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Monthly Archives: December 2014

Some Thoughts on Titles

By Greg Pak

I spent more time than I care to admit the other week trying to come up with a title for a new comic book project. I thought I had the perfect title, but then the project changed in a great way, bringing a new element to the table that the title really should evoke. And it became surprisingly tough to come up with just the right replacement.

I was looking for two or three words that instantly create a picture and action in the potential reader’s mind. Two or three words that evoke a genre and create a sensation of forward motion and intrigue — while also being able to serve as a title for an ongoing series that stretches over multiple story arcs.

Tricky, huh?

So I made some lists to try to understand what makes good titles work, particularly for comic books and serial genre fiction. Here are the categories I came up with and what they made me think about:

Titles Based on the Main Character’s Name

Superman
Batman
Wonder Woman
Scott Pilgrim
Lone Wolf & Cub
Hellboy

Pretty straightforward, right? I’d love to embrace this solution and just name the book after my main character. But it’s worth noting that “Superman” and “Batman” only launched as books after the characters had debuted in “Action Comics” and “Detective Comics,” respectively. Before the world knew about superheroes, it didn’t necessarily make sense to launch a book with the name of a superhero. If you’re creating an unexpected genre or doing fresh worldbuilding, the character’s name alone may have trouble creating that image and effect you want in reader’s minds. Of course, in comics, the title will be rendered in a specific style and accompanied by evocative art, so the words alone don’t have do all the work. But there might be ways to help them along…

Titles Based on the Main Character’s Name… Plus an Extra Description

Nausciaa of the Valley of Wind
Elric of Melnibone
Hikaru No Go
Alice in Wonderland
Y the Last Man
V for Vendetta
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (etc.)
Sex Criminals
Turok Dinosaur Hunter

This may very well work for my project. The character’s name in my project is evocative but not absolutely demonstrative of genre — but combined with a tag of some kind, it can evoke the genre and action of the whole story pretty well. I’m realizing this is a technique used frequently for fantastical stories and can be a great way to clue readers into what’s so fresh about the story in just a few words. I have a few strong possibilities that fit this pattern.

Titles Based on the Story’s Key Event

Attack on Titan
World War Hulk
Star Wars
Old Man’s War
Escape from New York
Star Trek

Love these kinds of titles — used one myself with “World War Hulk” back in the day. (Marvel editor Tom Brevoort gets the credit for that title, by the way, as I recall — it beat out “Hulkmageddon,” which is probably a good thing.) But I’m developing a book that I’d love to see go on for years, and I’m not certain that an event-based title will apply so perfectly four or five story arcs down the line.

Titles Based on the World

Planet Hulk
Battlestar Galactica
DMZ
Sin City
Astro City

Again, I love these kinds of titles. They’re particularly attractive when you’re building a new world. I’ve been rolling some world-based names around, but just haven’t found one that clicks just yet.

Titles Featuring the Inciting Character, Antagonist, or Objective

Lord of the Rings
Aliens
Predator
Akira
Wizard of Oz
Princess Mononoke
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Princess of Mars

These titles are very interesting to me — they put the objective or antagonist front and center rather than the putative main character. But this doesn’t feel right for the way I’m building this particular story.

Conceptual Titles

Ex Machina
Fables
Powers
Saga
Tooth & Claw
Pretty Deadly

I love these kinds of titles and I had a few evocative, single word titles in mind for this project — but of course they were already taken. This is a problem — folks have been telling and titling stories for a long, long time. And thousands more stories are published every year. So it’s honestly pretty tough to come up with a one or two word conceptual title that hasn’t already been used.

If all goes well, I’ll reveal what the title is and how we picked it when the project actually gets announced some time in 2015. Knock on wood for me!

For more thoughts about the writing and comic book process, check out “Make Comics Like the Pros,” a how-to book I wrote with Fred Van Lente.

Nice year-end mentions for Greg’s Superman and Storm books

A few websites have posted nice mentions of my Superman and Storm books over the last week — thanks, everyone!

“Action Comics” got Comics Alliance’s tap for “Best Comic with Superman in It” for 2014. Key quote: “Let’s be honest: they ought to call it Satisfaction Comics.”

Buy “Action Comics: What Lies Beneath” now at the Greg Pak Shop!

CBR tapped “Storm” for its Top 100 Comics of 2014 list. Money quote: “Few superheroes inspire awe in thew way that Storm does, and now she has a series that inspires as well.” The Storm book also got some nice mentions in the X-Position year-end column and Inside Joke Theater named it one of the Best New Series of 2014.

Buy “Storm” #1 now at the Greg Pak Shop!

“Batman/Superman: Cross World” made the Top Ten highest circulating graphic novels at the Cape May County Library, right between Bryan Lee O’Malley and Raina Telgemeier!

Buy “Batman/Superman: Crossworld” and “Batman/Superman: Game Over” at the Greg Pak Shop!

 

I paid to promote a Facebook post… and won’t do it again

gregpakshop-logo-ny-sale

By Greg Pak

UPDATE: Since midnight, a single post from Atrios has generated 24 times more click-throughs than the post I paid Facebook to promote. Lesson: Actual humans are much more powerful than Facebook.

I tried a grand experiment today by paying to promote a post on my Facebook page for the Greg Pak Shop New Year’s Sale. (15 percent off anything through Jan. 2 when you use the promotion code “2015” at checkout! Check it out!)

