Friday, April 05, 2002

Books Going Bankrupt II
A followup report from Top Shelf:

What a difference a day makes. On Tuesday morning at 8 a.m., April 3, Top Shelf was effectively put out of business, and on Tuesday evening by 8 p.m., April 3, Top Shelf was remarkably back in business. There are not words suitable to express how honored and thankful we are that within 12 hours this amazing comics community took it upon itself to bring us back to life. And in this case, it might also be said that the power of the Internet was fully realized.

On Tuesday, after we made the announcement of our book trade distributor filing for Chapter 11 (and the subsequent fatal impact that this had on our own operation), we received over 200 phone orders and 850 online and email orders to boot. This staggering 1,000 orders has not only made us operational again (and put several thousand copies of our graphic novels into circulation), but has also reaffirmed to us that the comics industry is back, revitalized, and ready to take on the world. We're even estimating that over 100,000 people received the news or were personally involved in the discussion of this online event on that day.

With this overwhelming support, combined with the (now contradictory) fact that Top Shelf has always prided itself that every order would ship out the very next day, we ask for your patience in letting us get all of these graphic novels, comics, and CDs to you. We hope to have everything shipped out within the next few weeks. In the meantime, if all this activity has made you curious about our books, we would encourage you to ask for them at your local retailer, so that everyone along the chain, retailers and distributors alike, can also benefit from this spur of interest. And while this interest in diversity is at the forefront of everyone's mind, we encourage you to continue in the exploration and discussion of comics from all the publishers doing quality work these days: DC Comics, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image, CrossGen, Viz, Fantagraphics, Slave Labor, Oni Press, NBM, Drawn & Quarterly, Cartoon Books, Alternative Comics, Highwater Books, the publishers we represent (like Eddie Campbell Comics, etc.), and all the rest (that we apologize for not having the space to mention by name today).

If we've learned anything over these last seven years -- and witnessed it absolutely this week -- we're all in this together. And the growth and development of this amazing medium is in the most capable hands possible: the fans of this industry.

We'd also like to take a moment to give a special thank you to a few extraordinary people and organizations:

  • Warren Ellis and the Warren Ellis Forum. We've always known that the Warren Ellis Forum was a formidable entity, dedicated to the discussion and support of quality comics all over the industry, but their mobilization in this instance was unprecedented. We can't absolutely determine what percentage of all the orders were from this distinguished group, but our estimation is that it was significant. We cannot thank Warren or the supporters of his forum enough.
  • CrossGen Comics. Mark Alessi and the CrossGen staff collectively bought $5,000 worth of graphic novels and will donate them to the public library system. This completely novel and generous gesture not only helped to keep us going (in a big way), but also promises to expose hundreds of people and libraries to what comics can bring to the world of art and literature. This stunned us, and is a testament to CrossGen's contribution to our industry.
  • Rick Veitch and Matt Brady of's Splash and Newsarama pages. Their amazing coverage, online discussions, and links for this event spurred on an uncountable array of support from the industry.
  • Neil Gaiman. Neil took it upon himself to discuss our situation within his daily online journal, which just happens to be the most visited daily journal on the Web. And since he's been known to have a fan or two (including us), we've been getting a nice bit of support from there as well.
  • And no less amazing than that of the above, the collective efforts of the crews at ArtBomb, Sequential Tart, Comic Book Resources, Comic Book Galaxy, ICv2, Gray Haven magazine, PopImage, Shotgun Reviews, the members of the Brian Michael Bendis message board, etc., who all rallied their subscribers, who in turn proudly stated that they had come from one of these very active sites.
  • And lastly, but never least, the comics retailing and distributing community. They are the front line of our industry, and behind the scenes they have always been the ones that have kept the independent publisher alive. The show of support from this community has not only been amazing on this particular day, but has always been there from the first moment we entered the business. They have been the group that has supported us the most.

    Again, we want to thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts -- we could not have done it without you. Top Shelf will continue to try and put out the best books possible, and we look forward to not only thanking each an every one of you personally at the cons this summer, but also being able to now make some rather cool announcements in the coming weeks that should be fun and beneficial for the entire industry as well.
    -- Chris Staros
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