It’s taken a day or two for the limited facts to float to the top, but one thing regarding the future of Gemstone’s Disney titles is clear: it’s unclear.
Last Friday, Gary Leach, who has worked on Gemstone Disney editions for more than twenty years posted:
“Well, it didn't even take two months, and some of you may already know that Gemstone is not renewing the Disney comics license, and won't be putting out any more issues since the last ones that reached the shops (I don't recollect the issue numbers). Disney is looking for someone else to take the license, and I believe they have some candidates, but nothing's anything like nailed down at this point.”
The timeline Leach refers to is in regards to speculation that the license would go after Gemstone closed its offices in West Plains, MO, a move which resulted in office’s five staff members being laid off.
Leach’s news was picked up by the Disney Comics Worldwidwblog, which connected it with Gemstone owner Steve Geppi’s reported financial difficulties. As DCW reported, Gemstone, Diamond and Geppi have been sued by Creditors Trade Association for $373,000 for unpaid printing bills.
Comics and products published by Gemstone include the Disney titles, the EC Comics reprint volumes and the Overstreet Price Guide.
Monday, Geppi countered the rumors with a posting Diamond’s Scoop website:
“In the past few days, there have been a number of rumors circulating about Gemstone Publishing. As has been the case with many businesses across a wide array of industries, there has been a reduction in staff at Gemstone, and this included the departure of many valued employees. This, however, is not the end of Gemstone Publishing,” said Steve Geppi, President of Gemstone.“Our flagship title, The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, remains a vital tool for comic book collectors throughout North America and around the world and it continues to be a highly profitable item for the retailers who carry it. I look forward to making announcements regarding new developments for the Guide’s 40th anniversary next year,” Geppi said. “At this time, no final decision has been made regarding The EC Archives or our comic books featuring Disney’s standard characters, but it seems certain that both lines will continue in some form,” he said. “We all anticipate resolving the issues facing us and moving forward, and I will be happy to announce the specifics once things have been finalized.”
Gemstone has held the license for the classic Disney characters since 2003, and has published 280 comics, with the most recent shipping in November. The Gemstone editions were published in prestige format, and carried a $7.99 cover price for 64 pages.
Gemstone’s apparent problems with the Disney Comics license – despite offering a Free Comic Book Day Edition every year, its volumes remained at higher price points aimed at older collectors – means that Boom Studios will be the only comic book publisher with an active Disney (Pixar) license. Slave Labor Graphics’ publishing relationship with Disney, which included Alice in Wonderland, The Haunted Mansion and others has wound down. Kingdom Comics, a Disney-backed publishing effort to adapt film properties into new comics has yet to begin publishing.