Last Wednesday BOOM! Studios released the first issue of North Wind by David DiGilio and Alex Cal, both in comic shops and for free at MySpace Comic Books. Chip Mosher, marketing and sales director for BOOM!, answered some questions I had about the MySpace promotion.
JK: If you could, walk me through the events that led to North Wind being put up on MySpace. Did they contact you, or did you contact them?
Chip: Sam Humphries, the man that is behind MySpace Comic Books, is a long-time friend. Before I was at BOOM! and was just one of their published writers, I did the deal with Sam to put a preview of the first issue of my comic, Left on Mission, on MySpace last May. Since I came over to BOOM! full time, we had been talking about what we could do together in 2008 and then suddenly, we find ourselves discussing different ideas at the BOOM! holiday party and there was creator David DiGilio at the party, and we just looked at each other and viola, that was that.
North Wind is just a great book. DiGilio really took to comics like a duck to water. Alex Cal the artist is going to be a superstar. It’s just such a great book, I really wanted to do something for it that stood out. As for the rationale behind the simultaneous release, well, there is tons of data out there showing that sales increase when you offer a product online for free. CrossGen had great success with this back in the day with their “Comics on the Web” initiative. The Heroes HC that DC just put out is all available online for free. I just saw some estimates of something like 26,000 copies sold — and this is on a book that costs $29.99 and all the material is available for free! And then there’s the bootlegging that is so rampant these days, and still overall sales of comics have still increased.
So regardless, people want to own this stuff. They want to hold it in their hands. They want to read it the car. They want to turn the pages. The physical artifact has value.
JK: What were you guys hoping to achieve?
Chip: We really wanted to increase product awareness and, of course, increase sales of North Wind. North Wind creator David DiGilio had an incredibly popular blog on TVGuide.com when his TV show Traveler was on ABC, and I really wanted to try to get to that audience and get them into the stores. I couldn’t think of a better way to do this than a simultaneous release of North Wind on MySpace at the same time the physical comic hits store shelves.
JK: It’s been a week since North Wind #1 was put up on MySpace. How is it doing? Do you know how many people have downloaded it so far?
Chip: It’s been going great. I couldn’t be happier. BOOM! commissioned a trailer to go along with this promotion and the trailer received 5,000 hits in two days over the weekend on MySpaceTV. I can’t divulge exact numbers on the downloads of the comic or the views, but suffice it to say, the numbers are very, very good.
JK: And how is it doing in shops?
Chip: People are selling out. This will be our most collectible book ever.
JK: How did retailers react when they found out you were putting the book out on the ‘net for free?
Chip: We have had a tremendous response. A shop down the street from us has already sold through 75 percent of their order. Marcus King at Titan Games in Battle Creek Michigan had never even heard of BOOM! and he certainly hadn’t ordered any North Wind, but when he heard about the promotion last Wednesday, he decided to get 12 copies. He got his copies on Monday and sold nine of them that same day. I am hearing stories like that from all over the country. Obviously there are some retailers who don’t like this promotion, and we have certainly heard from them. But I think the proof will be in the pudding.
I’d like to stress that we don’t make any money on North Wind if it doesn’t sell in the direct market. That is why when the next issue of North Wind comes out online we will be putting up links to retailers that have a MySpace page. So if you are a retailer and want to participate, email me here at firstname.lastname@example.org with your MySpace URL, store name and location and we will put you on the list.
JK: Why did you choose North Wind, rather than one of BOOM!’s other books? You guys publish (or will publish) several licensed titles that might have more name recognition, like the Godfather or Warhammer …
Chip: It’s the right promotion for the right product. DiGilio has a rabid fan following because of his TV show Traveler. People are hungry for his next creation, and North Wind is it. The voraciousness of his online fans from his blog made this the perfect promotion for this book. It doesn’t hurt that North Wind a beautiful book that is sharply written with incredible art, I knew people would respond to it.
JK: Have you heard from anyone who has downloaded the comic? Is it attracting folks who wouldn’t normally visit a comic shop?
Chip: One of my favorite comments was this one, and I would like to quote it in full:
Wow I haven’t read a comic book in probably 35+ years and I really liked this one. I’m excited to find out what happends next! I’d buy this issue now if I was told where to purchase it and I’m encouraged to look up others you have written. Great job and thanks for reminding me how much fun comic books can be even to a old guy 50+…Thank You
Posted by § © Ø Ý Ý ! £ on Saturday, January 05, 2008 at 7:47 AM
Of course, I messaged this guy personally and pointed him to the Comic Ship Locator. Which is awesome. What else is great is that people are getting new customers through this promotion and those customers are not only buying North Wind, but also other comics. And that couldn’t make me happier. Okay, you got me. It would make me a bit happier if all they bought were BOOM! titles, but you can’t have it all.
JK: Any plans yet to do something similar with your other titles?
Chip: We’ll see. This promotion really just came together at the right time, the right place, with the right comic and the right creator. We have four more issues that will be coming out in stores and online. So talk to me again in five months.
JK: What else do you guys have planned this year?
Chip: Right now I am really excited about our new ongoing anthology Cthulhu Tales that will be coming out in March. Steve Niles is headlining and will be ushering in a new era of terror along with stories by Michael Alan Nelson and others. We just solicited the first issue of the Godfather Chronicles. This project is going to blow people’s minds. Salem is coming out from Wanted screenwriter Chris Morgan and co-writer Kevin Walsh, along with art by Comic Book Idol runner-up Wilfredo Torres, which will knock people’s socks off. More Potter’s Field from Mark Waid will be coming out later in the year. And a ton of surprises to come. You ain’t seen nothing yet.