About This Dark Horse Position

By | Tuesday, June 30, 2009 1 comment
I'm surprised I haven't seen this more widely circulated, but comic publisher Dark Horse has an opening for a "Comic Retail Manager." Although it's not expressly stated anywhere that I can find, it sounds to me like an entirely new position ("motivated, creative and organized self-starter").

Mike Richardson founded Dark Horse in 1986. His Sales & Marketing Vice-President, who I believe this new position will report to, has been with the company since 1997. That means that there's a lot of personal investment in the company. I don't doubt for one second that they've both put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into making Dark Horse what it is today, and I don't doubt that they're both incredibly proud of exactly that. I mean, they have licenses for Star Wars, Aliens, Predator, Indiana Jones, Conan, Buffy the Vampire Slayer... You don't get to play with all of those properties unless you're pretty damn good at what you do!

The other thing that longevity says is that it's a good company to work for. The people who I know have worked there, largely, have worked there for several years. That suggests it's a good atmosphere and people actually enjoy working there. (The first job I had out of college, people were quitting pretty regularly. I only stayed eight months, and by then I was already the senior-most of eight graphics people on staff because so many others had left!)

However, the possible danger with all that personal investment is that it's a personal investment. These folks have gotten to where they are because of their own work, and that pride I mentioned earlier could come under fire if/when some new guy shows up and wants to try new ideas to "shake things up." There's a natural resistance to change, and there's almost certainly going to be some uphill challenges.

That said, Richardson hasn't made Dark Horse what it is all by himself. He seems to have known when things were getting beyond his reach and when to bring in outside experts. That's one of the hallmarks of a good businessman. And the very fact that they've recognized the need for a new position suggests that they're open to some new inputs and fresh ideas.

Actually, what strikes me as the biggest difficulty for potential candidates are the job requirements themselves. They're looking for a marketing person with knowledge of the comics direct market and distribution. That strikes me as a pretty small group of folks right there, as many comic fans know little about the distribution arm of comics. Add on top of that the ability to manage a small staff and having experience with licensed products and branding... I think we're talking about maybe a dozen or two people who are at all qualified. And of those, I think many of them are busy running their already successful comic shops and publishing companies. I'm talking about folks like James Sime, Brian Hibbs, Joe Nozemack and Jessie Garza. They've got plenty of their own blood, sweat and tears in their respective companies; they're not going to drop that very quickly, I'm sure.

Which leaves who? A handful of people, like myself, who've actually studied marketing and have been interested in comics as a medium long enough that they've studied how the whole operation works.

Of course, I'm sure a lot of people will apply just because it's an opportunity to work at Dark Horse, regardless of what qualifications they might have. Having been on the receiving end of resumes myself, I don't envy whoever's going to have make the first pass on all of those CVs. There's bound to be a lot of junk to wade through.

But the candidates who do have a chance, and the one who's able to rise above the others and ultimately secure the position, I think, will have great opportunity in front them. It's the chance to get in with a great company which clearly has a lot to offer, but still have some professional challenges that will give the person the opportunity to better him/herself.

I don't know about you, but I know I'm going to be dusting off my resume!
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If there's one thing I learned while on the job hunt a couple of years back, it's this: They always advertise for more qualifications than they really need. So your marketing background is likely stronger than you think!

The job I eventually got was for someone fluent in five different computer languages. I had two, and one I read a book on the week before my interview. I landed the job.