Free comics since 2023


30-07-23 | Greetings my friends! And then suddenly … it was all over. A couple of weeks ago I collected the remainder lot of the three comic books I’ve produced since 2020. In my very first column on this website I recounted how Peter Pan Comics came into being. Not as an online presence, but as a legitimate publisher of Dutch language comic books. If you recall that column, you’ll also be aware of my rotten timing.

Had I known in late 2019 that this Covid business was going to grind daily life to a halt, naturally I wouldn’t have invested in two comic titles for release in early 2020! In January of that year I had cheerfully announced the publication of Helden Comics (or Hero Comics) and Science Fiction Comics. Having worked hard on compiling these ‘best of …’ books, cancelling them was extremely painful.

By August it seemed that Covid was on its way out (spoilers: it wasn’t), so I took the plunge and finally published Science Fiction Comics. Releasing these 128 pages of galactic nostalgia was bittersweet. As it turned out my distributor hadn’t been exactly honest with me about how much work he was willing to put into selling the title. Fair enough, considering they were the biggest distributor out there. I couldn’t expect little old me to be given special treatment when they had bigger fish to fry.

But they did NOTHING to promote my title. Not a thing. I was instructed to print no less then 1000 books, because it wouldn’t be commercially viable to them otherwise. Well … selling 300 units and having 700 books gather dust on valuable shelf space doesn’t seem like a great deal to me either. The low numbers were due to Covid, I was told. Something I find hard to believe, since the Dutch market was booming in those days due to people having more time to read during lockdown.

I never found out why this guy took on my plucky little book if he didn’t intend to support it. Our initial meetings were so friendly. He was incredibly helpful and supportive. But when I needed him most he refused to do the job for which he gobbled up 20% of my revenue. A waste of his time and resources, which could have helped push the book. If only in a small way. You won’t be surprised to hear that this fat cat doesn’t work there anymore. Little help to me, since by the time this news reached me I had hooked up with another distributor.

A year after this debacle I was still working on Griezel Comics (or Horror Comics) and Fantasy Comics (the unreleased third and fourth compilations) when I was approached by a small publisher. They had successfully set-up a distribution company for small publishers and would I be interested in joining? I was extremely sceptical but allowed them to re-release Science Fiction Comics, since 700 titles still went unsold. I wouldn’t cost me anything to gamble on this new player in the comic book market, so I said yes.

This new partner did reasonable business, selling another 200 units. Not great, but considering the title was a year old by then I was quite happy with the results. Better still, Covid was now slowly fading into the distance and I felt confident enough to attempt to write my very first comic book. Rather than rely on republished classics I could now finally spread my wings and show the world what I was capable of.

In early 2022 I released Het Grote Superheldenboek (or The Big Book of Superheroes), my second compilation of vintage comics. This 72 page book was totally different from the planned 2020 release and far more streamlined. I had learned a lot from producing Science Fiction Comics and it showed. A mere month after Het Grote Superheldenboek, I was to debut as an author. I had prepared two educational kiddy comics, Kapitein Nemo in West-Europa and Kapitein Nemo in Noord-Amerika, to conquer the Dutch market. I was at the top of my game again. Nothing in the world could stop me now.

And then fucking Putin invaded fucking Ukraine! From one day to the next the price of paper soared through the roof! And for a second time I found myself forced to cancel a completed title. Het Grote Superheldenboek sold quite well, breaking even shortly after its release. But my new partner turned out not to be the ideal distributor for comics aimed at children, resulting in Kapitein Nemo in West-Europa failing to find its audience.

A lot of money and a lot (and I do mean a lot) of bad luck later, I found myself forced to make a decision. Things can’t go on like this. Time to pull the plug. The titles were withdrawn from publication, I collected my leftover books, and that was that. It was the death of Peter Pan Comics.

Except that it wasn’t. Not only would Peter Pan Comics rise out of its ashes stronger than ever, the three physical books I published are about to be given a whole new lease on life. But that, my friends, is a story for another occasion …