Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jim McCann Talks Comic Book Marketing: Start the Conversation

Dapper man Jim McCann gave the Comics Experience Creators Workshop a primer on comic book marketing last night. I was fortunate enough to be in tele-attendance as for more than an hour, the former Marvel marketer and current writer, gave neophyte writers and artists a fantastic overview on how to get noticed and sell their books.

McCann, a writer of who found his niche writing Marvel's Hawkeye and Mockingbird titles while also releasing (with artist Janet Lee) the very inventive OGN Return of the Dapper Men, told the group that marketing is about starting a conversation. He then detailed several great marketing methods used by the big guys but that can also work for the little guys thanks to the power of the Internet. Turns out, in the end, like a lot of things in life, you only get out what you put in.

Comic Experience Creators Workshop Moderator, publisher of Panda Dog Press, and writer of Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit Rob Anderson posted a great article on last night's session. I've cherry-picked a few of the highlights below, but do yourself a favor and go over to Rob's blog and check out the whole thing. (And while you're there, check out ANIMAL CONTROL: SCU "Breeding Stock," a 3-page preview of Rob's awesome comic.)

Marketing Advice from Jim McCann:
•Get the word out before Previews; but not too early (You should have some finished product to show.)
•Know your audience and your reviewers (Find your niche. Just like in pitching your book to an editor, not every book is right for every site or reporter on that site.)
•Social Media is great-this has been discussed ad nauseum because it's true (Network; introduce yourself--but don't be a stalker.)
•Keep one eye on the calendar (Don't get lost in all the convention news.)

Jim also stressed getting retailers excited about ordering your project--in fact, in every interview, post, whatever, he stressed mentioning the Diamond ordering code or where (e.g., the Web site) people can get the book. But more so, he stressed trying to reach out to retailers, locally and nationally if you can.

As I go through my notes, I'm sure I'll be sharing some more details, but check out Rob's blog for more. I'm sure he'll get around to it before I do.

Monday, February 7, 2011

SHAZAM! A Free Comic Book Day in January?!?

A couple of weeks ago, the proprietor of my regular LCS here in St. Louis (Comic Headquarters), held a special free comic book day (note the lowercase letters so as to not infringe on any other similar events). It was a nice little winter warm-up surprise. They had free issues, giveaways, and local comic book artist, Lorenzo Lizana, doing sketches. Presented for your enjoyment are two sketches I picked up at the event. (And whenever Lorenzo is drawing, I pick up some sketches.)

Lorenzo is a very talented local artist. He's done all kinds of comic, cartoon, and toy and other product design work. And he's a great guy to talk about the business. He has a big national deal brewing--which I won't go into here--plus a really cool book in the works that'll be out by the actual FCBD. I always enjoy looking at his pages and this project was no different. He has a really cool concept--one that's beautiful to look at too. Can't wait to see it in print.

Enjoy his Capt. Marvel and Superman.

Now to get these babies colored. . . .

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blizzard Writing Day: Cutting It Down with Costa

As I write this, the frost giants of winter have descended upon St. Louis, covering everything in ice and snow. With promises of lots of ice followed by 10-20 inches of snow, the Blizzard of Oz has set in. The city is shutdown, and my employer closed the office today. (Yay!!) I've taken this rare day off to write.

As many of you know, I'm a member of Comics Experience Creators Workshop, a virtual writers and artists group where comic creators meet to critique and support each other. (You can find out more here.) One of the cooler things about the CE Workshop is that real-live pros like Jason Aaron, Peter David, John Romita Jr., and Nathan Edmondson, join in to do guest critiques on a monthly basis. Recently, a script I wrote, tentatively titled Last Days of the Cowboy, was reviewed by writer Mike Costa (of GI Joe Cobra and Transformers fame).

I'm a big fan of Mike's work, so I was thrilled to have him critique my script. He gave me some great notes. I'd love to post them here, but then I'd be spoiling an awesome story that hasn't even been handed to the artist yet. (Maybe I'll save it for the DVD Bonus Features of some future collection!) What I especially liked was what Mike had to say about cutting down the narration in my story.

Like a lot of writers, I had an elaborate backstory for my character and I wanted to fit that stuff in to this story. So I had him narrating over a series of panels, giving us all kinds of information, when, really, the action, the visuals, were doing the storytelling. And really, as is almost always the case, the background info isn't as important to the main story as the creator thinks. (In fact, it's another story altogether--maybe I'll tell it someday.)

But Mike's comments, as well as some by the group, gave me the confidence to jettison the info-dump I thought I needed to establish the character and to go with the visuals and key lines of dialogue I need to tell this story--and only those. Mike told me to go with the visuals I had already laid out. The end result, after rewriting and retooling, is a sparse, stark script, heavy on visuals and dripping with emotional impact.

While I was in there operating, I also widened some of the action panels to make this a real artist's piece, since it is a very visual story to begin with. If St. Louis stays frozen over tomorrow, I might even start networking with some artists. Let me tell ya, this one is going to blow your mind. I can't wait for you to see it.

By the way, More Tales from The Comics Experience is still available. Get yours by clicking the ad above.