Kansas City

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Obligatory Comic-Con post

It seems like Comic-Con is different today. This annual event held in San Diego (Spanish for "whale's vagina") started out as being the geekfest to end all geekfests, a nerds-only type of event strictly for comic book fanboys and girls that would attract diehards from around the world.

Today, there are lines of "tween" girls all hopped up on Glee and Twilight. Movie studios utilize Comic-Con as a massive marketing opportunity, which is okay if you're promoting The Expendables but not so okay if you're trying to pimp Get Up and Dance 2 (ugh).

As a result, what was once strictly for the fans has now become mainstream. Mainstream = no bueno. So is this a good thing or a bad thing?

In my opinion, it's both. Think about how we, as fans, have benefitted from great movies such as X-Men and Spiderman and Iron Man. The more our beloved heroes become well known, the better. But there is a downside (*cough* G.I. Joe movie *cough*) in that sometimes in order to appeal to the masses, the essence of a character must become watered down and a bit more "middle of the road."

We can still enjoy Comic-Con. We can still wear our superhero costumes. We can still have arguments about whether the Thing could beat the Hulk. And today, we can now relish in the opportunity to tell "normal" people, "I told you so!" about how great comic books are. If nothing else, view it as an opportunity to laugh at the lemmings that don't get it. Booyah.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chuck Norris will krinkle your comic books and roundhouse kick your dog

Okay, Chuckie may not actually do those things. But he totally could if he wanted to.

This is an actual comic book advertisement from the 80s. I remember seeing this in middle school and thinking, "Totally awesome! I've gotta get these!"

What I find interesting is the marketing approach behind these "action jeans." I mean, really, who was their target demographic? 

In the 80s, for the most part it was adolescent pre-pube little boys reading comics. So I guess the thinking was, "Hey, in case a kid gets into a rumble after school and finds himself needing to swiftly roundhouse kick somebody in the adam's apple--we got it covered! And make sure the jeans are extra stretchy. Wouldn't want the scrote to make an unannounced appearance."

Needless to say, Mom refused to order the jeans. Guess she didn't see how badly I needed pants that "won't bind your legs." Dammit Mom...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Free State Freecon - May 22, 2010 - Lawrence, KS

Just a brief update here. By request I'm posting a few cool shots we took at Planet Comiccon several weeks ago. Also wanted to give everyone a heads up of a con this upcoming weekend in Lawrence, KS (go KU!). Namely, the Free State Freecon (not sure what that name is all about). Go here for deets:


Also, wrote a funny little bit about the fun to be had at a comic book convention. This is especially eye opening for those that have never attended. But humorous either way. Click here to laugh until you pee. That's a guarantee. From me.


And now for those pics! (Still kicking myself for not taking a picture of Lou Ferrigno...)

Lou was just to the left of the Hulk. This statue stood 10 feet tall. That's a mile to you and me, Rus.

I tried to incite a gang war with some neighboring Jedi cosplay dudes. No dice. :(

Supergirl...nice. Gave me a total smurf-on.

So that's that. Very much looking forward to the Lawrence comic con this weekend. More content coming afterwards. Peace and chicken grease!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May 1st was "Free Comic Book Day" -- did you hear about it?

This past Saturday, May 1st, was "Free Comic Book Day" (http://www.freecomicbookday.com/). It's a great concept, having only been in existence since 2002. The thought was to create an annual event whereby you give away your product for free to draw new users in and get them hooked. Wow. Now that I think about it, that's the same approach drug dealers take.

Anyway, sounds good in theory, right? Here's the problem. I'm learning that the majority of comic shop owners are comic book fans, not businessmen. Just as with the comic con referenced in the posting below, Free Comic Book Day is not advertised outside of their existing clientele. The only way you learn of this event is if you frequent a comic book store. The only way you frequent a comic book store is if you already buy comics. No advertising = no new customers = no added revenue. That is anti-boner sauce, brotha.

There are so many directions you could go with this. Pass out flyers promoting this free event at a local library. Go to area grade schools, using the angle of encouraging kids to read. How about Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Kansas City? Children's Mercy hospital? Hell, a simple postcard mailer within a 5 mile radius of your comic book store would generate business. I recently picked the brain of a local comic shop owner on how business was going and he complained about how slow things were. People aren't spending as much money on entertainment, the economy is bad, etc. *Tear*

Those things are true to an extent--but what are you doing about it? Are you doing the same things today that you were doing before? According to Einstein, the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. Are you going after new business? Did you use Free Comic Book Day as an opportunity to gain new customers and additional market share? Are you actively promoting your store? What is your advertising/marketing budget?

A failure to plan is a plan for failure. As with anything in life, you have to go after what you want. Hope is not a strategy. But it admittedly brings a naughty smile to my face knowing that since others are so full of suck, it will make it that much easier for me to stand out from the crowd and succeed. Yay, average people!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Comic book recon part deux - nerds unite!

Continuing in my research phase, we had 2 smallish comic book conventions in KC this month which I attended. I refer to these as "mini-cons" because it allows me to sneak in a nerdy Transformers reference. Anyway, the KC metro has an annual big ass comic convention called "Planet Comicon" (http://www.planetcomicon.com/) which is actually quite fun. Incredible Hulk television star Lou Feriggno will be a guest this year. Awesome sauce! The Hulk is still as massively huge as ever. Quite an intimidating guy in person. He could place your head between his pecs and pop your head like a zit if he so desired. Although I have no idea why he would desire to do that.

