Saturday, December 31, 2011

Digital Marketing for the Print Medium

Comics have always been a visual medium, but much to the dismay of many within the industry, they are also a print medium and that presents challenges that many similar forms of entertainment are facing: how to stay relevant and profitable in an age of increasing digital competition.

Even though comic book companies have seen and acknowledged an oncoming digital presence for their characters for more than a decade now, most are still struggling to define just how they want to represent themselves in an electronic field, and some attempts to branch out are better than others.

Both Marvel and DC, for example, are experimenting with selling digital copies of their comics in the very comics themselves - that is, if you buy a copy of the book, you can download an electronic version as well.  Marvel is, so far, including a download code for free, while DC is charging an extra dollar for the privilege.

This practice irks me at least a little, because behind this good deal (at least on Marvel's part) is a bit of sneaky marketing.  Both companies polybag their combo books, sealing them in until after they're purchased.  On the surface, this is so someone can't walk into a comic shop, scan the code, walk out without buying anything, have the comic on his or her e-reader, and render the one-time code invalid for someone who might actually purchase the book.

It's also, though, a way for companies to boost sales by having some of the more rabid consumers purchase two copies of the same book.  Due to their (perceived) collectibility, some buyers won't want to tear open the bag these comics come in, leaving them with a choice - either seemingly deface their collectible item, or spend twice as much to keep one copy in tact.

Companies obviously are aware of this, and while I won't say it's malicious on their part that they do this, it does seem to me like taking advantage of the psychosis that is collecting (that's consumerism for ya).  In a matter of weeks, Marvel's entire Ultimate Comics line will ship exclusively in polybags with download codes, which will put this practice to the test.

Other practices, however, are more in line with what I think comic book companies should be doing, taking advantage of the new capabilities that technology offers while still remaining true to the spirit of comics.

Marvel's recent relaunch of Daredevil, written by Mark Waid, has been a highlight of superhero comics in 2011.  Not that I'll ever discount Waid's writing, as he's been involved with some of my favorite comics of all time, but DD is really a treat to read every month.

Daredevil has always, for obvious reasons, had a strong following with visually-impaired comic readers, and Marvel finally took advantage of that by releasing an audio version of the first issue, read by Waid and a few others, free for download.  This is both a nice treat for fans in general as well as the aforementioned visually impaired, and is exactly the type of thing that big companies like this should be doing.

The direct link to the file is here:  A little more info is on Marvel's site, here:

USA Today, while not being my favorite site for actual news, has had a pretty good relationship with comic companies over the past several years.  I still wonder why the paper doesn't print daily comic strips, but every once in a while they'll print comics and put them in front of a substantially larger audience size than they'd otherwise get.  When DC put out Wednesday Comics a few years back, the paper actually printed some to promote the series, and it had a strong web presence as well.

Dark Horse Comics went a bit further and released an exclusive digital Conan the Barbarian comic by Ron Marz and Bart Sears, who coincidentally (a hem) went on to produce a two-issue miniseries, Conan: The Island, another example of a company taking advantage or digital means to promote the physical product.

The full Conan story, "Kiss of the Undead", can be read here:

Lastly, Marvel and Toyota have teamed up for an ad campaign that features short Robot Chicken-inspired videos with action figures and the Toyota Yaris.  It's a pretty bizarre combination, and it's beyond tame, but it's just another example of what a comic company can do when management embraces digital marketing.

This video is, of course, just an advertisement when it comes down to it, but it's still fairly interesting.  You can watch more of the Marvel/Toyota videos here:

Friday, December 30, 2011

The haul, 2011

One of the last things that Christmas should represent is overt commercialization - secular or not, Christmas should be about more than the crass act of consumption.  That being said, for Christmas I got stuff.  Stuff that I was excited to get.  So I'm showing it off, knowing full well that the emperor has no clothes, to extend a metaphor.  Gaze upon these works, you mighty...and despair:

I got a boatload of graphic novels this time around.  That's right, enough graphic novels to load a boat with!  Depending on the size of the boat.  Anyway, here we have the Dylan Dog collection, volume 2 of Joe Casey and Tom Scioli's Godland, and the highly anticipated Habibi by Craig Thompson.

Also among the stash is The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb.  It's astounding that someone who has spent his life creating psychedelic, counter-culture underground comics can put something like this together and have it look so incredible.  It's ironic that this just might become his best-known work.

I've now got three of four of the Hellboy Library Edition collections.  It's beautiful stuff.

I got some cool Thing-related merchandise as well, including a Thing shot glass that is just awesome.  And I landed a Thing Squinkie without having to buy the entire damn set.

I got some DVD swag, too!  Season one of Conan: The Adventurer, Volume six of Futurama, Weird Al's Alpocalypse HD collection of videos, and the first collection of Adventure Time, a show I'm loving more and more with every episode.

