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 tothe wise" things you hear so much about nowadays. The kind of thingthat, 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 onsome background, first.
Now, since you're reading this on the Internet, chances are you've seenme posting messages here and there. A good quarter of my work day isspent checking in on the various comic book news sites and messageboards and the like, interacting with the folks and basically keeping mytoes in the water. As a publisher, I believe it's my responsibility tomy own work and to that of the creators we publish to be a visible andaccessible guy. Sure, I write, and market, and advertise and doproduction and graphic design and strategize and basically run the wholedamn thing under the watchful eye of Mimi Rosenheim and over theprostrate form of my cabana boy, John, but that doesn't mean I shouldn'tbe 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'spublishing or marketing or creative direction or licensing opportunitiesor… or whatever, you'll get an answer from me anywhere from right now tono more than twenty-four hours later. If you don't get an answerfrom me by then, parenthetically, I'm either out of the office or yourquestion's answer should be immediately obvious or I didn't get youremail. 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 submissionsguidelines?" We don't have any, because we don't accept outsidesubmissions. "'Outside submissions'? What the hell does that mean?" Itmeans if we want to publish you, we know where to find you, and we willgenerate some internal correspondence for you asking you what you've gotgoing 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. Havesome manners.
"Why don't you collect (fill-in-the-blank), and make a nice tradepaperback of my favorite out-of-print work?" Believe me, ifyou've thought of it, we've thought of it, and it's eitherin the works, not the sort of thing we would publish, being published byanother company, or otherwise unavailable. "How do you make the decisionon what you're going to publish?" Well, that's the beauty of being me; Idon't have to be able to explain it, because I know good stuff when Isee it. "What's the deal with you and Alec Baldwin?" Hey, just becausetwo guys share a common love of spacesuits, everyone starts totalk…
So, earlier this week, I was spending my morning fielding these sorts ofqueries from the inbox, and I went over to my browser to see what, ifanything, had happened of interest overnight. I checked the boards atnotnews.org, and the guys over at iFanboy. I read some stuff atNewsarama, and slid over to Splash, while reading up real quick at theComicCon boards. I read the daily stuff at Jonah's, and checked in onthe ol' Loose Cannon message boards. I zipped over to The Comics Journalboards, even though those guys are nutty over there; I read some DCstuff, 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 SequentialTart, 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, WarrenEllis'. Day's not complete without checking in there.
But after flitting about at Warren's for a half-hour or so, andanswering various and sundry questions involving our publishing plans(this particular day I'm talking about was rife with stuff for me toaddress as Brian Wood's Couscous Express had just been published,and it seemed like everyone had a question or two about it), I foundmyself answering more emails than usual. And since I'd rather have Brianfree to work on more brilliant and entertaining comics than answer whyOlive says "Mum" in the first act and then "Mom" later on, I was sort ofgetting wound up. I mean, I know these things are important tosomebody, but, jeez. If Peter David can structure a whole StarTrek paperback around why it says "James R. Kirk" instead of "JamesT. Kirk" on the captain's headstone in the second pilot episode"Where No Man Has Gone Before," chances are I can explain to you whatBrian Wood had in mind, there, right? I mean, really.
But the important thing here, for the purposes of this column, is that Iam there to explain this sort of thing to the peoples.
Which brings me to the big break-through epiphany I mentioned up at thetop, 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 mighteven be tempted to create this new position and hire someone to fill therole: 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'dbe the voice of the company. Someone whose job it is to answer everyquery, explain every continuity bump, excuse every mis-step and patevery back, electronically as well as through the mail, theold-fashioned way. This would free up editors to do their jobs, it'dfree up creative to work on their books, unimpeded, and it'd assuage themore rabid fans who'd have a specific target at which to direct theirfawning and their vitriol.
The thing that's crazy is that I do this very thing with aquarter of my day, every day…
…but if you want to know why Joe Casey is writing the flagshipcharacters of the two major companies, or you want to know if it's theouter electron of the sulfur atom in the air that Nightcrawler stripsoff to fuel his stinky teleportation, or not, or if the friggin' Hulkreally 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 companywho's talking to all the editors, all the creators… the one guy with allthe 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 themajor companies.
Because, personally, I've always wondered what kept OMAC's hair up.
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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.