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One You Want 003: Our Love Is Real, Self-Published

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Each week a lot of comics hit the stores.

Some you’ve heard of. Some you haven’t.

Some have superheroes. Some don’t.

They might be comic books, they might be graphic novels.

This is the One You Want.

THIS WEEK:  OUR LOVE IS REAL, written by Sam Humprhies and illustrated by Steven Sanders, Self-Published, 24 Pages, $3.99

Comics aren’t dying.

There’s a good amount of people who seem determined to convince you otherwise. Reliance on out-of-date groups of data and the processing that follows would have you believe this industry’s on the verge of collapse. Yes, single issue comics aren’t selling the units they used to. Sure, the amount of comic stores has shrunk tremendously. A lot of people seem convinced digital seems to be the wave of the future. Despite all this and the uncertain future they show, I’m not of this mindset.

I believe in a better future.

So, what do I think is happening?

Comics are evolving.

Business models are changing. The way brick and mortar stores operate is shifting. How creative talent make their money and market themselves is wildly changing. Dependence on a single distributor to be the sole method of putting your work out there is quickly becoming a thing of the past. In a lot of ways, it’s going back to the older methods of the 80s and early 90s, with hopefully better results. As a creative figure, you are your brand. You are marketing yourself. You have to work to put yourself out there, even if you’re working on the next big Marvel book. Social networking alone has added a new dimension in how creators market, brand and communicate to their fanbase and retail partners.

That said, it’s no surprise to me one of the pioneers of modern comics social networking is currently executing the way creators will be operating in this new, much more self-sufficient and marketed era of comics.

MySpace Comics was one of the earliest efforts to push comics over huge in the world of social networking. I was particularly taken with them back when I was doing PR & Marketing at Image Comics, because I felt they were doing a lot of great work in terms of putting comics in front of many eyes of either lapsed fans of people who have never seen them before. They not only pushed the Next Big Thing, but also the underdogs, the small books other people might not see. It had a vision of creating new readers via social networking, one I feel the rest of the industry has just now begun to catch up with. As far as I could tell this vision was executed by one man at the forefront, Sam Humphries.

Unfortunately, MySpace Comics no longer exists, but very fortunately Sam has changed his shift from being a marketeer to a writer with credits including BOOM! Studios’ CBGBs anthology and Archaia’s Fraggle Rock, among others. Now he’s delved into the world of developing original material and taking the many lessons he learned to create, market and distribute the work. Within a week this new work, entitled OUR LOVE IS REAL, was featured on just about every major comics news source and became one of the hottest selling books, selling out in comic shops and online within hours of its initial release. My understanding is it also sold well digitally. All without a major publisher, marketing team or even a distributor to back it up.

I don’t give a shit about sell outs.

Well, they’re nice. It creates heat for people to check out your book, but the important part isn’t a comic being collectible, it’s someone reading it. Luckily, OUR LOVE IS REAL is far more than the hot book of the moment. It’s a damn fine, required read.

OUR LOVE IS REAL is quite the looker too. The artist is Steven Sanders, whose art I’ve admired since I first saw it in his collaboration with CASANOVA writer Matt Fraction, FIVE FISTS OF SCIENCE. His work amazed me and while I was thrilled to see him do work with Marvel, I’ve longed to see him do something else new with the same creative pop FIVE FISTS promised. OUR LOVE IS REAL definitely delivered.

It’s an odd story for the traditional comics marketplace. The content of OUR LOVE IS REAL is sexually driven, it’s a one-shot, it’s black and white, it’s a finite story in a format that traditionally doesn’t do well with finite stories. These aren’t things that the masses have been looking for.

It’s the perfect story for the future comics marketplace. The content of OUR LOVE IS REAL is something that people outside of the typical mold can relate to. The boundaries it pushes with its narrative and message are more relatable than most of what’s on the stands - and I’m not a guy who doesn’t like most of what’s on the stands. The only thing it reminds me from the past are original run METAL HURLANT stories. Not that it reads archaically, it most certainly doesn’t, but it does have the same feel of using a brutal, beautiful sci-fi future to relate something about our present. This is something you can relate to, no matter how far out the story is.

      

OUR LOVE IS REAL is definitely far out. It takes place in a world where sexual boundaries are shattered. Aids has been eradicated, traditional male/female sex is looked down upon, a pent up police officer brutalizes protesters defending human/planet sexual relations. In the span of 24-pages Humphries and Stevens relate more than most do over six or seven issues. It gave me a lot to think about, which is rare for just about any work in any medium to produce. I loved every last page of it and look forward to everything either of these guys does going forward.

Even more so, reading OUR LOVE IS REAL made me excited for the comics medium; reading about its success has made me very excited for the comics industry. As both a creator and a fan, it made me stoked for what tomorrow might bring.

To put it simply: OUR LOVE IS REAL is your future. Read about it now.

OUR LOVE IS REAL, a 24-page black and white comic book for $3.99, is available at select stores now. Look up where you can buy it locally at http://www.ourloveisrealcomic.com/.

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Joe Keatinge is the Eisner and Harvey award-winning co-editor of POPGUN and writer of the upcoming Image Comics series, BRUTAL, with illustrator Frank Cho. He lives in Portland, OR and works out of the comics studio, Tranquility Base.

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Comments

  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Jul 14, 2011 at 2:58am

    Excellent tip. I subscribed to be notified of an online purchase (the comic itself is sold out already).

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