I look forward to the solicitation copy included in Previews each month for the upcoming issue. It’s written by series creator and writer Jim Zubkavich (aka Jim Zub) and pokes fun at comic book marketing and sales tactics.
For those unfamiliar with Previews, it’s the monthly catalogue for Diamond Comic Distributors and it’s packed with hundreds of pages of solicitations for comics, books, toys and more. So standing out from the competition is a challenge.
Few comic shop retailers (especially the medium and small-sized ones) have time to read through the catalogue. And only a few die hard comic readers, the nerdiest of the nerds (i.e. people like me) spend the time and effort digging through looking for gems.
I can only assume most publishers realize this. Writing the solicitations is probably among the most dreaded of the monthly editorial tasks thrown onto the desk of an intern or editorial assistant. And if you’re an independent creator, maybe you’re thinking “I really have to make this one sing,” carefully selecting each of the 50 words allowed in the hopes that they will finally help your book break through.
Or maybe you’re Jim Zub.
Almost a year into publishing the creator-owned Skullkickers, Zub must have realized the blurb had little to no impact on the orders his book was receiving and decided to take the piss out of the comic industry hype by putting an entertainingly satirical spin on the solicitation copy. And I couldn’t be more pleased.
Here are a few of my favourites:
‘FIVE FUNERALS AND A BUCKET OF BLOOD,’ Part Four
This issue has it all: A cover, printed pages, comic panels in sequential order and staples! You heard that right – staples! Okay, now that we’re past that stuff – Does anyone read this info? Do you? Let us know at http://www.skullkickers.com. PS: We now have more issues than Battle Chasers.
‘FIVE FUNERALS AND A BUCKET OF BLOOD,’ Conclusion
-oblem with solicitations, right? You have to make people believe in the book, your dependability and tap into their excitement for comics in 50 words or less. It’s tough, especially when so much gets hyped to a ludicrous ‘Nothing will ever be the same’ level, leaving them nowhere els-
“SIX SHOOTER ON THE SEVEN SEAS,” Part Three
Our real cover is a CRAZY SPOILER of glorious secrets inside so we CAN’T show it to you here! Until release, enjoy this NOT FINAL COVER image of a CUTE KITTEN. This issue: heinous violence, trouble making and all the skullkicking you can handle. (If you love the kitten cover, let us know… maybe we can work something out).
“SIX SHOOTER ON THE SEVEN SEAS,” Part Four
Ancient evil has arisen aboard the pirate ship called the Mermaid’s Bottom in this, the penultimate part of our 3rd story arc. Mind-control, maidens, monsters, meat, and more words that start with “M”. Everybody say it with me now: “Mmmmmmmmm…”
And then to really mess with everyone, they started to screw with the numbering. I love these guys.
Uncanny Skullkickers #1 (aka issue #19)
The UNCANNY SKULLKICKERS: Two hard-headed mercenaries kill monsters and cause havoc in their search for money, fame and adventure! A bold new direction! A perfect jumping-on point! A newly added adjective! Our nineteeth issue, but also a new issue #1! It’s all here, people! Don’t make us use more exclamation marks!!
Savage Skullkickers #1 (aka issue #20)
SAVAGE SKULLKICKERS: a modern reinterpretation that gets back to the roots of these timeless characters. It’s a bold new direction, a continuing story and a newly added adjective! Our twentieth issue is brand a new #1! Welcome to comic math.
But wait, there’s more!
Here’s a sample of the fun press releases you can find on the Image Comics website.
DARK SKULLKICKERS DARK #1 is dark, possibly gritty
This June, Image Comics beats a horse to death and you’re all invited to watch! It’s a new comic that’s not new at all… but it is dark. “How dark?” you ask? It’s so dark we had to use the word twice – DARK SKULLKICKERS DARK!
“This may be the worst thing we’ve ever done,” said Image PR and Marketing Director Jennifer de Guzman. “It’s a pale reflection of the industry’s need to spin rebooted series through endless hype, turning the crazed hamster wheel of entertainment promotion until it’s fallen apart. Good-bye, integrity.”
DARK SKULLKICKERS DARK #1, written by old industry pariah Jim Zub and drawn by young pencil jockey Edwin Huang, wraps up the fourth story arc of SKULLKICKERS, the series people keep saying they’ve heard about but haven’t had a chance to try yet but, dangit, they will at some point if they see the collections on sale or something.
“Fun comic books are a thing of days past,” said series creator Zub. “In order to grab a modern audience I’ve dipped into the darkness of my own heart and spilled my blood upon the pages of this sequential masterpiece. Oh yeah, there’s beer in it too.”
If you’re one of the few and proud collectors of SKULLKICKERS irritated that you won’t have a SKULLKICKERS #23 to add to your collection, fret thee not. In addition to the regular “Dark Dark” cover we’re offering a special “issue #23 variant” B cover to keep your collection copasetic. We’re looking out for you, baby.
We’ve dug as deep as we can go. We’ve entered the darkness. DARK SKULLKICKERS DARK #1 will be available in June wherever dark comics are sold. Pre-order it now from the April issue of Previews. Order the old trades too. They’re pretty good.
There you have it. Skullkickers: the best-blurbed comic you aren’t buying.
Zub’s blog is also a rich trove of anecdotes and lessons from an indie comics creator.