Outside of a very few, most comics publishers either die quickly or survive by finding a niche and making very little profit.
For ten years, BOOM! Studios has thrived and grown by taking risks – who else would put the Norse god of thieves and mischief in a metal bad – and, using a base of quasi-familiar ideas (intriguing riffs on the superhero genre) as a jumping off point, has (among other things) developed a full blown All Ages line (KaBOOM), published the first comic with an all female cast created by an all female team (Lumberjanes), acquired a critically acclaimed imprint (Archaia) and landed some unexpected licensing deals (Peanuts, Pixar).
To celebrate the company’s tenth anniversary, Founder and CEO Ross Richie has written an op-ed piece – an open letter to his fellow comics/graphic novel publishers and, no less importantly, to comics fans – challenging all to envision what comics might be ten years from now. He recaps BOOM! Studios history and sets forth the idea of doing more to make comics inclusive rather than exclusive – to Push #ComicsForward.
Check it out after the jump.
For Immediate Release
It’s Keith Giffen’s fault. I keep telling people that he talked me into it in a dive bar on L.A.’s west side. But the truth is that I started this company out of the spare bedroom in my apartment because I couldn’t believe the guy that created Rocket Raccoon thought I could do it. Maybe we could bring something to comics that hadn’t been there before?
I’ve loved comics since 1976. I never thought I’d publish them. Sure, I’d worked with giants of the field, including Barry Windsor-Smith, Howard Chaykin, Jim Starlin, Walter Simonson, and others too numerous to mention, when I was a young marketing turk at Malibu Comics 20 years ago. But me, publish comic books? You’re crazy.
So it’s 10 years later now. Comics publishers don’t often make it that far, do they? We should do a victory lap right now.
But who wants to look backward when there’s so much more cool stuff around the bend?
Let’s talk about the future.
Have you ever had a friend that shared a lot of your interests, but they didn’t read comics? You gave them Watchmen, you gave them Y: The Last Man, you gave them X-Men. But nothing stuck. They liked the idea of comics, but there wasn’t a comic book that felt like it was made for them…
Let’s go make that comic book for them. Together. As fans, as creators, as retailers, as the press, as publishers. All of us. Let’s talk about how we can all Push #ComicsForward. Because comic books should be for everyone.
We know where we’ve been—our favorite eras, our favorite characters, our favorite runs. We already know all of that. I’ve got a garage full of Silver, Bronze, Copper, and Modern Age comics and I love them.
But the medium of comics has never been more on the forefront of driving pop culture and as fans of this art form, we have a rare opportunity to take that interest to the next level and embrace an entire generation of potential fans who don’t read comics right now.
We can make a new Golden Age.
At BOOM!, we’ve carefully selected new projects in 2015 that we believe will help Push #ComicsForward. These projects will take on risky subject matter, introduce new characters from diverse backgrounds, and debut a swath of new creative voices to the industry.
Just in the first few months of 2015, we’ve launched a gaming-inspired humor comic in Munchkin, two projects that tackle the complex climate in the Middle East with Burning Fields and The Realist, five series with unique female leads (Curb Stomp, HaloGen, Cluster, Help Us! Great Warrior, and Giant Days), a period crime project (Hit: 1957), and an original graphic novel about the cutest crabs to ever start a revolution (The March of the Crabs). And we’ve only just begun. But this movement isn’t just about BOOM!, it’s about all of us. We’ll be devoting a ton of our time and energy in 2015 to work with the press, conventions, and social media channels to keep the conversation going.
If you know me, you know I’m the “Challenge Accepted!” guy. If there’s a problem that hasn’t been solved or a project that seems insurmountable, I’m the first one to jump in. This is a big challenge, but I want you to join me in taking it on.
No one thought comics targeted at All Ages was viable until KaBOOM!. Now it’s the norm. No one thought an all-female cast of characters with an all-female creative team had a shot in the Direct Market—until Lumberjanes. And who would have guessed that an oversized limited series like Memetic, starring a hearing-impaired, gay college student and a blind, African-American general about a meme-induced apocalypse, would garner rave reviews? We did.
If you believe comics are great just the way they are, this isn’t for you. If you think superheroes are the only kinds of stories worth telling in comics, this isn’t for you. But if you want to see everyone reading comics—your aunt, your co-workers, your niece, your boyfriend, that kid down the street—let’s Push #ComicsForward in 2015.
Founder & CEO BOOM! Studios
(This open letter also appears in today’s issue of PREVIEWS, the monthly magazine/catalogue from Diamond Comic Distributors.)