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Thread: Comics Cultures, Part 5: Commerciality

  1. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by Rain View Post
    Direct market: A project that will appeal to a firmly established demographic, with a fervent following for their genre of choice, and an emphasis on "action"; i.e., super heroes, sword and sorcery, giant robots.

    Trade: A project that will appeal to a firmly established, more "mature" and "scholarly" demographic than the direct market, with a fervent following for their subject matter of choice; i.e., conspiracy theorists, historical fiction, geopolitical commentary, the occult.
    So why is Diary of a Wimpy Kid a continuing best-seller?

    Why are Beach and Full Metal Alchemist best sellers?

    --Lee



  2. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by arseneau77 View Post
    I'd have to agree with you, but I'd push it deeper and say that the reason why certain characters and settings resonate is because of some unique combination of attributes that feeds one or more of the market's appetites, while simultaneously making the reader feel a connection to that character.

    IMO, you need to give them just enough of what they've seen before to make it familiar, with enough of a spin that it's perceived as unique and, thus, compelling.
    So...you come up with a project; how do you make a commercial determination from this?

    I agree this is so, but are we introducing all the necessary variables, and in the right order?

    As always, it's an onion, waiting to be peeled.

    --Lee
    Last edited by LeeNordling; Tuesday, March 09, 2010 at 07:19 PM.



  3. arseneau77 Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling View Post
    So...you come up with a project; how do you make a commercial determination from this?

    I agree this is so, but are we introducing all the necessary variables, and in the right order?

    As always, it's an onion, waiting to be unpeeled.

    --Lee
    Well, you'd have to take your project/concept/idea and strip it down to its core...get at the nut at the heart of your story and then compare that to what's already on the market, in the part of the sandbox you're attempting to enter.

    I suppose, if you were to take a 'ground up', rather than 'top down' approach, you could ask many of the same things you'd ask yourself when trying to write a pitch for an editor:

    -Why should someone care about this story?
    -What makes this story different from what's already out there?
    -What makes this story similar to what's already out there?

    If you can answer these in a way that touches on the appetites of the book-buying populace either currently in play or, ideally, happen to hit on what will be popular down the road (the 'net big thing'), then I think that's a starting point for comparing your work to the current market trends.

    Personally, I'd compare that stripped-down concept to mythic structure to find where you're hitting the archetypes and where you're wading into untested waters. Both have their value, but I really don't think you can underestimate the value of a story constructed, from its core, with the right care and approach to asking why am I saying what I'm saying here?

    If you can hit on the right universal ideas and appeals, you can even (sometimes) transcend genre. I think, if you can strip your own story down to these base components, then you can do the same for what's 'hot' right now and figure out what they are really saying, without the slick packaging.

    Then, you've got a tool set to use to compare stories against each other, as a basic unit of measurement, and should be able to judge where yours might fit into the matrix of what's already out there.



  4. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by arseneau77 View Post
    -Why should someone care about this story?
    -What makes this story different from what's already out there?
    -What makes this story similar to what's already out there?
    Nice work, Glenn.

    I see where these are going, so let's go there:

    Why are the last two questions important? (Yes, I know the answer...but let's hit this nail on the head.)

    The first question also drifts into an interesting territory, and maybe it should stand...for now.

    And there is one thing missing, which may or may not be tangential to the first question: the high-concept.

    Let's skip the "Predator meets Aliens" aspect, as well as how this term has been so terribly abused that it's become derided, and say that we need a log line that cuts to the heart of what is intrinsically cool (to the targeted market) about a project.

    Note, a log line isn't necessarily the hook (as in the first of my articles on pitching), but it could be.

    So, what's our general question related to this compelling one-sentence description of the story that's supposed to get somebody to sit up and take notice?

    Nice week, Glenn. At this rate, it could be a short week's work.

    --Lee
    Last edited by LeeNordling; Tuesday, March 09, 2010 at 09:45 PM.



  5. ohteej Guest

    glen is NAILING this topic :eek:

    GET THEM commercialized plots dude!!



  6. danialworks Guest

    Who buys direct market sequential art?

    Who buys trade paperbacks?

    Who buys ONLY original graphic novels?

    Who buys only manga?

    Who considers it all just comics?

    Which one is YOUR audience?

    Knowing which audience your work best speaks to-- or even audiences-- will go a long way toward finding what commercial is for you, personally.



  7. arseneau77 Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by ohteej View Post
    glen is NAILING this topic :eek:

    GET THEM commercialized plots dude!!
    Hehe thanks guys, but I hope I'm not jumping the gun and not giving anyone else a chance to answer.

    I'll try to hang back a bit and let the conversation develop.



  8. harryd Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling View Post
    So why is Diary of a Wimpy Kid a continuing best-seller?

    Why are Beach and Full Metal Alchemist best sellers?

    --Lee
    Quote Originally Posted by arseneau77
    If you can hit on the right universal ideas and appeals, you can even (sometimes) transcend genre. I think, if you can strip your own story down to these base components, then you can do the same for what's 'hot' right now and figure out what they are really saying, without the slick packaging.
    Bleach is a pretty good example of Shōnen manga - a popular genre of Japanese comics, generally about action/fighting but often contains a sense of humor and strong growing friendship-bonds between the characters. It contains elements that appeal to a specific demographic, and beyond that is fairly well done.

    Full Metal Alchemist is a bit harder to pigeon-hole, but it does have some interesting concepts, like a world where alchemy works and has taken prominence over science.

    In a similar vein, what made Naruto popular is probably a lot of the same elements that made Harry Potter work.

    Getting back to where the discussion ended up:

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling View Post
    So, what's our general question related to this compelling one-sentence description of the story that's supposed to get somebody to sit up and take notice?
    --Lee
    Trying to find a way to phrase this that doesn't come back to: "Why should someone care about this story?"

    I guess it's a bit more along the lines of, "What's going to get the reader's attention?" or "What is the story about?".



  9. danialworks Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by harryd View Post
    Bleach is a pretty good example of Shōnen manga - a popular genre of Japanese comics, generally about action/fighting but often contains a sense of humor and strong growing friendship-bonds between the characters. It contains elements that appeal to a specific demographic, and beyond that is fairly well done.

    Full Metal Alchemist is a bit harder to pigeon-hole, but it does have some interesting concepts, like a world where alchemy works and has taken prominence over science.

    In a similar vein, what made Naruto popular is probably a lot of the same elements that made Harry Potter work.

    Getting back to where the discussion ended up:



    Trying to find a way to phrase this that doesn't come back to: "Why should someone care about this story?"

    I guess it's a bit more along the lines of, "What's going to get the reader's attention?" or "What is the story about?".
    Why is my story the one that should be published over anything similar? Why s my story the one with the magic?



  10. LeeNordling Guest

    I'd like to bump these questions forward, in case folks forget they were still on the table.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling View Post
    I see where these are going, so let's go there:

    Why are the last two questions important? (Yes, I know the answer...but let's hit this nail on the head.)
    On this next one...

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling View Post
    So, what's our general question related to this compelling one-sentence description of the story that's supposed to get somebody to sit up and take notice?
    I don't think we're there yet.

    There's a reason it's called a high-concept; it's easily explainable, and it's what's driving the plot forward, and holding the interest of the readership.

    It's the reason the response to "My story is about a group of people trapped in a high-rise building that's on fire" gets somebody to open the check book and give you lots of money.

    It's the reason I told an editor we've got a book about (INSERT COOL CONCEPT HERE), and he said, "I want to see it."

    It's the reason somebody knows they can sell it.

    But what's the question that challenges the creator to determine whether they've got a project like that?

    --Lee



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