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Marketing and Graphic Novels - our chat with Danny from Revolve Comics.
by Startacus Admin
Marketing and Graphic Novels. We Chat to Revolve Comics.
Danny McLaughlin, a member of the Startacus community, has just launched a new comic book publishing house Revolve Comics, that produces graphic novels and comics as an innovative and engaging form of content marketing.
It’s a fascinating area of marketing with a huge amount of potential, so we caught up with Danny to learn more about Revolve Comics and how his business fits into this burgeoning industry.
Hi Danny, so first off - give us your pitch! What is Revolve Comics all about?
Do comic books really have a future in a world where print is becoming ever less relevant?
It depends how far into the future you mean. Further down the line, I see a paperless world, full of technologies like ePaper, but in the immediate future paper and print media isn't going anywhere. The digital market has certainly grown, but so have print sales, despite the perception that the two are in competition. Comics specifically have seen an upward trend in popularity as they become more provoking for a new age, and are no longer considered only for kids as they have been in the past. They are on the cusp of becoming a mainstream medium because many franchises are utilising comics as a stop-gap between their other major launches. This is often described as 'The Marvel Model' where comics and graphic novels become companion mediums to other events such as movies, increasing revenue and maintaining fan loyalty.
What’s your favourite comic and why?
Easy one - it is Watchmen, by my favorite author Alan Moore. Watchmen was given to me when I was 18 and I had never heard of it. It had been a few years since I had read comics consistently. I read it and in one fell swoop and it changed a few things. It broke down barriers. It changed my perceptions on certain aspects that were themed within. More importantly because it did these things, it made me realise the power of comics and that they had never been respected enough and utilised to their full potential.
Comics can strike chords hard and with vigour through concepts, but more so through the entertainment factor they deliver. I saw how comics could be utilised to target certain audiences and deliver them beneficial information. As well as this, Watchmen just turned the whole industry on its head, and in being named one of Time Magazine’s 100 best novels, turned comics into a valid social commentary artform.
On a basic level, how does the effectiveness of Storytelling in comics compare with more traditional forms of marketing?
In this fast "scroll on down because you don't have much time on your lunch break" world visuals are the "wow stop there". Visuals catch your eye and then the story makes you engage and therefore, you can be educated about anything that brands want you to be. Also, because comics are seen as "for kids", they are less intrusive and are fun, and if they are fun people want to share this content and help to make it viral. To me, there is no other content that does the full package.
In the near future comics and "Visual Literacy" will become part of the commonplace marketing for the millennials.
Talk us through the process of the creating a comic book?
As with everything, especially something visual, you begin with a concept or a piece of information you want to deliver. Myself, I go through every idea like that and see what sticks and then develop it further into a brief, then further again into the script. Editorial by the client at every step ensures the comic does what it intends to do and appeals to the right audience.
From there the visuals are drawn up in what we in the industry call ‘thumbnails’- essentially just a roughed-up version to see how everything will look. After approval from the client then the final art can be drawn up, again with editorial input all the way. The final art should depend on the audience and the content - something that is aimed at a younger audience should be more appealing to them i.e. cartoon-y, but if it's for an older audience then a more gritty edgier approach might be preferable.
Style is all important in ensuring that the visual will connect with the right audience. From there, the colouring is added and the visuals are lettered with the copy and any extra things like sound effects and so forth are added. Final approval and outputting in the desired medium - and there we have it - a comic that the client can be proud of.
What would you say to a business that is sceptical about incorporating something like graphic novels into their marketing strategy?
Firstly, every business should be sceptical of how any medium may work for their business. Graphic novels can be great for major franchises between ‘events’, like how Marvel releases graphic novels between their films to keep fan’s appetites whetted. But for businesses, comics or graphic novels can be a great way of connecting and engaging with a new generation that is becoming more and more familiar with a progressive approach, and less receptive of more traditional forms of content marketing.
A great medium for businesses to connect with millennials is the 3-panel comic strip that we are all familiar with from the newspapers. These can be tailored to deliver quick and concise information in an innovative manner. The 3-panel strips are very effective when used through social media channels. But, because these remain underutilised, businesses aren't aware of the impact they can have and are skeptical about employing them.
I believe that this is all about to change.
Describe some of the challenges that you have faced which are particular to creating a comic book production house?
Well, in starting up a business there are always hurdles, but hurdles are meant to be jumped. The main challenge, which would be a common issue is connecting with people and letting them know that you are offering this business-to-business service. This is all a part of what we are about as a business - some visuals help us grab your attention, like the one above, and help us to get to the heart of what we have to say.
The other hurdles are building the portfolio and client base that can help you win over prospective clients once they have seen can see the potential impact and how we could help them. Yet I am building a wonderful little array of projects that will become a great portfolio. But in essence, these hurdles are the most satisfying once jumped. Also - Deadlines, the natural enemy of the creative industry.
Tell us about some projects that you have done in the past / that you are working on at the moment.
One of the great projects I am proud to say that I am working on is a really worthwhile comic, powered by Portsmouth Endocrinology Trust. It is a comic that will help young people who have just been diagnosed with diabetes. A very innovative and progressive approach to the dilemma which these young people find themselves in.
The comic is designed to give a soft introduction to the things that these newly diagnosed diabetics will come up against- 'forget all the leaflets and medical jargon stuff - ‘here's a comic- Enjoy!’. As it is delivered with a story and made really fun, then the reader doesn't realise that they are learning. Advised by a pool of people who were diagnosed at a similar age, this not only hits the points of the condition but also delves into the social impact of the condition and helps advise ways to cope.
Another project is creating educational resources, specifically for Creative Centenaries. This is a historically accurate comic that teaches about historical figures from 1916. A lot of people remember a story, due to how the points fit into a sequence as opposed to the points themselves and there are visual prompts to help the recall of the information later.
These are great projects, and I can see comics being employed to educate and engage more people of all ages in the future.
What are the plans for the future?
The plans for the future are simple, to help businesses and organisations market with an edge to their audiences, and find more businesses that may need these services. Hosting workshops to pass on these skills. And of course creating our own comics as a way to promote Revolve Comics and to have fun along the way.