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New Media Distribution/Irjax Enterprises was a comic book distributor and boutique publisher active in the 1970s and early 1980s during the growth of the direct market. After the distribution arm of the company went out of business in 1982, its processing centers and warehouses formed the basis for Diamond Comics Distributors, the now-dominant comics distributor. New Media's publishing arm continued in the business until 1985.

History

Origins

Hal Shuster, his father, Irwin, and his brother, Jack, formed the paper distribution company Irjax Enterprises (a play on the names "Irwin" and "Jack"), based in Rockville, Maryland, in the 1970s.[1]

Entering the direct market

After Phil Seuling established the direct market in 1974, his company East Coast Seagate Distribution maintained a virtual monopoly on comics distribution, until a lawsuit brought by Irjax in 1978.[1] This resulted in Irjax gaining "a sizeable chunk of the direct-distribution market."[1]

Steve Geppi

Meanwhile, Baltimore retailer Steve Geppi had four comic book stores[2][3] and was acting as a sub-distributor, "doing a little informal distributing . . . for smaller retailers." By 1981, Geppi was one of New Media/Irjax's biggest accounts.[3] In late 1981, the company, now known as New Media Distribution, or New Media/Irjax, filed for Chapter 11.[4] One of the "last loyal customers" when New Media began having fiscal difficulties, Geppi made a deal with Shuster: "[t]he owner was going into retail," so Geppi agreed to provide Shuster with "free books for a period of time in return for his account list."[3]

When Hal Shuster relocated to Florida early in 1982,[5] he asked "Geppi to service more accounts for a bigger discount,"[3] thereby effectively selling Geppi the distribution end of the business.[6] Geppi immediately founded Diamond Comics Distributors. Geppi took over New Media/Irjax's office and warehouse space and had to "sort out the good customers from the bad overnight," negotiating with creditors to continue Shuster's distribution business as Diamond Comic Distributors.[7]

Publishing

In addition to its distribution business, New Media/Irjax acted as a small publisher from 1976 until 1985.[8] Under the names Irjax Enterprises and then New Media Publishing, it mostly produced periodicals for comics and fantasy/science fiction enthusiasts, the most notable title being Comics Feature.[9] The company also published a few original comic book titles (in the adventure and fantasy genres),[10] usually featuring creators pulled from the ranks of fandom. The company published out of Largo, Florida; Tampa, Florida; and finally Studio City, California.

Notable names who worked for New Media/Irjax as editors and/or writers include Carol Kalish, Kurt Busiek, and Peter B. Gillis.[11]

Titles published

Irjax Enterprises

  • The Wonderful World of Marvel (Summer 1976) — periodical about Marvel Comics
  • The Wonderful World of Comics (1977) —  periodical, history and criticism of comics

New Media Publishing

Critical/historical journals/periodicals

  • Comics Feature (28 issues, c. 1980 – 1984) — periodical about comics, including interviews
  • Fantasy Empire (6 issues, July 1981 – 1982) — periodical about comics, fantasy fiction, and Dr. Who
    • Fantasy Empire Presents H. P. Lovecraft (1984)
  • Comic Fandom's Forum (1982 – ?) — successor to the fanzine LoC
  • Golden Age of Comics (December 1982 – February 1984)
    • Golden Age Of Comics Special (Summer 1982)
  • Comics, the Golden Age, aka Ron Goulart's Comics the Golden Age (1984 – 1985) — Periodical about comics

Original titles

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Direct Distribution," in Duin, Steve and Richardson, Mike (ed.s). Comics Between the Panels (Dark Horse Publishing, 1998), pp. 126-130.
  2. Resume for "Stephen A. Geppi" at BusinessWeek, September 8, 1998. Accessed March 5, 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Warshaw, Michael. "From Mailman to Tycoon," in DeGarmo, Scott (ed.), Success (June, 1994), pp. 28–32.
  4. "Newswatch: NM in Trouble, to File for Chapter 11," The Comics Journal #70 (January 1982), p. 16.
  5. "Newswatch: New Media Publications Relocates to Florida," The Comics Journal #71 (March 1982), p. 10.
  6. "Newswatch: New Media Distribution out of Business," The Comics Journal #72 (May 1982), p. 16.
  7. "Diamond Comic Distributors," in Duin, Steve and Richardson, Mike (ed.s). Comics Between the Panels (Dark Horse Publishing, 1998), pp. 125-126
  8. Bethke, Marilyn. "New Media's Publishing Empire," The Comics Journal #76 (October 1982), pp. 154-161.
  9. "Headlines: New Media Expands Publishing Base, Comics and Commentary Magazines to Begin!" Comics Feature #6 (October 1980), pp. 7-8.
  10. "Headlines: New Media Expands: Heroines, Romance Titles Added," Comics Feature #12/13 (Sept./Oct. 1981), p. 19.
  11. "Headlines: NMP Editorial Shake-Up," Comics Feature #12/13 (Sept./Oct. 1981), p. 18: Peter Gillis leaves New Media Publishing.

References

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