Category Archives: Marketing

Interview: Vince Hernandez Discusses Aspen, Kiani, and the Changing Comic Readership

00b_FAK4-02-CMYKcrop_1In early November Aspen Comics made the announcement they were changing up the look of their heroine Kiani when Fathom: Kiani Volume 4 #1 arrives February 11th. Alex Konat, Giuseppe Cafaro, and Wes Hatman were tasked with updating Kiani’s look and the title’s overall design.

What was even more amazing was the honesty and transparency as to why this design change and update was happening:

And as our company and fan base continue to evolve, a new generation of readers will be introduced to this wonderful character, including a much larger female audience. We wanted to honor that spirit of progress by updating the look and feel of the series with an exciting new design.

In a year of major changes in the diversity of comic characters, this was the latest example that 2014 could be called “the year of the woman” in the comic industry.

We got a chance to throw some questions at the writer of Fathom: Kiani, Vince Hernandez, not just about the new direction, but also the changing demographics of comic readers and fans.

We have even more images of Kiani, and tomorrow come back for Part II, where we talk with artist Giuseppe Cafaro about the actual design process.

00b_FAK3-01-CMYKcrop[1]Graphic Policy: So the big news is you’re redesigning Kiani for her comic’s next volume out in February. How did you all come to the decision for the redesign?

Vince Hernandez: That’s correct, we’ll be ushering in a new look for the series both through the narrative and the visual aspect of the title. Like most ideas we have, this was derived from one of our production meetings, while discussing the new direction of Fathom: Kiani, and what we were looking to achieve with the final product. We’ve tried really hard to establish a library of titles that will appeal to the growing number of comic book readers, and that includes a large female audience. With this fourth volume of Fathom: Kiani, we tried to be mindful of this new audience while also staying true to the character and her rich history. This included a natural evolution to the character’s appearance that fits more with where she is in her journey. It’s all very organic to the story when you read it. I hope readers will agree.

GP: How many people were involved in the redesign process?

VH: Everything we do here at Aspen is a collaborative process, so everyone’s opinion matters. Usually, that starts in our production meetings and carries over into the individual discussions I have with the creative team, and all along the way I try to gather everyone’s opinions. For Fathom: Kiani, it’s like clockwork because Giuseppe Cafaro, Wes Hartman and Josh Reed know exactly what to do, since we’ve worked together on this title for quite some time.

GP: Were there any mandates as far as the redesign?

VH: No mandates, just to stay true to the character and the story, and our original discussions about the visual look of the series which includes covers, solicitation ads, and the approach to marketing the book for a wider audience.

KIANI-V4-01c-Garbowska-2x3_1GP: In the release announcing this you mention how the Aspen Comics fan base has evolved, and the much larger female audience. How closely does Aspen follow that? Do you have a good idea of what your readership “looks like”?

VH: I think so, although we’re always pleasantly surprised to meet new readers. The comic industry is growing larger and with that comes new readers and fans looking to enjoy our books. With the advent of more conventions and social networking, it’s a very fun time to be a comic book creator, as we can interact with our fan base directly. We try to stay current with that approach and evolve as our fan base does. One thing many people wrongly perceive about Aspen is that we have a mostly male fan base, because they see our female heroines on the covers and assume we’re something we’re not. We actually have a very strong and loyal female audience that we adore, and we’re very open to hearing our fans’ opinions. We’re here to entertain first and foremost, and with that comes a responsibility to be open to criticism.

GP: How do you feel the comic readership has changed over the years as far as habits and demographics?

VH: I think the comic readership has become much more attuned to challenging the status quo in terms of voting with their wallets, but I definitely wouldn’t mind even more change in that department. Right now there’s such a great influx of female readers and more of a focus on increasing diversity in the industry, but there’s still a large majority of readers that dismiss anything not by the Big Two. Those buying habits are hard to change, but thankfully I think it’s trending in the other direction now.

GP: This year’s big story for comics is diversity with numerous publishers headlining a lot more minorities in comics, and outright changing gender or race of characters. What do you see as the driving force behind that?

VH: I’d love to say that I think it’s all organic to the story and not part of a larger initiative to appeal to a demographic that has been under-served, but I wouldn’t be completely honest. But, then at the end of the day, anything that helps to add more diversity to the industry I can’t see as a bad thing–as long as it’s handled with respect and care for the story and/or characters.

