Two-year-old Chicago-based Rogue Wolf Entertainment, which produces three Web-comic titles, is about to expand its reach with the acquisition of Cold Cut Distribution, the 14-year-old California wholesaler of independent comics. Cold Cut’s inventory is currently en route from Salinas to a warehouse on the north side of Chicago. Rogue Wolf v-p and comic writer Lance Stahlberg anticipates having the company up and running under a new, to-be-announced name by March 1.

Although Stahlberg acknowledges that “a big reason” for going after Cold Cut was to give the house’s own comics a distribution channel, he made it clear that Rogue Wolf wants to boost the independent comics community as a whole. “The comics industry is ready for a change,” he said. “Independent publishers have been stewing for years as Previews [Diamond’s monthly comics catalog] has been squeezing more and more of them out. We’ve heard complaints from retailers, too. We see this company as a haven from short orders, from jumping through hoops to get listed, from getting buried in the back of a top-heavy catalog and from unrealistic expectations.”

In recent years Cold Cut attributed its longevity to keeping its operation small. That will not be the case under Rogue Wolf, which is looking to expand the company’s visibility to customers and the comics community as a whole. With its centralized location, Rogue Wolf plans to begin by tapping into the strong indie comics market on the East Coast. But it would like to build a customer base that includes bookstores, libraries and gaming shops on both coasts as well as the Midwest.

For the near future Rogue Wolf will concentrate on building back the inventory that Cold Cut whittled down once it announced that it was up for sale last July. And Stahlberg will soon be transferring the ordering systems: both the phone number and Web-site shopping cart. Long-time Cold Cut staffer Matt High will come to Chicago to get the relaunched company up and running. Both he and former Cold Cut CEO Mark Thompson have agreed to stay on as consultants.