Zuckerberg - Not Your Typical Comic Book Hero
He leaps tall privacy issues with a single update! It's a dropout! A genius! It's...MARK ZUCKERBERG!
Last winter I reported that Mark Zuckerberg would be the subject of a comic book. Turns out it was a hit.
The publisher says he sold out just on pre-orders, at $6.99 a pop—"probably 5,000 copies". Now a sequel is in the works, the story has been optioned for a potential movie, and a comic book is coming out next month about Steve Jobs.
These creations sprang from Bluewater Productions, a most unusual comic book company operating out of publisher Darren Davis' home in Vancouver, Washington.
"I've loved comic books ever since I was a little kid," Davis told me. He ended up working at DC Comics putting together deals for comic book artists, "and I thought to myself, 'I could do that.'"
So he and a partner started Bluewater five years ago, where Davis launched his own female heroine, "The Tenth Muse."
Four years ago, they decided to strike out in a new direction—biographies. It ended up being a wise decision.
Bluewater's biographies are not about people like Abraham Lincoln or Neil Armstrong. Davis profiles people ranging from Sarah Palin to Hillary Clinton, from Nelson Mandela to Ayn Rand, from Justin Bieber to Betty White.
Davis said the stories are "factually accurate," and he even talks to some of the subjects, often by promising to donate a portion of sales to charity. "I want them to be proud of this."
Not everyone is happy.
"We get called whores and bottom feeders by the comic book industry because we don't fit into the spandex and tights for all of our titles," Davis said.
However, he said his business is growing, while the rest of the industry is shrinking.
"We have to do something to bring new readers into it," Davis added.
One of his top selling titles is a profile of Michelle Obama.
"We've had signings where we have 75-year-old women coming in and saying, 'Oh, do you have the Michelle Obama comic book?'...they'll either buy it for their grandkids or something, and it's neat to have that," he said.
Issues profiling Justin Bieber or the Royal Wedding have sold tens of thousands of copies. Up next are comics about Charlie Sheen and Tiger Woods ("sports figures don't sell that well").
Davis says it costs about $9,000 to make one of his comics, and profits from the biographies make up for losses he often incurs from his more traditional comic books.
As for business figures, he's interested in doing a comic on Bill Gates and a separate one on Melinda Gates.
But not Ben Bernanke. "Who?" Darren Davis replied when I suggested the Fed chief. Then he laughed. He is actually very funny. Listen to the first clip as he discusses which celebrities and politicians sell well, and which don't.
It hasn't been smooth sailing for Bluewater, though one gets the feeling that controversy suits Davis. Some celebrities have issued cease and desist orders, but the publisher says he has never lost a case.
The subjects are public figures, and there is legal precedent allowing biographies to be presented in comic book form.
In the second clip, Davis reveals who has not wanted a comic book made in his or her image and why the overall industry despises him. You won't see Bluewater at Comi-Con.
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