What I’m REALLY finding out about comics…

| April 20, 2011 | 4 Comments

Hey everyone, for those of you who don’t know me my name is Joe Mulvey. I’m a graphic designer and illustrator living in Queens NY. Over a year ago I started working on my first creator owned book. After getting the first issue and a half done I started wondering how I could market the book and basically get anyone to read it. So I started asking some people, who don’t normally read comics, if they’d check it out. The answer I got the most was “Sure. But that doesn’t sound like the kind of stuff in comics.” (My book, SCAM, is about a bunch of Con Artists with special abilities that help them pull off their cons in a fantastic way. In the first mini-series, they’ll be getting payback on an old enemy while unraveling the mystery behind their abilities. Sound good? If it does, keep an eye out for it.) My idea is definitely unique, something I haven’t really seen before, but that’s EXACTLY WHAT COMICS DO! Comics deliver stories in almost every genre, while continuing to break new ground. I know this. WE KNOW THIS! But no one else seems to.

So I started doing these interviews over at my website http://joemulveyart.com/. In these interviews I speak with normal everyday people and ask them what they REALLY know about comics. After hearing their initial thoughts, I get a sense of what kind of entertainment they prefer and then I give them comics and trade paperbacks based on that type of interest. They read them, and then get back to me, and we discuss the books to find out if their outlook on comics has changed.

In my first five interviews, I can say that I am batting 1.000. (In terms of changing people’s opinions that is.) After checking out the books I gave them, the people I interviewed have a completely different understanding and idea about the comics medium. Most people outside of comics, DO NOT REALIZE WHAT COMICS DO! They have no idea comics are more than capes and tights. They sequester their opinions of comics into a corner that is designated for children’s toys and building blocks. They categorize it as immature and leave it at that.

UNTIL they read them.

Until they read Criminal by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Until they read All Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly. Until they see what the medium actually has to offer in terms of storytelling, quality and variety. I’ve explained Comics, many times, just like TV or any other type of entertainment is DIVERSE. It has variety: comedy, crime, romance, noir, super hero, sci-fi, etc. It’s got them all. And in my own personal opinion, it’s the innovator in original ideas and original concepts while continuing to strive for more.

So I hope you’ll check out the interviews over at my site and see for yourself what I’m talking about and more importantly what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to LET PEOPLE KNOW. Let them know there’s a whole world of entertainment just waiting for them to discover. But they need to know where to find it, and how to get it. That’s where we all come in. We need to give them a hand. I’m not saying comics are for everyone, nothing is. But let’s give people the option to actually see comics for what they really are and not some passé idea they might have in their head.

While doing these interviews I have leaned a lot. Sincerely. It’s been from talking to people who don’t read comics that I’m gaining a much different insight on how the comics industry looks from the outside. So here’s a quick list of what I’ve learned.

The What I’ve Learned List:

1) COMICS DON’T ADVERTISE TO A NEW AUDIENCE AT ALL.

I learned this one pretty early on. What other form of entertainment doesn’t advertise its product?  How would anyone succeed commercially without letting people know they exist? This fact is impossible and really insane, considering the two biggest publishers in comics OWN THEIR OWN TV NETWORKS! People can’t find comics they would like, if they have no idea comics or those types of books exist. This needs to change.

2) PEOPLE WILL READ GOOD COMICS.

When you put a quality book INTO people’s hands, and allow them to discover what comics really are, they will read them. I realize I’ve only began this experiment, but the fact 5 out of 5 people have all said they would read again and seek out books, is a good start. That’s five more than before.

3) PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO GET COMICS.

A lot of people either don’t have a local comic shop, or they’re not very interested in finding one. With the digital age blooming and online shopping available, the people I’ve spoken with would rather send their business to Amazon.com or buy a digital copy than find an LCS. So people NEED TO BE TOLD. They need help getting comics in their hands. And good Local Comic Shops need to grab this audience. That’s where you come in.

4) COMICS ARE ONLY RECOGNIZED BY CHARACTERS.

Other forms of media have celebrities attached to it. Musicians go with their music or actors with their films, etc. For outside readers, Spider-Man is Spider-Man, regardless of Stan Lee writing it or Brian Michael Bendis. The successful creative people behind comics need to be promoted better as well as the product, outside of the comics market.

5) THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY NEEDS COMICS.

It seems like original ideas are hard to come by in most forms of entertainment these days. Everything is a sequel or a remake. Yet comics keep coming up with original ideas, constantly. Comics are leading the charge. Look at some of the top grossing films- they’re based on comics. Comics are succeeding on TV as well. Comics continue to try something new and are always pushing the envelope and (something other mediums can’t say) getting better. The level of talent in comics is astounding, at the highest it’s ever been, and the other forms of entertainment realize this. That’s why they come to comics to help make them money. It’s time comics started making some of that big money too.

Ok so that’s just some of the things I’ve learned while doing these interviews. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more as they continue. I hope you guys have enjoyed this little recap and I also hope you guys really take the time to try and introduce someone to the great world of comics. I promise I will.

Please feel free to contact me on my site,  http://joemulveyart.com/ or on Twitter @JoeMulv.

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  1. John Eboigbe says:

    Wow!, this was really optimistic! I was so ready for some grim heart sinking news. Glad to see that some one is out their with some new info on the state of Indy comic book creators. Let’s face it, we are all working hard on these books because we love them so much, and we have great stories to tell.

    Great Job Joe!

    • Joe Mulvey says:

      Thanks very much John. Thanks for reading and for replying. I always think the comic market has the black cloud of talk hanging over it but the truth is, it’s an enduring medium regardless of the lack of advertising. It’s the fans that drive it and with a growing digital market the opportunity to get the product directly into peoples hands immediately will be a big help. I hope you’ll keep reading my columns and interviews and I definitely hope you’ll check out my book when it comes out.

  2. I think an even bigger problem than the lack of advertising, is the lack of respect the Big 2 have for comics. They freely admit that they don’t consider comics to be their most important business. They are in the character licensing business. Movies, lunchboxes, underwear and action figures is what matters to them. If they create a new comic character, its merely with the hope that they’ll be able to license them out in the future.

    • Joe Mulvey says:

      Can’t argue with anything you’ve said. I don’t know how you could look at the glut of books the big two spend money on putting out yet never spend a dime on advertising. Like I said in the reply above, digital will hopefully be able to help even the playing field for the indy creator who’s willing to spread the word.

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