GP: Do you think those changes are editorially driven? Number crunching/marketing driven? A combination?

VH: A combination, and I think it’s foolish to think that marketing doesn’t play a part in these decisions. Oftentimes, we as fans can get so caught up in the comics we love that we forget that publishers have to run as a business, first and foremost. Understanding market trends and areas of growth potential are essential to any good business model in the long term. Finding new readership is the best way to feed that growth, and publishers have to search out those new readers in these ways.

GP: Do you think the rise of self-publishing, Kickstarter, web comics, the explosion of indie books has helped pushed for greater diversity in the rest of the industry?

VH: Absolutely, and the benefit to that added diversity is that it puts the larger publishers in a position to not rest on their heels, which is a win for the overall quality of the work produced in comics. Being a published comic book creator doesn’t have the same value that it did a decade ago, now that anybody can publish their own work with enough determination. It makes for a more competitive playing field, and more options for fans to choose from.

GP: We publish monthly demographic studies of folks who “like” comics on Facebook. Do comic publishers consider that sort of thing when deciding what to publish and who an audience for a comic might be?

VH: You know, at this moment the correlation between a “like” on Facebook and a sale at the retail level to me hasn’t presented itself yet, but I think there are plenty of conclusions you can draw from the statistical data on Facebook. I think this is much more pronounced at the creator level, as I’ve seen some creators really build a solid revenue stream for their work due to their strong social media presence. As a publisher, we usually have to make our decisions much earlier, as we plan our production schedule far in advance. Once it hits social media we already anticipate a certain level of awareness for the property or title.

GP: Can we expect any other shake-ups like this for 2015 for Aspen?

VH: Well, the great thing about Aspen is that we’re free to really shake things up all the time, so I think Aspen fans can expect many more surprises in 2015, as we have some really fun new projects on the horizon!

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Comic-Graphics: Weekly Facebook Page Stats

It’s Monday which means a new Marketing Monday and checking out how the various Facebook fanpages have grown or shrunk over the past two weeks.

Overall, the pages continued to grow, this week gaining 8,037,330, or 16.68%. This is primarily due to Marvel, who most likely consolidated some pages into one main page. The generic comic book page though took a hit, shedding almost 1 million likes.

There was some decent movement this past week towards the bottom of the list. Some pages hopped multiple spots. Arrows are present to indicate if a page has increased in ranking from the previous week. There is also one new page noted.

facebook overall 12.8.14Marvel remained in the top spot, most likely due to page consolidation.

facebook new likes 12.8.14Marvel was not shockingly in the top spot, but one of the generic comic pages also saw solid growth to me it into second, followed by published Comixtribe, then the Hero Initiative and the top five was rounded out by ComicBlitz.

facebook percentage 12.8.14

 

 

 

Comic-Graphics: Weekly Facebook Page Stats

It’s Monday which means a new Marketing Monday and checking out how the various Facebook fanpages have grown or shrunk over the past two weeks.

Overall, the pages continued to grow, this week gaining 664,586 which is 1.65%. That’s over twice the previous growth, mainly driven by Marvel.

There was some decent movement this past week towards the bottom of the list. Some pages hopped multiple spots. Arrows are present to indicate if a page has increased in ranking from the previous week. There is also one new page noted.

Facebook Overall 12.1.14Marvel took the top spot in total new likes with a massive gain over the last two weeks.

Facebook New Likes 12.1.14Valiant moved into the top spot, with Comixtribe in second, Marvel in third, Comicsfix in fourth, and the Hero Initiative in fifth. That’s a big shake-up when it comes to percentages.

Facebook Percentage 12.1.14

 

 

Demo-Graphics: Comic Fandom on Facebook

It’s the first of the month and that means a new look at the demographics of people who “like” comics on Facebook. This data is compiled using demographic data from Facebook, and is limited to the United States.

This data is compiled using key terms, “likes,” users have as part of their profiles. Primarily terms are focused on generic ones such as “comics” or “graphic novels” or publishers. I stay away from specific characters, creators or series, because this does not indicate they are a comic book fan. Over 100 terms are used for this report.

Facebook Population: Over 28,000,000 in the United States

The total population increaseed by 2 million, returning back to 28 million. It’s unknown where the 2 million-ish people came from. The Spanish-speaking population last month was 14.62%, and this month is 15%.

