Posts Tagged ‘Evangeline’

Dixon and Rivoche: Critical of the Right

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Give Chuck Dixon and Paul Rivoche a lot of credit. They certainly stepped outside the box in an effort to promote their new book, a graphic adaptation of Amity Shlaes’ THE FORGOTTEN MAN, by attacking  comic industry liberals in their Wall Street Journal OP-ED piece, How Liberalism Became Kryptonite for Superman.”

They managed to generate a lot of interest  and even had the opportunity to tout their book, published by Harper Perennial, on FOX NEWS!

Thank God that most of the hardcore conservatives that pay attention to these narrow-minded resources couldn’t care a rat’s ass about comics or they would have seen through the thin veil of deception that is so brilliantly dissected  by Janelle Asseline in her Comics Alliance piece, “Superhuman Error: What Conservatives Chuck Dixon & Paul Rivoche Get Wrong About Politics In American Comics.”

In their effort to be Uber Americans by defending the Political Right, Dixon and Rivoche tread on one of the most valued American liberties that comic creators have fought decades for, the right to freedom of speech and expression which is protected by the First Amendment.

Their endorsement of the Comics Code Authority, which was a direct product of McCarthy era conservatism and possibly the most strict code of censorship of any American medium, flies in the face of anyone who truly loves and values the most basic and fundamental principles of freedom set forth by the founders of this country.

It was particularly odd that both gentlemen conveniently ignored the comics history of the 1980’s where creators rebelled against the big publishers of superhero comics  and defined the potential of the Direct Market by working with Independent publishers that defied the rules of the Comics Code Authority.

Both Dixon and Rivoche saw their first works published by Independent publishers in 1984. (not the 1970’s as stated.)  Chuck Dixon’s EVANGELINE which, originally published by Comico, told a tale about a nun with a gun that was an assassin for the Vatican.Canadian Paul Rivoche illustrated Mister X published by Toronto based Vortex. His story was about a mad scientist that induced his own perpetual sleeplessness with a fictitious drug. These were not comics that any of the Code publishers would consider touching at the time!

It is ironic that these pioneers of “moral ambiguity” in comics should be so vocally opposed to its current existence in the medium!

The success and proliferation of similar independent projects eventually led to Marvel and DC’s softening and ultimate departure from the Code. This was  an orchestrated effort to compete with and eradicate Independent comics publishers  who had gained substantial  market strength.

The market dictated the newfound liberal mores with which comics were created! If audiences did not clamor for these new “left-minded” ideas we would all be reading comics with the seal of approval on it today. Worse, comic books would most likely have faced an inevitable extinction.

The comics of the 90’s that the two chose to credit with the moral departure were created by a  wave of young talent that cut their teeth reading comics and being inspired by the likes of Dixon and Rivoche. These upstarts recognized that it was time for a jailbreak and sought to distinguish themselves as the New World Order in comics.

Dixon and Rivoche are among many creators moderately associated with the old guard, despite their groundbreaking achievements, to be trampled by the inmates intent on running the asylum, finally free of the restraints of oppressive censorship (a page torn right from Dixon’s own Batman stories.)

Jerry Ordway has similar gripes but does not blame left leaning politics in his plea for work, Life After Fifty.
For many, like Ordway, it is rather an overwhelming lack of respect and appreciation for the contributions of creators that in the past would have been revered industry-wide.

Fortunately the Independent movement (not just of the 80’s and 90’s but that of the 70’s  Underground Movement, the Web Comic  Movement of the 00’s and the current Digital Movement) has solidified the rights that creators have to express themselves freely through the medium of comics. There is a now place  and an opportunity for any kind of comic regardless of “right” or “left” leaning politics. This is good for everyone, especially those with idealistic American values.

Without this new, expanding market for comics there would be no publisher that would have been interested in THE FORGOTTEN MAN, a comic not about superheroes and not targeted specifically at children. That would be a real shame.

