Valiant’s Marketing and Publicity Manager Gregg Katzman Helps Us Understand What Goes Into Getting A Comic Into your Hands
I’ve always wondered what happens to a comic between the time it has been finished and when I finally get it in my hands – especially one I’ve been salivating over since I first caught that glimpse of a teaser image on social media, and so I spoke to Valiant’s Marketing & Publicity Manager Gregg Katzman about what his job entails when it comes to getting some of my favorite comics into my hands.
Gregg has been with Valiant since November 2018, joining the publisher as a marketing coordinator before working his way up to his current position in August of 2020. He’s also a super nice guy.
Graphic Policy: We all (hopefully) know the role that writers, artists and editors play in getting comics to the shelves, but what do your duties entail?
Gregg Katzman: Before joining Valiant Entertainment, I was a big fan of the company and have lots of history as comics/entertainment press (Comic Vine, Screen Rant, CBR, IGN, UGO Entertainment, About.com’s Marvel expert, plus coordinating signings as the Marketing & Events Manager at Midtown Comics). So, I spent years promoting Valiant before ever actually joining the team. Now, being the Marketing & Publicity Manager is sincerely a dream job because it’s all about bringing the perspective of a press person and someone who’s legitimately passionate about the Valiant Universe.
A lot of my time is spent working with press, and I’d certainly hope you can vouch for that, Alex!
GP: I absolutely can!
GK: Since I bring the perspective of someone who has worked for several outlets, I always strive to build a legitimate relationship before pitching anything. If I’m reaching out to a site, YouTube channel, or podcast, I don’t want to waste their time by offering something that isn’t a good fit. After all, every site, channel, and show covers the industry in different ways. Because of that, I’m always trying my best to make sure the experience is mutually beneficial. Is this opportunity a good fit for the outlet and its fans? If not, what would be? Will this be interesting to current Valiant fans? Will it potentially create new Valiant fans? Knowing is half the battle. Pitching and coordinating everything is the other half.
I’m fortunate enough to have a ton of creative freedom when it comes to working with press, building announcement strategies, and how we’re working with creators to help promote their projects. I also do my best to engage with fans as much as possible since… well, I am one.
There’s a lot of other stuff I do on a daily basis, but I won’t bore you with the details. Let’s just say I do a lot of juggling and keep very productive.
GP: At what point in a comic’s development are you usually involved from a marketing perspective?
GK: I’m very lucky to work at a company that embraces having very open and honest conversations about everything we’re doing. Usually, editors and directors talk about the projects first, and then they’re circulated to me and some other people for our feedback. Assuming the pitch moves forward, my boss, Matthew Klein, and I will meet with the book’s editor to pick their brain. Why are they excited about it? Why should current fans be excited about it? Why will this bring in new fans? I will also send a creator questionnaire document to the book’s creative team to better understand their views on the project and their comfortability and preferences with promoting the book.
All of this will help Matthew and I build the announcement campaign and additional opportunities to promote the book. After the announcement and follow-up coverage is made, there should be an aggressive push to capitalize on the issue’s IOD (initial orders deadline), FOC (final order cutoff), on-sale date, and the “now on sale” angle. Then you have to think of ways to keep promoting the next issues. At the time of writing these answers, I can say we have an announcement about a month away and there’s a full week of coverage lined up on different outlets and even at a virtual event… This entire process is legitimately fun to me and every time I love thinking of new ways to promote our books.
GP: How reactive is your role? I know you juggle a lot of plates, but does anything ever happen that makes you switch gears and take a campaign in an entirely different direction?
GK: Yeah, it’s entirely possible that things can change at the last minute, and I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I panicked instead of thinking about the best way to adapt and move forward. It’s important to remember that everything is a learning experience, nothing ever goes 100% according to plan, and there’s never just one path forward.
GP: Valiant have been known to give away some really fun promo items (the only baseball I own is the Doctor Tomorrow one). Do you get to come up with those?
GK: I can’t take any credit for those. Those are called POP (point of purchase) items and they’re created by the Sales team which consists of former retailers. Those items are sent to retailers (and sometimes select press and fans) to either utilize (like signage, pens, etc) or give to their Valiant shoppers.
GP: When it comes to marketing comics, do you ever find it hard not to reveal things?
GK: All the time. Again, I was a big fan of Valiant before joining the company, so being able to get an early look at everything and plan so far in advance is something I’ll never take for granted. That said, I may or may not have off the record conversations with some fans and press that I trust…
GP: Do you have a favorite market campaign that you’ve been involved in?
GK: I sincerely love working on every single announcement campaign (each one is carefully crafted to complement the book), but I’ve always had a soft spot for building press tours and coordinating interviews. As a former press guy and someone who built signing events at Midtown Comics, getting creators to interact directly with press and fans is always fun. It’s a lot of work, but it’s totally worth it.
GP: I probably already know the answer to this, but is there any character you’re a little more excited to talk about, and if so why is it Ninjak?
GK: Oh, it’s definitely Ninjak but also X-O Manowar. They’re easily my favorites. Fitzy is my favorite “lesser-known” character from the Valiant Universe. I think that guy has a lot of potential.
GP: As you know, I completely agree with you regarding Ninjak. Thanks for your time!