Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How Not To Write A "LOL" List

In response to the attempted abduction of singer Joss Stone, OC Weekly ran a list entitled "Five Pop Stars More Deserving of Abduction than Joss Stone" --
"Should Stone's would-be slayers ever make it out of the pen, we present a list of five other pop stars that are far more deserving of the whole violent abduction treatment."
Most of the celebrities on the list are young females, with such awesome commentary as this one for Selena Gomez:
"We only suggest Gomez as a target because she won't put up much of a fight. Thanks to her probable diet of Jelly Bellies and Vitamin Water, Gomez was hospitalized this week with malnourishment, which we suspect is publicist-speak for "eating disorder." Potential abductors can therefore be assured that Gomez won't scratch out their eyes, let alone have the strength to scream for help at an audible volume."
and Vanessa Hudgens:
"Since this 21st century Annette Funicello clearly lacks the brains to recognize that her time is up, we see only two options for her:
1. Sex video with Vern "Mini Me" Troyer and Vinnie from Jersey Shore
2. Disappear - preferably, by getting into the van with the guy in the leather trench coat. That's right, the guy with the pantyhose pulled over his face. He's actually very nice."
I know, I know...if we can't joke about young women getting abducted and murdered, what can we joke about? Where is our funny bone, people?

Monday, June 20, 2011

How To Get Around The Law, The Comic Book Way

Wouldn't it be great if all sorts of laws were invalidated because of textual unconscious gender bias? I mean, just in the Bible alone...

Dark Horse To Offer $20,000-Value Giveaway At American Library Association Conference

Recognizing the value of reaching out to a wider comic book reading audience, Dark Horse Comics is offering a giveaway pack worth over $20,000 at the American Library Association Conference in New Orleans this weekend:

"This special giveaway, open to all attending public and school librarians, will include every Buffy the Vampire Slayer graphic novel from Dark Horse’s successful line. The winning library will receive over seven hundred hand-selected graphic novels in total, as well as fixtures and furniture. The prizes, including shelving, spinner racks, and more, will be displayed in the Great Graphic Novel Library Giveaway booth, #1760. The sign-up period will be during ALA exhibit hours on Friday, June 24, through Sunday, June 26.

"The entire display, worth over $20,000, will be awarded to the winning library with a drawing that will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, June 27, in booth #1760. The contest is open to public, school, and academic librarians within the continental United States. ALA attendees must register in person at the Great Graphic Novel Library booth during the show. One hundred semifinalists will be notified on Sunday evening and the winner must be present to accept the prize.

All attending librarians are also encouraged to visit Dark Horse in booth #1740, part of the Diamond Book Distributors display, for an exciting look at our fall titles!"
Man, I wish I was attending this conference! Not that I'm a librarian, but...

The Most Unintentionally Creepy Comic Book Ever Written...

...is what I just read, last night. I turned the last page, closed the book, and seriously considered never covering comic books again. I actually turned to my husband and said "I'm done."

Now, my threshold for creepy content is quite high. Also, I'm usually not offended by cheesecake art alone. And had the comic in question been intentionally creepy, like some sort of South Park parody, it actually would have been pretty hilarious.

But there were a lot of unique factors surrounding this particular comic that, when brought together -- much like when the individual Power Ranger Zords combine to create the Megazord -- made this book the big honking awkward gigantic stomping monster of Squick.

If I really thought this book would be a huge success, or impact the world in some major way, I'd get into details. But unfortunately, I think that would only help its sales and enable it to be fap material for the worst possible segment of the population.

But, let me just say: gah! So so so disappointed.

UPDATE: just missed my stop on the train this morning, I was still so upset with this book and thinking about it

Friday, June 17, 2011

Green Lantern: Color Theory

"Why I Just Don't Get Green Lantern" at Comics Beat admits a certain degree of bafflement at the character's appeal:

"Superman came from a doomed planet; Batman had a traumatized childhood; Wonder Woman came from a race of Amazons to bring protection to Man’s World; The Legion were from the far future; The Flash had a lab accident; The Atom had a lab experiment…and so on. The one character that made no impression on me whatsoever was Green Lantern."
It's my theory that a portion of Green Lantern's appeal derives from the simple fact that...he's green. Shallow enough for you? I shall continue.