Dixon and Rivoche should have remembered their true roots and celebrated their masterful execution of their own creative rights rather than endorse a close-minded, faux conservatism that could potentially crush other creators’ rights to freedom of speech and expression in a new witch-hunt reminiscent of the one perpetrated by Dr. Fredrick Wertham that led to the development of the restrictive Comics Code Authority.

Dixon and Rivoche need to ask themselves which Right is more important; the creatively inhibitive conservative views of the Political Right or our Inalienable Right to free speech and expression that has given comics the opportunity to flourish?

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



A true, capitalism-endorsing conservative would let the market decide.

Comico and Elementals to be Resurrected!

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

CO2 Comics publishers, Bill Cucinotta and Gerry Giovinco, have formally announced that they have incredibly reached an exclusive agreement with Andrew Rev and will be reviving the Comico imprint for a new line of full color comics that will include the ELEMENTALS title originally created by Bill Willingham. The new line is expected to be  available for distribution in the Direct Market this coming Fall.

Cucinotta and Giovinco were among the original founding partners of Comico the Comic Company. Comico began publishing black and white comic books in 1982 with the release of Comico Primer #1, an anthology comic that featured characters created by the original publishers.

1st five Comico Covers

Comico immediately added four new black and white features, AZ by Phil LaSorda, SKROG by Bill Cucinotta, SLAUGHTERMAN by Gerry Giovinco and GRENDEL by Matt Wagner.

Comico's 1st Color Books

In an effort to grow the fledgeling company, Comico scrapped their entire black and white line to concentrate on full color, creator-owned, comic books spearheaded by   MAGE by Matt Wagner, and EVANGELINE by Chuck Dixon and Judith Hunt soon to be followed by hugely successful ELEMENTALS by Bill Willingham, all published in 1984.

Comico quickly became a contender in the independent market throughout the 1980s and  as a pioneer of licensed properties began setting new standards with tiltles like ROBOTECH, STARBLAZERS, JOHNNY QUEST, SPACE GHOST, and GUMBY.

Comico for a brief period ranked third in the industry for monthly sales with a broad line of comics and graphic novels before making the fatal decision to enter the mass market, a move that would drive the company into bankruptcy leading to an eventual sale to Andrew Rev in 1990.

Along with the acquisition of Comico, Rev also bought the exclusive rights of the ELEMENTALS from Bill Willingham and has remained the sole owner of the title and characters since.

The revival of the Comico imprint by CO2 Comics will also resurrect the Elementals in the form of a 300 page full color Elementals Omnibus that will collect the first twelve issues and primary story arc of the series, accompanied by digital release of each individual issue.

Cucinotta and Giovinco, who both left the partnership before the demise of their former company, are excited to have the opportunity to steward the Comico brand in the direction it was always intended just in time to celebrate the thirty year anniversary of the title and Comico’s publication of their first color comic books.

“This would be a dream come true,” admits Giovinco, who confesses that this is nothing more than a cruel prank that he perpetrated since April Fools Day coincided with his weekly blog post that is launched each Tuesday morning.

“It would have been a bore not to act on April Fools Day,” he states, “but  you are still welcome to enjoy all of great comics at CO2 Comics, many of which are created by former Comico collaborators like Bill Anderson, Reggie Byers, Chris Kalnick, Mike Leeke, and Bernie Mireault.”

You can also enjoy several creator owned features that were originally published by Comico such as:

GAUNTLET by Neil Vokes and Rich Rankin

RIBIT by Frank Thorne

SKROG by Bill Cucinotta

SLAUGHTERMAN, by Gerry Giovinco

THE WORLD OF GINGER FOX by Michael Baron and Mitch O’Connell

VICTOR by Andrew Murphy

Along with many other great features by talented creators.

Happy April Fools Day!

Gerry Giovinco

*Sincerest apologies to Andrew Rev, Bill Willingham, Dynamite Entertainment and any comic fan or speculator who may have experienced palpitations due to this post that was solely intended for good fun.



Happy New Year, 2014!

