Bleeding Cool has been happy to post some of Bill Schanes' weird and wonderful stories about working in and around the comic book industry. In fact, there's another belter I was about to get to. But in a twist of fate, Ross Richie, publisher of Boom Studios, has his own story about Bill to share. Along with this shirt, he posts on Facebook,
Who is William Schanes? He was the Head of Purchasing at Diamond Distributors. He's retired now. TL,DNR: He controlled everything we offered comic shops. Bill was tough. He was unafraid to refuse a product or change your offerings. If he did, you couldn't sell it to comic shops, period. He had ultimate power. And he was unafraid to flex. He flexed on us, canceling variants, refusing certain comics. It could really ruin your day.
Phil Boyle owns a chain of comic book shops and is a very successful retailer. He's a thought leader. He spots trends. So Phil was talking to Bill and said, "I really love BOOM!. I think they'll break 5% and move to the front of the catalog in the next 18 months." If you're not a comic book expert, what this means is, "I think the future is bright for this company and they're going to be a major power in the market."
Bill knew it would be hard for BOOM! to grow that fast in that short amount of time — he had deep experience in publishing and distribution. So in a good-natured, friendly way, he made a Dollar Bet.
A Dollar Bet works like this: if you lose, you have to write what the bet was on the dollar and sign it and give it to the winner. Bill kept his winning dollar bets in the top drawer of his office at Diamond Comic Distributors. Phil told me about the Dollar Bet. I saw an opportunity. Diamond held a conference where publishers could give a speech to retailers. I knew I had my speech.
I got up in front of hundreds and hundreds of comic book shops and told everyone about the exciting projects from BOOM!. Then I explained Phil Boyle had bet on BOOM!. And that one of the most powerful executives at the upper echelon of the company had bet against us — Bill. Everyone loves a good underdog story. I was telling comic book retailers that one of their own — one of their best — was on our side. Then I went all Bugs Bunny.
I ripped open a box and pulled out a shirt that had PROVE BILL WRONG printed on it. Chip Mosher started tossing dozens of these shirts into the crowd. Retailers started screaming for them. I had asked for Bill to attend the presentation personally.
So I literally jumped off the platform and ran across the room and handed Bill one of the shirts, shook his hand, and leaned in and whispered in his ear, "We're going to sell more BOOM! books because of this!" The crowd erupted and ate it up. We got to the front of the catalog. It took us more than 18 months, but we did it!
Phil was right — we were able to grow and become one of the biggest publishers in comic book stores. Bill was right — it took longer than 18 months to get there. Bill and I went on to forge a friendship and have been buddies for years.
I took a gamble that he had a sense of humor and if he was miffed, I'd be able to explain I didn't mean any harm and wasn't mad about it, I saw it as a chance to sell more BOOM! books. Thank God he has a great sense of humor. After BOOM! got to the front of the catalog, Bill graciously sent me the original dollar bill that the bet was written on. I keep it in the top drawer of my desk! At Bill's request, I shipped him another copy of the shirt last week because he'd lost his…
Thanks, Phil Boyle, for betting on BOOM!. And thanks, Bill Schanes, for giving us one of the biggest presentations of the company's history and being such a great supporter of the company for so many years!
Bill replied " Tough and fair – I can live with that. Ross – you're the best!"