WARFARE GUERILLA STYLE
I promised we’d be taking a look at what the individual members of the guerrilla street team I’ve assembled have been doing to promote the industry and the artform to non-comic readers. As always the best guerrilla marketing is the kind that brings the product to the people and this week we’re going to be profiling many street fighting techniques and the books we’ve selected to do just that.
As with the Commuter Converter program these books were all stickered with information to help these new readers find the store and more importantly, more comics. These programs are simple, cost effective and easily adaptable. Any comic fan, publisher, creator, or retailer could implement these techniques with the minimal amount of effort and cost. For a retailer, putting together a street team from your existing customers isn’t at all difficult and is an excellent way to help spread the word about your business while you build stronger ties with your customer base. This is particularly true if these guerrilla programs are unique and exciting.
Who wouldn’t want to help their local retailer go guerrilla and take comics to the fucking streets?
Guerrilla Marketing isn’t just a good idea. It’s good business. But more than that…
It’s also good damn fun.
THE MISSION: Hair Salon Invasion
THE OPERATIVES: Adrienne Rappaport and Jim Cox
THE OBJECTIVE: Isotope Street Team operatives Rappaport and Cox are regulars at one of the Bay Area’s hippest and sexiest hair salons Glam-A-Rama. Arming themselves with just the right books they stopped off to visit their favorite stylist and drop off a few comic books.
THE ORDINANCE: “Charm School,” “Smut Peddler”
“Charm School” is a classic comedic love triangle with a supernatural twist. Butch vampires, seductive faeries and sexy witches populate this clever and charming romance. Elizabeth Watasin’s clean artwork is a treat and her humorous writing makes this perpetually popular to people from all walks of life.
“Charm School Vol. 1” by Elizabeth Watasin
Slave Labor Graphics $11.95 (STAR16236)
“Smut Peddler” is an anthology of smart porn mini-comic by creators from every corner of the comic industry. Available at finer stores and for mail order directly from the creators as well as on many tables at conventions.
“Smut Peddler” by various artists
THE DEBRIEF: All reports indicate that this mission was a complete success, with hair stylist Isaac excited about the books that were provided and the potential for reading more comics. The books chosen for this mission could not be more perfect for this mission and for such a cutting-edge salon. Glam-A-Rama is located at 417 South Van Ness in San Francisco. (415) 861-GLAM
THE MISSION: Book Club Commando
THE OPERATIVE: Jared Guenther
THE OBJECTIVE: Invasion of a local book club known for reading a diverse selection of books from hard-boiled detective fiction to English classics. Agent Guenther equipped himself with a fantastic graphic novel and a passion to spread the gospel.
THE ORDINANCE: “Human Target”
“Human Target” remains one of the comic industry’s secret weapons in the war of converting non-readers. This tightly written, beautifully drawn magnum opus captures the minds and imaginations of all that read it with a clever and gripping tale of mystery and suspense. Anyone who enjoys films like “Memento” or “Usual Suspects” will appreciate the twists this tale provides. Stunning.
“Human Target” by Peter Milligan and Edvin Biukovic
Vertigo $12.95 (STAR11499)
“Human Target: The Final Cut” by Peter Milligan and Javier Pulido
Vertigo $19.95 (STAR19215)
“Human Target” ongoing series by Milligan and Pulido
Vertigo $2.95 In stores now!
Issue #1 (JUN030247)
Issue #2 (JUL030248)
THE DEBRIEF: Arriving with several copies of “Human Target” in hand Agent Guenther sat down for an evening of literary discussion during which he provided the club with copies of Peter Milligan and Edvin Biukovic’s Human Target trade paperback. Club members were enthused to indulge themselves in some sequential art suspense. Several follow-up emails were received with positive reviews and requests for more recommendations.
THE MISSION: Table Top Tip
THE OPERATIVE: Isotope Special Projects Director Kirsten Baldock
THE OBJECTIVE: Doubling up a good tip to a great one can be achieved easily by adding a great comic book or graphic novel. Agent Baldock having worked in restaurants herself knows that this simple technique will insure that an entire restaurant of employees will be exposed to this guerrilla marketing method.
