It was just a matter of time before a comic-book publisher like Aftershock came into existence. Besides Marvel, and DC, no publisher really has feet both in the comic book world and that of Hollywood. Sure, there are of comics being scooped up by Hollywood, and it seems that Image is the first name that pops up, but no publisher has embraced it as I think Aftershock intends to.
This is how Comic Vine describes the Aftershock:
Launched in April 2015, AfterShock Comics is a comic book company that combines the creative edge of an independent comic book publisher with the strengths and experience of a traditional powerhouse. In addition to Editor-in-Chief Mike Marts, AfterShock’s executive team includes: Chief Creative Officer Joe Pruett; Co-CEO Michael Richter, an accomplished media and technology executive, most recently at Facebook, as well as an award-winning filmmaker; Co-CEO Jon Kramer, an entertainment entrepreneur with extensive worldwide production and distribution experience; President Lee Kramer, a film/TV production and development executive who has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood; and Senior VP of Investor Relations Jawad Qureshi, an experienced Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor.
I’m not sure that I agree with the statement — that the company is combining the creative edge of independent comic book publishers along with the strengths and experience of a traditional powerhouse. I mean, right out of the gates, they will not be anything like an independent. I understand the image they are trying to paint for potential fans and readers, but when you take a look at the talent that is going to be coming on board, this company has the potential to be a major player. Hopefully things don’t fall apart, like they tend to do whenever you try bringing together that many high-ranking creators.
You might read that little blurb from Comic Vine and not understand what I mean by a company that has one foot in comics and another in Hollywood, but before I get into telling you why I think that, let me tell you why I have been expecting a company like Aftershock to pop up.
It’s a pretty simple concept, have top-flight talent that can create a large amount of buzz around your books, this in turn will get the attention of Hollywood. Why would that happen do you ask? There are no long established pop culture icons to drive their books, so how much attention can it generate, right? Well, the truth of the matter is this: Hollywood is combing through the comics industry, and buying up the rights to all kinds of things. The popularity of the spandex crowd on the big screen might be a distraction, but Hollywood is buying up the film rights to tons of other stuff. Mark Millar is probably one of the best at getting the attention of Hollywood. Kickass, Kingsmen, and Wanted excluded, Superior, Nemesis, Supercrooks, and Chrononauts all have had their film rights bought up, and many are in varying stages of production.
I could go on listing the tons of other books that have crossed over from the paneled world of comics to the big or little screen, but that would make this article too long, and it isn’t the point I’m trying to get at. What I have been saying though, is that the time is ripe for a comic-book publisher to consciously use themselves as a launching pad for getting properties to Hollywood. No publisher to date has really taken the step of bringing their full attention from putting out comics, to springboarding them to Hollywood.
I don’t expect Aftershock to agree with this, or come out and say that a big goal of the company is to get properties to Hollywood. To admit so has potential drawbacks, the biggest of which is alienating hardcore comic fans. While Aftershock I’m sure is not looking at the sales of the comics as the main revenue stream, it won’t help if they don’t have fan support. It helps if you can point to a large built-in fan following when selling it to Hollywood, something that might not happen if the common, old-school reader thinks they are not giving their beloved medium its proper respect. I personally think there is no greater compliment to our industry than this. Comics are such a powerful medium that they can sway mega picture studios into buying up the film rights only after a couple of issues of a comic has been printed. The rights to Chrononauts were bought up by Universal after only two issues.
OK, now let’s take a look at why I think this. Let’s not take a look at the impressive list of creators that have agreed to get on board with Aftershock. Instead, let’s take a look at the people behind the scenes. Remember the excerpt I had at the beginning of the article from Comic Vine? The one you skimmed over the names, and rejected any that were not comic book creators you recognized. Let’s take a look at them.
Co-CEO Michael Richter, an accomplished media and technology executive, most recently at Facebook, as well as an award-winning filmmaker; Co-CEO Jon Kramer, an entertainment entrepreneur with extensive worldwide production and distribution experience; President Lee Kramer, a film/ TV production and development executive who has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood; and Senior VP of Investor Relations Jawad Qureshi, an experienced Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor.
These people might all be big comic book fans, which is not impossible, but I doubt that’s the reason they are all on board. These are technology professionals — who are quite familiar with innovating industries — and people who are established in Hollywood with connections. These are exactly the types you want to have on board for Hollywood to immediately take you seriously, and open the door for your properties.
While I love the resurgence that is going on in the comic book world, with old companies like First starting up production again, and new interest in the industry from investors and entrepreneurs, the formula I’m seeing used at Aftershock is the next logical step in comic books. While some purists might not like it, I think it’s great for the industry. Comics have been mostly a labor of love. Except for a handful of mega stars, the publishers have been reaping the lion’s share of the profits.
This new version of the comic book world, one that works in conjunction with Hollywood, provides a golden-ticket opportunity for creators, an opportunity that never really existed before. Robert Kirkman is perhaps the best example of what can happen to you if you have a good property that gets the right attention; he has come a long way from writing Battle Pope.
I’m very interested in seeing how Aftershock handles all of this. If done right, it could help lay down a framework that existing companies can emulate and new companies should follow.