The Comic Pimp: Issue #40

Thu, June 17th, 2004 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
James Sime, Columnist

WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND: YOU DESERVE IT!

"I just read the comic pimp. You are a beautiful person. The support, the love you give to artists in general... goddamn. Reading that article brought me close to tears."

You can imagine my feelings when this appeared in my Inbox.

But the truth is, over the past week I've gotten a lot of emails from self-publishers, independent publishers, and mainstream publishers alike, with heartfelt thanks and really positive feedback on last week's column. My Inbox is practically full of outpourings from creators and publishers who are happy to get a chance to pimp their books on CBR and The Comic Pimp.

But I have to tell you, I definitely feel like I'm just giving something back to a group of people who have done a lot for me already. Now, maybe you, Mr. or Mrs. Comic Book Publisher, haven't specifically done anything for me yet, but trust me, there are a lot of publishers out there who have gone above and beyond making good comics for me to sell week in and week out and I'm inclined to give something back to the entire publishing side of the industry just based on these generous contributions alone.

That and because I'm sure that you and I will get a chance to do some sort of cross-promotion together someday and you'll have my back then, just like I'll have yours.

You may be thinking "gee, I'd love to have James's back when the time comes, but I'm completely clueless what kind of thing I can do to help out my local retailer, much less James Sime." Well, my friends, it's always advisable to learn from those who came before you and here are some great things that publishers have done for me personally that I really appreciated.

Free comics, ashcans and other promotional materials always help out a retailer. And Adhouse Books consistently sends me cool ashcans, pins and book marks to give out to give out to their current readers and to use to entice new readership. Also registering high on the swank meter, Top Shelf Productions provided coasters and matchbooks to give customers a flavor of what Top Shelf is all about. Very hip. Slave Labor Graphics provides me periodically with some scratch and dent merchandise that I can give out as part of my Commuter Converter program.

Last year, Absence of Ink Press and Jane Irwin of Fiery Studios opened Free Comic Book Day up to the entire world by putting up a giant stack of "Pop Gun War" and "Vogelein". Similarly, Antarctic Press, feeling that we have similar visions and goals for the comic industry in general, recently sent me a gi-normous box of free copies of their books, just to make sure that my customers and I are up all the wide variety of books that they offer. Seriously. The box was so big, it practically broke the post office.

Obviously, a lot of the best interactions that I have with publishers happen in conjunction with an in-store event. And what better time for a publisher to step forward and make sure that their stuff gets as much attention as possible?

During our "2000ad" American Invasion with Ian Gibson, the folks at Rebellion, the publisher's of one of my lifelong favorite comic books, "2000ad," contributed a lot of cool 2000ad swag for the fans. We gave away posters, calendars, pins and even a 2000ad skateboard to the people who came out that weekend. Frankly, Ian Gibson was so good at charming my customers that I completely forgot to give away the skateboard. But, hey, it's the thought that counts. And it certainly didn't hurt the event at all that Rebellion mailed us a lot of Ian Gibson's most recent original artwork for fans to ogle, envy, and purchase. Hands down, this is one of my favorite in-store events we have ever done. Thanks in no small part to Ian himself, who is one of the nicest, most generous creators I've met. And thanks in no small part to the fine folks at Rebellion.

It's a well-known fact how much I love all the retailer support AiT-Planet Lar provides retailers just like me. From a jam-packed retailer resource Web site including bagstuffers, order codes, and shelf-talkers. In my experience, no publisher makes selling their comics and doing promotional events easier of more fun. Just for the price of asking Larry Young often lets us have blue lines or preview copies weeks in advance that we can show our customers. More often than once, AiT-Planet Lar goes one step further and offers a free piece of original art to the first set number of customers to buy the book the art is from during the launch party. With so much love and such great product lavished on Isotope guests by this one publisher alone, it's no surprise why AiT-Planet Lar books continue to be some of the best selling titles at the Isotope and why I'm always so willing to go out of my way to schedule another launch event in honor of one of their books.

IDW Publishing really makes a strong commitment to providing retailers like myself with bag stuffers, a promotional tool I like so much that I wrote a whole column on them. Also, IDW was instrumental in making the "Remains" Zombiefest a success by providing us with "Remains" posters and limited edition "30 Days of Night" hardcovers to give away as door prizes to the best zombies to stumble through the door. Jared Guenther, special effects make up artist extraordinaire, was egged on to bigger and bloodier heights by fans eager to get their hands on those door prizes.

