Poplife: Issue #11

Thu, April 18th, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Matt Fraction, Columnist

Send This to a Friend

Separate multiple email address with commas.

You must state your name.

You must enter your email address.

WE HAVE AN OFFICE AND EVERYTHING

I've been dreaming about Martha a lot.

Martha was a teacher of mine who passed away last summer, and lately, for whatever reason, I've been dreaming about her almost every night. My sculpture teacher for two years, Martha put her boot in my ass enough times that I figured out how to get work done and I've always loved her for it.

The Top Shelf thing of the last few weeks, combined with these recurrent Martha dreams have gotten all sorts of fires going that had been diminished for a while. I know how that sounds, all melodramatic and high-schooly. God bless those of you who can self-motivate every day all day and achieve perfection in time management and discipline, but I'm not one of you. And even if I was, I have a day-job that gobbles ten, twelve, eighteen, twenty-four hours a day sometimes. If you click on that link, for example, you'll see a ton of our recent work and where all that time goes…

MK12 aside, every now and again I need to be set back on the path. I once was lost but now am found and all that.

C'mon. Let's set some shit on fire.

So, it looks like Larry Young's AiT/PlanetLar publishing house is going to release a collection of MANTOOTH! later this year. This is supremely excellent, as it was Lar what got me the gig in the first place; it gives me a chance to make corrections and clean the whole thing up for publication in a nice, spined 96pp paperback that will live forever and ever. And my Mom told me that she was just waiting for the trade anyway, so it'll be nice for her to finally see my name in print.

What?

Yeah, I said 96 pages. Sure, there were only three 13-page stories. Don't you worry your pretty little head about that stuff right now. It's still six months away at the very very very best case scenario earliest, so talking about the book itself is goofily premature. Keep this info to yourselves for the time being, if you could. Thanks.

[Be like Debbie.  Must be like Debbie]
Be like Debbie. Must be like Debbie
In spite of that, I'm bringing it up now because I want to figure out some self-promotion strategies. I want to build up some momentum, raise some brand awareness, and try to shorten the distance between MANTOOTH! and other bigger selling and higher profile books like BLOW JOB and BITCH IN HEAT which sold consistently better than DOUBLE TAKE, the book that the 'Tooth first appeared in. What is it, I'm asking myself, that BLOW JOB and BITCH IN HEAT have that MANTOOTH! does not?

One word:

Promotion!

I'm guessing that some of you have purchased the aforementioned BLOW JOB and BITCH IN HEAT over DOUBLE TAKE-but if those amongst you who haven't will forgive me this indulgence, I'd like to tell you BLOW JOB/ BITCH connoisseurs a little bit about the book so we're all on the same page. MANTOOTH! followed the adventures of Rex Mantooth, Superspy, Ladies' Man, and Big Honkin' Ape across three carnage-filled issues of stuff sploding, dudes getting kicked, and big dumb laffs. A James Bond for the hipster set, a Derek Flint for the post-ironic, it was an extraordinarily goofy concept that I played up for as many laughs as I could.

[Kill yourself.]
Kill yourself.
Unfair, yet acknowledged, advantage: I know that when the book's actual publication date comes around that the professional, experienced, and competent AiT/PlanetLar hype machine will go into effect and throw it's weight behind the book in a way 10,000 times more effective than I ever could and all that, but…

…I don't want to sit still. I'm still so fired up by what happened with Top Shelf that I want to start the ball rolling now. By working up to the time that the book is actually solicited and trying on ideas in public to see what sticks and what doesn't, I figure that I'll get a better feeling for how the industry works, and how a total unknown like myself might be able to gain a better foothold therein.

I want to do this for a few reasons, above and beyond the obvious fact that every little bit of promotion helps. Since this is a work-journal, ostensibly, why not outline ideas here and see what's effective? Also, people interested in self-publishing might be reading this, and so maybe some ideas tried out here can encourage them. And, if anything else, I can't fucking well run script pages every week here, can I?

Shit, actually, maybe I can.

Most of all? Wearin' the hat don't make you a cowboy. You gotta walk the walk and all that.

Like I said up top, six months to release MINIMUM, and even that's a best case. But, at the same time, I have a day job, as many of you do. I am flat-assed broke most of the time, like at least some of you. A big fat lead time like this should allow me to get the ball rolling at a pace I can keep up with, time to save and spend a little bit of money here and there, and all sorts of general jackassery to try and get the Tooth into as many hands as possible.

Matt talks dreams of Martha, the 'Mantooth!' collection coming later this year and your ideas for promotion.

[This is a metaphor.]
This is a metaphor.
It's sad that it took something like the Top Shelf situation to re-ignite the activist part of my brain. I think I got so disheartened and discouraged by the time I quit SAVANT that I forgot what I'd been bitching about all along.

