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WAITING FOR TOMMY: ADAM FORTIER
BY RICHARD JOHNSTON

Adam Fortier is a name I kept seeing cropping up. On press releases from new and vibrant comic companies, his name seemed a common thread. How could one man work for so many people? And how come everything he seemed to touch, turned to gold?

Clearly this was some fellow in his late forties or fifties, maybe a publishing of licensing consultant who'd worked in Hollywood for decades with the right contacts and a relationship with a major cocaine dealer on the West Coast.

So colour me surprised when I met the twenty-something fellow in Chicago (after I was flown out by the very generous Dynamic Forces people) with little more than a couple of comics in one hand and a beer in the other. Clearly something was up. how did such a fellow end up in the right place at the right time? Turns out it was a mixture of insight, hard graft and just an eensy weensy bit of luck.

 

TRANSFORMERS HARDCOVER COLLECTED EDITION

RICHARD JOHNSTON: Adam - you are the nexus of licensed comic book realities aren't you? Dreamwave's Transformers , Udon's Street Fighter, Devil's Due's GI Joe, Roaring Studio's Dragonlance.. Who are you, where have you come from, and just how have you become one of comics more interesting movers and shakers?
ADAM FORTIER: I started my comics career in retail at the young age of 15. I hung around my comic shop until they finally gave me a job there, working for comics. I was able to get enough time together to be able to afford an X-Men 94 in beautiful shape, the most expensive comic book I owned at that date. Moving to paying wages was easy as it was the comic book boom, and I quickly became a commissioned salesperson for the comic book store, selling rare comic books , as well as assistant manager. After the boom came the bust, and the industry wasn't a lot of fun to work in at that point. I had an attack of conscience selling sub par product at inflated prices, and left for supposedly greener pastures. I'll keep the time between comic book careers brief. I went to University for Mathematics (and Economics, Computers, and Physics, changing each year), working at the same time as a programmer for Xerox. I left University and started a multimedia company with some friends, moved from Multimedia to computer animation, and that's where I met Dreamwave. I was looking at doing some work to get interest in an animated movie together, and the idea of a Transformers movie came up. After contacting Hasbro, and finding out that the rights were pretty much tied up already, it was a small jump from a movie to a comic book. As I had already talked to Hasbro before, it was up to me to figure out what was entailed in getting a license for a comic book. After months of pitching, we were given the go ahead to publish Transformers, with the caveat that we were to publish RIGHT AWAY! Just before being given the license we had decided to leave Image comics and publish on our own (none of us having any idea what's entailed in self publishing), so we had a lot of figuring out to do. It was left to me to take us from completed comic book to printing, distribution, and marketing. Needless to say things worked out, and we started a successful foray into the publishing world of comic books. Early in 2003 I stopped working with Dreamwave , and started looking for other opportunities. Since then I've done work with Devils Due, UDON, and for the past six months have been working with IDW Publishing.

Since working with Dreamwave it's been my job to figure out how something gets done, and if there's interest in publishing a comic book, distributing somewhere, specific artists, or even just doing a store signing , it was my job to find out who to talk to , and contact them. It's all about who you know, and I've been able to know a lot of people. As for what it is that I do, I don't think that anyone really knows, even me. I do marketing, editing, co-ordinate printing, and a dozen other things that are pretty bloody mundane. Still, these things need to get done if you want to publish a comic book successfully.

RICHARD: What are the bugger mistakes you've seen others make in publishing, and how have you avoided them?
ADAM: A very simple mistake that seems to be made all the time is not thinking about the purchasing philosophy of the customer. When we published Transformers #1 there was a reason it was the number of covers it was, and that was to give everything to the customer without flooding them. Often I see comics published with little or no regard to the customers that are buying them. Because I worked in retail and have been a collector myself for a long time, I'm able to think about this in terms of the customer. Also, there's the "party line" mistake that happens a great deal. That's when you tell the customers something in order to save face, and they already know the truth. Some of the excuses for certain things that have happened in the industry are appalling!

Tell the truth, admit your mistake, and move on with life. I think that's much better when dealing with the public.

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 Continued Here...

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