ROCKIN’ IN THE GRAVEYARD
I was talking to a long-time friend (and non-comic reader) who I hadn’t seen in a few years a couple months ago. After getting her caught up on the surreal roller coaster life I had been living the last three years, she looked at me with a huge smile and said, “So let me get this straight, you’re throwing all these outlandish parties all the time. With things like scotch tastings, armwrestling, tiki tours, cheese from around the world, punk rock shows, keg killing and going to the gun range. You’re spending sleepless nights doing theme re-decorating and your wearing suits every day and buying shoes to match. And you also get to talk about how much you love comic books? James, you were born to own a comic shop!”
Which is kind of a funny thing to hear, actually. Because although I tend to agree with her assessment, my friend didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. What the fuck does a scotch tasting have to do with a comic shop? What does scheduling a field trip to the firing range have to do with comics? And what the fuck do Italian shoes have to do with comic retailing?
Not one damn thing, that’s what. Outside of the flavor of business they don’t have one damn thing to do with the traditional world of comics. Not one damn thing!
Long before I had ever thought of getting into the business of comics I was already entertaining myself and my amigos with elaborate theme parties, booking crazy shows for my space rock band to headline, setting up fine booze tastings along my bar, wearing cool suits every day, and preaching the gospel of great comics. Because that’s who I am and what I like to do. And any good businessman or businesswoman will tell you that an establishment should reflect it’s owner’s personality, so that’s what mine does.
And so does this column.
So once again I’m dragging you out of work, making you get dressed up in your sexiest gear, and taking you out to a wild party. And baby, I know that if you weren’t interested in wild parties and beautiful nerds and nerdettes you would have stopped reading this column months ago, so you’ve got no excuse but to come along and let me show you a really wildly great time.
This time we’re crashing a zombie party here in San Francisco at my favorite comic store in the entire world. We’re going to go rockin’ in the comic graveyard with undead creatures from the crypt and horrorshow creators like Steve Niles and Kieron Dwyer. And this thing’s got a crazy special effects artist to ensure everything is properly gory and ghoulish. I think it’s going to be a really kick ass night out.
For those who can’t attend in person, that’s all right, because this column is going to have a Monday morning update full of brain-munching reanimated revelry. But in the meantime, while you wait there in front of your computer to get down to some serious partying, you can quell your blood-rage with the official event press release:
REMAINS creators Steven Niles & Kieron Dwyer Tap the Undead Demographic and Throw Party to Celebrate Book’s Success
CALIFORNIA (May 2004) Finding new markets is the watch-word of the comic industry over the past few years and comic creators have done some pretty creative things in order to get their comics into new reader’s hands. From contests to in-store signing events to money-back guarantees to arm-wrestling fans over free comics, today’s comic creators seem willing to do almost anything to expand their readership, but none of them are going after a whole new demographic of readers quite as seriously as masters of modern horror Steven Niles and Kieron Dwyer are. in celebration of the launch of IDW Publishing’s new zombie horror comic “Remains,” creators Steven Niles and Kieron Dwyer have taken a whole new approach to finding new readers. Instead of promoting their book in the usual manner, Niles and Dwyer are targeting an entire untapped market of potential readers… the “market of the dead.”
“The whole thing started a couple months ago, ” said “Remains” fan favorite author Steven Niles, whose name has become synonymous with modern horror, thanks to hit books like “30 Days of Night,” “Freaks of the Heartland,” “Dark Days,” and his popular series of Cal MacDonald prose and comic mysteries. For Niles, unearthing this undiscovered world of new comic readers was as simple as picking up the phone, “Kieron called me up in the middle of the night one night and suggested it,” Niles told The Comic Pimp, “Kieron had been hard at work on ‘Remains’ for weeks and weeks, drawing those beautiful pages of zombies chasing people, zombies dismembering people, and zombies eating people, and I think it got to him a little bit. He called me up and said ‘Steve, we should sell this book to dead people. Think about how many there are, and I think they could really relate to some of the things we’re talking about here!’ The more I thought about it, the more I realized that nobody was selling any comics at all to all those undead fans out there… who better than Steven Niles and Kieron Dwyer to be the first?”