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Goodbye 2013! All of the triskaidekaphobics can now come out of the closet and take a breath of fresh air. It’s time to move on.

Like any year, 2013 had its ups and downs with plenty of good and bad to go around.

I had high hopes for a magical year  when writing this blog to usher in the New Year twelve months ago, the manifestation of which is evident on the CO2 Comics site and in the product we’ve produced.

Besides my 52 weekly blog posts that tackled everything from creator’s rights to trademark infringement and a month-long, scathing review of the PBS broadcast of Superheroes: the Never Ending Battle,

we were delighted to introduce exciting new comic features that are available  to view for FREE everyday along with thousands of pages of other comics that have been archived here at CO2 Comics over the last four-and-a-half years:

Cid and Francis by Mike Sgier continued our commitment to diversity with its unique style of art and whimsical fantasy set in a world of elves and elemental spirits.

Two short stories, The Gold Mask and Revenge as well as the serialization of The Adventures of ROMA all by the legendary  John Workman.

15 year-old Indigo Anderson captured our attention with her youthful talent exhibited in her short feature North and South.

Most recently added has been Dreamcraft, a science fiction thriller by Craig Rippon, Sam Custodio and Bill Anderson that is sure to have you hanging on every page.

We also had the good fortune of releasing four new books in print:

Volume two of David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW  The Complete Collection.

Three graphic albums, Doggie Style by Steve Lafler, The Adventures of ROMA by John Workman and NON by Chris Kalnick.

All of which are available with the rest of our printed product that we conveniently  cataloged on this Wish List.

Purchase them exclusively at these two links:

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/co2comics

http://www.amazon.com/shops/co2comics

Comico's 1st Color Books

Robotech/Macross #1 cover, Comico 1984

We look ahead to another exciting year with wonderful new projects and publications to be announced with a firm swell of appreciation of our accomplished past as Bill Cucinotta and I will celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of our first full-color comic books. 1984 was a significant milestone for us when, still as publishing partners at Comico, we released the historic first issues of Matt Wagner’s Mage the Hero Discovered, Chuck Dixon and Judith Hunt’s Evangeline and Bill Willingham’s Elementals. That defining year was rounded out by the publication of MACROSS which would eventually become ROBOTECH!

As staunch supporters of independent comics we also have to give a tip of the hat to another thirty-year anniversary as Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird celebrate their 1984 creation of the phenomenally successful Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and proved to us all that while publishing comics is hard work, anything is possible when you follow your dreams. Thanks guys!

We can only hope that 2014 will be as dynamic for comics and for us as 1984 was. We know from experience that all we can do is give it our best shot and we will!

You are all welcome  along for the ride!

Happy and Prosperous New Year from our entire CO2 Comics Family!

Gerry Giovinco



The Comic Company: Licensed to Thrill

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

A number of comic book companies today fill their product line-ups with licensed properties. IDW, Boom, Darkhorse and Ape are among the most significant publishers outside of Marvel and DC who have found value in acquiring licensed properties from other media outlets.

The idea is simple and is a marketing tool used by scores of merchandising companies in nearly every industry. Find an intellectual property with high visibility. Purchase the rights to make an exclusive product featuring the property. Benefit from the sales generated by the customer recognition of the popular property.

Badda Boom, Badda Bing!

Licensing and merchandising is nothing new. Saint Paul built Christianity on its basic premises by marketing the popular teachings of Jesus as a new religious product.

Merry Christmas,” two thousand and ten years later!

Comic books have used it since the beginnings of the industry. The first comic books featured licensed syndicated newspapers comics that were reprinted in color.

It shouldn’t have been a big deal in 1983 when Comico licensed the rights from Harmony Gold to publish the English adaption of the popular Japanese animated series MACROSS. But it was and it became an even bigger deal that put Comico on the map as a major player in the comic industry.

Robotech/Macross #1 cover, Comico 1984

At the time, and please correct me if I’m wrong, Comico was the first independent comic company to enter into a licensing deal other than one that was of a creator owned property. Only Marvel and DC had a lock on that side of the market and, to the best of my knowledge, no one else was even considering it.

