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How to Sell More Comic Books

by Building an Interactive Storyworld

Problem statement
• General problems:
– gaining attention and retention
– protecting price
– building on success

• Retailer and app-provider owns the customer relationship:

– has purchase data (frequency, demographics..)
– builds loyalty from your content
– often emphases low-price over quality (increased price pressure on
– cross-selling between issues and titles difficult or impossible

• Customer “trusts” retailer, not studio/publisher

• No chance to gain value from second-hand or pirated comics
• Write storyworld to include online interactivity:
– increases “stickiness” of IP & comic series
– increases word-of-mouth
– measureable engagement
– measurable demographics
– builds direct marketing database
• Create participation & community around your titles:
– maintains inertia between comic issues
– encourages subscription & repeat purchase
– assists cross-promotion between titles
– nurtures fans
– rewards advocates
• Build out storyworld to encompass conventions, stores, posters.
• Add interactivity & reader participation to comic series
• “Call-to-action” at end of each issue directs reader to
deeper, online storyworld

• Constraints. Solution must be:

– Low to no cost
– No Flash or other application development
– Fit existing workflow
– Work across all platforms/media (paper, digital, app etc.)
– Must add value to reader experience
Pervasive entertainment & marketing

• Use Conducttr to
– add interactivity & participation
– build out the storyworld
– connect across all activities & media: comics,
posters, promotions, events
• Use online Forum & events to connect readers
to each other
Worked Example:
Drone comic series from Red 5

Approach (Retrofit)
• Identify story elements that are introduced but
not explored fully in each issue of comic
– Characters – Locations
– Locations – Themes
– Activities – Vehicles/Tech
• Consider reader aspirations at end of issue:
– How can reader get closer to the story?
– How can we feed the reader’s imagination?
– … digging deeper, role-play, discussion
• Consider online foreshadowing between issues to
build anticipation/excitement
Issue 1
• Three kids hack a military drone
and control it with the Wii
Power Glove
• Locations: Kazakhstan & Texas
• Characters: The boys, Cat
(injured engineer), McKinney
(base in USA), Eero Hassan
(“leader of resistance” but not
yet named)
• Vehicles: CV-22 Osprey used as
operational base for the drones

Interactivity Issue 1  Issue 2
• Email
– McKinney (officer in charge of operation)
– David (one of the hackers)
• Twitter
– Drone 1138
• Storytelling
– Place reader in control of a drone and ask to
make a moral choice
– Backstory to involvement in Kazakhstan
• Puzzles
– Hack challenge?
– Simple research?
• Information
– Robot info & videos
– Map
– Mobile tracking

Give it a
go, It’s a
Overview: Replying to readers
Comic Character

2 Audience (Reader)
Content Email sent from
Character in response
to Trigger

Reader fires trigger
with matching word in
Subject of email to the
comic Character
Implementation in Conducttr
1. Create the Characters
– Link to email & social media accounts
2. Create the Triggers (interactivity)
– Define the codewords & other events
3. Create the Content (e.g. write the emails)
4. Connect the Content to the desired Character
& Trigger
Create the Characters
• Three characters: McKinney, David & Drone
– McKinney & David have email accounts, Drone has Twitter account
Create Trigger “codewords”

Character Match word

This determines which This is the phrase that
character is listening to will “trigger” E03
the Trigger
Configure the email replies

This determines which
character is responding
to the Trigger

Conducttr waits for the
email trigger E03 and then
sends this email as a reply

This is the email body
Simple & Effective
• Implementation time for simple example: 30mins
• Limitation only set by story and writer’s
• Complexity and tone of interaction dependent on
intended readership
– next release of Conducttr allows for more surprises,
more fun interactions
• Emails from readers builds mailing list
• Interaction builds anticipation & loyalty
Other approaches
• Calls-to-action woven into comic story
• QR Code image inside comic to unlock digital
media on mobile

• Use Conducttr to implement “story in the

cloud” – engage fans across platforms,
measure engagement, pervasively entertain
– each platform has unique experience & story but
bound into cohesive, participative storyworld
“Story in the cloud”
The End

Robert Pratten