§ People are still talking about David Bowie, weeks after he died, and I imagine they’ll be talking about him for a long time to come. No pop star’s passing has affected so many people since, perhaps, Elvis and Michael Jackson. Although Bowie seems to have touched every emotion and artform in his amazing life, finding a definitive David Bowie/comics connection has been difficult, although on his Top 100 books he listed Beano, Viz (As anyone who grew up in Britain would) and RAW as any urbane arts connoisseur would. But it’s not quite like that picture of Jack Kirby meeting Paul McCartney and the Wings song “Magneto and the Titanium Man” or Robert Plant going on and on about Morder. For instance, David Bowie loved New Jersey’s cult The Uncle Floyd Show, and even wrote a whole song about Uncle Floyd, “Slip Away” which starts:
Oogie waits for just another day
Drags his bones
to see the Yankees play
Bones Boy talks and flickers gray
Oh, they slip away
However, I was tooling around on FB the other day and came across this picture posted by Antal Bayer and at last we have an image of the great man chuckling over an issue of Viz. Whether Bowie was amused by an entry in the Profanisaurus or Top Tips, we will never know, but I’m sure it was a cracker.
Antal actually has a whole gallery of famous people reading comics and….well, some of them will really actually blow your mind.
§ Folks in my social media were sharing this piece all over the place: Bing Bang Comics retailer John Hendrick’s guide to How to Sell Your Comic: A Retailer’s Perspective> This is a LONG DETAILED PIECE, and were I an indie comics creator, after reading it I would just measure some rope for a noose, because the whole process is so involved and never ending. But you know, that’s what we do.
This guide is primarily for creators who have worked with other publishers before and are now venturing out on their own. But if that’s not your story, there’s no reason you couldn’t apply some of these techniques to your own book – even if you’ve never worked in comics before. Keep in mind, though, this is by no means a fool proof plan to creating a hit comic. These are just insights into how you could maximize your reach, and pretty inexpensively at that. It is all informed from experience, as I’ve been selling comics for what feels like a long time. At least in my shop, I know what works. The ideas in this piece are built on the direct market – i.e. comic shops who order through Diamond Comic Distributors – and while not specifically the goal, this guide could prove useful when your book is collected and distributed to the book market as well.
One thing Hendrick suggests is not making phone calls to stores (I think publishers are better suited to that particular technique) but rather developing an email relationship:
It’s important not to send everyone the same email. Otherwise, they may think you’re spamming them because you didn’t take the time to write them individually. Retailers talk, and there are countless forums and secret Facebook groups – you didn’t hear that from us, okay? – where they do. And someone is bound to comment on that email they received. When they do, maybe someone else says they received the exact same message. That’s a problem.
The best way to avoid this is to write each store a paragraph aimed at them. In it, you could ask how things are in their store, share how you heard about them, ask if they’d be interested in a preview…things like that. Trust me, it’s a lot better. It goes a long way compared to “HERE IS MY COMIC! LOOK AT IT. JUST LOOK AT IT!” Say you’re someone that works in comics and you worked on (insert comic here) and you have a new comic coming out soon. Or it’s your first book and you’re excited about it. And hey, here are the details and here’s how you can order it.
Simple enough, isn’t it?
Hendrick suggests that a promo like the above by Karl Kerschl for Gotham Academy with the Diamond order code is a good way to promote a book, as it will be shared on social media quite a bit. When I think about artists like Kerschl having to draw things like order codes I look at the rope again but…yeah welcome to 2016.
Anyway, a lot to read, a lot to do, but some good advice in there.
§ Egyptian cartoonist Islam Gawish has been released following an arrest and no charges were filed, but more shennanigans are lurking, I’m afraid.
§ The website Slings & Arrows has been resurrected from the world wide cobweb, and it aims to contain reviews of every graphic novel. Over 2500 titles are already reviewed, with more to come, and it’s all sortable by genre or creator. Check back frequently!
§ Don McPherson reports that the low exchange ate for the Canadian dollar is begining to have an effect::
Calum Johnston, owner of the three Strange Adventures comics shops in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, said the weak Canadian dollar is definitely a challenge. Currently, he said, his stores charge a 30 per cent exchange rate, meaning new products at Strange Adventures are 30 per cent more expensive than the marked U.S. price, even though the exchange rate is actually at about 40 per cent right now. He said customers prefer the added-exchange approach rather than having Canadian prices stickered on the products.
“If the dollar continues its losing ways, we may have to adjust again,” Johnston said.
§ Felix Comic Art is a dealer for original art from some outstanding creators. They also do a podcast and the latest one is with novelist (and Jack Kirby scholar) Glen Gold . They also made a short video where Gold talks about some of his art and the unique power of Kirby:
§ Ladydrawers is putting together a massive International Comics Survey with the deadline of May 15.
As you are surely aware, we here at Ladydrawers HQ—in conjunction with pals actually literally around the world—are working hard to gather any and every bit of data we can on race, gender, physical ability, maternity, and economics in the comics industry, everywhere. This, as you can imagine, is a difficult and time-consuming task, especially when it is all volunteer run by folks who don’t get paid a ton in their regular jobs. Which, by the way, is just as true for women in comics in the US as it is for women in comics in Finland, if our current findings are any indication! (Spoiler alert: they are.)
§ Fortune profiles three editors at Marvel, Sana Amanat, Emily Shaw and Katie Kubert. They are superwomen, we’re told, which is true, but maybe someday they will just be SUPERPEOPLE.
§ Joe Illidge discusses “BLACK” the new comics Kickstarter that’s nearly funded after a day.
§ Jen Vaughn’s Angoulême cartoons continue at Mental Floss. I have a ton of Angoulême links in my folder that aren’t about the problems — this is the first time I remember there being so much written in English about the show days after it ended and not just the conroversy; changing times.
§ Okay now this is the coolest link of the day by far: The great French webcartoonist/comics inventor Boulet has created Le Bouletmaton where you can make an avatar in Boulet style. Sacre bleu!
§ Comic-Con announced four more guests! But you’ll need to click the link to find out who. SUSPENSE.
§ Cartoonist Patrick McDonnell of Mutts fame is drawing strips based on a visit to an animal shelter:
Patrick McDonnell takes a hands-on role with staff, volunteers and the hundreds of animals in ACCs care. From participating in doggy playgroups to helping teach a cat how to give high-fives, Patrick experiences first-hand the ins and outs of one of the nations largest open-admissions animal shelters. He uses this experience to create his latest series of “Shelter Stories” strips to encourage people to adopt animals from shelters.
I guess someone is cutting an onion in here because my eyes are watering.
§ Art link of the day: Women Murdering Men In Western Art History. It seems that in olden days, art was full of images of roving bands of women tearing men in half. Perhaps of they had slipped their Diamond Order Code in there somewhere, some good would have come of it.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.