Gender and Age

Last month women accounted for 46.15% and men were 53.85%. Even with the population increase, the results this month as far as percent the results are close to last month. Women now account for 47.14% and men account for 53.57%.

facebook gender 12.1.14

We’ll next look at how the percentage of women and men break down through age.

facebook gender age 12.1.14Compared to last month, the big difference is the inclusion of those age 38 and over and women 33 and under.

facebook gender age raw 12.1.14

Relationship Status

Compared to last month, the results are almost exactly the same.

facebook relationship 12.1.14

And for those that like pie charts.

facebook relationship pie chart 12.1.14

Education

Compared to last month, the big difference is the amount of people who have indicated they have an Associate’s Degree, as if this was just discovered.

facebook education 12.1.14

Gender Interest

Compared to last month these stats are almost exactly the same when it comes to percentage.

facebook gender interest 12.1.14Ethnicity

For the first time, we now have data on ethnicity. Facebook compiles the data based on “behavior that aligns with people of that race.” It’s unknown the specifics of what that entails.

African Americans account for 2.6 million, about 9.29% of the comic fandom, while all Hispanics account for 6.6 million, around 23.57%. It’s been a few months since I’ve been tracking Hispanics, but African American is a brand new statistic, so expect adjustment over the next few months as Facebook gets better at their algorithm.

I’ve presented the data in raw form for this first report, but will do graphs for future months.

facebook ethnicity 12.1.14And that wraps up this month’s report.

Demo-Graphics: The Hunger Games

As we reported earlier today The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 topped the weekend box-office. The film had a primarily female audience.

When it came to demographics Mockingjay—Part 1 played closer to the Hunger Games core audience than Catching Fire with 60% of the crowd female compared with 57% for Catching Fire, and 52% of the Mockingjay crowd under 25 versus an even split for the previous Hunger games film.

Below is how the Facebook data breaks down.

Hunger Games DemographicsWhen you combine all of the terms, not including characters, you get an audience that’s just shy of 67% female. The movie has been reported as having 60% female audience, so again the Facebook data is off, but not by a huge amount. Where the data continues to struggle is with age. 52% have been reported as under the age of 25, while Facebook returns that number at just 41%.

In another report, we’ll add characters from the books to see how that might affect the above data.

And that wraps up this week’s report.

Comic-Graphics: Weekly Facebook Page Stats

It’s Monday which means a new Marketing Monday and checking out how the various Facebook fanpages have grown or shrunk over the past two weeks.

Overall, the pages continued to grow, this week gaining 300,157 which is 0.78%. That’s about a half percent lower than the last time we ran these numbers, but that week involved some adjustments to page totals.

There was some decent movement this past week towards the bottom of the list. Some pages hopped multiple spots. Arrows are present to indicate if a page has increased in ranking from the previous week. There is also one new page noted.

facebook total likes 11.17.14

ComicBook.com continues to purchase likes and remains in the top spot, followed by Marvel, DC, IGN, and the generic Manga page.

facebook new likes 11.17.14The top spots are interesting this week with the wiki like page for The Hero Initiative taking the top spot, and Valiant had massive growth in the second spot.

facebook percent 11.17.14

 

Demo-Graphics: Big Hero 6 vs Interstellar

It’s Monday, and I’m looking at more demographic data via Facebook. For this week I decided to look at this past weekend’s box-office results and see if Facebook good have predicted Big Hero 6‘s victory at the box-office over Interstellar.

When you look at the below stats, I think it becomes pretty clear why Big Hero 6 topped the box-office. Their stats show a much more diverse audience. The film clearly appealed to both men and women, as well as young and old.

big hero 6 vs interstellarIt’ll be interesting to see how each does over the next few weeks and months.

And that wraps up this week’s report.

Demo-Graphics: Comics and Politics

Today is election day and for those who haven’t voted, what are you doing reading this? Get out there and vote! We have a handy tool to help you out with that, including finding your polling location.

With that out of the way, we’ve been tracking a lot of information, not just demographic info of those who “like” comic related things on Facebook, but also their registration, political views, and if they donate to political causes. This data is compiled using the same data that’s used for the monthly comic demographic data breakdown.

It felt appropriate to present the year’s worth of data today! So, get ready for the first ever Comics and Politics roundup!

Voter Registration

Voter registration is a key to winning elections, and as we can see through the past year things have been a bit stagnant until August on, which us about when a lot of political organizations would get their voter registration going. There’s a sudden spike in September, but that drops. This data I believe is purchased by Facebook from the open voter roles and then matched to Facebook users.