Comico’s deal was innocent enough. It was built on the enthusiasm of Carl Macek for his project that he was working on with Harmony Gold and the Comico crew’s collective interest in Anime. Comico enthusiastically became the first American licensee of MACROSS.

At the same time DC acquired the rights from Revell to publish ROBOTECH, based on a line of toys designed around assorted transforming robot molds that Revell had purchased from a toy company in Japan. When the first issue was published by DC it was clear that a number of the robots in ROBOTECH were from the MACROSS series and many of the other robots were from other series that Harmony Gold also held the rights to.

Needless to say there was lot of wrangling going on but Carl Macek and Harmony Gold held the trump card. They had an entire animated series that could be adapted to TV in the American market. As Stan Lee would say, “‘Nuff said!”

Revell and Harmony Gold worked together to build the ROBOTECH franchise that took America by storm. Harmony Gold proved their honor by awarding Comico the rights to the comic book resting it from DC since we had the original deal for the actual story.

Comico's 1st Color Books

Comico had already established its ability to produce quality product with its first color offerings, MAGE, EVANGELINE, ELEMENTALS and MACROSS. Our production and success of the ROBOTECH comics helped the marketing team behind ROBOTECH to attract more licensees and before long the ROBOTECH logo was everywhere.

Others took notice and soon we were being contacted others, most notably Hannah Barbera who was looking for a publisher for Thundarr the Barbarian. Our interest, however, was in one of their long dormant properties, Jonny Quest.

Jonny had been off their radar for so long that the people we were dealing with thought that it was a Filmation property and were surprised to discover it in their own archives.

Jonny Quest was a huge success for Comico and other properties were soon to follow. Space Ghost, Gumby, and Starblazers were all big hits. We also set our sights on Max Headroom and though we did initially acquire the property and began marketing it, creative differences arose between the editorial staff, creative team and the owners of the property, Chrysalis Records. Max Headroom never became a Comico comic book.

Other comic companies picked up where Comico left off, finding success in licensed properties. Others found even greater success in licensing their own properties following in the insanely successful footsteps of Eastman and Laird’s nearly immortal Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Now, more than ever before, with the advent of digital content and the internet, we have to closely examine what is the true value of the comics that we make. Is it the comics themselves or is it the intellectual property they are derived from?

We all would love to make money selling our comics and I can tell you from experience that you certainly can but folks, the real money is in the properties themselves.

Disney and Warner Brothers both know this and are in the process of redefining the IP of Marvel and DC for success in the long haul while producers throughout Hollywood are rummaging through comic properties regularly looking for the next Mutant Turtle.

The Internet is the comic creator’s opportunity to develop and establish rights to a property while reaching an audience that is global. Protect your assets, invest your skills and let the best properties sell themselves. This is the greatest time ever to be a comic creator. Take advantage of it!

Hey, I know the economy sucks and the market is in tremendous flux but guess what? That is exactly how it was when Mickey and Superman showed up both borne on the backs of failure and surrounded by the Great Depression. Their strength was the brilliance of their property which still shines today.

Comic properties can have tremendous economic power and there is plenty of proof. Don’t be discouraged if you are a creator or a fan. The future for comics is bright.

David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection Vol 1

CO2 Comics is going into 2011 as optimistic as anybody! The content of our site is growing steadily and our readership is expanding rapidly. We have published our first book, David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection Volume 1 and have new products on the horizon.

But our biggest achievement is the honor That Bill and I have of posting the great comics that have been trusted to our site by creators that we love and respect so that all of our valued readers can enjoy them.

Thank you everyone for this opportunity to do what we enjoy most.

Making comics because I want to.

Gerry Giovinco

The Comic Company:
True Colors – Part 2

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

The Gray-Line System that I described in last week’s blog helped us to achieve a look that we had always hoped for our comics when we first considered evolving to color.

