Earlier this week, a few amazing writers and bloggers started the #SaveStorm hashtag on Twitter to spread the word about the “Storm” series I’m writing for Marvel.
And yesterday Marvel responded with a very special giveaway! Until December 1, you can download the first issue of “Storm” for FREE via the Marvel app and on Comixology! See the image above for all the details — and enjoy!
“Batman/Superman” #16, drawn by Ardian Syaf, starts a brand new storyline that asks “Who is Superman’s Joker?” Pretty darn excited about this. Ardian’s our new ongoing artist, and he’s amazing — combining some of that fine detail of Jim Lee with the expressive character work of a Kubert. Inks by Sandra Hope Archer and David Meikis, colors by Ulises Arreola, letters by Rob Leigh, and editing by Eddie Berganza. Check out the preview here!
“Storm” #5 features our hero cutting loose in the death fields of the Four Clans — possibly risking her own soul while finishing her dead lover Wolverine’s dangerous business. Art by the always stunning Victor Ibañez, inks by Victor and Craig Yeung, colors by Ruth Redmond, letters by Joe Sabino, and editing by Daniel Ketchum. Check out the preview here.
In our book “Make Comics Like the Pros,” my co-writer Fred Van Lente provides some spectacular advice about how to work a comic book convention. This year at the New York Comic Con, I took Fred’s advice seriously and did my Artists Alley table up right for the first time. And I had my best con ever! So here’s what I did:
1. I’d printed up the “Code Monkey Save World” banner last year. But for the NYCC, I ponied up a few bucks to print a second banner featuring gorgeous Aaron Kuder/Wil Quintana art from our current “Action Comics” run. I figured folks who don’t know me probably know Superman, and might pause a few more seconds at the table if they saw his face. And they did!
2. I got vertical! In “Make Comics Like the Pros,” Fred writes about the need to stand out in a crowded con by raising your stuff up into the field of vision of passersby. So I went to Staples and bought a few clear magazine holders, which worked beautifully for displaying single issue comics and bigger books. The three-level magazine holders in particular provided a great way to catch folks’ eyes with the titles of a variety of books.
3. I sat down for an hour or two and printed actual labels for everything. At past cons, I had handwritten labels with prices of things. That’ll work, but I think the clearly printed labels helped make everything feel more professional and encouraged sales. The clear label over the “Code Monkey Save World” books reading “Based on the songs of JONATHAN COULTON” saved me from having to explain the book as often as I’ve done in the past. Multiple Coulton fans read that label and bought the book without my having to say much at all.
4. It’s a little hard to tell from the photo, but that little black box is a portable speaker through which I played Jonathan Coulton music whenever I was sitting at the table. Bouncy music subtly encourages people to linger and buy. And multiple Coulton fans heard the music, then discovered the table and bought the book.
5. For the first time this year, I brought a short box of single issues of some of my work-for-hire comics, which I sold at cover price. I ended up selling all but one issue of “Action Comics” and every issue of “Storm,” “Doomed,” and “Batman/Superman” that I brought. The experience reminds me of advice a friend gave me about Kickstarters, which was to have a reward at every price point. At my table, I had the $20 “Code Monkey Save World” and the $23 “Make Comics Like the Pros” books for the big buyers. But I also had a bunch of $3 and $4 comics for casual browsers who might just like a little something to remember the con by.
6. Fred told me that after he did a panel about making comics at a small convention in Maine, he sold all of the “Make Comics Like the Pros” books he had within a few minutes. So I ordered what I figured would be too many “Make Comics Like the Pros” books to sell at the NYCC. And I sold them all. A big part of moving those books was doing the “Make Comics Like a Pro” panel and the Nerdist Comics Panel, where I shamelessly plugged the book. Some folks bought the book from me right there after the panels; many others found me at the table later to buy the book.
7. Sets of individual comics sold pretty well. I had a few sets of individual comics of a few miniseries I did, which I bagged together and sold at a slight discount. All of those sets sold. It makes sense — it’s nice to get a little discount and it’s nice to get a whole story in a single bag.
8. I was seated next to “Action Comics” artist Aaron Kuder and facing frequent collaborators Fred Van Lente, Ryan Dunlavey, and Charles Soule. That meant if someone was looking at a copy of “Action,” I could say, “And you can get Aaron to sign it for you, too!” I think that helped move a lot of books.