The Internet is the great equalizer, and it's a soapbox that rewards the clever and the crafty. Worst case is I fail horribly, none of my ideas work, and Lar sends me a good-natured email saying "Leave it to the professionals next time, punk," and we all go on our merry way.

So now then: spitballing.

[Big Pile of Mail.]
Big Pile of Mail.
I've got some comp copies of the DOUBLE TAKE issues that MANTOOTH! appeared in. The other night I sorted them all out into packs of three and put 'em in big mailing envelopes. The idea is that I'm going to make some MANTOOTH! Media Kits.

I'm going to work up a letter introducing the book and myself, of course, to go with the packs. Two letters, now that I think about it. The first will be for general mailings; the second, which I'll send out before the book is in PREVIEWS, will be specifically to retailers and will have all the pertinent information about the book itself.

I'll take some art from the book and design some shelf-talkers.

You know what shelf-talkers are, right? They're the little signs that go behind comics when the comics sit on shelves at your store. They've got art and text that are designed to grab the causal browser who may ordinarily miss your book, or may not know about it. I'll make a few, probably. Go to Kinkos and print 'em up on a nice cardstock, all that jazz.

What else, what else. Stickers? Everyone likes free stickers. Stickers are pretty cheap to make, I can start working on some sticker designs to throw in the packs. I should look into stickers. Critical to this, of course, will be a proper URL somewhere on the sticker itself. Hell, on EVERYTHING I do. Probably a URL for my site and one for Lar's site.

Ooh, right, a website.

When I left SAVANT, I launched a website that has sat for nearly two years now, unloved and unchanged. Time for that to stop, yeah? On top of MANTOOTH!, there's LAST OF THE INDEPENDENTS with Kieron Dwyer later this year, and the NIGHT RADIO anthology, and BIG HAT, and…

[Viva la Internet.]
Viva la Internet.
Okay, okay. Yes. Time for a real fucking website.

What should I do there? Fuck, I don't know. A PDF preview of the first story. Downloadable in two small chunks or one big one, yeah? Downloadable graphics for homemade T-Shirts could be neat, sticker designs, etc. Same sorta things we did at SAVANT. Ammo for street-teams. Seems like clever materials, be they t-shirts or stickers or whathaveyou-if done in accordance to the tone of the book-could actually be something worthwhile. Does anyone know anything about Caf Press? They worthwhile? I could maybe work a thing out with them.

All this stuff should be in downloadable PDF format, and maybe TIFFs too, I reckon. So I need to get going on getting the website together. I'm of the mind that a website with some sort of dynamic content, something that's not just brochure-ware, may just be able to get people to come back… so I need to get crackin' on it.

Press releases. Yes. Once we get a few more details hammered out about the book itself, we can make it official-like. Get a handful ready. One that pushes the comics angle for comics sites.

[No, seriously, I'm gonna use computers and everything.]
No, seriously, I'm gonna use computers and everything.
And, on top of all this, there's the actual digital production of the book itself I still have to do. So I'll work up a PR that pushes my involvement with MK12 to send out to design websites. As we've gotten a small following of people interested in our work, and maybe since Timmy Fishsticks (an MK12 cohort and the toner for the MANTOOTH! series) and I are doing the book design, I could push the Tooth news to some of those. Maybe a PR for local media sources, too.

My next step is, I think, to begin collecting the names and addresses of retailers all across the country via The Master List. Get the packages ready to mail, figure out how much it'll cost, all that. Start saving and get ready to mail when the time comes. I'm hoping to interview my old boss H. Shelton Drum, owner of Heroes Aren't Hard To Find in Charlotte, North Carolina soon to talk to him about things an indy creator can do in terms of retailer outreach. Hopefully that'll run next week, schedules allowing.

Beyond this stuff, which is targeting an already-read-comics audience, maybe I can start working on building more of a local presence. I could visit local shop owners with these packs and possibly work out consignment deals; send packages out to local media outlets, the papers and the TV people and whatnot, trying to whore myself as a Human Interest kind of thing. Radio stations, too. Maybe I can interest the morning drive time folk… this is total blue-sky nonsense, but it seems worth a shot. Talk to some of the local stores about doing in-store appearances? Tie all that information up together, so if anyone bites media-wise, it's around a store signing and vice-versa.

Christ. If the book, best of all scenarios, comes out in six or seven months, that's only what, three, four months before it's solicited? Fuck, I'm already behind.

Hand me the matches, willya?

If you're interested in jumping this hypothetical gun and want to order the Tooth's original appearances before they skyrocket in value, tell your retailer to hook you up with a fistful of

DOUBLE TAKE #6 (Kick Splode Robot) -- SEP012027


DOUBLE TAKE #7 (Kick Splode Lesbian) -- OCT012494


DOUBLE TAKE #8 (Kick Splode Zombie) -- NOV012389

Discuss this column on the Poplife Forum.

Poplife Home | Poplife Archives

 
Poplife