The fact that most of the alternative independent publishers were taking advantage of the ability to print processed full-color images on the better, whiter paper was not our inspiration or motivation at Comico.

Captain Canuck by Comely Comix

Long before we had even printed our first book we had already fallen in love with how the color appeared in Captain Canuck comics published by Comely Comix and illustrated by George Freeman. The soft processed color printed on newsprint had a quality that was unique compared to the limited 65-color palette of traditional flat-color comic books.

We were not interested in the slick color of the glossy new comics and we definitely did not care for the glare that shown off the pages of the glossy paper stock.

Mage By Matt Wagner

 

Our preference for the more muted color production was evidenced in the fist two issues of Matt Wagner’s Mage.

Matt, who had attended college with Bill and me at the Philadelphia College of Art, had been involved in many discussions concerning how we all thought color in comics should look. We were all on the same page when we made the decision to print Mage on a high-grade newsprint. Mage was a more urban setting and was supported by the grittier look of the newsprint. Besides, we wanted it to look like Captain Canuck.

Evangeline by Chuck Dixon & Judith Hunt

 

Chuck Dixon and Judith Hunt’s Evangeline was a different story. We could see how the finer line quality and more delicate colors would be better served on a whiter stock and though we were reluctant to go to a fully bleached stock we upgraded to a Mando stock which had a creamy quality to it and did not suffer from the glare issue that the more machined paper stocks offered.

Our early color books were printed in Florida at the same press that was printing Bill Black’s Americomics line but we quickly switched over to Sleepeck in Dixon, IL so that we would have more centralized shipping and warehousing of our runs. Once at Sleepeck we decided that our standard comic line, including Mage, would all be printed on the Mando stock.

Wheatly & Hemple's Mars

Around this time we were also introduced to a new coloring system. Mark Wheatly from Insight Studios was producing Mars with Marc Hemple for First Comics. He had told me about a guideline system he was using that employed the use of chemicals from a Fluorographics Services kit. A brief description of how the system works can be seen here.

This system was very similar to the gray-line system in that you had to produce a positive transparency of the line art. The grey line required a negative to produce the grey guide-line on the layer to be painted. The Fluorographics system let you use the film positive to create the non-repo blue guide which eliminated an extra step and expense. You could coat any paper stock you wanted with the chemicals allowing you to paint much more naturally than on the polymer based photo paper of the gray-line.

Blue-Line instruction from The Illustrator's Bible By Rob Howard

Note that though the color was considered non-repo blue this was only effective when shooting in black-and-white. The blue line did appear in the color separations for full-color.

Initially we would coat a paper stock with the sensitizer, place the film positive on top then cover it with a plate of glass to keep it flat then take it outside to expose it to the sun then run in and develop the image. It didn’t take too many rainy days to convince us to purchase a UV sun lamp so that we could do all of this inside and avoid blowing deadlines.

The only problem with this system was that the paper stock was less stable than the photo paper and would shrink when the paint dried, often distorting the registration.

Matt solved the problem by using pre-stretched watercolor blocks of paper that were sealed on all four sides keeping the top layer “stretched” until it was dried and removed. Matt would buy large enough paper so that four pages could be exposed at once. He usually had two blocks set up so that while one block dried, he could be working on the other.

This new blue-line system was a home run but it was not going to help us with our next two projects.

Elementals & Macross Covers

We knew that when we signed on to publish Bill Willingham’s Elementals that we were going to want it to be more like traditional flat-color superhero comics. Down the line would also be a little project called Macross that would press all of our expectations for color in comics. We still had a lot to learn.

To be continued…

Gerry Giovinco

Making comics because I want to!

The Comic Company:
Marketing Comics on Mobile Devices Since 1984

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

“Location, location, location!” This is the mantra of of real estate investors worldwide and was a dilemma we faced as we planned a promotion strategy for our first full-color comic book publications, Matt Wagner’s Mage and Judith Hunt and Charles Dixon’s Evangeline.

