Monday, October 20, 2003

Sun sets on the sigil-bearers

From Lying in the Gutters this week...
Some not-too-happy people at CrossGen. They are a fair few weeks behind on paying even their staff members, let alone freelance and other creditors. Some people are okay to wait, or take partial payments for now - but not everyone.

Still, with a whole bunch of books cancelled, they may not get a choice.

A whole bunch of books cancelled? Huh? I knew "The First" was ending with "The War" miniseries, but I didn't know what else. Obviously I haven't been paying enough attention, so I headed over to the the press release section of CrossGen's site to see what else. According to them...
After three years of planted clues, mounting tension, and escalating skirmishes, the saga of the Sigil Bearers vs. the Negation Empire is hurtling towards its explosive climax. As events build toward "The War," the following titles will reach their series finales with the following issues:

Crux #33
The First #37
Meridian #44
Mystic #43
The Path #23
Scion #44
Sigil #43
Solus #8

When "The War" hits in 2004, our greatest warriors will finally collide with an invading evil as alliances shatter, worlds burn, and destinies are fulfilled.

Blah, blah, blah... As much as I love CrossGen, this press release is a load of crap. There's no way they'd be cancelling these books if they were selling well. Everyone's been hearing about employees and freelancers not getting paid on time. Several key staff members have left the company in the past few months. Mark Alessi and Bill Roseman can deny it all they like, but CrossGen is losing money.

They're right to cancel most of these titles. "The First," "Sigil," and "Solus," are just plain lousy and always have been. As for "Crux," "Mystic," and "Scion," their stories have played themselves out, and an end makes sense. And, though I continue to say that it's the best comic book on the market, "Meridian" simply isn't selling. It never has, and it isn't going to. I'm rather surprised to see "Ruse" and "The Path" getting canned, though. They've had a positive response from both readers and critics. Admitedly though, I haven't read either in a while — maybe they've gone downhill.

So we're left with "Brath," "El Cazador," "Negation," "Route 666," "Sojourn," "Way of the Rat," and the upcoming series "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." The continuation of most of these series makes sense. "Route 666" and "Way of the Rat" have been optioned for movies. "Sojourn" has consistently been CrossGen's most popular title. "Brath" and "El Cazador" are relatively new, and have both picked up a solid readership. Here, "Negation" surprises me though. I like the book, but it's not really something with mass appeal.

Anyway, it's looking like we won't see much more of CrossGen. I wouldn't be surprised if the remaining books see their end within another year. I hope I'm wrong. They'd put together a great company with impressive writers and artists and a diverse selection of titles. They tried to grow too fast, though. Mark Alessi wasn't content for shooting to be #3 or #4 — he wanted to start from nothing and be the #1 publisher within a few short years. That's not a realistic goal. CrossGen suffered from over-marketing, trying to reach new readers via every possible avenue. They did everything at once, and it's cost them.

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