INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
Ivan Salazar probably isn’t someone a lot of comic fans would know, but those of us on the press side have likely had some sort of interaction with him or gotten some assistance from him over the past few years. I first met him a couple of years ago while he was working for BOOM! Studios, where he worked with Chip Mosher, their former marketing and sales director. Ivan, Chip and the other members of the team worked together on several big initiatives, like press conferences with Stan Lee at the San Diego Comic Con and the BOOM! RV at ComicsPro.
Salazar left BOOM! not long ago and recently got back in touch with me to let me know he was now public relations and marketing manager for Studio 407. I wasn’t very familiar with them, so I asked him a few questions about both his old job and his new one.
JK Parkin: What did you do during your tenure at BOOM!
Ivan Salazar: Oh man what didn’t I do! Well first of all I worked directly with one of the comic book industry’s greatest marketing minds Chip Mosher, formerly the BOOM! Marketing and Sales Director, now head marketing hot shot at ComiXology. Working with Chip meant we got to do a lot of crazy things like hold a press conference with Stan Lee at SDCC 2010. Start up the lit-comix imprint BOOM! Town as well as spearheaded BOOM!’s digital initiative across nearly all digital comic vendors. We made video tours of southern California comic shops, and created a living legacy at the ComicsPRO annual conference with the “BOOM! RV”.
Basically, whenever Chip had a crazy idea I was there to make sure it would get done.
Parkin: What were some of the biggest wins you were involved with at BOOM!, and what were some of the biggest challenges you guys faced?
Salazar: One of the biggest wins would definitely be the Eisner win for Shannon Wheeler’s I Thought You Would Be Funnier. It was the first book out the gate for our lit-comix imprint and Chip and I poured over that book to make sure everything from the art to the editing and design was golden. So when it took the Eisner for Best Humor Publication it was great to see all those long nights in the office pay off.
In all honesty the biggest challenges came from working conventions. In two years I ended up working at least 30 shows across the U.S. and Canada, and that made for a monster of a schedule. Not only did we work the show on a sales end we also made sure we had all our promotions in line; telling people we were at the show, scheduling interviews to promote books and even hanging out after the show to build relationships and just spend time with industry friends that you don’t see otherwise.
This in itself also brought one of the biggest wins. When I first started going to shows and someone came up to the booth I’d spark up the conversation asking if they had heard of any BOOM! titles. This was met more often than not with a “No, not really…” By the time that SDCC 2011 rolled around all the shows I’d go to people would run up to me and tell me how many series from BOOM! they enjoyed. I’d like to think that Marketing played a nice role in hooking that many more fans.
Parkin: What made you decide to leave?
Salazar: That was a pretty hard decision. Working at BOOM! equipped me with so many skills that I didn’t have when I came in. The knowledge and experience that goes into creating comics, not necessarily in a writer/artist sense, but the nuts and bolts of it. What it takes to put a book together, to make sure it’s the best it can be and how to get other people excited about it to make sure it’s a hit. BOOM! taught me a lot about what it means to love comics and how to use that to really connect with others who share that love.
With the knowledge and experience I gained I wanted to take on new challenges and really spread my wings in the comic industry.
Parkin: Why did you decide to join Studio 407?
Salazar: After talking with the Alex Leung, the managing director of Studio 407 it became clear that Studio 407 was a company to watch. They’re ramping up to launch a library of great titles and all they were missing was someone to steer the marketing. So we were a perfect fit. I’m excited for what’s coming down the pipeline and I can’t wait for what I’ll be able to do to market those books. It’s going to be a helluva great 2012!
Parkin: I didn’t know about Studio 407 before your email about your new position, so maybe you can share some of the company’s background. What are some of the titles they’ve produced?
Salazar: Studio 407 prides itself as being an east meets west comic publisher that doesn’t fear venturing into every kind of genre fiction. In the time that the company’s been around they’ve produced such really excellent titles like: Night & Fog the story a small band of soldiers fighting to survive against their former comrades who have been turned into the ultimate killers by a mysterious virus. As well as Hybrid, a chilling creature-feature about a rescue mission at-sea that that leads to the discovery of a blood-thirsty mutant from the watery deep. And Smuggling Spirits a uniquely illustrated noir/horror epic about a prohibition-era bootlegger turned monster-hunter.
Parkin: What are your goals in the short-term and long-term for your new position?
Salazar: Short term is really just to get people excited about the great new books we have coming out. I wish I could tell you more about about it but we’ll be unveiling them soon enough, and trust me when I say they’re pretty cool!
The long term goal is a bit trickier. In the same way that I’d go to shows and have people want to tell me how much they liked BOOM!, I want to be able to be anywhere and overhear people talk about Studio 407 with that same passion. And I’m excited to make that happen!