Friday, February 5, 2010

I really like the 21st century!

Comics Buyer's Guide~March 11, 1988~pg 18

Today I was going through some old file boxes in search of something from the '80s that I thought might be helpful regarding a plot point for "Something More."

(Haven't found it...yet.)

But the page above, a very old and yellow page, fell out of a sketch book that contained ideas and thoughts from the era roughly covering TOTB # 9 (now in Wahoolazuma!).

This page from COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE really, truly is from a different day and age.
An era when we as alternative cartoonists, working in the independent press, really didn't have a lot of options and clear pathways to getting the word out about our titles.

At the time, if memory serves me correctly, there were basically three vehicles that had a wide circulation amongst comic book consumers: CBG, Amazing Heroes, Comic Journal.

They controlled the flow of publicity that was released from publishers and creators. They assigned and edited the only reviews that had the wide readership. If the folks at the top of those publication's management flow charts liked you--you got ink.
If they didn't like you--you got nada.

In some cases, it didn't even matter if your work was good or not; if they didn't like your publisher, they didn't like your book.

So, it was important to go around this editorial bottleneck and do your best to appeal directly to the consumer as efficiently as one could muster.

Try to grab the reader's attention as quickly and efficiently as possible, make your sales pitch, and hope that something seeped into their awareness before they turned the page. The goal being that maybe the next time your book was on sale, that person might remember something and pick it up, thumb through it, and let the comic book itself try to close the sale.

The passage of time between glimpsing the ad and the book appearing on sale might be weeks and weeks. That's a very long time to retain something. Nowadays, one reads a blog about an interesting book, hits a link, and can buy the book within mere moments of reading about it.
I do it all the time.

Back to the page above, this particular Beanworld ad was one of my favorite from the era.

To the point.
And small.
(I couldn't afford much in the way of ad inches.)

I remember how pleased I was to have it appear on a page about the Turtles getting the keys to their manhole cover in front of the Toy Building during 1988 Toy Fair (not that I even remotely understood the significance of the Toy Building or Toy Fair back then in 1988.)

Today, we clearly live in a far superior age for the distribution of information.
Sure, there are the top bloggers in the field, and it is important for them to link to whatever it is that one is announcing or promoting.

Does it sting when you get overlooked by top bloggers for whatever reason?
Is it the end of the world?

You just do it yourself by social networking.
Friend by friend, connection by connection, link by link.

As the amazing Douglas Rushkoff so eloquently put it in "Get Back in the Box":

“Just as the successful business person learns how to provide social currency through which customers can interact, the successful person – the New Renaissance Person – defines himself not just by his abilities, worth, or possessions, but by his connections to others… A person is not the sum total of the abilities he contains, but the totality of his connections. A person’s abilities are extended to include those of all the people he can access… You are your address book.”

We no longer have to hard sell anything in a blinding flash.
We can engage our readership in conversations about things that are mutually satisfying to all parties.

I really like the 21st century!


chow sol'jer said...

I think, for the most part, the 21st century likes us back!

Peggy said...

I read stories like this, and remember what it was like hunting for comics I liked during the eighties B&W boom - and realize how incredibly easy it is to find an audience now. It still takes time to build but damn it's a lot cheaper and easier to get the word out than it used to be.