The GeeksverseUsing a BIG NAME to Sell a Project

Using a BIG NAME to Sell a Project
Published on Monday, October 25, 2010 by

Maybe I’m the only one that gets bothered by this, but I doubt it.

So you’re looking at the solicitations, reading interviews, all that good stuff and you see that BIG NAME is going to be on a new book, or (more often then not) going to be introducing some new concepts. You get all excited. You like BIG NAME’s stuff. You think BIG NAME can really make those characters shine.

So you get the specials that the publisher puts out. No, it’s not being introduced in new monthlys, it’s being introduced as one-shots and special issues. You’re interested. You think BIG NAME has done a good job, gotten you interested in following these characters in the monthlys.

A couple months go by, you get the new previews and the ongoing series are announced. But wait. Somethings missing. Where’s BIG NAME? He’s no longer involved?

What’s going on here? You thought these were his take on the characters. That he was going to be putting his spin on them. Not these other guys, some you’ve never heard of. Why are they doing them? Where’s BIG NAME?

Now you feel cheated. You got interested in those books because BIG NAME was involved. Now he’s not.

Should you still read them? The publisher is hoping you do.

What they are banking on is that BIG NAME is enough to draw extra attention that the books wouldn’t have received otherwise and that it translates to more sales. What they hope is that those sales carry over to the new series and that they keep enough of the readers to justify the ongoings. Think of it this way: the book would get 50 sales, BIG NAME brings in another 50, they hope that when the ongoings start there are 75 sales.

Is it cheap? Sure it is. It’s good advertising though. It’s a good strategy and it probably works.

I still don’t like it. When I see a book by a creative team, I want that creative team to carry over to the ongoing series. More often then not, if it’s a new character or a revitalized character, it was that creative team that got me interested enough to read the ongoings. Now that person, and the potential stories they had to tell, are no longer involved. The strength of the character has to be enough.

Most times its not.

The reason that BIG NAME gets the extra sales is that BIG NAME is a proven creator. It’s proven that people enjoy what he does and where he takes the characters. Its because of that that people get interested in the new project.

DC has been the biggest culprit of this, with JMS and the Red Circle characters as well as Brian Azzarello and the First Wave. Marvel did it to an extent with Secret Warriors, first advertising it as a Brian Bendis book with Hickman as co-writer, we now know that that book was always Hickmans and the Bendis name was just being used to help cement sales.

In the case of Secret Warriors, it doesn’t matter in the end, because the vision was always Hickmans and he has kept it going. With Red Circle and First Wave (not as bad as Red Circle) we don’t get to see what JMS and Azzarello’s visions would have been like if they had kept going, we instead get to see others play with the boundries they set up.

It’s a shame. The characters and the readers deserve better. Books shouldn’t be sold because BIG NAME is involved, it should be sold on the merit of the book itself, the characters and the story.

Go to the Pryde’s forums and discuss this column.

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