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Monday, March 01, 2010

Hey Kids, Comics!

Okay, if you'll all bear with me for a moment, I have a slightly longish post here, but I think its pretty important stuff!

As most of you may know, one of my multitude of blogs is called Hey Kids, Comics!, which features true stories from all different people about their funny/sad and/or significant childhood (or later) encounters with comics. Ever since starting it in 2007, its been a lot of fun to put together, reading different people's fond memories of comics.

Starting back in 2009, I got the idea that Hey Kids, Comics! would make a great book--a tangible collection of stories like this, between two covers. There are several other books using this round-robin format, but on different subjects: being dumped by women, movies, the theater, etc. But, as far as I knew, no one had ever done one on comics, so this seemed like a cool idea.

I put some feelers out to a couple of publishers, and was delighted to learn that most of them thought it was a good idea for a book, too. The only hitch, of course, was who would be the people in the book (read: names) that could make the book marketable.

I figured this all along, so after talking to the publishers in mid-2009 I started going around, asking various people who I thought would tell a great "I love comics" story to be in the book.

I was absolutely thrilled when, within just a few months, I had managed to get a bunch of "yes"'s from some really cool people: Alan Brennert, Mike Carlin, Gerry Conway, J.M. DeMatteis, Fred Hembeck, Prof. James Kakalios, Paul Kupperberg, Alisa Kwitney, Jonathan Lethem, Tim Schlattmann, Tad Williams, and more from the worlds of comics, literature, comedy, and political blogging.

I was touched that so many people--some my friends, some strangers--would say yes to such a vague, as-yet-homeless book concept. When 2010 arrived, I thought I had gotten a really solid, interesting, diverse group of people, enough to go back to the publishing world and see if I got any offers. The list of names I had was by no means the final list of all the people I'd want to have in the book, but I thought it was an amazing start, especially since I did it all my own.

With the help of some friends, I got the official Hey Kids, Comics! book pitch in to several big-name publishers, the kind of people who would be able to get me access to other people on my "To Get" list, and get the book in actual, you know, bookstores.

That was over two months ago, and so far I have not gotten any nibbles. No--let me rephrase that--I've heard nothing. No yes, no, or maybe. For whatever reason, the book world seems very tight-lipped, so getting any indication of what they're thinking is really tough, especially for someone like me with little or no direct contacts to that world.

So I decided to harness the awesome power of teh internets to get people behind the book, and who knows? Maybe if enough people hear about it, it'll snowball and I'll be able to add some more contributors and some publisher will see all this hullaboo and want to publish Hey Kids, Comics!

To that end, I opened a Facebook fan page for the book, located here. I just opened it yesterday and its already got almost 50 fans, of which I am extremely grateful. So, if you're on Facebook, please head over there and become a fan (to the six of you not on Facebook, I apologize).

Over the years, I've been very, very reticent to ask much of the Aquaman Shrine's audience, because I've always felt lucky such a goofy blog would have any fans at all, let alone an audience I could ask that much of. I've never asked for donations, or put ads on the site, and that's something I'm kinda proud of (I'm sure DC's happy with it, too).

But this book has become a real passion project for me, and the fact that its been met with such a positive response from so many talented people continues to reaffirm my belief that Hey Kids! would make a great book.

So I'm asking all of within the sound of my voice(?), please head over to the Hey Kids! Facebook page, and become a fan. But not only that--if there any of you out there who have connections to the book world and think someone you know might want the book, let me know. Also, if there's some interesting person who you know loves comics and has a great story they'd love to tell, let me know. My blogs are so much better from the input of all the people who read them, and there's no reason why the Hey Kids! book can't work the same way.

I realize this post has already gone on way too long, but there's one last thing I want to mention: there is an Aquaman connection to all this, outside of it just being a comic book-centric book.

Back in 2007, I got the kooky idea for an Aquaman hardcover book, detailing the history of the character and showing off the ton of Aqua-Merchandise that's out there. It would be like Chip Kidd's superb Batman Collected book, but with more orange and green.

I realized that Aquaman could not "sell" a hardcover book on his own, so I came up with a hook--a sort of story to tell about the character that I would weave throughout the book--that would make it more than just a less-popular version of the hardcover histories of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman already out there.

I put together a pitch, and with the help of Shrine Godfather Paul Kupperberg (him again!), I got in front of the proper department at DC Comics. To my surprise and delight, DC loved it, and called me the same day I emailed it in to talk Aquaman and schedule a time for me to come to New York and meet with them (I think it took a day for the smile to disappear from my face).

I went to DC, and had a great meeting, and they seemed gung-ho about the book. But they reminded me it would be a very tough sell--I mean, a hardcover book about Aquaman?--so there was no guarantee, even with DC's backing, that any publisher would bite.
The Aquaman book pitch

Over time, that dire prediction has seem to come true, since the publisher(s) that have taken a look at the Aquaman book pitch have passed. Even with Aquaman's heightened awareness in the culture (thanks mostly to Brave and the Bold), we still haven't had any takers.

I have to think part of that is because of me--after all, who the hell am I? A hardcover Aquaman book would be a hard sell even if it was written by Stephanie Myers, let alone some blogger who no one's ever heard of.

So I have to think, whatever slim chance the Aquaman book might have would only be increased if it's author--me--had another book under his belt already. Which brings us back to Hey Kids!

So, those among you who may not really care all that much about the Hey Kids! book, are reading this because you're an Aquaman fan. And maybe, just maybe, if I can get Hey Kids! off the ground and into the nation's bookstores, maybe I can follow it up with the Aquaman book, and who among us wouldn't want to see that?

So, to sum up:

1)Please head over to the Hey Kids! Facebook Page and become a fan.

2)If you do that, talk up the page on your page, and direct your friends who you think would also be interested over to the page.

3)Email me if you have any ideas on how to make the book a reality. Anyone who helps me get the book produced will absolutely get a shout-out on Facebook and, ideally, in the book itself.

Okay, done with the hard sell. Thanks for your attention, and we'll be back to pure Aqua-goodness tomorrow!

(Just in case you're wondering: that kid in the picture above is my Dad, age eight. That shot is going in the book, somewhere--of that I swear!)


Saranga said...

both books sound like a great idea. I've signed up to the facebook page.

rob! said...

Thanks Saranga! I appreciate it!

Wings1295 said...

Signed up to the Facebook page, as well. Have no advice for you, but you have a pre-sold copy here when it is published!

wich2 said...

Rob, I wish I had a contact in Publishing that I could massage for you... (still stand ready to write something up for the Comics tome, if it comes to pass...)

Will do the Face thing...

-Craig W.