I’ve been reading up on marketing lately. As we approach getting BlackGuard: Volume 1 printed, I realize just printing the books won’t be enough. Even getting them on shelves won’t be enough. We have to generate an interest in the book. More importantly, we need to generate an interest in us. One book I’ve been reading in my spare time, The McGraw-Hill 36-Hour Course: Online Marketing, says pretty early on that you should ask yourself a few questions before marketing yourself or your product, such as “What makes you different?”, “Do you have a story to tell?”, and “Who is your target audience?” I decided a good way to approach this would be to write a blog about it. I’m not going to answer all of the questions exactly, but I do want to try to give a better look into who the Brothers of Spontaneous Combustion are and what kind of comics we make.
I’m not going to go into who Will and I are as individuals, but, moreso, who we are as BOSC. We’re two brothers that grew up loving comics, cartoons, and video games. We read comics, but we were not “comic book geeks”. We watched anime, but we were never “Otaku” or “anime lovers”. We played video games, but were not “gamers”. I’m not trying to say we were too cool to be associated with geek culture. We just always had an ability to step back and enjoy these things for what they were. When one of our favorite comics, cartoons, or video games went through a major change, we didn’t throw a tantrum about it not being “like it used to be”. We adapted. There was always room for change.
Will and I grew up in our own little world. We mostly just played with each other, and even when other kids did play with us, they had to enter our world. If they couldn’t adapt to our world, they probably felt left out. Our world constantly evolved based on what we were into. Ninja Turtles, X-Men, Street Fighter, Dragon Ball Z, Bad Boys and many other things made their mark on its development, but everything we implemented had our own little twist on it. That world is currently the BOSC universe. So far, you’ve only been introduced to BlackGuard, but we have much more in store for the future.
So what does all this have to do with defining who we will potentially be in the comic book industry? Well, first of all, because we were never die-hard fans of any one thing, our comics are never one thing. We don’t box ourselves into any one category. BlackGuard is a comedic comic, taking place in a superhero world, starring a cast of characters influenced by multiple non-superhero genres, executed with a style that blends manga and hip-hop. Try telling someone to write a comic that fits that description and see if it doesn’t make their head explode. We didn’t set out to make BlackGuard that type of comic. We just attempted to make a comic we thought would be fun to work on, and within a year, that’s what it became.
Too many people want to either be a part of the mainstream or above the mainstream. Many comic book creators go into the business saying to themselves, “I love Marvel and DC! I want to make comics just like theirs!” They either want to work on Spider-Man or create the next Spider-Man. Others go in with the thought, “Marvel and DC suck! Those characters are so stupid and played out. I’m going to do something completely different and revolutionize the way people see comics!” These people usually want to make the next Watchmen or Preacher. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do either of these two things, but there’s only room for so many to succeed at them. Marvel and DC can only hire a limited number of writers and artists, and comics can only go through so many revolutionary changes.
BOSC Comics isn’t like the mainstream, but we are not above the mainstream. We are an alternative to all the comics currently out there. Just because our books don’t star typical superheroes or manga characters doesn’t mean we consider ourselves too good for them. We have something for hardcore comic fans. We have something for casual comic readers. We even have something for the non-comic reader. It took me about three years to realize that our target audience resided on the outskirts of the comic community. Our audience is made up of those people who have an interest in comics but no set definition of what they should be.
So, that was the easy part. Defining who we are and who we appeal to in a blog is one thing. Most of the people reading this are already fans or at least have an interest in us. You all are willing to take a few minutes out of your day to read what I have to say, but we all know that in the internet age, where people are used to instant gratification, time is given sparingly. Not many people who don’t already know us are going to give us a few paragraphs to tell them why they should buy our books. We have, at most, a few seconds to draw them in. We have to figure out how to use a couple of images and as few words possible to convey the message above.
Peace be with you,