Bluewater, Levity And The Authorised Bill Hicks Comic

"It's the Bleeding Cool stuff that drives me the battiest" – Darren G Davis, in a rather Bleeding Cool obsessed interview with Hideous Energy.

In that interview Darren G Davis, publisher and owner of Bluewater makes some entertaining comments about me and Bleeding Cool some true, some verifiably false, but the overall impression is that Bleeding Cool can't say a nice word about Bluewater because a) we're owned by Avatar Press and b) they didn't publish a Royal Wedding comic biography I wrote.

It's not true of course, just from one example, two years ago, we ran the very positive news that Bluewater were to publish a creator owned line of comic book biographies about famous comedians.  Bluewater had been repeatedly criticised for its unusual work-for-hire backend contracts for a number of its comics. This seemed to have been a step in a more creator-friendly direction and it was something we welcomed.

But the man behind that move, Jaymes Reed, now seems to have his own problems with Bluewater. Reed tells me;

The news is that they had plans to reprint the first four issues of the series in a trade paperback they've had since October, but they refuse to get it going, insisting they need 5 months lead time for the new distributor they have, whatever that means. After he had the finished book, he promised January, then he said February and now he's saying Spring. This would mean a major wait for our next issues, which are well underway and will have been completed on time.

My team and I have chosen to break from Bluewater and send them no more free content in exchange for Darren's two years worth of hardship. He never sent me any payments EVER (not surprised, by the way), but the real bummer is that he's selling digital versions of all the books and would NEVER send me a contract for a share of anything made on Amazon and elsewhere.

We have no publisher. I'm not intent on collecting another stack of rejection notes. If one comes along who's interested, we'd talk. But for now, we've opted to go the print-on-demand route under the imprint "Levity Biographies" and reprint the first few issues with new covers, run our own trade paperback, and continue on from there. No, it's not lucrative, but it will let us continue this series our way and at our pace and possibly ensure I'll get some scratch out of this. I've invested thousands. If I make a dollar, I'll have made more than I did with Darren.

The attached flyers will be handed out at shows me and the team are attending this year. They're free to show around. We're already producing past these, so there's definitely more to come, and ALL will have VERY pretty pictures.

We're even doing a Bill Hicks book that will be authorized by Bill's estate. I'm working closely on it with Steve Hicks, Bill's brother.

Bill Hicks. There you go.

Of course, because these are creator-owned books, Jaymes is able to do this. However  Darren Davis told me;

We are sad to see the COMICS line go and wish Jaymes the best with them.  They are solid books with a lot of legal problems waiting to happen.

We have had issues with ALL of his titles because of copyright infringement.  From the Lucille Ball estate, The Three Stooges, George Carlin and more.   All of them had legal content issues and Jaymes does not understand the concept of copyright infringement – and we tried to help him with it.  Doing biography comics is not an easy thing to do and there are a lot of legal issues with doing them.  I have seen the pages from the upcoming WKRP book and it is has so many legal content problems.   We continued this deal even after the books sold less than 200 copies at Diamond as a favor to Jaymes. Then Diamond declined to carry this line when we were with them due to low sales.

It was sad to see that Jaymes did not communicate with us about this after years of working with him – but once again we wish him the best of luck with his publishing venture.   We are not going to stand in his way but he will learn that it is not as easy as it seems.

Despite Jaymes accurances that Darren did not pay him, Darren insists to me that he did pay him as well as deliver large amount of complimentary copies. Here however, is how the books are going to look going forward.

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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