Dinesh Shamdasani, one of the people who helped make Valiant Comics’ rebirth in 2011 such a success, is back at it with a new comic company. For fans of his tenure with the Bloodshot publisher, this new venture is going to look familiar.
Shamdasani and his team announced Bad Idea Comics, a new publisher with a curious business model. The company plans on only releasing one or two titles a month, only as physical media, without collections or variant covers, to only 20 comic shops around the United States at launch (with plans to expand into more as certain criteria are met).
The creators on board include some outstanding names.
- Joshua Dysart, writer of Imperium and The Life and Death of Toyo Harada.
- Jody Houser, the definitive writer behind Faith.
- Tomas Giorello, one of the artists who gave X-O Manowar such a distinct and gorgeous look.
- Robert Venditti, the longtime writer of X-O Manowar who took a flimsy premise (“What if Conan was Iron Man?”) and made it into something much deeper.
- Marguerite Bennett, writer of the criminally underrated Angela, Asgard’s Assassin book.
- Zeb Wells, writer behind the second best New Mutants run of all time.
- Adam Pollina, the artist who drew Fallen World, following up the surprisingly excellent 4001 crossover featuring Rai and Bloodshot.
- Eric Heisserer, who wrote a shockingly, appallingly good take on misfit heroes in Secret Weapons.
- Jeff Lemire, writer of many incredible comics, including co-writing the best book Valiant ever put out – The Valiant.
- Mae Catt of Young Justice fame, writer of one of season three’s best episodes, “Another Freak.”
- Peter Milligan, mildly successful X-Force writer and co-creator of Britannica.
Creating ENIAC, Bad Idea’s May 2020 launch title, are Matt Kindt (the other co-writer of The Valiant), and Doug Braithwaite (artist of another surprisingly great Valiant crossover, Book of Death).
One would not be mistaken in thinking “Huh. That’s a lot of Valiant creators.” It is, in fact, a lot of them, and the list of executive staff is basically the masthead of a Bloodshot comic circa 2017. But it shouldn’t be surprising – Shamdasani’s Valiant was known for treating its creative talent well, particularly with fair compensation. That’s going to engender some loyalty.
The publishing strategy is likely going to cause some heartburn for comics readers. In an era with unprecedented accessibility, via web comics, manga imports, digital and bookstore releases, going the other direction runs the risk of sending an opposite message. Taking a strong, public, “No Variants” stance sounds like one of support for local comics shops, too many of which are closing in small part because they don’t order in sufficient volume to capitalize on speculator walk-ins, leading to small shops being swamped by large ones and Comixology. But turning around and saying only 20 shops will get these books, and only if you’re limiting one per customer feels like it’s sending the same message as flooding the market with variants, just to fewer people.
Part of this concern is also from a selfish place. This is a stunning creative lineup, and there is almost no way my shop (Peter Parker’s high school at noon on a school day would be the seventh largest town in my state…fourth largest if you count staff) will even sniff these books. But these sound like the kind of books I want to tell other people to read.
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