The late 1970s and early 1980s brought huge changes to the comic book industry.
Before then comic
book publishers sold their comics through magazine and book distributors.
That meant that comic books (like magazines)
were sold on newsstands across the country.
Every drugstore, five and dime and mom and pop shop carried comic books
if they carried magazines.
retailers could return unsold comic books to the distributor who in turn would
send them back to the publishers for a refund.
As the price of
magazines rose comic books rose too, but a slower rate. Magazine distributors took notice that their
profit on comic books was much lower than on comic books so distributors
started to cut back on comic books.
Comic books often were
not placed on shelves or only a few scattered titles. Comic book publishers found their profits dropping as distribution
Along came the
direct sales market that allowed comic book publishers to sell directly to
comic book shops with no return policy.
Numbers began to climb and publishers recognized that developing product
that sold only through direct market sales could turn a profit.
Marvel and DC Comics began producing direct sales
titles. About that same time small publishers
began to pop up that sold exclusively to comic book shops via direct sales.
Since comic books
sold mostly to serious collectors (many who were getting older) both Marvel, DC
and other publishers began producing titles with more 'mature' themes and stories.
In 1982 writer Mike
Barr presented a new story idea to DC Comics.
It updated the Arthurian legend and was aimed at an older audience.
At first DC balked
and turned down the idea but soon relented.
Accompanying Mike Barr
was British artist Brian Bolland who provided the pencils. Few knew of
Bolland's work, except those who read Britain's Judge Dredd.
Since DC Comics was
importing many of its writers and artists from the British Isles Brian was a
This was time when
the internet and e-mail did not exist.
Inter-continental mail and package delivery was in its infancy. While
coordinating the writing and art proved somewhat difficult-resulting in missed
deadlines-the series did see completion nearly a year behind schedule.
Camelot 3000 is important
for a few reasons. First, it was
printed on more expensive Baxter paper and on Letterpress. It was one of DC Comics' first direct market
series and its very fist maxi-series limited to 12 issues.
The series was a huge
success. Fans loved the story and
especially Bolland's ever improving artwork.
DC had a hit on its
hands and soon other direct sale series would follow.