Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Iowa may have their straw poll, but BOOM! Studios is going nationwide with an opportunity to let comics readers make their own choices—by buying comics from BOOM! in their Decision 2012 promotion. It’s a neat little stunt—they have 10 bio-comics about different candidates available for pre-order, and whoever gets the most orders wins the straw poll! The fact that voters will be enriching the coffers of BOOM! Studios is, of course, a small price to pay for democracy.
Being the intrepid reporter that I am, I found the press release raised more questions than it answered, so I fired off some questions to BOOM! marketing director Chip Mosher. Here’s what I found out:
Robot 6: Where did these comics come from? Are they Boom originals or were they published elsewhere? Who are the creators?
Chip: BOOM!’s a pretty collaborative environment. With this, the blame is on me. I’m a big political junkie and have been since I was a kid. I don’t know, I guess it’s a sickness. But anyway, I was reading an article one night and saw all the candidates lined up shoulder-to-shoulder and the idea just popped into my head. I brought the idea to the team, they looked at me like I was joking, then I said, “no, seriously!” And we were off to the races! So yes, these are totally new and original comics! Right now all that we are showing off are the awesome covers Jeffrey Spokes, but we’ll show more stuff down the road.
Robot 6: Did you have a Tim Pawlenty comic that you had to quickly kill?
Chip: (Laughs!) Yes, we did. And if he would have waited a week, I am sure he would have reconsidered dropping out, given that a TIM PAWLENTY #1 comic book was in the offing!
Robot 6: Do you have other comics ready to go if new people jump into the race? Do you know something the rest of us don’t?
Chip: Sarah Palin hasn’t officially put her hat in the ring, but no straw poll is really complete without her. If some serious candidates join, we’re ready and willing to put some more candidates out there. With the Republicans, we limited this to those that made it into the last couple of debates. I would have loved to do other folks like Buddy Roemer, Fred Karger, Gary Johnson and cult favorite Jimmy McMillan — who are all running currently for the Republican nomination — but we had to draw the line somewhere.
Robot 6: Who is keeping track of all this? Did you hire an outside accounting firm?
Chip: (Laughs!) We’ll be keeping track of this internally. It’s all on the shoulders of Phil Barbaro, our Director of Finance!
Robot 6: Why did you decide to go head-to-head with Bluewater in the bio-comics space? How will your comics be different?
Chip: The Decision 2012 line hits a bunch of points of interest for us here at BOOM! Education. Civic duty. Getting new comic readers. We’ve always wanted to do more topical/current events/bio comics, and this just seemed like the right idea at the right time for us. Voting is important. Being educated on the issues and the candidates is important. Using comics as an educational tool is something that doesn’t happen enough. People really take voting in this country for granted. There is a ton of cynicism in this country about voting. You know, I went to Cuba in the mid-90s and I can’t tell you how much you appreciate what you have at home once you go somewhere where people don’t have the right to vote for their leaders, or the freedom to do and say what they want. That was a real eye-opener for me. So if this series gets one person involved in the political process and voting, or gets a child interested in civic discourse, that’s a win for us.
We also see this as a way to get new readers to visit their local comic shops. Now this is a multi-tiered approach, because quote unquote, “New readers don’t have any background in comics” — we’ve found generally “new readers” have absolutely no idea how periodical comics work. By that, I mean that they don’t know there is new product in the stores every week, they don’t understand that most comics serialize stories month-to-month, etc. So by doing the straw poll within the pre-order period, the by-product is that we are also educating customers that they can pre-order their comics. So hopefully some industrious retailers will take that opportunity to get these folks interested in comics in general and get them coming back for more. But that’s pretty insider baseball direct market-y sorta stuff …
We’re totally stoked about the straw poll. No one’s done anything like this. You know, no one company has a monopoly on bio comics. They’ve been around for decades! Every company riffs on each other in the space. IDW did well in 2008 with the Obama/McCain comics, and then Bluewater took that model and went to town. My hat is off to both companies! I think you’ll see with ours that they will have the same BOOM! quality that you get from all our other comics. The spin of doing comic book’s first straw poll makes this something pretty special.