Rounding off the display of cool stuff is a Magic Mouse for the Mac, some brand new Shrinky Dinks (pre cut?!  What the heck!!), and some Pac Man crafty figures.  Pac Man and his ghosts were made by my friend Vicki, who has a photo blog here.  Vicki did a bunch of video game themed figures that would totally sell for cash money on a site like Etsy.  Seriously, Vicki, open up a store.  And make me some Yetis.  I SAID DO IT!

I hope that everyone out there had a wonderful Christmastime.  Here's to 2012!

Friday, December 23, 2011

FUBAR: D-Day of the Dead Signing Tour poster

FUBAR head honcho Jeff McComsey recently released the above image advertising the FUBAR: Empire of the Rising Dead release and signing event, which I'll be attending at the start of the new year.  The image (and what an image it is) is by Steve Becker and, if I'm not mistaken, is the back cover image for FUBAR's second volume.

It seems that I'm holding down the state of Pennsylvania for this mission, so if you're from, oh, anywhere in the tristate area, I hope you'll come down to Pittsburgh Comics in McMurray, PA and check out a copy of the book.  I'll be there signing copies and recording hilarious voicemail messages for all of my adoring fans.

Most of these signings are happening on the east coast, with the one notable exception of Norman, Oklahoma's Speeding Bullet Comics, where Mario Wytch, artist on a story I wrote, will be both signing books and also probably dancing, because he likes to dance.

Postcards with the above image were also sent to these stores, so if you happen to frequent them, you can pick one up, and prints will be available, included with the purchase of this volume of FUBAR.

Let's take a second and address the date of this event, which is Saturday, January 7th.  The plan for me, as I've discussed on here a few times, is to sign on the 7th from 4:00 to 7:00 pm.  This was always with the understanding that the Pittsburgh Steelers would secure a first-round bye in the playoffs and thus wouldn't be playing at all this week.  That is now much less a sure thing, and I realize that no one - myself included - would want to spend time with me in a comic shop when there's a Steelers playoff game on the air, and it's very much a possibility that the team would be playing not only on this date, but also during this time period.

I am going to contact the owner of Pittsburgh Comics this week and talk to him about this predicament. I mean, it's entirely possible that the Steelers will still win the AFC North, and even if they don't, it's possible that they won't be playing on Saturday the 7th at 4:00.  Even so, we won't likely know until the Sunday beforehand, and that's not enough time for promotional purposes.  Once we come to a definitive time and date for this thing, I will post it here for all to see.  But it will happen.

Less than a week now until new FUBAR hits the shelves.  Keep an eye out for it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Vote early and often...for FUBAR

Remember MTV's "Rock the Vote" campaign?  Or, perhaps a more apt question is "remember MTV?"  I remember watching Weird Al's "Fat" video coming on there one time back in the late '80s...and it was brilliant.  This has nothing to do with that.  This does, however, require love and participation, just like a Weird Al video (see how I brought that full circle?  Amazing).  Oh yeah, and it's about voting.

FUBAR: Empire of the Rising Dead was nominated by as "anthology of the year", and right now it's up for a vote for a "People's Choice Award".  If you follow the link to IGN's website, you, too, can vote in a manner befitting of the Internet: anonymously and without any threat of recourse.  Let's take a look at the current tally, as of 2:30 am on December 22nd:

Holy...wait, does that mean that FUBAR is winning?  Or that it just has the most vocal supporters?  I suppose I have to wait until January 17th to find out.  But yeah, if you've got a few seconds of time to spare, I hope that you'll (and by "you" I mean you, specifically, beloved reader) head over to IGN's site and vote for FUBAR.  Here's the direct link - - and then scroll down toward the bottom.

UPDATE: FUBAR was just nominated as the best anthology of 2011 by the site  This site is looking at books with a horror slant, and other nominees include Heavy Metal and Dirk Manning's Nightmare World.  You can vote in this showdown as well, should.  Really, do it. Click the following link - - and help FUBAR bring in some awards!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

IGN update; Dark Knight Rises trailer; NFL SuperPro and more!

- A few days ago I mentioned that FUBAR: Empire of the Rising Dead had been nominated by for their "anthology of the year" award.  After tallying the votes, it seems that Rocketeer Adventures from IDW got the nod, and I can't say that it wasn't undeserving, as it was jam packed with top-tier talent.

It looks like FUBAR can grab a "People's Choice Award", however, with some feverish online voting, and as soon as I figure out how to, uh, do that, I will post a link here, and then demand that everyone vote for it.

- The Dark Knight Rises full trailer came out a few days ago, and BOY! does it look good.  I even made it on screen during the Heinz Field scenes, though you'd need a screen as big as a house and a magnifying glass to see me (i.e. I'm a blurry part of the faceless thousands).

One person who does get some good screen time, however, is current Pittsburgh Steeler and future Hall of Famer Hines Ward!  When the filming was taking place, I wondered to myself how much footage of (Super Bowl XL MVP) Ward would make the final cut.  It seems that the answer is "a lot".  Heck of a guy, that Hines Ward.

