Designed as an effort to revive monthly periodical comics and provide economic support to direct market comics shops, Bad Idea is a newly launched comics publisher with a publishing program and business model as eccentric as the name of the company. Beginning in May the new house plans to publish a limited number of monthly periodical serials created by a lineup of acclaimed and popular artists that will be sold exclusively through select comics shops around the country.
Bad Idea will offer original series by such popular comics artists and writers as Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT), Joshua Dysart (Harbinger), Adam Pollina (X-Force), Robert Venditti (Justice League), Jody Houser (Harley Quinn), Marguerite Bennett (Batwoman), Jeff Lemire (Black Hammer), Peter Milligan (X-Men), and others.
The company will launch on May 6 with the first issue of a series by writer Kindt and artist Doug Braithwaite called ENIAC ($3.99 per issue), which is the story of a computerized weapons platform that has been erroneously triggered to launch nuclear missiles, giving the earth three days to stop it before mankind is obliterated. For now, the company is not providing much information about its forthcoming releases beyond ENIAC.
The new house is experimenting with an unusual publishing model. At a time when comics readership is being driven by the book format, Bad Idea will only publish in the traditional comic book periodical format—that means no collected trade paperbacks or hardcovers or original graphic novels, and no digital comics. No book collections despite a lineup of artists with significant book backlists from major publishers in the direct market and in the book trade. Bad Idea is also eliminating variant covers, a direct market sales gimmick that uses multiple covers by star artists on a single issue that retailers can only get if they order large quantities.
The founders of Bad Idea are a group of former executives and staff at Valiant Entertainment, all of whom left the indie comics publisher in the wake of its 2018 acquisition by DMG Entertainment. Former Valiant owner and CEO Dinesh Shamdasani is now co-CEO & co-chief creative officer of Bad Idea, sharing those duties with former Valiant executive editor Warren Simons.
Other founders include former Valiant v-p of marketing and communications Hunter Gorinson, who is now Bad Idea publisher; former Valiant director of digital media and development Joshua Johns, also now director of marketing for Bad idea (Johns is also director of digital marketing at the Hachette Book Group and will continue in that position); and former Valiant v-p of sales Atom Freeman, who is now sales consultant (he is also v-p sales and business at ComicHub, a new POS system for comic shops, and he will also continue in that position).
Gorinson (who is interviewed about the new company on the More To Come comics podcast), acknowledged that the name of the new house is also an ironic response to its model: “We called the company Bad Idea because it flies in the face of conventional wisdom about all the stuff we should be doing to be successful publishing comics.” Although he declined to discuss how the company is financed, Gorinson said that former Valiant CEO Shamdasani received a sizable buyout in the DMG acquisition
He emphasized that the founders are a group of veteran comics professionals and said the house has been working on producing its comics for the past 13 months. “We’re focused on the 2,500 direct market comic book stores. We’re going to build fan support organically and grow our platform by word of mouth with monthly comics. Comic book store retailers are the foundation of our model,” he said. “You will have to go to a comic shop to buy our comics each and every month,” Gorinson added. “Hundreds of stores have responded to our outreach.”
But their view of direct market retailing is pretty eccentric. The company will release no more than one or two new series each month and will "self-distribute" its comics initially to only 20 handpicked retail venues, Gorinson said. Each month thereafter, the company will incrementally increase the number of retailers able to sell its comics looking to grow its retail network to about 50 stores by the end of the year. To prevent hoarding, collectibles speculation, and scarcity of #1 issues, Gorinson said Bad Idea will limit sales of each comic to one per customer and keep a supply of back issues in reserve so newly added retailers will have #1 issues to sell.
Still, It’s hard to believe Bad Idea will stockpile multiple longrunning series by popular artists and never collect them into books. Even comics shops do a significant business in graphic novels these days. When pressed on the issue, Gorinson acknowledged that, “never say never but for now we think having a limited format will help us.”
“For the last 10 years its been crazy with publishers pushing more and more comics into the market; it’s exhausting. We want to do more with less. We’re going to focus on high-quality monthly comics, treated as art objects. We understand that this won’t work for every store. But we don’t need every store to make this work,” he said.