The result? As I noted on Twitter, after a few hours, the promoted Facebook post had 99 organic views and 2385 paid views. Sounds pretty good, right?

Alas, all those Facebook views only generated 10 referrals.

Meanwhile, I’d gotten 88 referrals from posting on Twitter about the sale.

I thought maybe my Facebook post was flawed, that somehow I hadn’t crafted it well enough to generate attention and interest. But literally no one who chimed into the conversation on Twitter reported having a positive Facebook ad experience. Here’s a sampling of the responses I got:

Here’s my theory for why Facebook ads seem to be so useless:

Facebook curates people’s feeds so a person who’s “liked” my Facebook page won’t necessarily see many of the posts I make. When I pay to promote a post, that person may end up seeing it. But since that person hasn’t seen my other posts, she doesn’t have much experience hearing my online voice and doesn’t necessarily feel connected or involved in what I have to say. So it’s easier for her to tune out the paid post. In short, the Facebook experience reduces social interaction, which of course is the lifeblood of a social network.

In contrast, people who follow me on Twitter see every post I make. For better or for worse, they get to know my voice over time. So when I post something very promotional, it’s within a context of other (hopefully) entertaining or otherwise interesting posts. It doesn’t feel like just another ad.

In short, I’m done with paying for Facebook ads. I’ll focus more on venues where my posts go directly to the folks who have followed me because they’re interested in what I do.

Added bonus: here’s a video the great Jim Zub sent me about the pitfalls of paying for Facebook “likes.”

2014.12.17 – “Batman/Superman” #17 and “Storm” #6 in stores today!

bm-sm-17-storm-06

It’s new comic book day and I’ve got two books in stores and online:

“Batman/Superman” #17 continues the mystery of Superman’s Joker. A psychopath with power to rival Superman is murdering innocents with super-powered, untraceable bullets. Can Superman and Batman figure out who it is before the next victim falls? Art by Ardian Syaf and Sandra Hope Archer, colors by Ulises Arreola. Check out the preview here! 

“Storm” #6 features our injured heroine defending a plane from attackers — and sets up a massive status quo change you won’t want to miss! Art by Al Barrionuevo and Tom Palmer, colors by Ruth Redmond. Preview here.

Ask your local shop to hold copies for you today or buy them digitally at Comixology!

The Greg Pak Shop online store is open for business!

gregpakshop

Big news! I’ve opened the Greg Pak Shop, an online store where you can buy signed copies of my books!

If you place an order by the end of day, Friday, December 12, we’ll do our best to get it to you before Christmas. Hot tickets right now include the signed “Code Monkey Save World” graphic novel, available here for the first time in an online store, and signed copies of “Storm” #1.

Enjoy!

2014.12.09 – Greg Pak at Comic Book Club Live in NYC Tuesday night!

I’ll be a guest at the Comic Book Club live show in New York City at 7 pm on Tuesday, December 9. It’s at Fontana’s Bar, 105 Eldridge Street between Grand and Broome, and it’s FREE!

It’s a fun show that I’ve done many, many times over the years. It’s a talk show format, with lots of hijinks and laughs and audience participation and even a bit of serious comics talk!

I’ll also have copies of “Code Monkey Save World” and maybe “Make Comics Like the Pros” for sale!

Come see, come see!

Code Monkey Save World T-shirts available until Dec. 7!

Get your Code Monkey Save World T-shirts at Teespring.com/codemonkeysaveworld today!

Get your Code Monkey Save World T-shirts at Teespring.com/codemonkeysaveworld today!

If you missed out on snagging a T-shirt during the “Code Monkey Save World” Kickstarter, this is your lucky week! We’ve launched a Teespring campaign where you can order T-shirts, long sleeved tees, and even hoodies.

So if you have a Code Monkey in your life who needs a shirt or hoodie, check out the campaign today!

Teespring also says T-shirts will be delivered to US addresses 7-10 days after the campaign ends on December 17, so while we can’t guarantee it, there’s a decent chance the shirts will arrive before the holidays.

Enjoy!

2014.12.03 – “Action Comics” #37 hits stores!

action-37-cover

“Action Comics” #37 hits stores this Wednesday. Check out the preview at ComicVine!

The issue continues the “Horrorville” storyline we began last month, with Superman investigating creepy goings-on in Smallville. And yes, things get a lot worse for everyone involved.

Gorgeous art by Aaron Kuder, as usual — who goes one step further with a new style for some crucial flashback pages. Colors by Wil Quintana and editing by Eddie Berganza.

Ask your local shop to hold you a copy!

Pak & Kuder’s “Action Comics” Vol. 5 hits stores Dec. 24!

action-vol-5

Got my comps of “Action Comics, Volume 5, What Lies Beneath” in the mail over the weekend, and I’m pretty darn thrilled with how it all looks. This is Aaron Kuder’s and my first story arc on “Action Comics,” featuring the rise of the mysterious Subterraneans, the reintroduction of Lana Lang, and the debut of Ghost Soldier and Harrow. The book also includes the “Secret Origins” story Lee Weeks and I did that retells Superman’s origin from the point of view of his two mothers.

Gorgeous colors throughout primarily by Wil Quintana. Additional art from Scott McDaniel, RB Silva, and Mike Hawthorne.

Super proud of the book. Hope you’ll consider picking it up! I believe it hits comic book shops on Christmas Eve — not a bad last-minute gift!

Find your local shop here.

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