Green is a fabulous and striking color for a superhero. Whether in a spandex unitard or a leather trenchcoat, green really makes a character stand out. Hence Green Lantern, Green Arrow, The Green Hornet...and, well, Joker and the Hulk, among others.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Promoting Comic Books To A Mass Audience: Identifying New Markets

When setting up a promotion plan for your comic (or yourself), your first concern should of course be the established comic book fan market, especially if your primary distribution method is via comic book shops. But depending on your goals/budget/time, you might also want to research alternative audiences for your work. And if you are working in a comic book genre that traditionally doesn't do well via the direct market, I would especially recommend thinking outside the box in terms of alternative reader niches to pursue.

To illustrate what I mean, I'm going to give an example not from comics, but traditional book publishing. One of my freelance jobs was as an in-house marketing/social media consultant for a large book publisher. My job literally consisted of being handed one book after another from all the different imprints of said publisher, and find alternative online niches to promote them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Women In Comics Revisited

Just a note on the idea of increasing the # of women writing and drawing "mainstream" comics by pressuring publishers to make a conscious effort to hire more female talent. This does not work. This does not work because while the gender make-up of the active talent pool changes, everything else stays the same. The targeted audience demographic stays the same. The delivery system for content stays the same. Marketing approaches stay the same. The types of stories desired by editorial stays the same. The mission statement of the publisher stays the same. So you're dropping a new factor into a deeply-entrenched system that largely does not embrace the idea of said new factor being involved.

This sort of "affirmative action" approach to encouraging gender diversity often has a result that backfires on the female talent themselves. They become self-fulfilling prophecies of failure. They fail to engage the largely male 25-40 year-old male market being targeted, and the lesson learned is that "women don't sell books." Or: "women can't write action."

The textbook example of this is DC's Minx line, which to this day I've heard used as proof that "women don't sell comics" and "girls don't buy comics." There were many quality books in the Minx line - but also many factors (distribution, company focus/goals, assumptions regarding "what girls read") in play in its ultimate failure. Similarly, I've heard the demise of DC's CMX imprint as "proof" that "manga is dead." No, manga is very much alive. But CMX, like Minx, were new factors dropped into an old system of publishers/retailers/marketers/readers.

And anybody with even the remotest knowledge of a market like YA books know that yes women sell books, and yes women can write action. That argument that female writers can't attract a loyal audience or can't write a kick-ass battle scene is so far blown out of the water, so absolutely archaic at this point, that to bring it up again would just show one's patent ignorance of the larger world outside one's comic book shop.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Embracing The New

If I had to define what my role and mission is at this point in my career, it's to introduce comic books to new readers.

It is my belief that all future health, wealth, diversity, and prosperity in the comic book industry will come from increasing the reader base to include previously uncourted (or ineptly courted) segments of the potential audience.

Since I operate from this viewpoint, there is nothing in the recent news regarding DC's reboot of their entire line that really bothers me. On the contrary, I look forward to introducing new readers to these new (and/or rebooted) characters and concepts. And, as a fan, I'm eager to get on the "ground level" with some of these new titles.

The U.S. comic book industry needs new readers. They need young readers. They need female readers. They need more international readers. And they need to expand the options those readers have to acquire their stories. Anything that works towards those ends, I'm behind. And if the industry fails to attract those new readers, or to make their stories more accessible, it will eventually (and soon) shrink and die -- that is a certainty.

So I have to embrace the new, though of course new doesn't automatically = good. But we have to keep trying, with new concepts, titles, creators, approaches, formats. I still remember buying my comics for fifty cents, and the types of comics I liked when I was a teen. I'll always have those memories, and most of those comics are available to read again. But I want to help start building the infrastructure for a whole new generation of fan. I really think that is exciting! I want a young reader to have that same sense of wonder I had when I first discovered comics. And maybe the next generation won't be reading the same Superman I did. But at least they will be reading a comic book.