THE ORDINANCE: “James Kochalka’s Sketchbook Diaries”
Hilarious, charming and fun these comics provide a glimpse into the daily life of one of the industry’s most unique creators. All three volumes of “James Kochalka’s Sketchbook Diaries” are a great read and popular with comic readers and non-readers alike.
“Sketchbook Diaries Vol. 1” by James Kochalka
Top Shelf $7.95 (STAR18835)
“Sketchbook Diaries Vol. 2” $7.95 (STAR15571)
“Sketchbook Diaries Vol. 3” $7.95 (STAR18151)
THE DEBRIEF: Perfect for those sampling quick bite-size morsels in between duties at a bustling San Francisco restaurant, there can be little doubt that this book was read by everyone from the bartender to the dishwasher.
THE MISSION: High School Infiltration
THE OPERATIVE: Special Agent Chris Nigoghossian
THE OBJECTIVE: Deputizing a high school student and fellow comics militant to help convert his classmates with free copies of pirate lunacy.
THE ORDINANCE: “Scurvy Dogs”
“Scurvy Dogs” is… well, you already know what “Scurvy Dogs” is. If you don’t, visit www.scurvy-dogs.com and check out all the great reviews this book has been receiving.
“Scurvy Dogs” by Andrew Boyd and Ryan Yount
AIT-PlanetLar $2.95 each
Issue #1 (OCT03 2019)
Issue #2 (OCT03 2020)
Issue #3 (OCT03 2018) – in stores this December!
THE DEBRIEF: This mission initiated earlier today. Results pending.
THE MISSION: White Wash
THE OPERATIVE: Ryan Yount
THE OBJECTIVE: People need clean clothes and they need comic books. Combining these two factors and arming himself with a copy of a preferred graphic novel, Agent Yount descended upon an urban Laundromat with a mission to provide excitement to laundry washing, entertainment-starved zombies.
THE ORDINANCE: “Whiteout”
Greg Rucka writing about an Antarctic murder mystery with mind-blowing artwork by Steve Lieber? Honestly, it just doesn’t get much better than that. Highly recommended.
“Whiteout” by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber
Oni Press $11.95 (STAR12943)
“Whiteout Melt” $11.95 (STAR11589)
THE DEBRIEF: Operation White Wash proceeded as successful as expected. The high proportion of younger people at the Laundromat, at least as was in the urban location I chose, was certainly a part of that. Faced with the choice of picking up a copy of “Whiteout,” the June 2001 issue of American Spade and Shovel, or trying to pick up life lessons from the “Dr. Phil Show” airing on the 1978 Zenith TV in the corner, well, there ain’t much of a choice. I rolled into the laundromat, dropped my copy of “Whiteout” down on the washers and started working on some “Scurvy Dogs” sketches. Looking up from my sketchpad, I watched four people over the course of an hour pick it up and read through it. Two girls, two guys (nice split!). The last girl was still reading it when I took off, and when I swung by later the copy was gone. No matter whom it was that eventually made off with it, I know at least four people got to look at it!
THE MISSION: Operation Head Hunter
THE OPERATIVE: Robyn Anderson
THE OBJECTIVE: Capitalizing on the recent release of the “American Splendor” movie and the captive audience that can be found in bathroom stalls the world over, Agent Anderson left headquarters with a fistful of Harvey Pekar comics and headed straight for the restrooms of a popular local movie theater.
THE ORDINANCE: “American Splendor”
No comic collection is complete without a copy of Pekar’s “American Splendor.” A brilliant and always interesting examination of the mundane and ordinary in the life of one man. Perfect for converting the everyman to the world of comic books.
“American Splendor – Life and Times of Harvey Pekar” by Harvey Pekar
Dark Horse Comics $15.95 (SEP032456)
“American Splendor – Unsung Hero” by Pekar
Dark Horse Comics $11.95 (MAY030023)
THE DEBRIEF: Agent Anderson saw that the best way to capitalize on viewers enjoyment of the “American Splendor” movie and to further promote comics to the captive audience was to scatter copies of individual issues throughout the movie theater bathrooms. Risking embarrassment and legal action her campaign also included the men’s bathroom.
