Posts tagged “Marketing

CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY


My work in the late 80’sand 90’s in the British publishing industry led to the engineering and successful marketing  of the Graphic Novel genre; a new format of  hardcover and trade paperbacks of graphic fiction that bookstores would stack on their shelves.  It was my job at Titan Books to do so, for which I was paid some £7,500 a year by my employer Nick Landau, to do.

After I was given a raise by Titan Books to £8K per annum , I learnt solely by chance, that my work had increased the revenue for my employer by some 7 figure sums and that the rest of the publishing industry were all cashing in on the work I was doing in promoting 9-5, the new publishing category.   Cashing in, but not adhering to  to the implicit quality standards the likes of Moore, Gaiman, Morrison, Speigelman and other auteurs were actively pursuing.

The Medium, as we used to call it back then, had failed to live up to its own promise.

So I got out; for that and personal reasons.

Now when I read the interviews with my former partners in CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY crime in the press complaining that the industry had failed and that the term Graphic Novel  was just a manipulative tool wielded by the Moloch of Comics Publishing932f83ea7108237da3f82c1b8ec82261

(Batman in MOLOCH!  Wonderwoman in MOLOCH!  The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galazy, Superman and the Xmen are all drowning in the vomit of MOLOCH!)   

Which I believe, the premise of the new cross over series written for DC by Grant Morrison.Tree-Man-A-1000x1000

The most admired (and crafted), writer in comics ever, in particular; (someone I worked with closely with on the presentation of his seminal forensic crucification of the American superhero genre to a mainstream audience, refrains from even addressing me by name in print when he lambasts the CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY that still pays him a living), has repeatedly condemned the  publishing category Graphci Novel, as  effectively, just another  CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY from the publishign industry.

I have news for the revered scribe:  you may have relegated me to the dark side, but take a look in the mirror, man: you’ve been here with me all along.

[Added 9.18 for context], I realise now that the above might be interpreted as some kind of opening volley against the distinguished author.  Far be it.  I will always both  personally  and publically assert that Mr. Moore was the change in comics back in the late 80’s.  No single other artist in the medium at the time was so intelligently treating the medium like a literary and artistic platform for expression.  Most craftsmen (and women), I met at the time were desperaely trying to hustle their next wok commission.  Not Mr. Moore.  His posture was different:  he related to editors, collaborators and others  as an auteur sans pretension.  Intelligent, articulate and demanding of  ones wit and focus.   And from I observed, never intimidated or swayed  by the money or more often, the promise of money from publishers.

Just to make absolutely clear about my statements regarding this author:  I learned everything I know about comics by just listening to him, during interviews, casual conversations and direct discussions.  A the time, this man was a walking sandwich board for the the new comics,  the Graphic Novels, chiefly because it was only his writing (and that of a handful of there), that even came close to qualifyng as a novel or even literature.   I never was nor have ever been a Comics Fan (Senator and members of the committee), but I have always been a fan of literature, drawn or undrawn.    Which is why I cntinue to read, enjoy and learn from Mr. Moore’s work.

Although I do take exception (mildly, not really that seriously), to his most recent public damnations of the Graphic Novel, and it’s origins; it’s not that I object to his opinion as much as I question the accuracy of his recollection of events and of the times that he was actually there.    I don’t take issue either with Mr. Moore’s take on the industry  and publishing in general; in fact the more experience I gain the more my views align with his.

But regardless of the vocabulary used (or the fact that I was being paid a paltry wage at the time), I accomplished my task to his and his collaborator’s direct professional and financial benefit.  Not to mention the real world benefits: the successfull dissemination of the term Graphic Novel into the mainstream brought to literally thousands of other free lances in the form of royalty checks for the graphic novel edition of their work; a  now standard of the comics industry throughout the world.

I do not benefit from the use of the term of from the money generated by its use.

Bird-With-Letter-A1-1000x1000But I do not regret not hiring that CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY lawyer that would have secured my trademark on the use of the term and perhaps a penny off of every new Graphic Novel sale; which is what the business side of the industry tells me I shoudl have done.

I did not “create” the term graphic novel; as an outsider to the industry, I found the term on the back of a Will Eisner book and used it as the keystone of a campaign to bring new comics, well written, adventuerously drawn comics.    But yes, I coined the term Graphic Novel; having borrowed it from the back of a low print-run Will Eisner compilation of The Spirit.  His clever NYC publisher was struggling to get Eisner’s work into the bookshops too and had tried the term connotating Literary fiction: a novel.   My use of the term was different as messieurs Gaiman and Moore can both attest to; Grant got it about the same time but more remotely, in Glasgow.  Graphic Novel  was meant to mean  NEW Graphics, new graphic literature, new comics.

