Steve Bissette on Selling Comics in a No-Longer-United States Of America

Steve Bissette is a comics writer, artist, editor, and publisher, best known for his work on Swamp Thing, publishing and editing Taboo, and creating Tyrant. He’s seen and done it all. And he has also seen something coming down the tracks, changes to sales tax in the USA and how it is going to affect independent contractors like himself, those who exhibit at comic conventions, and those who sell across the USA and beyond. He posted to Facebook (Bleeding Cool was given permission to share it further)

America 2019: If you do business online or across state lines, take the time, read this post…

Saw all this coming three years ago; this was a major factor (though not the only factor) in my decision to abandon my online store and sales. (PS: I’ve scaled down the size of my sketch art so I can simply mail it in standard envelopes: a risk, but this simplifies everything considerably.)

We might as well capitulate:

* As of October, doing business shipping overseas is going to become increasingly expensive, difficult, demanding, and impossible for many small businesses and individuals.

* Shipping state-to-state is no picnic, either. Read on, below: sales tax collection is the new headache once you meet certain thresholds, and many states now prosecute even for minor transactions. We’re no longer the “United States of America,” this state-by-state sales tax situation is an economic shift comparable to a state-by-state Brexit based on sales tax collection and prosecution. (My own hard experience with dealing with having individual sales tax numbers for individual states was a factor in my no longer doing comics conventions: back in the 1990s, a three-year ordeal with the NY sales tax division over a single Albany NY convention appearance convinced me to never go through that again; had to pay my lawyer, and a completely speculative figure the NY tax board “settled” upon, after all manner of shenanigans over my tax number status, which I had cancelled after the event—and the board simply refused to recognize.)

* Ideologically, the “united” dissolved with the Millennial shift; politically, this has meant many of us held hostage by, say, Kentucky/Mitch McConnell.

I hate to sound despondent, but all this plays as it lays.

Having already sat in lines on our local backwoods interstate for Border Patrol checkpoints (racially profiling, in fact: I was waved through) more than once, even state-to-state movement now feels compromised.

Damn.

He previously talked about issues with the US postal service in recent years;

All my life—64+ years—the postal service has served my family, myself, everyone I know, and made it possible for me to do business in more ways than I can count. I willingly gave up my long-running mail order business two years ago because it became increasingly impossible to deal with the spiraling costs imposed by the Draconian GOP savaging of the USPS (could ANY business afford to prefund 75 years of retirement pensions—saving for persons yet unborn who might be working for them in the future? ANY business on the planet??) and the forced alignment with UPS and Fed X, which drove up costs. Then, last August, quiet changes in those forced terms slid into place: we felt it in rural areas with new rules concerning addresses. This has been an active, insidious GOP campaign undercutting our well-being, our ability to do business, our ability to remain active with the rest of the world. They want the union busted, our rural post offices gone, their profiteering to either privatize forever or obliterate our mail services.

I cut my mail order business to essentially zero, for just this reason. The last time I had to use Fed X (customer wanted it, and was happy to pay for it), I could not f-cking believe how much it cost—there is no way on Earth I could have self-published as I did in the 1990s (with my printer in Canada) the way things are now.

And after including advice given by forms who now exist to help people deal with new mailing issues across state or country lines.

Well, I dunno about you, but this is waaaaaaay more bureaucratic folderol and micromanagement than my decades of doing business as an individual, and decade+ of selling online, prepared me for. Dealing with all this crap is a real-world, real-time cost of doing business, and it’s just too much.

United States of America, my ass. The benefits our parents and forefathers enjoyed have been incrementally eroded, the cost of simply doing business as an individual state-to-state complicated and rendered undesirable. I already carry my passport with me at all times; soon, that won’t be sufficient.

How’s everyone else doing?

Steve Bissette on Selling Comics in a No-Longer-United States Of America

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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