 

Our first 2 color publications

 

Comico had proven itself as an aggressive marketer of its black-and-white line by advertising in all of the major fan magazines at the time. Bill Cucinotta made sure that full-page ads were regularly seen in the Comics Buyers Guide, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Journal, and David Anthony Kraft’s Comics Interview.

 

 

Our decision to begin publishing in color raised the bar significantly. We could no longer survive if our titles sold just a few thousand copies each. We knew that publishing in color would automatically cause our sales figures to rise dramatically but we had to sell around 30,000 of each title to see black ink on our ledger sheets.

30,000 seems like a good number when looking at the monthly sales figures of comics today but in 1984 when Marvel and DC were still selling comics for 75¢ we could not compete with a $3-4 cover price. At $1.50, our profit margin was a lot slimmer than it is for books in the current market.

We had great faith in the product and rightfully so. Creators of each comic have gone on to become industry giants but at the time they were all virtual unknowns.

We felt that in order to succeed we needed to promote our product at the point of purchase; in the comic shops themselves.

Bill, who had worked many years in retail at Fat Jack’s Comic Crypt in Philadelphia, knew first-hand how valuable the real estate was in comic shops which were usually quite small.

When he, Phil LaSorda, and I discussed the possibility of posters in the stores to promote our comics the question was, “Where would the retailers hang them if they hung them at all?”

Retail walls were usually covered, floor-to-ceiling, by shelves displaying hundreds of new comics. Valuable older comics in mylar bags were displayed on walls also.

If a poster were to go up on any of the limited wall space that might be left, you could bet that it would be reserved for a Marvel or DC product.

We talked about post cards and rack cards but agreed that counter space and rack space was as much a premium as wall space in the tiny comic shops.

Hell, the only space left was the ceiling and how would we convince retailers to staple our poster on their ceiling?

Inspiration from above

Maybe it was from years of kite flying, model rocketry, and hanging plastic airplanes in my room. Maybe it was from marveling at Alexander Calder’s masterpieces in art school. The idea of creating a mobile that the retailers could hang from a single tack or hook soon gave rise.

We would command a virgin, uncharted territory smack in the center of the ceiling in virtually every comic shop. We would boldly go where no man had gone before!

 

Mobile Ad

 

The Comico Mobile, which was promoted as “The First in a series of Promotional Mobiles,” was a simple elegant design though it would be the first and only one of the intended series. It was a cardboard disc that was 18 inches in diameter printed in full color on both sides, Mage on one side, Evangeline on the other. At the top was drilled a tiny hole from which it could be hung.

There was a limited number of 100 that were signed and numbered by the creators and the rest were sent to distributors where retailers would place an order to get theirs for free with their shipment of Comico comics. Just in case they missed the offer we ran ads in the trades to make sure no one was left out.

The Comico line of color comics was off the ground. The proof was on the ceiling!

 

A Comico Mobile still hangs in my studio today right next to my inspiration for the Comico Blimp, a toy airship hanging from a string.

 

CO2 Mobile Command Centre

 

On the wall behind my desk, however, is a new banner proclaiming CO2 Comics, our exciting new foray into the digital world of comics.

Today’s digital environment adds a completely different meaning when speaking the term “mobile.” Computers and mobile devices like smart phones, iPads, and e-readers are quickly changing the landscape of all publishing including comics.

CO2 Comics will give Bill and I the chance to pioneer again but we will still look back to the term “Location, location, location,” only this time we will be looking for a good Wi-Fi connection.

Making comics because I want to

Gerry Giovinco

 

 

The Comic Company:
In The Bag

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

This week the comic industry is bracing itself for the forty-first installment of the San Diego Comic-Con International. The San Diego show is by far the preeminent comic book convention in the world and has been for decades.

In the early 1980’s, when we first started to attend as Comico, International was not yet tagged onto the name. Even then it was the biggest and best Comic Convention though in those days 4,000 attendees was an exciting number, nothing compared to the audience that piles in today.

