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Secret Identities
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Ok, I'm fucking dying with a cold now, so this is going to be short. Hopefully.

So Stephen king has teamed up Marvel to make a graphic novel prequel to King's Dark tower series. I cannot begin to tell you what a major coup this is for every one at Marvel, and well comics in general. I mean Stephen King, probably the writer with the most name recognition this side of J.K. Rowling and John Grisham. This could mean millions for Marvel, millions. But only if they handle right.

(I know I'm toeing a particularly dangerous line here essentially giving Marvel advice and spouting my ways to handle Stephen King's distribution. I'm just a cartoonist. I'm not some Danny Donovan-esque figure thinking he can change the world through ranting online. I just thought I'd make that clear. No one going to listen to me here, and I'm too sick to run on anything but auto pilot, so just read on. Or not. The comics up and that's our job done.)

Ok, it appears that Marvel plan to release the story in 6 issues, starting next April. This, to me, screams bad news. I mean relying on the direct market is part of the reason that only 300,000 people read comic books on a monthly basis. Now, they plan to release it in a prestige Hard Cover collection in time for Christmas 2006. Now my idea would be to forget publishing it in issue format and focus on getting the Hard Back to make the biggest splash possible. I mean, that's the only way to make money on a Stephen Comic. Because I know Stephen King can essentially release a book in his sleep and it would sell in the tens of millions without breaking a sweat. The effort has to be smashing through that pesky barrier of "Ugh, a comic, no way. Comics are for kids, forget that" I think its hilarious that people still think comics are for kids and in reality (at least in the American market,) the youngest average buyer is 17. Or thereabouts. The European and Japanese markets are of course booming industries with their books selling millions every week.

Alas, I digress, with all this talk of American vs. Japanese and European comic books. The key to breaking through the barrier of the comic is simple. Marketing. Obviously, a word that is trapped behind the wardrobe of Marvel's vocabulary. I mean, take for example , one of Marvel's biggest books, Astonishing X-Men. This isn't just a regular X-book, drowning in its own, mired, soap operatic continuity, this a comic written by Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy. Yeah, Buffy. Angel too, and lets not forget Firefly and Serenity. The point is, Whedon's name is massive, or at least his creations are. Buffy was a prime time show for 8 years, making international stars of its cast. It is constantly picked up by networks across the world for re runs. It has, what I'm trying to say, mass appeal. Now, you think Buffy fans (and all fans of Whedon's work) would like to see what he's doing next. And you'd be right.

If only they knew about it. Who exactly knew that Joss Whedon was writing comics? Comic book fans. And that's it. There were no ads outside of the comic book industry. Like I said, Whedon has mass appeal and only a complete moron would fail to capitalise on that. Enter Marvel's marketing department. Or lack thereof. Word of mouth only works for TV shows and movies. Not comic books. Our little industry has too much bad PR for people to go into a comic book store and pick up a comic.

Now, my plan is for Marvel to market the hell out of this. Get double page spreads in every publication they can afford, for TIME to playboy, make sure everyone knows about it. Everyone. Cagoule Oprah into getting King and the artist, Jae Lee to talk about the book. Show pages of the book, let the whole world knows how cool this book is. From what I know about marketing, its not what the product is, its how you sell and present it that matters. Take Hummers for example. It's a riduclous, ugly car that will cripple you financially just trying to make it run. Yet everyone wants a Hummer. Why? Because they're marketed in the right way. They're desirable. That's the power of marketing. I know the product should stand up on its own, and its sad that we have to rely on the evils of marketing to sell stuff, but that is, unfortunately the world we live in know.

So once the marketing is out of the way, and people are clamouring for this comic, how do we get the essential bleed over into the comic book industry? Sure people will buy the book, but how can we make sure that thy go into their local comic book store and pick up Spider-Man or Strange Girl?? I think, all the store signings of this book should be split between comic book stores and regular book stores. The biggest hurdle facing the industry that people perceive the local comic book store as a dingy, misogynistic hole in the ground. Its dark, dirty and stinks to high heaven. And that's just the staff. But that's bullshit. I've been in a lot of stores and I have never been to this evil store, but I know they must exist, because people keep visiting them and telling their friends. It goes along the lines of this. If you have a good experience, you'll tell 10 people, but have a bad experience and you'll tell 100. That's what's happened.

Now, Marvel start a competition among comic book stores to see who gets to have Stephen King sign in their store. Now this will mean BIG business for what ever stores get the signings. Now the winners would be the cleanest, most polite store. The would have to send pictures and video to Marvel of how, beautiful, hygienic and friendly their stores are. If they can clean up their act, maybe they can get more custom. Just maybe.

Anyway, this has turned into my longest newspost every when I wanted it to be my shortest. Christ

See you on Thursday.

© 2005,2006 Adam Murray