Sunday, May 8, 2011

Free Comic Book Day To The Max

I attended Free Comic Book Day yesterday for the recap check out my blog here:
As much as I enjoyed the event I had a few thoughts coming out of it.
I couldn't help but wonder: does FCBD really bring in new fans or is it really about rewarding the families of your regular customers?

I think either of those are fine pursuits but I believe the idea behind FCBD was to bring new people into the store that don't regularly read Comics and get a current Comic in their hands for free in the hopes they will enjoy the experience and start collecting Comics as a hobby. As I looked at the free Comics that were offered by the publishers I wondered which ones were really going to get kids (new readers) to want to read comics. In fact looking at the Super Dinosaur Free Comic I couldn't help but think it was just the Animation pitch bible reprinted in comic form. I wondered if that was the right product for the event.

I would think if you were going to pitch the hobby of comics to new people you would pitch them the very best stories and art the medium has to offer. Perhaps with the release of THOR they could have reprinted a Simonson Thor or a combo book with stories from Kirby, Simonson and Copiel. That would have landed perfectly within the idea of the event and meanwhile piggybacking on the larger mainstream movie marketing. DC seemed to be right in their thinking with a Green Lantern book but am I the only one who thinks photo covers from the movies (GL,THOR, CAP) should have been a must? If you have this huge marketing machine of the film industry behind these IPs why not push those people who have heard about the movies into the store and to these free comics?

Fans don't see the finer points in terms of the difference between what goes on with characters in a movie a video game or the comic books so why not combine the experience for them and use that to buffer the introduction of comic books into their geek/hobby sphere. FCBD is a great idea but with some missed opportunities for publishers to help retailers spread the word on Comics.

In terms of it being a reward for customers and their families. I think it's a huge success at doing that. The Comic fans I met seemed to be really into introducing something they already love to their kids and having an event for the whole family. The discounts/sales combined with the free Comics seemed to generate of ton of excitement. In today's economy I think they should do two of these a year just to remind the local customer fan base that Comic stores are (or at very least should be) a place the whole family can have fun at. Offering a fun experience to the customer is what I think is missing in a lot of stores. FCBD can help reinforce that with loyal and new customers

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Story First....Blockbuster Second

I think this is an interesting opinion piece on the state of storytelling in Hollywood.

I post this because the influence of the blockbuster has by default become the basis for many Comic Books. Comic Books make for big blockbusters so creators seem to be pre-editing their work to fit the movie format. In the end this weakens what Comic Books have to offer as a medium for more complex storytelling. It has generated this strange storytelling loop.

Comics tell stories
Movies are made of those stories
Comics are made to be like Movies.
Movies are made of Comics

A copy of a copy of a copy.

Between the companies that try to pass off "pitch books" as real Comics to the Comics that look like a series of storyboards for a movie that has yet to be made. There is a point where someone has to say it's okay for a Comic to just be concerned with being a Comic. Everyone has their eye on potential outside of Comics. You would be doing yourself and your work a disservice if you didn't. At the same time the art form of Comics has it's own unique style of storytelling that seems to be glossed over in order to tell a story that makes it easier for a producer to see how this could be a movie.

I was once told the best thing about a Comic is that "it's budget is your imagination.". You don't have to put money aside to pay for ILM when you are making a Comic. If you can think it up and you can draw it, it's possible in a Comic. That limitless storytelling potential combined with the ability for a single individual to create a comic on their own and deliver it in a popular format, either through print or digitally is one of the last frontiers for the storyteller with vision. I try and remember that when I go to the board and start drawing or when I sit in front of the computer and dream up ideas.

IMHO it takes a distinct vision to tell a great story. There are many entertaining stories but really there are very few stories that stir something deeper in you. Delivering that vision to an audience becomes the challenge of any storyteller in any medium. When it comes to Movies the cost of delivering that vision has a serious price tag. If a movie fails and statistically most of them do, there is a lot of money on the line. When there is so much money at stake more people want their opinion figured into the final product. Everyone of these people create a layer between the person with vision and the public. Sometimes it can be helpful other times it just pushes the idea farther and farther away from the source. Weakening whatever made it interesting in the first place. As a Comic creator the barrier of entry into the market (because of cost and the layers between you and the reader) are much less. That close relationship with it's level access to each other separates Comics from other visual storytelling art forms. It's an advantage we as Comic creators as well as Comic fans should hold sacred and always be aware of what makes this art form special.