1st five Comico Covers

1983 was our first year attending with a booth and we were quick to realize how easy it was to get lost in the vast auditorium of vendors, publishers and artists. Comico was a small black-and-white publisher at the time featuring five titles: Az by Phil LaSorda, Grendel by Matt Wagner, Slaughterman by myself, Skrog by Bill Cucinotta and our new-talent anthology, Comico Primer. We had our sites set on publishing color books and had begun to promote our intentions.

Colorful AD-spirations by Matt Wagner and Andrew Murphy

When we had decided to attend the convention our first priority was to make sure that we presented ourselves as professionally as possible. We had a number of sales representatives from display companies stop by the studio and pitch their product. Most of them were very expensive and very boring. I made a point out of examining each display meticulously, focusing on how each was built and what features best suited our needs. My conclusion was that I needed to build the booth myself because it was the only way that we could afford the type of booth that we wanted.  I designed and constructed a booth display out of foam core that was quite impressive. It was covered with vinyl graphics that I applied with a tacking iron. It came complete with plexiglass pockets that displayed our books and had overhead lighting built in. The whole thing folded flat and we transported it in an oversized portfolio.

Rich Rankin and Matt Wagner at Comico Studios christening the newly constructed Comico Booth

The design and construction skills that I had developed as a model and costume builder along with the 3-D and sculpture training that I had acquired while attending the Philadelphia College of Art proved to come in handy when it came to selling comic books.

Mage-or Hijinks with Rich Rankin and Matt Wagner in front of the Comico Booth

The booth, which would last us for the next three years, gave us an air of professionalism that we had not yet been awarded by our peers. When fans approached our booth we looked as impressive as Marvel, DC and all of the other major players at the time. Our books then were a bit crude but we were slowly building our reputation on grit, perseverance, creativity and ingenuity.

We left San Diego that year proud of the inroads we had made. We had proven that we could be part of the landscape of industry and we had done well networking with fans, distributors, retailers, artists and other publishers.

When we returned to San Diego in 1984 there was a lot more at stake. Our decision to go to color had been realized but not as we had initially planned. The five titles that we had touted the year before were gone. Our commitment to color forced us to recognize that if we were to succeed we needed to send better work to the presses. The new lineup included Elementals by Bill Willingham, Evangeline by Charles Dixon and Judith Hunt, and Mage by Matt Wagner.

Comico's 1st Color Books

We knew that it was going to take much more than a fancy booth to make sure that our product would be noticed by the attending crowd of comics enthusiasts.

We had come back from San Diego the previous year with a huge pile of brochures, flyers, buttons business card, postcards and photocopied samples of art, most of which had been picked up at the entrance of the convention hall. It was easy to lose even the most lavishly produced piece of promotional material in this wild collection of potential paper cuts.

How was Comico going to separate itself and its promotional material from this knot of collateral material?

Stepping outside the box is a long used cliche but one I have always adhered to, especially when it comes to promoting a product. Ironically, it was the box that was the solution for our marketing approach for Comic-Con that year. The box was the vessel for the usual and the mundane. Once outside of it, all I saw was valuable marketing real estate on the box, itself!

We needed a vessel of our own that everybody else’s promotional material would go into.

I went to S. Walter Packaging in Philadelphia and researched bags and found a plastic one that was reinforced, strong enough to carry a lot of paper goods, and printable on both sides. I designed a catchy slogan that featured our logo in two colors and incorporated an ad that we were running in our books. Finally, I plastered the thing with black-and-white go-go checks that made it pop across the room.

Comico Convention Bag Front

As expected, we were the only company that had a bag that was capable of holding all of the goodies that anyone could pick up at registration and around convention hall. The bag was not only popular it was in demand. When bags ran out at registration a line formed at our table. Nearly every attendee carried a Comico bag that year and it was nearly impossible to not see our logo anywhere at the convention center or in the streets of downtown San Diego.

Comico Convention Bag Back

Our success at San Diego Comic-Con that year was clearly “In the Bag!”

Gerry Giovinco


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