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Calendar Woes

We are having some major problems with the 2009 Ice & Fire calendar.

For that I am sincerely sorry. I want to make a public apology to all of my readers who paid for a calendar and have not received one.

I am several thousand miles removed from where the Dabel Brothers are based, in Georgia, so I can't speak with any authority about the causes of these difficulties, but over the past six weeks or so, since the calendars first began to ship, I have been getting a steady stream of emails from fans and readers complaining that they paid for calendars but have never received any, or that they received the wrong calendar, or fewer copies than ordered.

Most of those writing also say that their emails to the Dabel Brothers have gone unanswered. I want to apologize for that as well. Les Dabel still answers MY emails, for what it is worth, and when I forward a complaint to him he seems to get on it right away and resolve the situation. He and his brothers and the rest of the folks at DBPro should also be answering emails sent to them directly, obviously... but as it seems they are not, I guess you should keep on sending your calendar complaints to me. The LAST thing I need right now is to be embroiled in this mess, but embroiled I am, so I'll do my best to help.

However, there's a limit to what I can do. I have no stock of calendars here in New Mexico; I can't fill any orders myself. I can and have forwarded these emails to Les and Ernst Dabel, and asked them to take care of the problems ASAP. I know that Les has satisfied a number of the complainants... but the emails keep coming. For every complaint resolved, three more pop up. Les tells me that some of these calendars are being re-sent for a second and even third time; he has shipping dates and confirmation numbers. And yet the calendars continue not to arrive. Order fulfillment at DBPro is obviously not what it should be, and it may be that the post office is also at fault to some degree. I have no way of knowing.

I have asked Les to address some of these issues here on LiveJournal, on the Westeros bulletin board, and on their own DBPro forums, and to some extent that has been done... but the problems continue. There are a lot of unhappy people out there.

Again, I'm sorry. I'm going to do everything in my power to see that all of get what you paid for by the time all of this is done.

A number of you paid extra for autographed calendars, I know. As of this writing, none of those have been shipped. As of this writing, I have not received any calendars for signing. I promise, as soon as I receive a box of calendars to be autographed, I will sit down, sign them all, and send them back to DBPro the same day... but I cannot sign calendars that I do not have. Les, if you reading this, SEND ME THE GODDAMNED CALENDARS!!!

A number of you have also said that you will never do business with the Dabel Brothers again. That, of course, is your choice. Some of you have urged me not to do business with the Dabel Brothers again. That's MY choice. For the record, though, the calendar license is a three-year deal, so regardless of how this resolves, DBPro will also be publishing the Ice & Fire calendars for 2010 and 2011. In fact, artist Mike Kaluta is already hard at work on the illustrations for the 2010 calendar. It is my devout hope that all of us will have learned valuable lessons from this year's experience, and that next year things will run more smoothly... starting with the calendar coming out in September, like every other calendar in the world, instead of in December.

There's no excuse for any of the things that have happened here (though there are some partial explanations, at least, which I've mentioned in earlier blogs), but it should be said in defense of DBPro that they do at least put out a quality product. The HEDGE KNIGHT and SWORN SWORD comics were Dabel Brothers productions, and I love both of them, and the calendar is beautiful as well, as those who have actually received it will attest. Next year's Kaluta calendar promises to be equally spectacular.

And for those of you are urging me to find another licensee/ publisher... guys, you know, it's actually not that simple. I don't have a queue of calendar companies lined up outside my door waiting to buy rights. Truth be told, I did have a calendar deal previous to this one, with another of my long-time license holders, but it broke down over creative issues. I wanted to do the sort of calendar we have just done: all original artwork by a top artist hired specifically to do twelve original, never-before-seen Ice & Fire illustrations. My previous partner wanted to do a calendar made up entirely of existing Ice & Fire artwork, by a variety of artists, to which they held all rights. We could not resolve that impasse, so we cancelled the contract. It was then that I turned to the Dabel Brothers. Without them, it's fair to say, there would be no Ice & Fire calendar... and certainly not the gorgeous Michael Komarck calendar that we have.

None of which excuses the things that have happened, or haven't happened, as regards to order fulfillment.

