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And so another U.S. presidential election comes to a close. While the incumbent was re-elected, the comics industry didn’t seem to embrace the season like it did in 2008.
Four years ago, the bestselling comic book issue of the year was The Amazing Spider-Man #583, by a wide margin — by such a wide margin that it ended up being the bestselling issue of the decade with more than half a million copies ordered, according to numbers cruncher John Jackson Miller. In fact, this became such a thing that there was nearly a boutique industry of comic books featuring Barack Obama. From Savage Dragon and Army of Darkness to Bomb Queen and Licensable Bear (the first Obama comic), it seemed the president was everywhere. IDW Publishing released an entire line of biographical comics on the presidential candidates, and similar titles were also published by Antarctic Press and Bluewater Productions. The latter’s efforts were so successful that the company continues to mine that niche.
Four years later, this mini-genre has all but vanished. Last year, BOOM! Studios attempted to lead the charge with Decision 2012, the first straw poll conducted through comics: Pre-orders determined which candidates would get their comics published, with the one receiving the highest print run being declared the winner. While a creative idea, the project may have been a victim of poor timing, as the event was held so early in the campaign — it was announced in August 2011 — that there wasn’t a clear line-up of Republican candidates. Despite all of her teasing, Sarah Palin never entered the race, yet she was included among the list of comics. In fact, on the same day the one-time GOP vice presidential nominee announced she wouldn’t be running on the same day that BOOM! revealed the results of its straw poll. Out of the 10 biographical comics offered for pre-order, just four met the benchmark of 1,500 pre-orders: Obama, Palin, Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney came in fifth, but just below the benchmark, so he and the five others never got their comics.
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?