Coining, (in the sense of creating common usefulness; IOW: monetizing a vocabulary term into the common currency of language of transactional communication).  It derives from the coining of money by stamping metal with a die. Coins (also variously spelled coynes, coigns, coignes or quoins), were the blank, usually circular, disks from which money was minted. This usage derived from an earlier 14th century meaning of coin, which meant wedge. The wedge-shaped dies which were used to stamp the blanks were called coins and the metal blanks and the subsequent ‘coined’ money took their name from them.

{Coining later began to be associated with inventiveness in language. In the 16th century the ‘coining’ of words and phrases was often referred to. By that time the monetary coinage was often debased or counterfeit and the coining of words was often associated with spurious linguistic inventions; for example, in George Puttenham’s The arte of English poesie, 1589:

“Young schollers not halfe well studied… will seeme to coigne fine wordes out of the Latin.”

Shakespeare, the greatest coiner of them all, also referred to the coining of language in Coriolanus, 1607:

“So shall my Lungs Coine words till their decay.”}coin a phrase

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The NEW comics of the late 80’s and early 90’s that derived from Moore’s early work for DC, Spielgelman’s dabbling at biography in NYC, Miller’s pushing the edges out on Dare Devil and most of all (for me), Bill Sienkiewicz’s explosive rendering of ELEKTRA ASSASIN!  I had never seen anyone take the convnetions of comcis illustration like Faugere Egg and take a sledge hammer to it the way Siekiewicz did, literally splattering the edges of the pages and frames with the remnants of comics conventions.  Sienkiewicz brought commercial  art and later fine art sensibilities to Graphic Novels, something his admirer and pioneer in his own right Dave McKean would further in his career just like in a real popular arts medium.

These were the Makers of New Works.  I’ve forgotten everyone:  Brendan McCarthy, Jamie Delano, Pete Milligan, Frank Miller, Joe Sacco, Harvey Peckar, Gilbert and Jamie Hernandez . . . .  they all were making, new different work outside the stulpifying conventions aesthetic conventions.  So like superheros, they need a new name and Guardians of the Galaxy was taken, so instead you got Graphic Novelists.

I resent nothing.

It was my own fault for being more naive and less carnivorous than my employers.

So instead I have to work for a living; for which I have no complaint as at least I have work to do.

I did learn something valuable (whenever someone fails, they  always say that they learnt something valuble),  and that is to sell a product whatever it might be, you have to create a place in people’s minds and desires where they want that product.  The most intimate and subjective of products: the books we read, the music we listen to , the films we watch: you must give people a reason for looking an understanding for what they may see.

That is why a coded term like Graphic Novel works; it’s a cut through, short cut signifier that puts anyone who wants to know or needs to know in the picture immediately: you know what you know and now you know what it is.

In the case of Poetry, we have a different problem.

Everyone knows what  Poetry is, right ? It’s that stuff you had to memorize in school and  analyze with Mrs. Humphries who always crossed the naughty words out like ‘sweat’ and ‘blood’ and ‘toil’ with a thick, black, fascist marker pen.38_image_v2

Or it’s what you penned to your wife when you were courting her; or received form your husband, your boyfriend, you lover.  Anyone one of those people in your life who felt such passion, such ardour for you that they could not tell you, they had to find words from some magic place to convince you, to persuade you, to seduce you into the beauty of the passion they could see in you.

Perhaps a Poem was the only form your shattered thoughts could take at the loss of someone so precious to you that you would choose the pian of being hewn by swords than endure the truth of their permanent absence from this world.

Perhaps you have nearly gone mad and found Poems, like steps out of the abyss of self-loathing into the stark light of realisation and hope for your self.

There is no greater hope to lose than the Hope for Yourself.

So Poetry has a signifier, a pretty universal one; unfortunately it doesn’t point towards anything like what Poetry actually is.

Poetry is an art form, not a craft.

Poetry an aspiration to derive music and pattern from our deepest thoughts, the language of our dreams and the whispering, the lamenting, the singing, the moaning and the laughter of our souls.

Poetry is Liberation.  The words will set you free.

I am a Poet and to sell my ware  (my GRAPHIC POEMS ;~),   I must show people what it is that I do, that others do that is so far removed from the common currency of the term Poetry.   So this is not only a CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY, but a sinister sales strategy as well!   To get you to read my words, I must first who you what they are ouside the barriers of  your preconceptions.

So, come to a picnic and hear what Poetry is and the vital importance it has always played in our social and political lives.

*Poster for Marathon Rimbaud-100-THOUSAND-POETS-4-CHANGE-by-Henrik-Aeshna

September 27th, 1 pm Balboa Park, World Beat Centre/ El Centro Cultural de la Raza

Come One and All, Come All in One, Come to the 100,000 Poets-for-Change Marathon!  (Picnic & Reading)

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It’s your duty ;~)