Let's say you've had a serious medical condition, and your creator-owned pride and joy has been off the newsstands for a while. While publicizing that your book is coming back is well and good, it's been done. So what more can you do?
If you're Kurt Busiek and the book in question is "Astro City," you put a brand new Astro City story on the WS NewsPage promotional page inside all, or nearly all, of the books published with the DC/WildStorm imprint in December.
"It's a complete story," Busiek told CBR News on Thursday, "A short one, true, but it's got an alien invasion, superhero action, a human perspective and squirrel trouble in the suburbs. In short, everything you'd expect for 'Astro City.'"
Originally, the promotional piece wasn't going to be a story, simply the usual sort of promotional copy.
"What started it was the fine folks at WildStorm asking me to write something up for the news page, to help promote the return of 'Astro City' in February ('Astro City: Local Heroes' #1, the first of a five-issue mini-series, I hasten to add, doing my promotional part). That's what the page is for, pretty much -- insider news, and promo, and a look at advance art, things like that.
"I farted around trying to write something for a while, but I found I didn't want to just write a few paragraphs of text on how pleased I am that the book's rolling again, or how much fun it is to get new art from Brent [Anderson] and Alex [Ross] through my fax machine, or whatever. I wanted to do something special, that'd give people more of an idea of what 'Astro City' is all about.
"Eventually, I realized that the best thing to do would be to figure out how to tell a story -- so instead of me mouthing off and boring people, they could read something that'd give them a taste of the series. What better way to show someone what the book is like, after all -- no matter how well I might be able to describe it, an actual story's going to be better than a description.
"So I wound up writing the newspaper article, and sending it in with the suggestion that we mock it up to look like a clipping from the 'Astro City Rocket.' They went for it, and that's all it took -- Brent drew the 'photo,' and Alex Sinclair designed it up nice, and presto, we've got a free 'Astro City' story in every December WildStorm book that carries the news page. It'll be a treat for longtime readers, who get a visit to the city a couple of months earlier than they expected, and will hopefully hook a bunch of new readers, whether they picked up 'Robotech' or 'Global Frequency' or 'Wildcats,' and give them a reason to come check out 'Astro City' in February.
"I just hope people have as much fun reading it as I did writing it, because it was a hell of a lot more fun that writing your usual promo text ..."