So... let me say once again that I am heartily sorry about all of this, and I will try and keep hammering from my end to make certain that all of you get your calendars. If


( 64 comments — Leave a comment )
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Feb. 1st, 2009 07:09 pm (UTC)
I know it's not what you want to hear but I'm another one who's ordered and not received a calendar. I emailed to ask for the whereabouts of my 'shipped' calendar and got no response until I emailed again and mentioned that I would raise the issue with Paypal if I got no response and then I did get an email saying that another had been sent... it still hasn't arrived :( Hope that all gets resolved soon!
Feb. 1st, 2009 07:10 pm (UTC)
Signed calendar
Yes, I ordered one of the signed editions. Please keep us apprised when you receive them to sign and send them back. It's February already!!
Feb. 1st, 2009 07:13 pm (UTC)
Oh dear, that's bad news. I haven't received mine yet, but I want it for the art more than the actual calendar function, so the wait hasn't really affected me. (Mine was ordered from Amazon.com which has not received stock yet, apparently.) Let's just hope this gets resolved quickly so we can stare, transfixed, at the Mike Kaluta art and forget all our troubles.
Feb. 1st, 2009 07:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks, George, for doing what you can for those fans who seem to be falling through the cracks in regards to the calendar.

It's obviously an upsetting situation for many fans, no less so than for yourself and, I suspect, the Dabels. Les, Ernst, and co. are good guys who've I've had the pleasure of corresponding and working with, and I know this situation was never what they intended. Why things aren't getting sorted out more quickly is a worry, and we can all hope that they'll work out all the kinks next time around.

It really is an absolutely gorgeous calendar, and DB Pro have always put in 120% in producing beautiful and faithful renditions of the novels and short stories.
Feb. 1st, 2009 07:22 pm (UTC)
Don't beat yourself up!
You are an amazing author (I enjoyed meeting you at the COSine last weekend). You've already given us a world of heroes and villains; and we'll glady wait for calendars, books, and new stories! It's been worth the wait thus far :)
Feb. 1st, 2009 07:27 pm (UTC)
I didn't get to buy a calendar, but I'm so sorry to hear that you had so many problems with them. This is not funny, not for you, not for your fans and probably not for Dabel Brothers - the calendars look absolutely fabulous though, maybe they had more demands than what they could fill?

Anyway, I hope that everything will get cleared quickly - it's sad to see that you have to be entangled in such problems when obviously you already don't have that much time to spare :(

Good luck to everyone.
Feb. 1st, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
Whilst I have the greatest creative respect for the Dabels since me and Ran and a few others helped them out a small amount on The Sworn Sword adaption, their distribution leaves a little to be desired. After some debate I decided to hold off on the calendar until Amazon.co.uk has some in stock to send out, but that hasn't happened so far either.
Feb. 1st, 2009 07:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Martin, for your commitment to this matter, it is highly appreciated. It's not your fault, though and we know that. I haven't received my copy yet but as I am in Europe, I guess this will take even more time. I hope the issue will be resolved eventually, but don't get too upset about it. :-)
Feb. 1st, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
Having been burned by Dabel before -- I know this is difficult for you in the world of business, licensing is a messy game. But quite honestly, this is on the only property they have screwed up, and they will continue to screw up.

I will not, under any circumstances, be given the Dabel Brothers any of my money. They do poor work, they have abominable customer service, and no amount of 'this is the only place to get [blank]' will make me purchase from them. If this means that I miss out Jim Butcher and GRRM goods, so be it.

These people are crooked and dishonest. They make excuses -- but the problems never get fixed. I had problems with them last year. Those problem still exist with entirely different artists, different license, and different product, a year later! This would indicate the problem is not the post office -- but the Dabel Brothers!

While I understand you cannot back out of the contract deal -- you will probably not want to renew contract with these people in the future and maybe not do a calendar if you cannot do it with another person/company that can in fact deliver the goods.

Dabel can't. At least, not in a timely manner. They screwed up stuff for other properties and orders last year, and they are now screwing up your stuff. This isn't the post office. This isn't outside interferance. This is the fact that the Dabel Brothers simply don't care about providing good service, I think. They figure fans of the property are going to order no matter what because of the power of fandom.

Eventually, they'll find out they were wrong: I won't buy from them, and I'm sure many other fans, now that they've been burned, won't either.

I'm saddest, however, that the trickle down will hurt you; you didn't set out to do anything except given us an incredibly gorgeous calendar -- one I wanted! But one I was unwilling to risk my money on, because of the likelihood that I wouldn't see it in my hands until April at the EARLIEST! So now, Dr. House and his staff, a gift from my future brother in law, occupies that calendar space.

I know which I would have rather had -- but the Dabel Brothers won't deliver; learned that the hard way once already. Sorry it has to hurt you, though. :(
Feb. 1st, 2009 07:36 pm (UTC)
Mine arrived in good condition, several weeks before year end.

For those waiting, it's worth the wait.
Feb. 1st, 2009 07:58 pm (UTC)
Still waiting in Dutchieland
I too could give hard comments about not having received anything yet. But after writing Les he promised me to rescent a few weeks ago.
Because i'm Dutch it offcourse take a few days/weeks to arrive...