THE MISSION: Coffee House Converter
THE OPERATIVE: Andrew Boyd
THE OBJECTIVE: Coffee houses the nation over are filled to over-flowing with hip intellectuals who like to read. Agent Boyd stormed the late night coffee sipping crowd with a graphic novel in hand.
THE ORDINANCE: Too Much Coffee Man
Shannon Wheeler’s “Too Much Coffee Man” is a perfect tool for converting the faithless, both because the comics are funny as fucking hell and also because these books have been applauded by the mainstream in popular sources like the Washington Post and Wired Magazine.
“Too Much Coffee Man – Guide for the Perplexed” by Shannon Wheeler
Dark Horse Comics $12.95 (STAR18525)
“Too Much Coffee Man – Parade of Tirade” $12.95 (STAR10415)
“Too Much Coffee Man Magazine” by Wheeler and Company
Adhesive Comics $4.95 (MAY021750)
THE DEBRIEF: It’s important to have people see you reading the comic before you leave it behind, they need a demonstration of appropriate use! That’s why I made sure I read “Too Much Coffee Man” right there in the window of the coffee house for an hour before I left it behind. Besides, that’s a good read!
THE MISSION: Takin’ it to the Streets!
THE OPERATIVE: Geoff Wagner
THE OBJECTIVE: Get copies of one of the best graphic novels of 2003 into the hands of San Francisco bike couriers.
THE ORDINANCE: The Couriers
The Couriers is simply the smartest, most adrenaline-pumping action movie of 2003. Completely dependable when it comes to guerrilla tactics and missions, everyone should have an extra copy of The Couriers on hand at all times for street fighting guerrilla marketing action. Few titles are capable of effortlessly converting new readers like this.
“The Couriers” by Brian Wood and Rob G
AIT-PlanetLar $12.95 (STAR17974)
THE DEBRIEF: They navigate the city streets like blood vessels through the veins. Lifeblood. They are what help keep industry alive. They keep business moving. A sharp turn and well-timed short cut through a back alley can make the difference between a well profiting deal or a self-inflicted gunshot to the temple. They are couriers. The little seen but manevolently present force, which glide effortlessly through the congested city streets of San Francisco. Like a perfectly timed urban ballet, they deliver the goods. But today, the guerrilla marketing teams from the Isotope’s commuter converter mission delivered to them. Fresh from AiT-Planetlar, free copies of Brian Wood and Rob G’s bullets flying, high speed car chasing, rocket launching, attack helicopter exploding comic book: The Couriers. Intrigued by a comic inspired in part by their real life jobs, they read. The over-all verdict… that’s fucking cool. Comments ranged being awed by the two paged cityscapes pencilled by Rob G to the high paced action scenes written by Wood. “The explosions are awesome,” said Brad, a courier for 9 years. “The art has a Japanese animation feel to it, I like that,” said Timmy, another Courier. Couriers Eli and David had similar reactions to the book. With more couriers arriving and clamoring for a copy as these four read, it’s safe to say that The Couriers seems to have struck some kind of cord with the people who live the job from day to day. Where the real life couriers take these copies of The Couriers and deliver them next is anyone’s guess, but hopefully the word continues to spread about quality comics and the ever-growing militia of comic fans continues to grow.
I couldn’t have said it better myself!
My street team has only begun to scratch the surface of the kinds of street-level marketing possibilities that are available to the comic industry. Where Coca-Cola might pour billions of dollars down the drain trying to attract new drinkers the comic industry needs only to get active in underground promotion and exhibition to get the word out.
Over the next two weeks we’ll be wrapping up this series of columns on guerrilla marketing by profiling even more balls-to-the-wall marketing madness and hardcore comics evangelism. We’re going to be pulling out our biggest guerrilla guns over the next couple weeks and taking our street team beyond the limits of comprehension for the entertainment dollars that are available.
This industry is all about creativity, out-of the box thinking, and the Do-It-Yourself aesthetic. Now is the time for our forces to mobilize, now is the time for our people to start spreading the word, and now is the time for our armies of comic militants to get active.
Now the time for our industry to get comic pimping.