“I can barely remember making that call!” “Remains” artist and industry veteran Kieron Dwyer said, “It takes a strong man to bring Steve’s best scripts to life on paper, especially one as good as ‘Remains’ is. The process of creating this book required a whole lot of late nights spent at the palatial Dwyer Studios. Just like when I did ‘Last of the Independents’ for AIT-PlanetLar, I’d get drawing and wouldn’t leave the drafting table for days at a stretch. I was so hopped up on mock duck and extra strong herbal tea, how was I supposed to know he was going to take that whole phone call seriously? Still, it’s a great idea to tap into this new market and reap the rewards of decades of decrepit comic collectors. There’s a whole lot of dead people out there and ‘Remains’ is the perfect book for them! Besides, they got money too and K-Dog’s gotta get paid!”
And getting paid is exactly what this strategy has been doing for “Remains” artist Kieron Dwyer and author Steve Niles. As crazy as the idea of promoting comics to the dead may sound, Niles and Dwyer have seen unprecedented interest for their latest offering. With strong initial orders on “Remains” in the direct market, brisk sales for the book’s initial week, and an out-pouring of fan support support from the undead community, “Remains” is proving how successful this strategy really is.
“All reports are that the book’s been selling really well nation wide,” said Dwyer, “Particularly to the zombie chicks! Nothing better than fertilizer in a short skirt, my email in-box is just filled with pictures of undead girls who love ‘Remains!’ God only knows were they’re getting internet access, but it’s nice to know that they like what we’re doing with the book. Keep checking out the books and keep those fan letters and emails coming in, ladies!”
But Niles and Dwyer aren’t just all about basking in the glory of their success, they also believe in giving something back to those fans who have made their mad scheme a reality. To thank this new found fan base and to celebrate the runaway success of “Remains” the creators decided to throw an open-invite bash in Dwyer’s home base city of San Francisco. “Kieron and I want our fans to know how much we appreciate them,” Niles said, “And in the grand tradition of Return of the Living Dead we’re throwing the zombie bash to end all zombie bashes! Do you wanna party? It’s party time!”
And the “Remains” Zombiefest was born. A Memorial Day weekend all-night zombie extravaganza consisting of 10 hours of brain-eating and shoulder-rubbing with author Steve Niles, artist Kieron Dwyer and more rotten corpses than you can shake a femur at. Featuring in-house zombification by the San Francisco Bay Area’s premiere makeup and special effects necromancer Jared Guenther, fresh off his stint working on the grand daddy of undead stage adaptations, Evil Dead Live. “lf everything I’ve learned from my research is true, zombies can sometimes be difficult to manage,” said Niles, ”So I’m glad to have an expert like Guenther on board to lend his zombie-wrangling expertise.”
Setting the location of the “Remains” Zombiefest was simple,”It had to be at the Isotope,” Dwyer said, “Those guys are rabid in their dedication to introducing new comic readers to the industry, no matter who they are. And come on, everybody knows the Isotope always throw the pimpingest parties in the business!” James Sime, proprietor of the award-winning Isotope in San Francisco, is proud to get to host the comic industry’s first celebration of the undead. ”I’m really looking forward to it,” said Sime, “We’ve been looking forward to throwing an event with Niles and Dwyer, and this is a perfect opportunity to celebrate these creator’s comics in high style!”
Not only are Niles, Dwyer, and the staff of the Isotope excited about the event but response from the undead community about the announcement of the “Remains” Zombiefest has been exceptional. “Graaahh nuuhhhhhh nehhhh!” undead REMAINS fan Anita Brayne told The Comic Pimp, “Gaaaahhh guhh grahhh brainsssss guuuuhhh…!”
The “Remains” Zombiefest takes place on Saturday May 29th from Sundown to Sunrise at 1653 Noriega St in San Francisco. For more information on this event call the Isotope at (415) 753 – 3037 or consult the official website at www.isotopecomics.com. “Crawl from your grave to attend you corpses!” said author Steve Niles, “Living readers of ‘Remains’ won’t be left out. Any and all-comers who want to be zombie action can take advantage of Guentherís reanimatory talents, and get down with the ‘Remains’ family of the undead. This is pure zombification that’s ready to rock the nation, don’t miss it!”
See you on Monday!