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A few weeks ago we noted a dramatic publicity stunt by Kelly Roman and Michael DeWeese, the creators of the graphic novel The Art of War: They held a public event in which they stamped sample chapters with their own blood (drawn rather clinically by a doctor, rather than someone with a sharp dagger). Apparently it worked, as the sample chapters they put up have gotten over 25,000 views, and they have signed contracts for several other countries—with a promise to repeat the blood stunt in each one. (I’m surprised they didn’t sign the contracts in blood—now there’s a stunt!) They have already signed with publishers in Brazil and Spain.
They now have three chapters of the book, which is a work of fiction based Sun Tzu’s classic manual, available to read on Issuu—or right here, since it’s embeddable.
Writers and artists often talk of spilling blood into their work, but they are usually being metaphorical. Not writer Kelly Roman and illustrator Michael Weese, though. On a sunny spring day in New York City’s Chinatown last week, the pair rolled up their sleeves and spilled their blood, literally, onto sample chapters of their upcoming graphic-novel adaptation of Sun-Tzu’s The Art of War. Well, actually, they had a doctor draw the blood and then used it to stamp Chinese characters on the chapters, but it was still a pretty dramatic gesture. The press release invokes tradition:
“There’s a monstrous tradition of using cremated remains and blood to make comic books” states author Kelly Roman, “Marvel editor Mark Gruenwald had his ashes mixed with ink and made into commemorative issues of Squadron Supreme. KISS had their blood used to print their first comic. We are adding a live performance element.”
Dramatics aside, the creators are doing their best to draw attention to their book, which takes Sun-Tzu’s classic manual of strategy and adds the element that has been missing for centuries: a plot. Details are sketchy at the moment, but it takes place in the future, when China is the world’s dominant economy and Wall Street is “militarized,” whatever that means, and the main character is directly modeled on—and named after—Roman. Showing their mastery of social media as well as bloodshed, Roman and Weese have set up a Facebook and Twitter feed for the eponymous main character, as well as a YouTube channel where people discuss their opinions of China. The book is due out next spring from It Books, the pop-culture imprint of HarperCollins (they also publish Cowboys and Aliens), and there’s a 50-page sample up on the website.