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Issue #42

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment

THE OFFICE OF INTERNET COMMUNICATIONS

Every once in a while I come up with a good one. This is one of those,
and I’m going to let you all in on it for free. One of those “word to
the wise” things you hear so much about nowadays. The kind of thing
that, once heard, you’re a chump if you don’t act on it.

But sit back and get comfortable, because I’m going to fill you in on
some background, first.

Now, since you’re reading this on the Internet, chances are you’ve seen
me posting messages here and there. A good quarter of my work day is
spent checking in on the various comic book news sites and message
boards and the like, interacting with the folks and basically keeping my
toes in the water. As a publisher, I believe it’s my responsibility to
my own work and to that of the creators we publish to be a visible and
accessible guy. Sure, I write, and market, and advertise and do
production and graphic design and strategize and basically run the whole
damn thing under the watchful eye of Mimi Rosenheim and over the
prostrate form of my cabana boy, John, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t
be available if somebody’s got a question about how we run things.

So if you’ve got a question about any aspect of AiT/Planet Lar’s
publishing or marketing or creative direction or licensing opportunities
or… or whatever, you’ll get an answer from me anywhere from right now to
no more than twenty-four hours later. If you don’t get an answer
from me by then, parenthetically, I’m either out of the office or your
question’s answer should be immediately obvious or I didn’t get your
email. Either way, these things happen.

The point is, even if you may not like the answer I give you,
you’ll get an answer right away nonetheless. “What are your submissions
guidelines?” We don’t have any, because we don’t accept outside
submissions. “‘Outside submissions’? What the hell does that mean?” It
means if we want to publish you, we know where to find you, and we will
generate some internal correspondence for you asking you what you’ve got
going on. But sending me an email saying “What the hell does that mean?”
doesn’t make me want to publish your work, just for the record. Have
some manners.

“Why don’t you collect (fill-in-the-blank), and make a nice trade
paperback of my favorite out-of-print work?” Believe me, if
you’ve thought of it, we’ve thought of it, and it’s either
in the works, not the sort of thing we would publish, being published by
another company, or otherwise unavailable. “How do you make the decision
on what you’re going to publish?” Well, that’s the beauty of being me; I
don’t have to be able to explain it, because I know good stuff when I
see it. “What’s the deal with you and Alec Baldwin?” Hey, just because
two guys share a common love of spacesuits, everyone starts to
talk…

So, earlier this week, I was spending my morning fielding these sorts of
queries from the inbox, and I went over to my browser to see what, if
anything, had happened of interest overnight. I checked the boards at
notnews.org, and the guys over at iFanboy. I read some stuff at
Newsarama, and slid over to Splash, while reading up real quick at the
ComicCon boards. I read the daily stuff at Jonah’s, and checked in on
the ol’ Loose Cannon message boards. I zipped over to The Comics Journal
boards, even though those guys are nutty over there; I read some DC
stuff, and some Marvel stuff. I like to hit Comics Continuum, and,
depending on what day of the week it is, I’ll read Savant, or Sequential
Tart, or Bendis’ boards, or The Fourth Rail.

Then I checked out the Delphi fora: mine, Brian Wood’s, Matt Fraction’s,
Kelly Sue’s, Robert Scott’s retailer forum, and, of course, Warren
Ellis’. Day’s not complete without checking in there.

But after flitting about at Warren’s for a half-hour or so, and
answering various and sundry questions involving our publishing plans
(this particular day I’m talking about was rife with stuff for me to
address as Brian Wood’s Couscous Express had just been published,
and it seemed like everyone had a question or two about it), I found
myself answering more emails than usual. And since I’d rather have Brian
free to work on more brilliant and entertaining comics than answer why
Olive says “Mum” in the first act and then “Mom” later on, I was sort of
getting wound up. I mean, I know these things are important to
somebody, but, jeez. If Peter David can structure a whole Star
Trek
paperback around why it says “James R. Kirk” instead of “James
T. Kirk” on the captain’s headstone in the second pilot episode
“Where No Man Has Gone Before,” chances are I can explain to you what
Brian Wood had in mind, there, right? I mean, really.

But the important thing here, for the purposes of this column, is that I
am there to explain this sort of thing to the peoples.

Which brings me to the big break-through epiphany I mentioned up at the
top, there.

If I was running DC, or Marvel, or even Image, here’s what I’d do:

I’d transfer responsibilities over to someone in-house… heck, I might
even be tempted to create this new position and hire someone to fill the
role: the Officer of Internet Communications.

I’d empower one person to be the online voice of the company.
There’d be no ego conflicts involved, because they’d have one cat who’d
be the voice of the company. Someone whose job it is to answer every
query, explain every continuity bump, excuse every mis-step and pat
every back, electronically as well as through the mail, the
old-fashioned way. This would free up editors to do their jobs, it’d
free up creative to work on their books, unimpeded, and it’d assuage the
more rabid fans who’d have a specific target at which to direct their
fawning and their vitriol.

The thing that’s crazy is that I do this very thing with a
quarter of my day, every day…

…but if you want to know why Joe Casey is writing the flagship
characters of the two major companies, or you want to know if it’s the
outer electron of the sulfur atom in the air that Nightcrawler strips
off to fuel his stinky teleportation, or not, or if the friggin’ Hulk
really is stronger than friggin’ Thor…

…there’s no central someone at the major companies whom you could ask.

And believe me, that’d be a full time job for somebody.

Imagine: one phone number, one email… to the one person from a company
who’s talking to all the editors, all the creators… the one guy with all
the answers.

It’d free up everyone else’s time, I can tell you that.

I’d love to see an Office of Internet Communication for each of the
major companies.

Because, personally, I’ve always wondered what kept OMAC’s hair up.


Materials costs are always changing. We are, as well, constantly working to lower our rates. Please call for larry@comicbookresources.com

The lads over at Borderline have streamlined their operation and made their .pdf-only magazine even easier to download. I very much recommend reading its 64 pages of monthly comics commentary.

While you can get your news about the funny books all over the Internet, I usually make it a point to let slip at least one bit of information at the Loose Cannon Message Board that I post nowhere else.