One look at my shop's schedule and a perusal of this columns of this column's archives will reveal that I like Wildstorm comics and I like doing events with their creators. As I've said in the past, I think the Wildstorm line could use more marketing, but certainly since that column was published, Wildstorm has taken some great leaps forward in that regard. And as far as retailer support is concerned, my recent experiences with Wildstorm have proven that they are willing to step up to be one of the best in the business. For example, Wildstorm made sure that a lack of comics didn't hinder the cause during the recent Brian K. Vaughan "Ex Machina" Voter Registration Day. They provided about half of the free comics that were given to the people who registered to vote. And Wildstorm editor in chief, Jim Lee, believes so much in giving back to the Wildstorm fans that during the Isotope's "Sleeper" Season 2 Ed Brubaker Air Hockey tournament, he did two pieces of original art for fans who attended the event. These weren't some half-assed sketches on typing paper either, we're talking full-sized, fully inked pin ups on official DC bristol board, the kind of stuff that would set you back a pretty penny if you tried to buy it. Jim did these absolutely free and mailed them from Italy on his own dime just so that Ed Brubaker and I could have the pleasure of giving them away to attendees of the event.

That's a whole lot of love from a whole lot of publishers. And you might be the next publisher who makes me love comics all over again. And our great mutually beneficial relationship might start next weekend when you introduce yourself to me at the San Diego Comic Con. I'll have a suit and a smile on, and I'll be just waiting to meet you. Don't be shy.

No really. Don't be shy. Some of the best interactions that I've had with publishers have started with an email, a phone call, or a handshake from someone I've never met before. In fact, all of my relationships with comic creators and publishers started that way. Three years ago when I first started retailing, I only knew one person in the comic industry… and that was me.

Case and point. A while back, Ross Richie of Atomeka Press called me, introduced himself and asked if I wanted to do an in-store event for the "Dave Johnson Sketchbook."

Hell yes, I wanted to do an in-store with Dave Johnson for the motherfuckin' "Dave Johnson Sketchbook!"

Awhile later Ross called again to ask if I was interested in getting an exclusive cover for the Isotope "Dave Johnson Sketchbook" signing.

Hell yes, I wanted an exclusive cover for the motherfuckin' "Dave Johnson Sketchbook" signing at the Isotope!

As you can see, this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship! I fully expect Mr. Richie and I to become great friends, long-time business partners, and mad promotional collaborators for years to come. Because, let's face it, not only am I whole-heartedly impressed with the amazing books the new Atomeka is offering (go check out this column and I'm sure you'll agree), but I also like Ross Richie's style. Now that's a publisher who knows how to keep a retailer happily promoting his books.

And speaking of promoting Atomeka books, let's talk about that motherfuckin' "Dave Johnson Sketchbook!" Who wouldn't want to get their hot, little hands a sketchbook full of unpublished and never before seen Dave Johnson goodness? Especially when Atomeka prices this tome at a price that everyone can get behind. Under 10 bucks!

You know you want it! Dave Johnson blew your mind with his jaw-dropping artwork on "Superman Red Son" and "Superpatriot" and he continues to make heads spin with his Kirby-influenced "Captain America" covers, all the while continuing to his monthly campaign of comic book cover dominance with his daring, innovative, and downright sexy covers for "100 Bullets." Dave Johnson is the man.

Hey, want to see that exclusive "Dave Johnson Sketchbook" cover Ross Richie was talking about?

"Dave Johnson Sketchbook" regular cover "Dave Johnson Sketchbook" Isotope exclusive cover

And you can pick up one of these exclusive cover "Dave Johnson Sketchbooks," get it autographed by the man himself, and hang out for twelve hours of manic good times with me, Ross Richie, and Dave Johnson coming up this Saturday at my little piece of comic book heaven, the Isotope, here in San Francisco. From noon until midnight, we're going to be having a few beers, laughs, and celebrating everything Dave Johnson with our friends at Atomeka.

Ah, yes…now that's what I call the start of a beautiful relationship!

Relationships between publishers and retailers can be a crucial one and I'm here to tell you that it can also be fun. And as I said last week, I'm putting out an open call to all creators and publishers and offering you an opportunity to get noticed here on CBR. Maybe that's all your book's going to need. Maybe having several thousand people hearing about your book is all it's going to take for it to start to catch on with the readers. So, don't miss out by being lazy or shy. Get those CDs burned and get them to me at San Diego. This might be your opportunity to get the spotlight.

You've put in the time, energy, and legwork.

You deserve it!

Until next week, pontificate on industry issues, preach the gospel of the great comic books or discuss this article on the Comic Pimp Forum.

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