending issue.
Was it a mistake to move from self-publishing to looking for an umbrella publisher? Hindsight is 20/20, so one can't tell. But I made my decisions based on the best information I had at the time. And they were not made lightly - I had been actually approached by a publisher a full year before I signed any agreement, partly because I wanted to see what I could do on my own. Changes in the distribution market - and the appeal that someone else would take care of the logistics and bookkeeping side of publishing my book - were the main reasons for my decision.
Unfortunately, my brief, unconsummated agreements with other publishers have cost me more than a year in downtime - time that I could have used, instead, to release new work.
I essentially created Rob Hanes because this was the kind of comic-book I wanted to read, and aside from reprints of classic adventure strips, there were very few artists who were working in this tradition. A fellow pro said about my work, "When I read my last volume of Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy, I thought I'd never have that same hit of entertainment again." That is exactly why I created Rob Hanes and Adventure Strip Digest--I had a similar experience when I finished the last available volumes of Milton Caniff's Terry and the Pirates, Roy Crane's Buz Sawyer, and the works of Alex Toth. Rob Hanes, while set in the present day and not meant as a nostalgia book, was my way of filling that void. The response to my work suggests to me I was not the only one looking for that same "hit" of entertainment.
In any case, it's back to the drawing board--literally. In the meantime, I will most probably return to publishing the series as an ashcan digest again, until I decide how to re-enter the independent arena once again.
See you in the funny papers!
Publisher, WCG Comics
Randy Reynaldo Named Top Small Presser
(Summer 1997) -- Rob Hanes creator Randy Reynaldo was named one of the top 25 most influential small press artists to come out of the fan press in recent history by Self-Publisher.
WCG Comics Awarded Xeric Grant!
(March 1995) -- WCG Comics has been awarded a grant from the Xeric Foundation to support the publication of Adventure Strip Digest, an action-adventure comic-book series featuring Rob Hanes, which cartoonist Randy Reynaldo has been self-publishing since 1990.
"Given the quality of past recipients, I'm proud to be a named to this prestigious award," said Reynaldo, "I'm very grateful for the support for my work that this grant represents."
The Xeric Foundation was founded by Peter A. Laird, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, one of the biggest success stories in self-published comics, for the purpose of assisting comic book creators with some of the costs in self-publishing their work. Grants are awarded for a maximum of $5000.
Most of the funds will be used to generate awareness for the series among readers and retailers. This will include a newsletter. According to Reynaldo, everyone who has seen the series has been impressed by Adventure Strip Digest, but given the enormous amount of product currently available in the marketplace, it has been difficult raising awareness for the series with limited resources.
"Given the concern expressed by the mainstream press and audiences about the lack of positive' heroes in today's comics, Rob Hanes is part of a growing movement in the marketplace for more accessible and fun comic-books, like Wolff and Byrd and Bone," said Reynaldo. "Rob Hanes is aimed at a broad, general audience and many fans of the series include industry pros who are familiar with the classic adventure strips as well as younger readers who are looking for something fun and different."
In order to plan for the most effective use of the grant, Reynaldo said that Adventure Strip Digest #4 has been postponed to develop a campaign to promote the series and the award.
- Rob Hanes was featured on the cover of the November 1997 cover of Previews, the monthly catalog of Diamond Comics Distribution, as part of a collage of new comics moving to Image Comics.
- Adventure Strip Digest was reviewed in the March 5, 1997 issue of the Tufts Daily, the campus newspaper for Tufts University in Massachussets. The reviewer states that the "sparse yet action style conveys physical action quite effectively and almost cinematically."
- Rob Hanes creator Randy Reynaldo was featured in sidebar article in the February 1997 issue of Sci Fi Universe magazine (Volume 3, Issue 5). The issue also includes a review of Adventure Strip Digest where James Lowder called the book "a refreshing change from the usual superhero fare and a damned good read... Reynaldo is one of the few creators keeping alive the glorious adventure strip tradition."
- The original 1990 independent comic-book Rob Hanes distributed by Brave New Words was featured as a trivia item in the Comics Buyer's Guide Price Guide included in CBG #1168 (1996).
- A full-page and full-color ad for Adventure Strip Digest was included in Kurt Busiek's Astro City #3, at the invitation of series creator Kurt Busiek.
- An article on Adventure Strip Digest appeared in Wizard #42 in January 1995. Headlined "Hanes Hearkens Back to Classic Caniff," it features an overview of the series, comments by Randy Reynaldo, and a full color reproduction of the the first issue cover.
- Adventure Strip Digest received a glowing full-page review in Diamond Distributors' Previews catalog in November 1994. Featured in a regular column entitled "Under the Reading Lamp," the review describes Rob Hanes as "equal parts James Bond, Marty McFly, Jonny Quest, and Peter Parker, [and] as compelling a main character as any in alternative comics. And because he's got a personality -- not just an attitude -- he's considerably more accessible than most super-powered characters and/or their alter egos. Exposition is brief, leaving plenty of room for his crisp, linear artwork."
- Publisher and Comics Buyer's Guide (CBG) columnist cat yronwode plugged Adventure Strip Digest in her "Fit to Print" column in the CBG #1096 (November 1994): "If you like exotic locales, heavy chiaroscuro inking and snappy dialogue...check out ASD."