With the continuing monetary woes of Quebecor, which prints the majority of periodical comics in North America, several publishers have been looking into other options, including printing in China. Now Regent Publishing Services Ltd, a print broker and pre-press house, has contracted with independent comics publishers Antarctic and Arcana to print their periodical comics in China. Although IDW has printed some of their comics in South Korea, this is the first time a significant number of periodicals have gone overseas to China.
Regent executive sales director Robert Conte has been negotiating the deals. He told PW that Regent has been in talks with a number of publishers since Quebecor's problems began who are looking for an alternative printing source and he expects more to move at least part of their periodicals line to China in the coming weeks. "Five years this wouldn't have been possible because of the limitations of technology," Conte said. "However it is now possible. Publishers do need to revise their production schedules for getting files ready for print—if you need a book in two weeks we can't do it. However if you can readjust your schedule, there will be no problems."
Although many graphic novels are published in China and Hong Kong, the time lag to get the books to the U.S. (three weeks to the West Coast via boat) has been thought to be an impediment to printing regular comics which have a shorter shelf life and stricter release dates. However, for publishers who aren't quite as deadline dependent, printing in China is becoming a more attractive option, especially when the weak US dollar is factored in. Printing in Canada is no longer the bargain it used to be, said Conte, and publishers are looking for different options.
Conte, who has worked in comics as a writer, editor and packager over the years, started working at Regent in 2002 and has greatly increased their business from comics publishers, he said. Regent has already printed books for Villard/Random House, Archaia Studios Press and Lost Girls for Top Shelf. Conte hopes to hold a special presentation open to all comics and graphic novel publishers in New York this March to educate them on the pros and cons of printing overseas.