Here's what I found interesting about the shows. Mini-con number 1 was the first weekend of March. Mini-con number 2 was the second weekend of March. Both of these cons are just a couple of weeks away from the once a year big ass convention. Anyone else see the fault in this? Spread it around, brotha! Jeez.

The only way one will learn of these super secret comic shows is to visit a comic book store and come across a flyer. Even Planet Comicon is guilty of this. Shame, shame, shame. Seems to me like comic shops would be the starting point to advertise a show, not the only place. I mean, c'mon--Lou Feriggno is going to be there! He's one of the most well known bodybuilders of all time! Take some flyers to the dozens and dozens of gyms in the area. Bump those Girls Gone Wild middle-of-the-night informercials and get a couple of quickie commericals going on local tv. Jane Wiedlin of the Go Gos is another big name that will be there. Shouldn't there be some flyers in local record stores? Shouldn't the powers that be look to grow the con every year, rather than settling for just the traffic that frequents a comic book store?

As for a report card for the 2 mini-cons, they were both okay. Very average. Very mediocre. Not good, not bad. Lots of quarter boxes. Little air circulation (smelly). I struggled to figure out how to get on their mailing lists so I would be notified of future shows. Once again, lots of opportunity.

Need to complete a bit more R&R (research and recon in this case) before taking it to the next step. Stay tuned, true believers. More to come shortly. You'll likely see another update shortly after Planet Comicon the weekend of March 27th. I'll be the one guy there with a girlfriend. You may also recognize me if you happen to catch someone spraying the attendees down with Febreeze as they walk by. Unfortunately a lack of social skills seems to directly correlate with a lack of personal hygiene. P-U.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mediocrity -- an entrepreneur's opportunity

I know a lot about comic books. I can tell you the exact issue number of the first appearance of Wolverine. I know the name of the guy that created Batman. I know the secret identities of characters you've likely never even heard of. But I don't know anything about running a comic book store. Oh snap.

Where to start? After a bit of brainstorming, I figured it would make sense to face my enemy head on. I've taken the last few days to do what I'm affectionately referring to as "field recon." It looked a little something like this:

Essentially I went into a buttload of local comic book stores, camo face paint intact, and evaluated what they do right, what they do wrong, where improvements could be implemented, and so forth. Have you ever been into a comic book store? Wow. They are so strange. Keep in mind this is coming from a guy that has been into comics since he was 8 years old. I'm not drinking the hatorade. Just keeping it real here.

Allow me to paint the picture for you. The typical comic book store owner is a 40-50ish year old male. He is a nerd. He dresses poorly. He possesses an overtly obvious lack of social skills and speaks very little. He looks as though he may keep a Miracle Whip jar full of his victims' lips in his basement. It literally feels awkward from the moment you walk in the door. Not exactly the type of environment that is conducive to bringing in children, creating excitement about your products, engaging your customers, etc.

Looking around the comic book shop, things are poorly laid out. I can't tell which books are new issues and which are older. T-shirts are all crammed onto a rack, none of which are displayed to the customer. When I asked about his comic book subscription service, there is no incentive for the customer to join. (For the unintiated this is the same concept as having a magazine subscription only you would pick up your pre-selected comics at the store each week.) It's dark and uninviting and homeboy is creepy.

Having been in this guy's store for all of 10 minutes and having zero experience in retail or this industry, I can already list a half dozen things he could be doing to improve his business.

Wow is it easy to excel in this world. Mediocrity--an entrepreneur's opportunity. :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Happiness is finding your inner geek

Perusing over my "joy list," I'm feeling a bit stumped. I love helping others. I love kids (not in the same way Michael Jackson does). I love animals. I love lamp. So how do I turn these things into a source of income?

It's been a few days since I've updated my blog, partially due to a bodybuilding injury, and in part due to me spending some time brainstorming over my happy pad. I think I've narrowed it down at this point to my primary goal, at least to begin with. I want to open a comic book store.

Geeky, right? I know. But it makes me happy. Comics give me that same feeling you get when you're 8 years old and you run down the stairs on Christmas morning to rip into presents. Comics mean something to me. Plus I'll be able to help bring joy to kids, one of my other notations jotted down on my little happy pad.

I don't want to open any ol' comic book store. I want to do something different. Wow, even just writing about this is bringing my passion out (look out ladies). The market where I live in KC is already saturated with comic shops, so I need to do something creative in order to stand out from the crowd. That's where an entrepreneur (even the self-proclaimed type) excels above others in his field. Why not have local artists and writers work in my store, sharing some costs while helping them promote their books? Donate comics to local children's charities for a little PR? Aggressively go after the youth demographic which has gotten away from comics? Bring in local celebrities for promotions? My head is going to explode from all of the nerdality! (Yes, I made that word up.)

Okay, so throughout this process I've gone from 1) an initial drive to 2) a little self-exploration to 3) an idea. Progress!  *Cue the Rocky theme song.*

And, now...gobbledygook. ZWSVUN84DWBW. Ah, needed to get that out of my system.