HSMP's Instant What The Hell Are You Guys Upto?! Kit v1.0
"Do, or do not, there is no try." Master Yoda Star Wars V
The Back to Basics approach rides again!
Aloha! Lets face it, the industry is facing some mighty tough times; advertising down, marketing, production and transport/shipping all up. Yet Lime Media Hawaii is preparing to launch a "new" type of product in all this madness. Well, NOT so new. The Hawaii Star Manga Project is NOT a new idea ... others have successfully used a similar format or concept, in some cases for DECADES. It's simple & inexpensive to make, and it can be priced VERY reasonably!
Each Newsprint comic below was successful because they were based on the same simple concept. AND had the winning combo: damn good product concept, and damn GOOD product to back it up. There are many different ways to go about creating comics; the "pure" newsprint comics have some VERY successful examples, such as:
The Spirit Section (1940-1952 Monthly US Newspaper Comic Book Insert Supplement, created to allow newspapers compete with the late 30's comic book boom caused by Superman/ Batman etc) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_(comics)
2000 AD( Weekly English (UK) Newspaper Tabloid Comic, begun in 1977, 32+ yrs and over 1600+ issues : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2000_AD_(comics)
Shonen Jump (Weekly Japanese Newsprint Anthology Comic 20+ years, and now a Monthly US Comic Magazine): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shonen_Jump_(magazine)
In the tradition of these pioneers, the Hawaii Star Manga Project is our Prototype Newspaper Comic Magazine, and it's made IN Hawaii. HSMP's a weird cross between a dirt cheap Manga/comic and an illustrated fiction magazine, and we hope it'll start proving the "dirt cheap" model we feel will be in the industry's best interests to embrace.
We've studied what made each title above a success and applied the lessons here, added a few of our own (like per page coupon ads for consumers), and developed a "broad based, flexible format product" with a little something for everyone, aimed right at the core 15-35 demographic! http://www.limemediahawaii.com/adsales&marketing2
We got a very strong response for HSMP at the Kawaii Kon Anime con here in town. (It helped we can keep costs down to 50 cents a book, less than a can of Coke)
Lime Media Hawaii is also preparing an Online Version in January 2010, available as a download from some virtual comic shops. Stay tuned!
So...What happened to "regular" comics?
Gimmicks and disasters aside, they niched themselves out of a LOT of potential readers. Due to a new "fast money" marketing model, traditional comics started losing the mainstream in the late 70's: DC & Marvel began using a "direct sales" distribution model that substantially cut production costs as they knew in advance how many comic books to print, and that the issues were also to be paid for in advance! (The old "Standard" wholesale/consignment distribution model was blind ship X number of issues, and find out 3 months later how many sold and how many were "unsold & destroyed" by retailers to get credit back from the shops distributor.)
The "direct sales" distribution method greatly speeded up cash flow, and publisher's response time to regional sales fluctuations. The drawback to this policy, which helped give rise to "comics specialty retailers" as a byproduct (most small retailers declined to pay up front for books as the old model was way easier on the wallet), also gave consumers the perception that "newsstand" copies were inferior to their gimmicky "direct sale" cousins. (Identical content notwithstanding)
This lack of willingness to pay upfront for once "free" books, and the newsstand "inferiority complex" eliminated the once common "spinner racks" of comics at many general retailers kids went to (like drug stores, supermarkets, candy stores, discount stores etc), which helped, in an unexpected twist, to put the industry in it's current bind.
When the number of "comic specialty shops" contracted sharply in the late 80's - mid 90's from over 10,000 to approx 3000-2500, the industry got a wake up call.
They hit "snooze" and rolled over again. Comic's have niched themselves as a COLLECTIBLE over those last 3 decades. hiding in dwindling specialty shops, not out there as broad based good cheap fun. Consumers for 3 generations have been conditioned to see comics in this light. While their quality has NEVER been higher, the typical comic now runs $3.00 & up, and this keeps many good titles from readers hands. The current economic downturn does not bode well, especially for smaller comic publishers, and will almost surely result in further erosion of the number of comics retailers.
New ideas, (or redoing old ones) are called for. Innovation is a necessity at a time like this, and it's time we make Comics good cheap fun again!!
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