COMMENT: Dawson Ditches Speakeasy

After ending 2005 with a flurry of bad press, fledgling indie publisher, Speakeasy Comics, kicked off 2006 with the first of what was presumably going to be a string of big announcements which would reposition them as a player to be reckoned with in the industry: Rosario Dawson’s Occult Crimes Taskforce (O.C.T.)

“Rosario Dawson is an artist in the purest sense. She can act, sing, as well as write. She’s just an all around creative person. We are thrilled to collaborate with Rosario, David and Tony on this one of a kind project. The Rosario Dawson fans of the world are in for a treat and I’m sure many others will soon be captivated by this truly unique comic book project,” said Adam Fortier, Speakeasy Comics CEO.

While somewhat underwhelming in the larger context of the troubles the publisher was facing, it did seem to offer a hint about the new direction they were heading and what affect their deal with Ardustry Industries — an independent movie and television company, and worldwide licensor and distributor, who produce, acquire, sell and license feature films and Television content — might have on that direction.

Except for some generally positive buzz for the Flying Friar one-shot — much of which is due to writer Rich Johnston’s admirable, if relentless, self-promotion — things have been pretty quiet on the Speakeasy front since that announcement. Their web site is currently being overhauled; their MySpace page has no content of note on it; and their recently appointed editor/PR guy, Vito Delsante, has been curiously silent since said appointment a few weeks back, even deleting his own announcement of the appointment from his LiveJournal without any explanation. (I’d noticed a few days after he’d posted it that it still hadn’t been picked up anywhere, not even by NEWSarama, but just noticed today that he’d deleted the entry. Hmmm….)

Fast-forward to today, and out of the blue comes this announcement, from Image Comics:

Rosario Dawson, David Atchison and Tony Shasteen announced today that their new comic book miniseries, the OCCULT CRIMES TASKFORCE, will now be published through Image Comics, starting this July!

“We are very excited about our new home. Image Comics and the guys at 12 Gauge are helping us make the book the best it can possibly be. The interest Speakeasy Comics showed in publishing the ‘O.C.T.’ was greatly appreciated. However, due to recent changes in their direction, we didn’t feel our book fit with them at this time,” said Shasteen.

Changes, indeed!

Atomika, one of Speakeasy’s two launch titles, was the first to jump ship last August, as creator Sal Abbinanti decided self-publishing was a better option for him. O.C.T. follows the highly acclaimed Rocketo, the first Speakeasy title to move over to Image, while a slew of other titles have moved over to another fledgling indie, Markosia. And Strangeways creator Matt Maxwell chose limbo over publishing his mini-series through Speakeasy.

My interest in this story centers primarily on how it will affect the fate of Elk’s Run, but equally compelling is how it might affect the industry itself if yet another ambitious, “high-profile” indie goes down in flames. It’s one thing to cancel a low-selling title or five, but it’s another thing entirely when something potentially high-profile like O.C.T. voluntarily jumps ship before a single issue is published! (Imagine the Speakeasy booth at any Con where Rosario Dawson is appearing.) At what point do retailers simply tune out anything new, understandably unwilling to take a risk on an unproven publisher or property? Once bitten, twice shy, thrice…intolerant? Could you blame them?

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3 thoughts on “COMMENT: Dawson Ditches Speakeasy

  1. “However, due to recent changes in their direction, we didn’t feel our book fit with them at this time,”

    I thought this was their direction?

  2. That was certainly the implication when the title was originally announced. I’m guessing maybe they realized Speakeasy talks a bigger game than they can actually play, and having Dawson onboard the project probably made it an easy pitch to Image. I’d assumed the deal had come via the Ardustry connection, but I guess not.

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