Archive for the ‘business’ Category

With Great Power Comes Great Unemployment

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

A few weeks back, Marvel announced a partnership with New York City to promote unemployment resources. Their collaboration began with Spider-Man: You’re Hired, a free comic book released on Marvel’s Mobile App and in the November 18th edition of the New York Daily News. As it is now December, your best bet is to read the comic using the app or hit eBay if you’d prefer a hard copy.

It's a shame he can't put Spidey on the resume... The issue begins with Peter Parker and Aunt May on the subway as Pete begins his job search after J. Jonah Jameson gave him the boot. The book is deliberately vague about this to try and make it relevant to current continuity while still being accessible to the everyman. In the Marvel Universe they might have Obama as President, but local politicians won’t necessarily reflect to real life—J. Jonah Jameson is the current mayor of NYC in the comics. Heck, Peter was fired for doctoring a photo of J.J. beating the pants off of a super-villain to make Jameson look good; that’s a bit of trivia normal people don’t care about. Instead of Marvel’s mayor we get Mayor Bloomberg, who happens to show up on the very train the Parkers are riding on (coincidence of coincidences)!

Here is where the issue really starts going into advertisement mode. Bloomberg has a few ideas for Peter’s job search; most of them revolve around Workforce1, New York’s free workforce placement and training centers. They’re available throughout the five boroughs, which helps since the Parkers live in Queens. Two pages after getting off the subway, Peter winds up having to sneak away for a quick change, as The Vulture is running away with a load of stolen money.

Spidey makes short work out of the flying villain and returns to Bloomberg, only to then be called away to assist Iron Man in fighting a giant mechanical dinosaur. Creative, I’ll give them that. By the time this is all over, Mayor Bloomberg has given Aunt May all the information Peter will need. Oh, and Bloomberg either figured out Peter is Spider-Man or is simply playing mind games with him. Either way, Peter spends about three minutes combined with the Mayor and the comic is over. It’s a silly little romp with a giant dinosaur but it does get its message through pretty well. Warren Simons is the writer, which is, as far as I know, his first writing gig. He’s worked as an editor for Marvel in the past, so that does count partially as writing. On the art side is Todd Nauck, one of my favorites. He worked on Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man with Peter David and drew Obama when he appeared in Amazing Spider-Man so good choice there to draw Mike Bloomberg’s comic book alter-ego.

I've seen the parrots before.  They're cool.

Would I recommend this to someone looking to get a job in New York City? Sure. It gives some good tips and isn’t difficult to flip through if you have an iPod or iPhone. Plus, the price point of “free” is always good. I’ll just make sure to leave out the fact that Peter Parker is already no longer jobless in the Marvel Universe and that he got the job through partial nepotism, not Workforce1. Oh well.

Hi Five, Leads Man!

Monday, October 25th, 2010

When making a nonfiction comic, creators have a whole toolbox of genres to choose from—romance, action, science fiction—but there’s something about the business world that makes the creators of comics for that market gravitate toward the iconography of superheroes. Maybe it’s because businessmen feel like superheroes when they find a solution that helps their clients, or maybe it’s just that they wish their life was far more exciting than being stuck in an office all day, answering e-mails and attending countless meetings. I can’t say for sure, but do you get some interesting examples of one-off nonfiction comics from them:

Aside from the “contact us” link and the offer of “4 hours free business analysis,” this comic is presented without context and I have not seen similar offerings on any of their other pages. Perhaps this really is the entire gist of their marketing. This might be the first and only outing of “The Super Dynamic Partners,” which is a bit of a shame, because I do dig The Scrambler’s crazy hair.

Captain Free Enterprise, How Do I Make A Comic?

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

The 1970s were a simpler time for comic books; before digital coloring, Internet message boards and digital/print simultaneous release, there was just writing, drawing, printing, and distribution. This allowed independent comic creators to put their content out into the marketplace, even before comic shops were the normal place to stop to pick up your weeklies. Still, you needed the money, concept and creators to get your book out the door. Luckily in 1978, there was a comic to tell you all about the process!

How To Start A Comic Book Empire by Don Rico presents us with an entrepreneur who comes across a newsstand selling comics to customers of all ages; looking to jump into the action, he receives tips on comic book production from “real life superhero” Captain Free Enterprise. They then go on a Scrooge-esque tour to different parts of the comic book fandom, hovering over San Diego Comic-Con, an art studio, and finally the print room. As for the comic itself, the art is serviceable and in line with most seventies comics; the writing, while somewhat corny, gets its point across well enough for everyone to understand what’s going on and why.

