Monday, June 4, 2007


In a previous post, I said “The success or failure of the Chimaera Superhero Universe will hinge on three elements: promotion, quality work, and an audience looking for something different than what they can get from DC, Marvel, and even Image.”

Of the three, the one I’m most concerned about is the first, because promotion takes money. I’m not sure how much money the various parties involved are willing to expend on marketing the books; my personal experience with small press publishers leads me to suspect the answer is “not much, if anything.” Which could be fine if it’s established as being the case up-front and the Chimaera brain-trust can find money elsewhere. The Free Comic Book Day project could help out a lot, but assuming everything works out as it’s tentatively planned, FCBD’ll still be seven or eight months too late to help the first Chimaera books coming out the gate.

I shouldn’t worry about this, and I’m sure George is sick of my talking his ear off about how important this is, but, again in my limited experience as part of the small press, promotion’s the ball that always seems to get dropped, and it’s the most damaging ball to let bounce away from you, especially early on. You can have the best book in the world but this is a loud, loud business and getting people to notice what you’ve got isn’t easy. Just ask anyone who’s worked the small press area at the San Diego Comicon. Then duck, because recalling that horror is probably going to trigger an explosion of homicidal rage.

So, promotion gets bums in the seats. What’s going to keep them there is quality work. George has a history of hooking great artists up for Chimaera projects--hell, SILENT GHOST artist Brett Weldele is up for an Eisner for his work on that book and SOUTHLAND TALES. That's always a big plus in a visual medium, though not, I like to think, the be-all and end-all of a successful book. Of course, I’m a writer, so I’m naturally defensive about the absolutely critical role I play in things and likely to overestimate my own importance…

Comic writing is a trickier proposition than art at the best of times. One look at a page tells you whether or not you like an artist, while it can take several pages (or these days, several issues) to get a handle on a writer. In addition to the stories being executed with a degree of professional competence, the notion of quality writing in Chimaera’s superhero universe is going to some degree be entangled in the final element of success. As the First Creators on the various Chimaera books, it’s the writers’ job to concoct characters, stories--an entire universe, really--that provides a superhero audience with something they want, but which isn’t being provided by the Big Three.

This is part of the reason the conventional wisdom regarding superheroes is that it’s not worth trying to do them outside Marvel, DC or Image--the market has spoken (at least as far as giving Valiant, Defiant, Malibu and any other number of superverses the finger) and therefore the readers are getting what they want. On first blush, the current upward sales trends for the Big Two seem to support that (though I personally believe sales are being artificially inflated via instant collectability stunts like variant covers and a slump is on the way.) (The cup is never half-full. NEVER.)

So what can Chimaera bring to the table that Marvel, DC, and Image aren’t?

When George first described the future first press release for the CSU, he originally wanted the first line of the PR to be something along the lines of “Remember when superhero universes were fun, exciting places to be?” And when working on TITUS: HEROIC FAILURE, TALES OF STUPEFICTION (changed the name from Spooky Tales), and Chimaera’s Canadian Champion Contingent, I’ve always come back to “fun” as the requirement for whatever I contribute to the Chimaeraverse.

There’s at least two reasons this is potentially problematic.

To be continued. If I feel like it.



Actually managed to get some real, honest-to-god writing work done today, which is a pleasant change from the last four or five. The entire upper floor of the house is unbearably hot, and that unfortunately is where both my office and my bed are located. Suffice it to say, I've spent a lot of time the last little while sitting in front of my monitor wishing I wasn't so damn sticky and could focus enough to write something other than laments over how unbearably hot it is in here.


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