Saturday, 17 October 2009

New direction

"If you liked that then you'll like this." Except... not necessarily. For me, Buffy is the masterwork of television drama. I buy everything Joss Whedon does on DVD because he and his team have earned it ten times over just for those seven glorious seasons. And Dollhouse and Dr Horrible too - fabulous. But I keep on trying and I just can't get into Firefly. I admire it, but how faint is that praise? "Don't you find me attractive?" "Well, I do admire you..." Ulp!

Leo and I have been talking about what we should work on next. Front runner among a whole bunch of notions is a graphic novel rom-com. See what I mean? If you were hoping for cyborg dinosaurs you're going to be bitterly disappointed now. I often hear from Dragon Warriors and Fabled Lands fans who are usually bewildered to see what I'm doing these days because they perceive little overlap between those old sword-n-sorcery adventures and the richer character-driven stories in Mirabilis. I feel like I've matured, the fans just wonder when I'm going to get back on track: "We enjoy your films. Particularly the early, funny ones." So to speak.

The Glass Half Full is that, because we are self-funded, we can work on whatever we like without publisher interference. Frankly, I doubt if any book publisher would commission us to do a rom-com graphic novel anyway. We need to do it first, then go looking for a publisher. I'm approaching it like we're making a rom-com movie that we would actually pay to see ourselves - and hopefully one that will be laugh-out-loud funny in places. It may not appeal to everybody who likes Mirabilis, but take a look anyhow. You might be pleasantly surprised.


  1. There may be an entire untapped audience for this sort of thing, who knows? I predict there are plenty of people out there who have never picked up a graphic novel in their lives who would thoroughly enjoy a rom-com one. The tough part would be getting it into their hands, but if you could manage it...well, that's how new markets are discovered/made.

  2. My back-of-envelope guess is that you need 10,000 readers to make a go of self-publishing something like this. If you can get your comic or game or novel or whatever out to that big an audience via POD, iPhone, etc, that should earn enough to keep the ball rolling. So maybe we'll do a deal with established book or comic publishers after we hit that target, but not before.

    Whether we can find the "rom-comic" audience... I just don't know. Like you, I have a gut feeling there's a big potential readership that aren't current comics fans and who don't know or care how to read a comic, but would enjoy what will essentially be a movie script + storyboard. If they can enjoy Priceless or My Best Friend's Wedding, they are equipped with everything they need to enjoy this. It's like all the talk of the untapped, non-hardcore games market that publishing execs doubted was really there for fifteen years until the Wii appeared and suddenly they're like, "Oh yes, we knew these guys were out there all along." The only way to prove the market is there is to just do it!

  3. One way is to get your product into places where your potential audience spends time - places where you would never normally see the product (how many rom-commers hang out in comic shops?!?). An example success story is the board game Cranium, created by some clever ex-Microsofties. The reason that game succeeded was the simple fact that they started selling it in Starbucks coffee shops (I suspect it was a case of someone knowing someone else, since both companies are based in Seattle). Anyway, suddenly you have a family/party game in front of all these people waiting in line for their coffee, people who probably never set foot in a game shop in their lives. And hey presto, the game sells millions!

    Now if you can just figure out how to do the same for a rom-comic...

  4. That kind of marketing masterstroke is definitely where we fall short. Fortunately we've got a product that can be distributed digitally, and that's one advantage the Cranium guys didn't have. We might also try and get it serialized in The Guardian - or should I be thinking of somewhere more lowbrow?

  5. I guess that depends on the content? The Guardian is probably a good place to start, but I would consider your intended audience and then do some research on where their eyes spend the most time.