Sunday, August 9, 2020

Aardwolf Publishing: A Fond Farewell

It’s been a difficult time for the planet, but I can’t truly recall a time when I didn’t see things that way. Difficult times are the mother of invention. I believe we’re here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is… This was also the unstated philosophy of Aardwolf Publishing which, together with my business partner Jim Reeber, I helped forge in 1994. Aardwolf offered work to struggling veterans and quickly attracted some very celebrated ones, too. We were proud to publish stories from Harlan Ellison, Robert Bloch, Neil Gaiman, Marv Wolfman and Peter David; our books featured covers and illustrations from giants like Neal Adams, Jim Steranko, Joe Kubert, Jeff Jones, Michael Kaluta, Marie Severin, Mike Ploog, Frank Brunner, George Perez, and Gray Morrow... Harlan Ellison, Stan Lee, Pete Townshend and Leonard Cohen were among those who owned and praised our exceptional limited editions. And Aardwolf gave me a launchpad for my own stories, a number of which were optioned by Hollywood producers, bringing me more opportunities that I was able to share with friends.

When I conceived of and then completed the acquisition of IDW Publishing for IDT Entertainment more than a decade ago and became, briefly, IDW’s Executive Vice President of Creative Development, I turned Aardwolf over to the capable hands of Jim Reeber. I never looked back.

Sadly, Aardwolf Publishing is now in permanent limbo. Several years ago, Jim, who is only in his mid-50s, suffered from a serious heart condition; he flat-lined and woke up with a permanent device in his chest. Memory issues quickly followed. More recently, he was diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s disease.

Jim is unmarried and has no children. Upon learning of his prognosis, his presumed permanent girlfriend of many years told him and others, “I’m not capable to taking care of someone” and left. Clearly, she was raised wrong. Jim’s mother, who is in her 80’s, has stepped up to the plate and his friends (who are also my friends) have circled the wagons. We will make certain Jim is always okay.

Aardwolf Publishing’s website was taken down because orders could not be fulfilled. The corporation was dissolved. I am taking responsibility to fulfill any outstanding orders. I will also offer, in a very limited capacity, inventory items (including some expensive, rare premiums) directly from my blog, where I also handle comics from the Estate of Dave Cockrum. Patronage of these items by friends and long-time Aardwolf customers is appreciated.

A few important points:
  • Existing Aardwolf assets (i.e., unsold books) will only be offered on a limited basis. 
  • There is no intention of reprinting an Aardwolf title once books are sold out.
  • Aardwolf will continue to pay royalties to creators that it had contractual agreements with.
  • Aardwolf’s unpublished projects have been cancelled. There is a slim possibility that they will be resurrected by another publisher or by a later Aardwolf entity, if the opportunity presents itself, but slim is the operative word.
  • Many Aardwolf Publishing products—especially signed and remarqued limited editions—now sell on Ebay and Amazon for far more than they were offered for. Before purchasing one from resellers, people are wisely urged to check with me first as I may have those items in storage for far less than the speculators.
  • I am not sharing Jim’s contact information but will gladly forward messages. “Get well soon” is, unfortunately, inappropriate, but “thanks for everything you’ve done” is more than correct and suitable.

So, this has indeed been a difficult time, but, in truth, times have always been difficult for one party or another. When we started Aardwolf, Gene Colan was suffering from serious vision problems and didn’t have medical insurance; Dave Cockrum had been ignored by Marvel for years and wasn’t able to pay his bills without selling items from his collection (for a fraction of their value). We changed Gene and Dave's trajectories forever and, along the way, made a huge difference to a few others. There’s still plenty of work to be done. I hope we set a good example and some of you will pick up the slack. How? Buy art directly from artists; support creators’ projects that deserve support; be charitable; and selfishly pursue your own creative goals and help others pursue theirs. Life is short and art is long--and we're here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.

Clifford Meth


alxjhnsn said...

Give Jim my thanks for his part in the wornderful books that I have bought from Aardwolf.

Thanks for taking good care of your friends, Cliff.



spark spark said...

Well said. Good luck.

Vince said...

Cliff, I'm sad to see Aardwolf end, but I'm also very happy to have created with you and I appreciate your spirit of collaboration. Those creative efforts helped sustain me through my own struggles.

Pete said...

Jim's keen editors eye and detailed work is surely missed and, my warmest wishes for Jim's health and happiness as he enters his next phase of life.
I hope AARDWOLF'S passing is NOT our last chance to read Meth or, see the amazing art surrounding his writing. That would be unbearable.