And now here’s a list of things I thought about after the fact and will try to do for the next con:
1. Make a little sign saying I take credit cards. Most Artists Alley vendors these days have little Square thingies that let them take credit cards. But not all visitors realize that. A little sign would probably have increased my sales just a bit.
2. Make a sign listing my collaborators who are at the con and where they’re sitting in Artists Alley. As noted above, sitting near Fred and Charles and Aaron certainly helped move single issues. But probably a dozen other artists I’ve worked with were attending the con. If I’d had a little sign at my table noting what books they’d worked on and where folks could find them, it might have encouraged a few more sales. And it would just be good karma to point fans to the tables of my friends and collaborators.
3. Bring a sheet to cover the table. On the first day of the con, I forgot to bring a sheet. So every time I left the table, I had to spend a few minutes moving books off the table. I brought a sheet on the second day and probably saved a half hour to forty minutes over the course of the con as a result.
4. I’d thought of creating a little insert to stick into books that I sold people that listed my name and website and Twitter handle. But I forgot. I think that’s a pretty good idea and will try to do that for the next con. Seems like a good way to help turn customers into Twitter followers, which can then help keep them informed about my future work.
And, finally, a quick list of things I learned.
1. Iconic covers and #1 issues sell. If folks aren’t following the storylines and looking for specific books, their eyes get drawn to iconic covers featuring characters they know and books with a big #1 on them. So “Action Comics” #28, the book in the rack next to the short box featuring the iconic Superman flying towards us with the explosion behind him, sold out very quickly. And every time I put “Storm” #1 on the table with its gorgeous Victor Ibañez cover, it would sell within a half hour.
2. There are tons of parents roaming the con with small children — including tons of small girls. But I didn’t have a ton of stuff to offer those families. I ended up drawing with those kids a ton, which was a blast. But I’m pretty eager to see what’ll happen when I finally have hard copies of the “Princess Who Saved Herself” book I’m doing with Jonathan Coulton and the “Code Monkey Save World” team.
3. I actually paid $30 for a Facebook ad saying I was at the con and providing my Artists Alley table number. I have no idea how many people actually came to the table because of that ad. I should have asked folks. But if only a few buyers of “Code Monkey” or “Make Comics Like the Pros” came because of that ad, it was worth it. As dubious as I am of Facebook in general, I’ll probably do it again.
Pretty thrilled to have two big books in comic book shops today:
SUPERMAN DOOMED #2 is the enormous conclusion to the six month long DOOMED storyline that’s run through the Superman books. Charles Soule and I co-wrote, with tremendous art from a slew of great artists, including Ken Lashley, Cory Smith, and many, many more.
Superman’s given in to the Doomsday virus, going full-monster in order to take on Brainiac, with the lives of everyone on Earth at stake. And yes, the last two pages might break your brain.
Check out Comicosity’s 8/10 review:
Soule and Pak seamlessly scribe a narrative that is both big on action and thought-provoking about the nature of solving the problem of world-dominating alien invaders. In one particular scene, Lois asks Superman how he can reward Brainiac by allowing him to live. The response is brilliant, and so right for Superman. So right.
STORM #3 follows Ororo Munroe back to the village in Kenya where she pretended to be a goddess as a child. Now she faces new challenges as an adult — with her former flame Forge on hand to complicate matters.
Have I mentioned that I love Greg Pak? Because I love Greg Pak. And I really love “Storm”. In just two issues, Pak and Victor Ibanez have dove feet first into exploring the long history of this wonderful character full of personal contradictions (an orphan and a pick-pocket and a weather witch and a goddess and a punk and a leader and a mother) and bringing all of these aspects together to create a portrait of one of the most interesting characters in Marvel’s history. Why aren’t you reading this book?
Dynamic Forces asked me about the new STORM book – and I spill a little about the possible importance of Hank McCoy.
Unleash the Fanboy asked me about Storm, Hercules, the gay romance in X-TREME X-MEN, and what I’d do if I weren’t writing comics. Here’s an excerpt:
You’re trying to learn about and understand people from all different backgrounds and places and tell stories that connect in some way and help people … When we’re writing, we’re struggling to understand the world, you know what I’m saying, and sharing that experience will hopefully help other people as they’re making those same kinds of efforts. This sounds a little silly but because you don’t want to overplay what we do in creating pop culture, but there’s a way that stories bring people together, you know what I mean? That’s what makes us human. Storytelling is probably the most intensely human thing that we do. It’s something maybe that humans do that nobody else does.