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Elliott Serrano Presents:









 

 

YOUR WAIT IS OVER! THE GREATEST COMIC BOOK COLUMN EVER IS FINALLY HERE!

OK, not really.

For those who read this column, and even more so for those who know me, it comes as a surprise that I can string more than a few words together coherently every two weeks. In fact, each time I sit down with the ol’ laptop it takes quite a bit of effort to muster up the will and get myself back on the ol’ proverbial column-writing horse. See, it’s not easy contributing to a site where the other writers are smarter (Vince), better-spoken (Matt), funnier (Brandon), geekier (Marc) and more successful (Mohaps) or just down-right sexier (Jess & Avril) than you are.

Each of my fellow contributors excel in the utmost at what they do, and even the rookie who’s lower on the CWR totem pole than I (Ms. Brown of Rogue Element fame) has already exceeded me in the most important aspect of web-based comics media:

Self-Promotion.

(Just check out the comment section on each of Avril’s columns if you don’t believe me. Girl’s got a veritable cheering section rootin’ for her. Sure, maybe it’s made up of mostly friends and family – or even a few guys she’s met while writing in the pub – but damn if they don’t show up each time.)

(Oh yeah, and I’m not kidding about meeting guys in pubs. She does that. Seriously. While she’s writing. She told about this one time she was at this Scottish pub called Duke of Perth (where they have some great fish n’ chips) trying to meet her deadline and she’s just pecking away at her computer and this guy just up and sits next to her and…aw fuck it, I digress…although I’m pretty sure the dude ended up commenting on the column that week…)

Back on the horse, here.

Self-promotion is a skill that anyone in the business of comics will tell you is of the utmost. Self-publisher? Indy creator? Got a graphic novel that you wanna push? Well it ain’t gonna push itself! You gotta get out there, man that table in artist’s alley, press the flesh with comic shop owners, hand out those ash cans like there’s no tomorrow! Think just because you have a solid idea, a good artist and catchy title that it’s just going to find its way into the hands of those desperately sought after readers?

Sheah, right. Don’t hold your breath.

The shelves are filled with well-written, well drawn, pitch perfect high-concept ideas that are lost in the clutter of glossy/ duo-tone/monochrome/holographic variant covers. Everyone’s got that idea for ‘a superhero/zombie/vampire/post-apocalyptic world/space opera comic that’s never been done before.’ And while it may, in fact, be something new and refreshing, what’s to get folks to part with their hard-earned cash to see for themselves? If all it took was good writing and great art, The Nightly News would be topping the Diamond sales charts. But alas, for all its wonderful advancements of the comics medium, mention TNN and folks think Brian Williams, not Jonathan Hickman.

So what does it take to help an idea sell?

Self-Promotion. (I just said it a couple paragraphs ago, weren’t you listening?)

Let’s look at a prime example of this, from the reigning king of horn self-tooters, Mark Millar. (You’ve heard of the guy, right? He of Civil War and The Ultimates? Some call him genius. I call him ‘Grant Morrison-Lite.’)

Mr. Millar has this creator-owned project called KICK-ASS that he’s releasing through Marvel’s ICON line. Now, it’s not enough that he’s putting this puppy out there on the heels of Civil War, Marvel’s most successful mini-series in recent history, or that he’s secured Mr. Marvel Comics himself, John Romita Jr., to draw the book. He’s hyping it on his home page; he’s got all the press releases from Marvel making pronouncements like: ‘…the comic that starts where other super hero books draw the line. KICK-ASS is realistic super heroes taken to the next level. Miss out and you're an idiot!’ And comics’ media from Wizard to Newsarama are parroting the catch phrase: THE GREATEST SUPER HERO COMIC OF ALL TIME IS FINALLY HERE! To quote Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction: ‘Now, that’s a bold statement.’

And what happens? It works! The book sells out everywhere. Marvel Zombies are snatching up the book like it’s manna from heaven. And it’s already been optioned for a motion picture. (I guess it didn’t hurt that WANTED was made into a film starring one-half of Brangelina.)

Of course you have to acknowledge the Marvel Marketing machine giving the title the Midas touch. To which I’ll admit that self-promotion doesn’t always make the sale. It takes the high-pressure front of talent to meet the low-pressure system of opportunity to collide and create the perfect storm of marketing buzz that makes a hit.

But it all starts with a guy getting out there and selling his product. Pushing it like the dealer on the street corner. Psst, hey man, lookit what I got. You know you want it…

And then there’s self promotion that’s not only ineffective, it’s just plain stupid. Case in point: German director, producer and screenwriter Uwe Boll. Dude makes video games into movies (Alone in the Dark; Blood Rayne) and is as far from being an A-list film maker as I am from being an American Gladiator. But damn if the guy can’t promote himself. He gets animal rights group PETA to give him some footage of animals being tortured to use in one of his films. BAM! He’s got PETA espousing his ‘creative vision’ and animal lovers cut him some slack.

Not bad, not bad at all. But then he fucks up.

He’s making this movie based on the video game Postal, a shooter where an ex-postal worker goes around his office and kills everyone. That’s it. No plot, no point, just shoot everyone. And that’s being made into a movie. Sigh. (And I’m unable to get into the WGA why?)

But hey, whatever, it’s a free country and worse premises have been made into movies. (Weekend at Bernie’s, anyone?) For me, that’s not where Herr Boll erred.

It’s not even that Postal is opening the SAME DAY as the fourth Indiana Jones movie. (Which will R-A-W-K, by the way.)

It’s that when asked about how Postal will do opposite one of the most anticipated films in a loooooong time, Uwe Boll starts talking smack: ‘We will go out and destroy Indiana Jones in the Box Office! We all know that Harrison Ford is older as my grandpa and his time is up..’

Man…in my world, you DO NOT diss the Man in the Hat.

And then he starts going after Steven Spielberg: ‘Spielberg gets sloppy. We saw that with War of the Worlds (why the fuck the older brother survived?) and also in parts of Jaws, E.T., Munich etc.! My performance in Postal as 'Nazi Theme Park Owner' outperforms easily Ben Kingsley in Schindler's List!’

Now that’s just cold. Not the bit about War of the Worlds – I actually agree with him on that one – but the bit about Ben Kingsley. Didn’t the dude slum it in Blood Rayne for Herr Boll? Why does he have to go hatin’ on an Oscar winner who was just trying to make some meal money?

Not smart. Wait till you need Ghandi to play the lead in your Dig Dug epic, ya’ dumb kraut! You won’t be so smug then!

Heh.

But then again, by talking smack, he is self-promoting. Until my buddy forwarded that that little quote to me from the ‘net, I had no idea that they were even making a movie out of Postal. Which I guess is why so much of selling yourself or your product is about saying the most outrageous things you can think of, just to get some attention.

And having a promotional department to back you up.

But you gotta start talkin’ shit first…like Brian Bendis on a message board going after hot red-heads.

I AM THE GREATEST COMIC COLUMNIST EVER AND IF YOU DON’T COMMENT ON THIS COLUMN YOU’RE A MORON!

Heh. Let’s see if that works.

E. Ruben Serrano is a Writer/Columnist/Graphic Artist who would really benefit from having a PR department working for him. A dedicated staff working round the clock, 24/7, to make sure that he says all the right things, gets invited to all the right parties, and takes all his medications. He would also encourage you to visit Jonathan Hickman’s website, where the incredibly-talented writer/artist shows he’s no slouch at self-promotion either.

E.R. Serrano

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