- Speaking of the NFL, friend of the blog Travis Sengaus drew this pinup of NFL SuperPro, making the character look much cooler than he really deserves.  SuperPro's 20th anniversary was this year, and the NFL Network even ran a short special about the character.

Travis drew a few pages for Image's Haunt #18 - check it out if you get the chance!

- Next we have a cover homage to the classic Fantastic Four #51...made out of yarn.  I have no idea in what context this should be taken.

- Lastly, a friend of mine, Eric Ross, recently started a blog all about mustaches.  As if that weren't enough reason to view it, Eric has posted a few things that might be familiar - Franks and Beans episode 7 (titled, wait for it, "Mustache") and the above Strange Tales clip by Jacob Chabot.  Check out "THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UPKEEP" here:

- Oh, and happy 400th blog post for me.  Great.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

IGN nominates FUBAR vol. 2 as "anthology of the year"

In what was to me a completely unexpected (and awesome) surprise, has nominated FUBAR: Empire of the Rising Dead for its "Best Anthology of 2011" award.  Don't believe me?  Check out IGN's list of nominees, or just look at this screenshot:

There's an old cliche about it being an honor just to be nominated, but in this case it rings true: to be mentioned right along with Dark Horse Presents, which is just a fantastic publication, is a thrill.  It's even more exciting when you realize that FUBAR 2 hasn't even, uh, been released to comic shops yet, which means either IGN got an advanced copy or they're looking at the convention preview edition.

Speaking of the release date for FUBAR 2, the book isn't listed with Diamond's new releases for today, the 14th, which is when I was hoping (and expecting) to see it in stores.  I'll assume that it'll be out on the 21st or, at the very latest, the week after.

FUBAR also has a new expanded web presence as of today with the launch of, which features a new store, previews of both volumes and a news blog.  If you're looking to see what FUBAR is all about (and you think I've done a terrible job of explaining it), head over there and check it out!  And don't forget the national FUBAR 2 signing day on Saturday, January 7th.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Franks and Beans: the Comic

Franks and Beans, the Internet comedy sensation show came about at a fairly unusual time: after moving to Wilmington, North Carolina, 600 miles from my hometown, I decided that it would be a good idea to create a show with my friend Larry, still living in Pennsylvania.  This, of course, made no sense at all, which just may explain how often logic comes into play during an episode of Franks and Beans.

The show is something I like to do and a creative outlet for some of my stranger ideas, and let's face it, it was only a matter of time before I did something comics related with it.  So I'd like to proudly present the two page comic, which is titled "Larger than Life".  Read it, won't you?  No, seriously, read it:

In this comic, I tried to keep the same feel of a regular episode of Franks and Beans while doing things that couldn't be done (without one of us striking it rich at random) in real life, thus the giant muscleman look for me and the wanton destruction that happens throughout; I also tried to squeeze as many jokes and references to actual episodes in these two pages as I could.  I'd like to think that I accomplished both goals.

Art for this beauty is by none other than Alan Gallo, who meticulously recreated Larry's kitchen on the page, not to mention capturing the likenesses of me, Larry, Larry's mom and superfan Mark Moncheck.  Colors were provided by Michael Wiggam, and it took me SO LONG to letter these crowded panels.

Beyond simply being a vanity project (which, I'll admit, plays a part in this comic's creation), Larry and I are going to include this as an insert in the third volume of Franks and Beans DVDs.  We're also going to print out copies of this comic, at full size, and hand it out at conventions.  I'm also posting it online for free.  The marketing push begins!  And this, apparently, is at the forefront as an advertisement.

Franks and Beans also has a new website...with exactly the same URL as before.  A while ago, when I was having trouble with the main Teddy and the Yeti website, the F&B site was experiencing the same problems.  It's since been wiped clean, and the long, tedious process of rebuilding it has begun.  As always, though, I've been given the opportunity to streamline and make some things better, so hopefully this is all for the best.

If you haven't (it's not like I haven't promoted it enough, a hem), check out the Franks and Beans website at and the F&B YouTube page at  They're both good AND good for you!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Four and Baldy

I haven't done enough work on comics lately.  It's true.  But I'm getting back into the swing of things, I promise.  Above is one of the things I've started recently - lettering for a potential webcomic titled "Four and Baldy", a spoof of Thor (and his warrior brother, Balder) by writer/artist Grant Perkins.  Grant is, I believe, having some pages colored, and if everything works out, this may end up as an ongoing webcomic.

I know Grant from his Digital Webbing days, and it's cool to be involved in something with him, even at such a tentative stage.  If you haven't seen his work before, check out his website at - he's got a lot of great art on the site, including some incredible paintings.  If Four and Baldy makes any progress, I'll post it here.  Or you could just Google the term every single hour until you see something.  Either works.