Friday, March 10, 2006

The Wonder of Boilerplate Responses (or, Why did I bother?)

Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2006 12:53:00 -0800 (PST)
From: "Graeme McMillan"
Subject: Comics altruism, or what DC's website needs
To: Dan Didio

Hi. I'm Graeme McMillan, one
of the men who apparently can set the industry on fire, according to some random people on the internet
. I used to be one of those random people on the internet, doing a blog called Fanboy Rampage!!! that embodied everything that is bad about the comics internet without meaning to do so. If you ever read it or heard about it, I'm sorry. If not, forget I mentioned it. Anyway, presuming that (a) this email got to you, and (b) you're still reading, I'd like to introduce this random concept to you:

The DC Comics website needs a blog. A *good* blog.

Now, please understand: I'm not saying that I want to write this blog. And I'm not even saying that anyone I know should be writing this blog. But I have an idea of what this blog should be like, and I wanted to share it with you purely to GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD. Seriously, for no reason whatsoever, I've had a model of what kind of blog DC should have in my head since before Wondercon - when I would've grabbed you and babbled this out to you in person, but you were always either in panels or disappearing into shady corners with Greg Rucka - and I just want someone in DC to see it and shoot it down so that I know that it's not a good idea gone to waste because I never mentioned it to anyone.

Okay? Okay.


(Or: How to do a DC Comics blog to replace Crisis Counselling with something more original content-heavy that may direct traffic to DC's site and/or DC's comics)

Imagine DC in Demand, but with a different conversational tone - less huckster, because people online don't react well to that, especially when the same information is available elsewhere, without the patronising "Hey! Ion is going to be the BOOK OF THE SUMMER!" schtick - and a different purpose. Part of the mission of the blog would be to spotlight upcoming books and offer exclusive preview art/covers/news - Imagine if the six new books spinning out of Infinite Crisis could've been at least teased on DC's site before the Newsarama story? - in the same way that DC in Demand does right now. But it's the other parts of the mission that would make the blog a site that people go to.

I don't know if any of you watch Grey's Anatomy on TV. Or, for that matter, Battlestar Galactica (If not, then you should; both of them are well done serial dramas, and occasionally feature people exploding). Something that both of those shows are good at doing is promoting themselves online through show blogs written by the show's writers. It's the Grey's Anatomy model that I think that a good DC blog should follow:

Each week, following the previous night's show, the writer of that episode goes online to write something about the decisions made by characters/plot/writers the previous evening. It can be something direct - talking about why a character had to die – or something abstract - why the writer doesn't like the choice a character made, but realized that it was integral to the story. It's a neat trick, something that makes the fans feel like they're getting something extra, while also letting the writers deflect criticism by answering it before it's been properly made. Imagine something like this for a book like 52 - each week, one of the creators writes about a particular story thread, or why they used a particular character, or whatever. It potentially increases the drive for fans to pick up the book, to know what the writers are talking about, but also continues the buzz for those who have already bought the book on Wednesday - "What will Mark Waid have to say about Booster Gold's death?!?" or whatever.

(Alternatively, imagine this for every single One Year Later book: Why a new Catwoman? Why Green Arrow in legal office? Why take Batman out of Gotham for a year again? Why new Birds of Prey, and how were they chosen? etc etc etc...)

The third thing that a DCU blog could offer is backmatter, to use the Warren Ellis term: The kind of thing that appeared at the back of the Villains United trade, where each and every character was identified. Or to give backgrounds of semi-forgotten characters such as those who're being said to populate 52. Or to link to positive reviews or DC books, or to answer questions that've been emailed in... The kind of things that letter columns used to do, way back when, in other words. Bonding with the readers, in a way.

The tone of writing I'm imagining for this theoretical blog would be humorous and somewhat snarky, but with a somewhat reverential tone to the source material. Imagine Dave Campbell – from - writing, perhaps, or someone similar. Ideally it'd provide a personality that the DC site currently lacks, and that personality would be something approaching nerdy but lovable, and with teeth when needs be. Something intelligent, and non-insulting the online fanbase; less lowest-common-denomenator, if I could only spell that last word (As much as I love Alex Seguira, his Newsarama column is pitched too "Gee Whiz, COMICS!!!" for even the Newsarama audience, I think).

Like I said, the reason I'm sending this to you is because I'd like to read it, and because it seems like something that'd fit into the current DCU brand, such as it is. And, you know, to get it out my head... Whatever you do with this, is up to you. But if you read this far, then, hey. Thanks. I'm surprised you did, mind you...


Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2006 08:37:05 -0800
Subject: RE: Comics altruism, or what DC's website needs

Dear Graeme,
Hi there, my name is XXXX XXXXX and I am Dan DiDio's assistant. Dan asked me to send you a note as he is busy. Thank you for taking the time to share your opinions about a blog with us. We have shared your email with the good folks in marketing and the online folks as well. We appreciate your dedication to DC Comics and we hope you enjoy what we have in store for 2006.

Jann Jones


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