But where there are people at work accidents will happen and as long as they learn from their mistakes and sort everything right, i will have no problem ordering next years issue from them.
God knows i screwed up once or twice at my job aswell...
Feb. 1st, 2009 08:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you for what you are doing, mr. Martin!

My husband and I ordered a couple of calendars from them. For one (ordered for a friend) we received the 'shipped' e-mail on January the 6th but it hasn't arrived yet (although we are having delays in receiving mail due to weather condition) .
I'm at least relieved to know that the other calendar (an autographed one) hasn't been lost, since it cannot possibly have been mailed...

I'm afraid, though,that this will be our last order ever from the Dabel Brothers
Feb. 1st, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC)
I for one got my calender a little late but arrived how I ordered it. I'm enjoying it very much (except I failed to scan for spoilers before putting it up on my wall...whoops!)

And as w2kb said, it's well worth the wait!
Feb. 1st, 2009 08:08 pm (UTC)
Well, to lift your spirits, I will say that my boyfriend somehow found the calendar (he said Amazon was sold out, so that was a no-go). We've had it for 3 or 4 weeks and it's very lovely. The art is really well done.
Feb. 1st, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)
I know it's not your fault and do not blame you. I ordered the first two prints by them and had no end of issue with it. Ernest did make it right though so I gave them another shot. I ordered a calendar and the newest print they have .. I believe it is Jon Snow. I ordered them 5 weeks ago and have seen nothing. I figure the calendar will make it to me by say .. June. ;D

It is what it is .. maybe the DBrothers should partner with a company setup to do really large distributions. I don't know. *shrug*

Edited at 2009-02-01 08:10 pm (UTC)
Feb. 1st, 2009 08:10 pm (UTC)
Hm...I just assumed my dad didn't order it in time, if at all.

I really hope things get figured out, and even though it's completely out of your hands thanks for the update.
Feb. 1st, 2009 08:15 pm (UTC)
Kudos on the avatar. Very amusing. Don't think I've seen that one before. :)
Feb. 1st, 2009 08:16 pm (UTC)
don't worry about the calanders... worry about dance... at least that's what I'M waiting for...

Feb. 1st, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
It's not just the calendars, it's the posters as well. We ordered the Jon Snow print ages ago (to go with our Ned Stark one), but still haven't received it despite having emailed the Dabel Brothers and being reassured that it was on its way. We had the same trouble with the Ned Stark poster too.

The stuff they produce is absolutely gorgeous, but I'm not sure we will be ordering from them again.
Feb. 1st, 2009 08:37 pm (UTC)
It makes me very sad that this company's poor service/ethics are creating problems for you. I live in Atlanta, want I should go smack a few people for you? (j/k)
Feb. 1st, 2009 08:48 pm (UTC)
I actually ordered two calendars - one from Dabel, one from Amazon. The one from Dabel I ordered pretty early and received before the New Year, so I ended up keeping it for myself. The second calendar was intended for my cousin, but there was a delay in shipping for them and they hadn't even charged me for it so I decided to cancel it not too long ago...ya I'm greedy :)

Sorry to hear about the troubles, but crap happens sometimes. Sadly, things should be a little more timely since it IS a calendar, and the longer the way the more devalued it is if you think about it ;)

I love it though, it is truly a gorgeous calendar. I think everyone is allowed mistakes, so if it happens next year there should be no excuses.
Feb. 1st, 2009 09:38 pm (UTC)
Well, I still give you props for sticking to your guns. I can guess who the previous deal was with, and I think you've gotten far nicer art through the Dabels than you would have through the other company. It's worthwhile to campaign for good illustration - it's a shame the distribution is so problematic, but perhaps with a record of good calendar sales you'll be able to get a better company once the present contract has elapsed.
Feb. 1st, 2009 10:03 pm (UTC)
No calendar here either. It makes me sad.

Still, no use stressing over what I can't change... Thanks for your efforts George.
Feb. 1st, 2009 10:22 pm (UTC)
It's possible some of the shipping problems have to do with USPS. The calendars don't fit in standard size mailboxes so the postal service often leaves a small slip with a request to pick up the package at the nearest post office. The slip is tiny and, frankly, easy to get mixed up or lost in other mail. I almost threw mine away.

I wonder if there are a bunch of calenders sitting at post offices, waiting to be picked up.
Feb. 1st, 2009 10:27 pm (UTC)
Man, I just realized, I never ordered a calendar... damn...

I think it's awesome that you're trying to help sort all this out when it doesn't even have to be your problem, though, and I bet everyone who did order a calendar appreciates it.
Feb. 1st, 2009 10:30 pm (UTC)
db brothers
are they the ones from the hedge knight comic? i order the premium one with the multiple covers, got one issue with an autograph drawing and never heard from the again.
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George R.R. Martin
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