Loose Cannon: Issue #42

Fri, November 2nd, 2001 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Larry Young, Columnist

THE OFFICE OF INTERNET COMMUNICATIONS

Every once in a while I come up with a good one. This is one of those,

and I'm going to let you all in on it for free. One of those "word to

the wise" things you hear so much about nowadays. The kind of thing

that, once heard, you're a chump if you don't act on it.

But sit back and get comfortable, because I'm going to fill you in on

some background, first.

Now, since you're reading this on the Internet, chances are you've seen

me posting messages here and there. A good quarter of my work day is

spent checking in on the various comic book news sites and message

boards and the like, interacting with the folks and basically keeping my

toes in the water. As a publisher, I believe it's my responsibility to

my own work and to that of the creators we publish to be a visible and

accessible guy. Sure, I write, and market, and advertise and do

production and graphic design and strategize and basically run the whole

damn thing under the watchful eye of Mimi Rosenheim and over the

prostrate form of my cabana boy, John, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't

be available if somebody's got a question about how we run things.

So if you've got a question about any aspect of AiT/Planet Lar's

publishing or marketing or creative direction or licensing opportunities

or… or whatever, you'll get an answer from me anywhere from right now to

no more than twenty-four hours later. If you don't get an answer

from me by then, parenthetically, I'm either out of the office or your

question's answer should be immediately obvious or I didn't get your

email. Either way, these things happen.

The point is, even if you may not like the answer I give you,

you'll get an answer right away nonetheless. "What are your submissions

guidelines?" We don't have any, because we don't accept outside

submissions. "'Outside submissions'? What the hell does that mean?" It

means if we want to publish you, we know where to find you, and we will

generate some internal correspondence for you asking you what you've got

going on. But sending me an email saying "What the hell does that mean?"

doesn't make me want to publish your work, just for the record. Have

some manners.

"Why don't you collect (fill-in-the-blank), and make a nice trade

paperback of my favorite out-of-print work?" Believe me, if

you've thought of it, we've thought of it, and it's either

in the works, not the sort of thing we would publish, being published by

another company, or otherwise unavailable. "How do you make the decision

on what you're going to publish?" Well, that's the beauty of being me; I

don't have to be able to explain it, because I know good stuff when I

see it. "What's the deal with you and Alec Baldwin?" Hey, just because

two guys share a common love of spacesuits, everyone starts to

talk…

So, earlier this week, I was spending my morning fielding these sorts of

queries from the inbox, and I went over to my browser to see what, if

anything, had happened of interest overnight. I checked the boards at

notnews.org, and the guys over at iFanboy. I read some stuff at

Newsarama, and slid over to Splash, while reading up real quick at the

ComicCon boards. I read the daily stuff at Jonah's, and checked in on

the ol' Loose Cannon message boards. I zipped over to The Comics Journal

boards, even though those guys are nutty over there; I read some DC

stuff, and some Marvel stuff. I like to hit Comics Continuum, and,

depending on what day of the week it is, I'll read Savant, or Sequential

Tart, or Bendis' boards, or The Fourth Rail.

Then I checked out the Delphi fora: mine, Brian Wood's, Matt Fraction's,

Kelly Sue's, Robert Scott's retailer forum, and, of course, Warren

Ellis'. Day's not complete without checking in there.

But after flitting about at Warren's for a half-hour or so, and

answering various and sundry questions involving our publishing plans

(this particular day I'm talking about was rife with stuff for me to

address as Brian Wood's Couscous Express had just been published,

and it seemed like everyone had a question or two about it), I found

myself answering more emails than usual. And since I'd rather have Brian

free to work on more brilliant and entertaining comics than answer why

Olive says "Mum" in the first act and then "Mom" later on, I was sort of

getting wound up. I mean, I know these things are important to

somebody, but, jeez. If Peter David can structure a whole Star

Trek paperback around why it says "James R. Kirk" instead of "James

T. Kirk" on the captain's headstone in the second pilot episode

"Where No Man Has Gone Before," chances are I can explain to you what

Brian Wood had in mind, there, right? I mean, really.

But the important thing here, for the purposes of this column, is that I

am there to explain this sort of thing to the peoples.

Which brings me to the big break-through epiphany I mentioned up at the

top, there.

If I was running DC, or Marvel, or even Image, here's what I'd do:

I'd transfer responsibilities over to someone in-house… heck, I might

even be tempted to create this new position and hire someone to fill the

role: the Officer of Internet Communications.

I'd empower one person to be the online voice of the company.

There'd be no ego conflicts involved, because they'd have one cat who'd

be the voice of the company. Someone whose job it is to answer every

query, explain every continuity bump, excuse every mis-step and pat

every back, electronically as well as through the mail, the

old-fashioned way. This would free up editors to do their jobs, it'd

free up creative to work on their books, unimpeded, and it'd assuage the

more rabid fans who'd have a specific target at which to direct their

fawning and their vitriol.

The thing that's crazy is that I do this very thing with a

quarter of my day, every day…

…but if you want to know why Joe Casey is writing the flagship

characters of the two major companies, or you want to know if it's the

outer electron of the sulfur atom in the air that Nightcrawler strips

off to fuel his stinky teleportation, or not, or if the friggin' Hulk

really is stronger than friggin' Thor…

…there's no central someone at the major companies whom you could ask.

And believe me, that'd be a full time job for somebody.

Imagine: one phone number, one email… to the one person from a company

who's talking to all the editors, all the creators… the one guy with all

the answers.

It'd free up everyone else's time, I can tell you that.

I'd love to see an Office of Internet Communication for each of the

major companies.

Because, personally, I've always wondered what kept OMAC's hair up.

Materials costs are always changing. We are, as well, constantly working to lower our rates. Please call for larry@comicbookresources.com

The lads over at Borderline have streamlined their operation and made their .pdf-only magazine even easier to download. I very much recommend reading its 64 pages of monthly comics commentary.

While you can get your news about the funny books all over the Internet, I usually make it a point to let slip at least one bit of information at the Loose Cannon Message Board that I post nowhere else.

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