Smart Pop is starting a new initiative. When you subscribe to the mailing list for TRIUMPH OF THE WALKING DEAD (or some other Smart Pop Book), you'll get an email that provides a link to a free pdf excerpt from the book. They are offering this for all their 2011 titles. More information is available here on the Smart Pop website.
Thanks to the generosity of Smart Pop Books, we are giving away three copies of TRIUMPH OF THE WALKING DEAD from my website today (11.04.2011). Here's how you enter: Post in the comment sections your favorite scary movie (or television show, or book, or painting, or whatever other media...favorite scary ballet?). Sorry, U.S. and Canadian entries only. After midnight Central Time, three winners will be randomly selected. I'll email you if you won, get your address, and Smart Pop will ship a copy of this great book to you. That simple. Post your favorite scary ________.
I'll start. I posted about this a few years ago, but when I was a kid, I was scared of the painting The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch. That darn tree man still freaks me out a bit.
UPDATE: Using the random number generator, I came up with 2, 6, and 8. Our winners are Joe Lambert, Alfred Day, and Yolanda Aguayo. Congratulations. I'll send you an email asking for your mailing address.
In the mail, I received my TRIUMPH OF THE WALKING DEAD comps. The essay I wrote ("The Hero Wears the Hat") marks my third contribution to the Smart Pop series. If you haven't been to their site, it's an online treasure of all good things in popular culture. Go there. Smart Pop was hip to geeks before G4 ever thought to take a camera crew to Comic Con. Respect must be given to the hardest working publisher in fandom. TRIUMPH OF THE WALKING DEAD is a great anthology and available on Amazon for $10.17. Let's say you're not a fan of WALKING DEAD, but you are a fan of me. You can buy just my essay as a pdf download from their site as well. It's only 99 cents. The essay should be available soon. Until then, you could buy my Spider-Man essay (click here) or my Superman essay (click here).
If you've read my twitter feed recently, you could probably tell that I'm doing something with THE WALKING DEAD.
I just submitted a bio that included: "David once sat across from @RobertKirkman during a comic book convention brunch. It was cool." (link) @JasonCopland @kevincneece It's topical. I'm writing an academic essay on Walking Dead. Things I've noticed: Carl plays in the dirt a lot. (link)
Done. 18 pages of notes on Carl in the Walking Dead. (link)
@spiffy You'll like the essay I'm working on. I also like Michonne and Abraham, but Rick's "strong bigger comrades" don't seem to last long. (link)
@spiffy No kidding. Tyreese was great. (link)
Yes, I'm writing my third essay for Smart Pop. The past few days, I've been researching, taking notes, and outlining in preparation. Now, I have about 3,500 words to write by Monday. I'll have more information available as I'm able to release it. The important stuff:
Triumph of The Walking Dead: Robert Kirkman's Zombie Epic on Page and Screen edited by James Lowder BenBella Books/Smart Pop November 1, 2011 trade paperback, $14.95 ISBN-10: 1936661136 ISBN-13: 978-1936661138
I'm excited about this one. As you might imagine, I'm a huge fan of the series. It's the best American comic on the shelf right now.
If Walking Dead has taught me anything, it's that you are never safe, but a samurai sword helps. Let's hope I survive the next few days, and I'm able to finish the essay on time.
As my dear friend Leah announced today on the Smart Pop blog, the new and improved site is no longer in beta. If you haven't already, you need to check it out -- http://smartpopbooks.com. It's a fun resource of geeky pop culture essays. Smart Pop has always walked a line that I fully embrace (that's a mixed metaphor). It values pop culture enough to give it serious intellectual consideration and yet loves pop culture enough to not take it too seriously. The revised website has an option where you can "like" certain essays and even buy them individually for 99 cents.
Even though I'm proud of both, I'll admit I'm partial to the Spider-Man essay. There was an insane amount of research that went into constructing that one. The essay feels a little more focused.
It doesn't seem like that long ago, but from looking at the publication date, it's been three years since my last Smart Pop essay. I need to submit something new, or see if Leah would let me contribute to the blog. I'm enjoying the weekly LOST recaps by Geoff Klock (most recent), which are now part of my LOST routine. 1. Watch LOST. 2. Listen to Jay and Jack podcast. 3. Visit Lostpedia. 4. Read Smart Pop recap.
