Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's a quote. It's a day. It's not the quote of the day.

"It's standard for comic book shops to pre-order two or three copies of a comic book. Well, we sold over 10,000 comic books from just one store after one month of effort." "2.o celebrity" Tyrese Gibson.

I can't imagine this press release touting presales of 10,000 copies of TYRESE GIBSON'S MAYHEM! #1 to LA's Meltdown Comics is going to go long before someone starts seriously examining it (Heidi Macdonald's already promised to give it some ink at The Beat), if not ridiculing it outright.

I've got mixed emotions about it, myself, but the emotions in that mix are all exceedingly mild, like the mixed emotions I have over whether I should wear matching socks. Hey, it's not my book. My big concern is how this could impact the comics industry overall, and I tend to think that'll come down to whether the comic's a fun, original, accessible idea with an established celebrity behind it (like Gerard Way's UMBRELLA ACADEMY), or whether it isn't (like pretty much every other comic "created" by a media celebrity.)

Let's assume for the moment that Gibson's as big a draw for current non-comics readers as he's being made out to be. Let's assume those 10,000 copies are put on the shelves and sold to actual customers--presumably some new ones, coming in to Meltdown in response to Gibson's admirably single-minded promotion of the book--rather than a retailer "partner"*. That's potentially great for the medium, if the book is good and/or appealing. New comics readers are much needed in North America. If they're being brought into a store each month to buy MAYHEM!, that's a chance to sell them not just on Giibson's book, but other titles and, ideally, the medium itself.


If the audience response to the book is "Eh.", then all that's happened is a bunch of people have been brought into a comic shop one time, bought a single comic, many of them for something other than the actual quality of the book itself, found it to be nothing special, and if this is an example of the best the industry has to offer (and obviously it is, why else is it "selling" in record-breaking quantities), well, maybe they'll save the money they would've spent on other comics for the widescreen Blu-Ray edition of Transformers 2.

To my mind, that wouldn't just be a missed opportunity--it's any number of future opportunities strangled in their crib, before they have a chance to grow into something that could benefit everyone along the chain, from creator to retailer to reader. Because the next time they hear something good about that My Chemical Romance Guy's comic, or Avril Lavigne's MAKE 5 WISHES, or whatever celebrity spearheaded comic that's actually got something going for it other than a name they've heard before, they'll have every reason not to believe the hype.

So, for the sake of the industry, I really, really hope TYRESE GIBSON'S MAYHEM! is an awesome book. And if it isn't, I hope it won't be held against THE ANONYMOUS 2.0 CELEBRITY'S ADJECTIVE! comic I'm writing.

Because that book's gonna be awesome.


*I seem to recall Platinum Studios getting absolutely crucified for working in concert with specific retailers to ensure Cowboys & Aliens was the highest-ordered graphic novel for December, 2006.
As I understand it, this is a goal they were a hair's breadth from achieving, only to have defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. At the last minute--beyond the last minute, really, it was after the book was solicited--Diamond, who as I understand it {and I wasn't exactly in the loop for the company's promo efforts outside of the interview or two I did} determined what the price of the book was actually going to be in order to qualify as a "graphic novel", unilaterally elected to reclassify it as...something other than a graphic novel (promotional item...? I don't remember...) so it wouldn't appear in the GN sales charts.
Between you and me, I'm of the mind that if the book had managed to be what everyone involved wanted it to be but for a whole raft of reasons just wasn't,
the backlash wouldn't have been so extreme. While I don't believe the efforts made on the book's behalf actually brought anyone new into a comic shop, I still see that one as a lost opportunity, albeit one that primarily damaged only those directly involved in the book and Entertainment Weekly, if it damaged anyone at all.

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