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Friday, January 13, 2006

Channeling Pat Robertson. 

So I'm talking with Matt last night (and in retrieving that URL, I find that Matt has no link to me -- you're going down, Maxwell), and it's one of those long rambling everything-about-comics conversations that late night, fatigue, and AIM generate in tandem so perfectly. The last bit was about a topic I find some fascination with, something I generally plug comics "peeps" about when I get the chance -- namely, do you preach the Good Word to your non-fan friends, and if so, what do you use?

Matt confessed that most of his acquaintances either already were fans or just plain didn't read. (He then stated he needed to get out more, and I secretly suspect he was weeping bitter tears as he typed this.) Nonetheless, his speculation on good "evangelical" titles overlapped nicely with titles I'd used to great effect.

Now, if you have a non-comics reader who seems open to the idea, it's a good idea to simply ask what kinds of fiction they like, what kinds of movies, directors, actors, writers, and so on. It's a good way to triangulate what'll work on the page for them. But I've found that certain titles have repeat success on a wide cross-section of people.

And so, for your edification:

Transmetropolitan - In my experience, this title is a lot like Sandman in that folks who don't normally read comics have a good chance of having read this, or at least have heard of it. Say what you want about Ellis or his protagonist (and god, have I heard it all -- and have no desire to hear it again), there's wit here, and smarts, and a particular brand of mass appeal. It works. This is a "blanket" title -- works with most candidates who seem open to the idea of comics.

Instances Attempted: 4
Instances Worked: 2
Instances Pending: 2

The Authority - For people who have some idea of superheroes and/or comics but aren't necessarily "believers." In one notable case, the woman I recommended these to (who had, to that point, only read Watchmen, Sandman, and Sleeper) spoke well of the first two (Ellis-written) volumes, but when it got to Millar, proceeded to spit the vilest vitriol, accusing the man of all the same pretentions, pitfalls, and hackeries that the blogosphere cites on a regular basis. It was a spot-fucking-on impression. Still makes me laugh today.

So I only use the first two volumes if I go this route.

Instances Attempted: 2
Instances Worked: 2, sort of, if you count the Millar incident

The Filth - Damndest thing, but it works. When I think someone'll be open to the idea of Morrison, I ask them a simple question: do you want to be eased in gently, or do you want a cock in your frontal lobe? (That's verbatim.) The people can scent the challenge -- this is why I pop the question in the first place -- and tentatively ask for the erection. And so they get The Filth.

(This is also why I've not yet used We3 on anyone: They all want to get head-shafted right away.)

Instances Attempted: 2
Instances Worked: 1
Instances Pending: 1

Y: The Last Man - I don't actually use this one anymore, because I don't want to disillusion people after they get past the first two well-done volumes and get into Brian K. Vaughan Twiddling His Fucking Thumbs Happy Hour. I think it would have been a virtue if this series had kept itself tight and lean, but fuck it: let's have ninja chicks.

Instances Attempted (pre-horse latitudes): 2
Instances Worked: 2

Sin City - Worked both before and after the movie's release, but people were a lot more into the idea post-Rourke. (I'm with Heidi on this one, though: Clive Owen owns me, and has since Croupier.) This, however, is not for beginners, or at least not for wide-eyed types, because it's going to fuck with them. In some cases it's better to insure the person has seen the movie first, because for some reason people will "understand" abhorrent acts and black-as-midnight humor if it's been filmed first. The hypnotizing, normalizing power of the movies in action.

(Anyone else find it amusing, and sadly telling, that the DVD gets Amazon precedence over the books?)

Instances Attempted: 2
Instances Worked: 1
Instances Pending: 1

Sleeper - I haven't actually used this one yet. I just know from anecdotes that it does work on the non-initiated, to the degree where a person without much spare cash is still motivated to go out and buy these overpriced trades. (What the fuck is with that, anyway?) Yeah, there's costumes and all that, but there's enough nose-tweaking (folks sitting around narrating their origin story in third person, for one) to make the semi-comics-literate comfortable. Ideally, this is a Phase 2 title, like Sin City.

Fables - Another that's worked in the past that I now hesitate to recommend due to its relative stagnancy. It's an entertaining stagnancy, but nonetheless, all sense of forward momentum is gone.

Instances Attempted: 1
Instances Worked: 1

Human Target - I'm real 50/50 on Milligan, but this one is a pure solid grand fucking slam if I ever saw one. Handle with care, however: I usually start people off on Strike Zones and give them some idea of what to expect. HT was topical with fair consistency, in ways that other fiction did not follow suit, and so that helps it reach an outside audience. Works nicely on people who want a good headbender.

Instances Attempted: 2
Instances Pending: 2

100 Bullets - ...is a tricky one. The first volume of this series positively hypnotized me, indeed is one of the primary reasons I got back into comics, but the later volumes are so saturated in overarching Conspiracy Story that I lost most of my interest. (Now I just keep an eye out for the nifty covers.) Those first two volumes are pure fucking art, though.

Instances Attempted: 1
Instances Pending: 1

Other Titles In the Reserves, Not Yet Attempted: We3, Hellboy, Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden, Planetary, The Goon, Gotham Central, Queen & Country, Whiteout, You Can't Get There From Here, and the first couple volumes of Promethea.

So what've we learned? Vertigo generally has the right idea, Marvel's S.O.L., and people want cocks in their brains, stat. Who are you to deny them?

This is the part of the program where I want you, the viewer at home, to chime in. If you've done your own bit of comics evangelizing, I wanna know what works for you, what doesn't work for you, your biggest success and your biggest failure -- so we can come up with a Unifying Theory of Comics Conversion. Only then can we truly become Star Children of the Nth Element and get MAINSTREAM ACCEPTANCE OMG R00LZ.

Comments below.

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