Yes, I have a routine. Leave me alone.
IN OTHER NEWS: The latest WE'VE NEVER MET is available (click here). The NX35 storyline continues.
This weekend, I'm working on another pulse article for D Magazine. I interviewed my friend Leah Wilson, editor at BenBella Books. They publish the Smart Pop Series. These books target various pop culture fan groups. With her permission, I've posted the entire transcript of our interview, where she talks about the nature of fans.
What makes someone a fan?
Leah: I think of a fan as someone who is intensely emotionally involved with something, with which they are not involved in a material, creative sense-- a sports team, a television show, an artist's or writer's or musician's body of work.
Is marketing to fans a growth industry or a "find your niche" industry?
Leah: I'd say a growth industry, but not one that's growing at an extremely high rate. I do think that as the quality of television shows has increased, and as the frequency with which the creators of those shows engage with their audience (via new technologies) have increased, the potential for greater fandom has emerged. Look at Grey's Anatomy-- they've taken excellent advantage of the growing popularity and awareness of blogging and built an unexpectedly devoted (for such a "mainstream" successful show) base of fans through it.
The rise of social networking online has been a big factor as well-- being able to talk to other fans feeds fandom, in large part because being a part of fandom becomes a socially rewarding experience. When the show you love ends or its fandom fizzles out, you want to find another one, another group to belong to. The ability to "catch up" with shows via DVDs or online downloads is part of the growth as well. So is the increasing validation of popular culture's worth. Fandom used to be associated with, when it comes to things like television and other media, Star Trek fans, Trekkies, and they weren't exactly considered cool. The term "Trekkie" ended up with such negative connotations that even Trekkies don't use it anymore-- a lot of Trek fans prefer "Trekkers."
Is there any correlation between the commercial success of a property and success of the related Smart Pop Book?
Leah: Less than we wish there was! Passion is a much more reliable indicator. Plenty of people I know watched and enjoyed Everybody Loves Raymond, but I can't think of one who *loved* it-- who would talk about it in depth with friends the next day. A show like Veronica Mars, on the other hand, doesn't have a lot of commercial success, but the people who do watch it are deeply devoted. The nature of Smart Pop books is to go *deeper* into a particular property-- to be like one of those next-day discussions you have with your friends, only if you friends were bestselling authors or psychologists or scientists-- and that doesn't sell unless the show's fans are wanting to go deeper on their own.
What do you do to learn about a property before starting the anthology?
Leah: We try to look for indicators that there *is* that kind of engagements-- that people are talking about the show (or comic, or book series) in a serious way. Online activity is a good way to get a sense of that-- message board activity, fan sites, fanfiction archives, blogs and livejournal and MySpace. So, for TV, are DVD sales; often high DVD sales mean you have viewers looking to watch the episodes of their favorite show multiple times. Clearly they're getting more out of the show than just "entertainment."
From a content standpoint, I try to immerse myself as much as possible in the property in question, to understand what the compelling questions are, what's interesting to discuss further-- something more easily done with a two year old TV show, of course, than with 50 years of comics!
What are fans wanting from their beloved property (be it Grey's Anatomy or Spider-Man)?
Leah: In a general sense-- *more*. More ways to be involved, more ways to be engaged. More information. To know something about the property they love that they didn't before, whether it's more insight into a character or when a piece of set dressing first showed up in the background.
What can businesses and publishers learn from fans and fan culture?
Leah: That your audience-- whether viewers or readers or customers-- is smart. If you treat them like they're intelligent, they'll reward that, they'll reward your product-- with respect, with time, and with energy.
Which fans are the most obsessive? Are Grey's Anatomy, Survivor, and Desperate Housewives fans any less geeky?
Leah: I think obsessiveness is about even across the board, at least among the people I'd really categorize as *fans*. (There are many people who watch Grey's, for instance, that aren't engaged enough to really warrant the term.) "Geekiness" is really more a matter of mainstream approval than level of obsessiveness-- take sports fans. Painting your face and chest and going shirtless at a winter football game is way more insane than anything I've ever seen a fan do (well, *almost* anything) ... but it's way less likely to get strange looks.