Comic books cost about $8,000 to make in 1978. While it was recommended to go with a monster book to draw in new readers, I don’t know if the same advice would apply today, but if it did I would do vampires.  With a comic book priced at $2 an issue (which would probably be $3.99 today), after advertising income ($200 per page), printing costs, and editorial, you’d theoretically make about $14,000 on one issue. Does this still apply today? Probably not, but it might be somewhat compatible if sales are decent. Sadly, Captain Free Enterprise does not come with the profits, unless you get somebody to dress up as him.

(via CO2 Comics Blog)

The Adventures of Superagent

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

New York Magazine is no stranger to comics, reporting comics news with the same respect and level of snark they report everything else with. They’ve even been known to dabble in the medium themselves, using comics to put a new twist on news that could otherwise be dry or uninteresting or just more of the same.

As part of their “Who Runs New York?” feature, they spotlighted literary superagent Andrew Wylie, who recently caused a stir when he created Odyssey Editions, selling electronic editions of some of his clients’ titles exclusively through Amazon. Traditional print publishers, particularly Random House, took issue with this, asserting that they own the rights to publish these books electronically.

What happened next? Well, Boris Kachka and Dan Goldman sum it up quite nicely in the “The Life of Wylie,” published in the October 4 issue of New York Magazine.

A Textbook Case

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

The Adventures of Johnny Bunko billed itself as “the last career guide you’ll ever need,” but textbook publisher Flat World Knowledge begs to differ with the publication of their Atlas Black graphic novel. Similar to Johnny Bunko, it follows the adventures of a titular protagonist as he navigates his way out of business school and into a successful career as an entrepreneur.

The 10 chapter story was split into two volumes, Atlas Black: Managing to Succeed and Atlas Black: Management Guru?, and the first chapter of each (chapter 1 and chapter 6) are available to read online. While they fulfill a need in taking a normally dense field and boiling it down for a beginner course, as comics they fall somewhat flat. The dialog and chemistry in the sample chapters is lacking, and the panel arrangement is stiff, as if they used a template instead of trying something original. It’s a shame, as the characters themselves are easy on the eye, even as they are presented on absolutely bland, non-descript backgrounds.

The first chapter also features a section on Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, and I feel it should be noted that Ashton Kutcher wasn’t in the crappy remake film of Cheaper by the Dozen, that was Tom Welling. I hope the business information is more accurate than the casual references (rule-of-thumb does not, in fact, refer to wife beating).

Regardless what appears to be a rather pedestrian presentation, Atlas Black still presents an interesting alternative to the usual business textbooks.

Don’t Bunko Your Career

Friday, September 10th, 2010

One thing that higher education doesn’t seem to be very good at is telling you what to do next. Oh, you can visit the career counselor and they’ll give you tips on your resume and interviewing; if you’re lucky they’ll point you in a general direction, though that direction might not always be the right one.

As a result, it’s really easy to get stuck in a job you don’t particularly enjoy, or aren’t particularly good at, like the titular hero of The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, by author Daniel H. Pink and illustrated by Rob Ten Pas. Johnny majored in accounting because his father told him it was a good “fallback,” a way to always be employed if his dreams didn’t work out. Unfortunately, Johnny is nowhere near where he really wants to be, and he’s gained a reputation around the office as the guy who makes mistakes—to the point where a screw up is called a “Bunko.”

Everything changes when Johnny gets his hands on a bundle of enchanted chopsticks; splitting a pair summons a magical being named Diana. Diana offers to help Johnny by showing him the keys to a successful career, all he needs to do is snap a new pair of chopsticks and she’ll come and impart some useful advice. He only has six pairs, but it’s okay because Diana has six lessons to impart, each told through an amusing vignette at his company.

Rather than fall into the usual cliché of having Johnny attempt to tell his coworkers about Diana and fail miserably, thus looking like a delusional fool, Johnny Bunko instead bucks the trend by letting the coworkers in on the secret and having them benefit from the knowledge Diana imparts. In this manner the book follows its own advice: “The most valuable people in any job bring out the best in others. They make their boss look good. They help their teammates succeed.” We watch as Johnny switches departments and works on a major advertising campaign whose success will be a major boon for the company—and for Johnny, of course. He makes mistakes, but as the book explains, this is all part of the process.

The art by Rob Ten Pas is clean and energetic, making it easy to forget that you’re reading a career guide, much less “the last career guide you’ll ever need.” That’s the tagline, but I can’t say I completely agree. This book is only so long, and can only cover so much; it doesn’t tell you how to deal with troublesome coworkers, or how to get yourself the job in the first place. But for such a quick read, it’s pretty packed full of useful advice that had me wondering where my own career decisions fit into Diana’s six lessons.

The Adventures of Johnny Bunko
written by Daniel H. Pink
illustrated by Rob Ten Pas
published by Riverhead Books (New York, 2008)
ISBN 978-1-59448-291-5