The below is the total number of people registered for all of Facebook.

Registration Grand TotalHere’s the same information above, but just for those who like comics. You can see the same increase later in the year.

Comic Registration TotalWhere it gets really interesting is when the information is broken down by gender. You can see some of the greatest gains when it comes to registration for Democratic Women, who overtake Democratic Men towards November.

Comic Registration GenderParty Affiliation

Voter registration is one thing, but how one labels their political views is another. Facebook allows individuals to list whatever they’d like as far as party, and the system then categorizes them into Conservative, Liberal, Non-Partisan, etc. In September, they changed that a bit, eliminating Non-Partisan and adding Moderate, Very Conservative, and Very Liberal.

Party affiliation facebookIn May, there was a rather strange drop in data that I can’t explain that only showed up when I added the interests of folks. The data was checked multiple times over a few days and the same thing happened. The data returned to normal the following month. Here’s the same data above, except just those who like comics.

Party affiliation comicsWhile non-partisan dominates the below stats when it comes to gender, when that’s removed in September those that consider themselves Liberal for both men and women becomes the majority and top two results. Those that consider themselves Conservative drops in September.

Party affiliation comics genderDonations

The final thing we can look at is the habits of individuals who donate to conservative and liberal causes. We see the same strange spike we saw in voter registration in September, which makes me think there was an issue with Facebook’s data.

Donations facebookBelow is the above data, but just for comic fans. Interesting enough, the spike we see above occurs to a lesser extent in October instead of September.

Donations comicsInteresting though is when you break out the gender, men donate the least to liberal causes, while liberal women are the most generous. Overall, women became much more generous as the year went on.

Donations comics gender

And that wraps up our first report! Now, go out and vote, there’s still time!

Spider-Man Swings Into the New MarvelKids.com

Marvel is expanding the ways its young fans can interact with the Marvel Universe in fun-filled new ways as it launches the enhanced MarvelKids.com. The refreshed site, designed to captivate the next generation of Marvel fans with digital products and destinations that younger fans will love, will be headlined by an all-new Spider-Man kids destination featuring games and immersive activities starring Marvel’s legendary webslinger.

At spiderman.marvelkids.com, younger Marvel fans can take on the role of Spider-Man in a variety of interactive and amazing games including:

  • Spider-Man Web Shooter – Take on the role of Spider-Man and use your Web Shooters to help defeat some of his all-time greatest rivals – Rhino, Lizard, The Green Goblin and more!
  • Spider-Man Wall Crawler – Help Spider-Man race to the top of the Manhattan skyline to defeat Vulture, Electro and Doc Ock and save the day!
  • Spider-Man Web-Slinger – Use your spider-skills to web-swing, slide and jump to avoid danger and collect coins to try to get the highest score you can!

Fans will also find an exciting web of activities including Spider-Man downloadable coloring pages, mazes, word searches and Sudoku.

In addition to the exciting games that MarvelKids.com offers, fans will also be able to watch Marvel’s Ultimate-Spider-Man video clips – including sneak peeks at upcoming episodes of the hit series Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors, airing inside the Marvel Universe on Disney XD.

Over the next several months MarvelKids.com will be expanding even more with a marvelous Avengers kids destination with new Avengers and Spider-Man games, a digital comics section, and more digital features featuring everyone’s favorite Marvel Super Heroes – Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, and more!

MarvelKids_01 MarvelKids_USMWWCharacterGuide

Comic-Graphics: Weekly Facebook Page Stats

It’s Monday which means a new Marketing Monday and checking out how the various Facebook fanpages have grown or shrunk over the past week.

Overall, the pages continued to grow, this week gaining 428,868, 1.12%. That’s double the previous week. This week though there was some adjustments as better data has come forward. In those cases, the pages have been marked as being adjusted.

There was some decent movement this past week towards the bottom of the list. Some pages hopped multiple spots. Arrows are present to indicate if a page has increased in ranking from the previous week. There is also one new page noted.

facebook overall 11.3.14The generic Comic Books page has moved into the top spot due to being adjusted. Otherwise the top five is what you’d expect with ComicBook.com still buying likes.

facebook new likes 11.3.14The top four spots are all due to adjustments this week. Other than that, ComicBook.com is the top page not due to that, and again, they’re purchasing their likes.

facebook percentage 11.3.14

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