Sunday, May 20, 2012

Watch Me Draw

Here is a sneak peek at some videos of me drawing digitally.

Monday, May 07, 2012

What About Comics?

Now that Avengers has landed and Batman and Spider-Man are close behind in the summer movie schedule the question always gets asked: What does this mean for comics? Does it raise sales on the books? Is the success of these power house comic movies going to cause a flood of new fans to attack the comics stores in mass like a zombie invasion?

As I mentioned in my previous post about Free Comic Book Day many kids asked for Captain America and Iron Man sketches. The awareness created by the films is obvious and widespread. These films and the advertising around them generates interest but what happens when these new fans want more? Where do they get new product and how do they know which books to pick up?

In the past I've blogged about how important I think it is for the Big Two to push the comics business through the other product. You can read my thoughts about it here: What Should Marvel Do?

Packaging comics with every single toy. Converting the main line of comics into exact duplicates of what the mainstream fans see in the movies, trade paperback end caps in the toy aisle next to the toys based on the movies were just some of the ideas I talked about. If the big companies wanted to really make a larger business out comics there are ways. Sure it would take some money to make it happen but that's what it takes to grow and maintain a business. I'm sure after the ATM machine that is the The Avengers they could throw a little bit at the comic industry to help rebuild the perception of the industry in the minds of the mainstream consumer. In print or digital It's a revenue stream that still has a huge upside and unrealized long term potential. It just needs fresh and more aggressive marketing techniques.

In the post digital download era music industry we've seen artists try some interesting sales and marketing ideas based around their live performances. VIP packages that include CD's and concert swag sold along with your seat comes to mind. I don't understand why they don't do this with comic movies. How many people would pay $50 bucks to see The Avengers in 3D that comes with a t-shirt a graphic novel or collectable exclusive comic?  Imagine a kid pack that comes with a comic book adaptation of the movie and an Iron Man toy. Even something as simple as everyone who sees the movie in 3D gets a coupon for a free comic they can redeem at a comic or book store. From a brand loyalty perspective it makes perfect sense. You are building an army of new comic fans that as we know are the consistent supporters of the brand as well as early adopters and taste makers. In the world where word of mouth and social media can make or break a project why not invest in a new generation of fans.

The issue for comics in the last 20 years has been availability and awareness. How do you get new readers when they don't know where to buy comics and which comics to read? Piggybacking them on the backs of Multimillion dollar movies is a good start. Putting the source material first is not only smart, it's good long term business.


Sunday, May 06, 2012

Free Comic Book Day 2012

Good times at the Free Comic Book Day event at The Comic Bug. As a comic creator I try and do my best to support FCBD. It's a great way to reach new readers and it introduces the art form to countless kids and families. As comics have aged up in terms of content FCBD gets back to what I think should be the core audience of comics kids.

I drew over 50 free sketches. The biggest surprise was how many kids were asking for Captain America and Iron Man. I always dug Cap as a kid. He was not only the leader of the Avengers but also the heart and moral compass of the team. That being said I thought maybe his time had past as a character. With Batman and his gadgets and dark overtones, Iron Man with his armor how is a WWII character that runs around with a giant star on his chest going to attract and inspire a new generation of kids. Thanks to the Cap movie and The Avengers movie it has no doubt happened.

I also did tons of Batman and Joker sketches. I also did lots of video game characters. It all sort of blends together now. Kids talk about video games the way my friends and I used to talk about comics. They have a tone of passion about them and they know every single detail. The ideas generated from comics have blended so deeply into the mainstream it can hardly be called a fringe hobby anymore. I dare say it's right up their in terms of dominate storytelling platforms. If you want to make something cool, make it as a comic first.

I've also noticed how much interest kids have in making comics and creating comic art which is fantastic. I was asked tons of questions about how comics are created and published. I look forward to a whole new generation of kids with different voices and ideas keeping the art form strong in the future.


Thursday, May 03, 2012

Ultimate Ultimate Avengers

For those of you that don’t want to read any spoilers for the Avengers then I’ll give you time to click away from this page...

I'll just put this picture of Scarrjo here so you don't get to reading....

...okay, done?
So I got a chance to check out The Avengers movie tonight. Coming from years of reading comics it’s interesting to see such a hardcore “comic book” movie brought to the big screen. It’s very much the type of comic you would have found at just about any point during the 70’s and 80’s from Marvel. It obviously owes a lot to Hitch/Millar’s Ultimates which are those classic 70/80's comic ideas boiled down and gore’d up to seem new again. This movie version perhaps would best be described at the ultimate “Ultimates” version of the characters and situations. Throw in some snappy Whedon dialogue and it proves to be the perfect blend of hardcore comic fan service and mainstream fan bits. I admit to thinking that Marvel Studios was maybe being overly ambitious with the idea of having so many movies dovetailing into one mega movie. So many things could have gone wrong. Instead they have managed to recreate the ideas, the visuals and the emotions that comic fans have always loved about mainstream comics and dare I say streamlined it and perhaps perfected it. It’s the superhero movie fans have been asking for since fans started asking for superhero movies to be made.

As it stands Avengers is a great live action comic book. It doesn’t redefine superheroes on screen as much as just sharpens them to such a point that there isn’t really a need to go further with the concept. That may sound like crazy talk but I came out thinking “well that’s it” It didn’t feel like a beginning to me as much as it felt like the end of the style of superheroes I grew up on. Those types of stories have their “Ultimate” champion. A loud big brother that can defeat all comers and suck up cash like the giant portal to another dimension that Loki used the Cosmic Cube to open in the movie. Between Avengers, Spider-Man, Batman, X-Men and to a certain extent Watchmen the super powered hero of the 60’s,70’s, 80’s has told its story. Which begs the question: What’s next?

I’m not saying superheroes are dead. That’s been said time and time again for the last 60 years and time and time again it’s never happened. I do think the idea of a superhero as it has been sold from Marvel and DC over the last 60 years has gone about as far as it can go. If you look at the comic industry sales prove that the fans have no interest in reading the comic versions of the characters. They have transcended the comics and now exist in a perfect form somewhere else. They exist in 3d with CGI and Robert Downey Jr. breathing life into them.

I am actually excited about the future of the superhero. I want to see what does it mean to be a superhero today. Not some nostalgia trip or deconstructed Akira/Chronicle...power drives you nuts scenario. What would make someone put on a costume and try and change the world?

The old superheroes have had their day. They live on in a better place. 

Time for new heroes in a new way.