Back in the day, comic book fans could easily get their fix by rolling up to a spinner rack in a supermarket, pharmacy or bookstore and dropping a few quarters for 32 pages of colorful pulp adventure. However, starting in the mid-1990s, monthly comics disappeared from newsstands. These days, they’re mostly only available in specialty stores and on web- and mobile-based apps.
Independent comic publisher Alterna Comics is bucking that trend. The New Hampshire-based company will begin distributing low-cost ($1.50 versus the average $4 or $5) newsprint versions of their top series to newsstands this summer. One of those titles is Scrimshaw, the post-apocalyptic, high-seas adventure that Las Vegas-based writer Eric Borden produces with artist Dave Mims.
“It’s so awesome that someone could go in with $1.50 and get my comic book,” Borden says. Despite “money being tight as a kid,” he remembers spending what little scratch he could gather on favorites like Green Lantern and The New Mutants at the Circle K convenience store near his house.
Borden—who’s also a screenwriter and author—has written a few other comics, but Scrimshaw is his first series to see wide distribution. He connected with Alterna publisher Peter Simeti through Twitter while Scrimshaw was still in development in late 2015, and shortly after debuting the comic at Silicon Valley Comic Con the following March, Borden locked in a two-year distribution deal.
“It’s a compelling read, and I appreciate the fact that there’s a ton of metaphor and imagination to it,” says Simeti. “A lot of stories are very literal nowadays, even in the realm of comic book fiction. Scrimshaw is a great, character-driven story.”
The first three issues of Scrimshaw have already been released digitally, with a graphic novel collection of that material being released in May. The first newsprint edition of the single issues will hit comic stores in June and newsstands a few months later. To help fund the production of these upcoming print versions (Alterna creators pay for their own printing, which maximizes their share of profits), Borden launched a $4,400 Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. As of this writing, the campaign has raised around one third of the funding goal, but Borden’s not concerned.
“We want to hit our number because it allows us to do more,” he says, “but we’re going to write the check no matter what. We’re prepared to go all the way because we feel like there’s going to be a pretty good welcome. I’ve already scheduled my first two signings at Barnes & Noble.”