First Salvo: More Publishing Fun & Games
Publishers do go under, especially small press publishers, so there's nothing wrong there. However it's generally accepted as being good business practice to at least let people know that you've gone under without abuse or silence. Most people will accept a publisher going broke, some will even write off what's owed, as long as they're told and a suitable explanation is made. However to just vanish, or, in this case, to just cut people off while giving the impression that you're still an active publisher, is not only poor form, it's plain rude.
Having said that one story that was shared with me recently really caught my eye and it involves the cover art to the Dangers Dozen Interlude comic, one of the last that I'm aware of First Salvo publishing. Over on their blog they're still boasting about how they're in business and still publishing, good on them - if they're still viable and active then they can pay Alan Weiss. As it stands the last comic that I've physically seen bearing the First Salvo banner was the Interlude.
I was attracted to the Interlude not only because it was by First Salvo, a publisher I'd gone to great pains to help promote, but also because the cover was by two of my favourite artists, Trevor Von Eeden and Norm Breyfogle, a pairing that'd not been done before. After the comic appeared I contacted Norm and bought his original art for the issue. The cover is a stunner and highly effective, however the publishing quality of the cover just doesn't move me at all and by muting the black boldness it helps dilute the power of the work. Knowing I love a good story behind the story I was contacted by those in the know and informed of a few facts.
The Salvos contacted Trevor and commissioned the work with the full knowledge that it'd be used as an eventual cover. The Salvos told Trevor that the cover was to be inked by Joe Rubenstein, at no time was he told that the cover was eventually inked by Norm. No biggie there, publishers often change art teams as they go along. What the Salvos neglected to tell Von Eeden was where and when they were actually going to publish the cover, such was the instability of the company and the lack of communication, the work was done, paid for and then published without Von Eeden's knowledge, nor were any copies of the final product sent over for Von Eeden to have on file. Indeed the first knowledge that Von Eeden received of the covers publication was when his art agent, Bob Shaw, contacted him to tell him it was out there.
If that's where it ended then that would almost be tolerable but, as with most publishing horror stories, that's not all folks. Von Eeden was also tapped to provide full pencils for at least three covers plus interior art for an upcoming series. Duly advised Trevor supplied, as per the Salvo's request, character designs and preliminary artwork which were then sent off for approval. Due to the volume of the work he also cleared his schedule and turned down other work so that he could devote the appropriate amount of time required. That's when the Salvos ceased responding to emails and calls, hence Trevor was both out of work and out of pocket, as the Salvos have yet to pay him for the work he'd done, outside of the Interlude cover (which, I'll point out again, was paid for). That's three full issues of time, plus the other work.
There's a pattern there and that pattern is that First Salvo appear to be a bit lax when it comes to fulfilling their obligations as a publisher. All they have to do to fix these problems is simply pay people what they're owed, for work already done, accepted and submitted, along with kill fees, at least, for work commissioned by the publisher. Even an email or two just explaining the situation. I'm not holding my breath though. Such a shame that their forums are now defunct, but then no great surprise really.