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Sunday, November 02, 2003

Activism That Pays -- I've received the following intriguing e-mail from a reader who wants to be anonymous:

Hi, I'm an ardent follower of your web-site or blog (no matter where you move to) -- I check it out every week, or several times a week. And I've often been influenced in the past by the reviews and recommendations I've seen, as I'm sure many others have. There are many great comics that I've discovered thanks to you, and I'm grateful. In any event, I was hoping that you'd consider helping out a worthy cause. I'm talking about Top Cow's COMMON GROUNDS six-issue miniseries, written by Troy Hickman, which starts in January 2004.

Here's the blurb: Common Grounds is set in a chain of coffee shops across the country, where super-heroes and super-villains gather to sip coffee, munch on donuts, and hang out without causing a major brawl. It's in this neutral setting that stories are created focusing on the "human" side of the superhuman. Artwork is by Dan Jurgens, Michael Avon Oeming, Chris Bachalo, George Perez, Ethan Van Sciver, and Carlos Pacheco.

Troy Hickman's COMMON GROUNDS is essentially a big-league version of Troy's self-published, digest-sized HOLEY CRULLERS series. This is a dream-come-true opportunity for Troy, who's incredibly talented, and who's been trying to get a break for a decade.

I was hoping you might encourage your readers to give COMMON GROUNDS a try. The time for pre-orders is right now!

I'm such a believer in Troy's work that I'm willing to offer a money-back guarantee to anyone who buys the book and is dissatisfied with it. I'd be happy if you'd be willing to administer it on my behalf.

So, with some limitations (we can only guarantee the money-back offer for the first 66 people to buy the book who want a refund), I'm willing to administer this for this anonymous benefactor. He obviously believes in this project, and you know, with creators like Michael Avon Oeming, Chris Bachalo, Carlos Pacheco and others involved, you know this is going to be a fun book. And in fact, there's even more support from this book. Read this:

An Open Letter from Jim McLauchlin



I got one-count it!-just one message for you:

Read Common Grounds. Then tell a friend.

Okay. The sticklers among you are already up in the hue and cry that
that's two messages. Split hairs all you want. The message remains
the same. And the message is important, for a number of reasons:

It's important because it's great material. Common Grounds is a
wealth of superhero stories with all new characters and all new
settings that are told with more heart, soul, and emotion than
anything you've ever seen before. Some stories are funny. Some are
heartwarming. Some are both. But all are told with a real resonance,
a true human touch, that will blow you away. I know, I know, I know-
you've heard it all before, selling everything from dishwashing
liquid to doorstops. But this is the real deal. Try it and you'll
see. You've never seen stuff in comics that will make you laugh or
cry like this.

It's important because Troy Hickman is you. He's the American dream,
writ large and brought to funnybooks. He's the guy who concocted a
mini-comic called Holey Crullers back in 1996, and lovingly and
painstakingly hand-stapled copies to bring to conventions, putting
his dreams out there for all to see. We saw, and we loved it. Top Cow
bought the concept, and is publishing these great stories, now re-
titled Common Grounds. He made it. He reached for the brass ring and
grabbed it. He's the uber-geek. He's a fan, a reader, and he's never
stopped being those thing. He's you, living the comics dream.

It's important because your favorite artists are here. There are two
stories per issue -- three if we feel like it -- with Dauntless Dan Jurgens
drawing one story in every ish, acting as our "anchor." Dan is joined
by a different guest artist every issue, with Michael Avon Oeming
(Powers), Ethan van Sciver (New X-Men), Chris Bachalo (New X-Men
again), George P,rez (a li'l sumpthin' called JLA/Avengers) and
Carlos Pacheco (JLA/JSA) each taking a turn. These guys are in
because they love the stories. You will, too.

It's important because you have power. Seriously! I believe things
work from the ground up; not the top down. If someone puts out a
crapola product (remember New Coke?) not all the marketing in the
world can save it. But word-of-mouth, heartfelt recommendations, can
and will and do buoy everything up from the grass-roots level. Ask
yourself: Who you gonna listen to if you're thinking about seeing a
movie? Leonard Maltin? Or a friend of yours who saw it? I thought
so. Read the comic. You'll want it to be a hit. You'll want to be
part of the feeling. Then, and I say again, TELL A FRIEND. You will
bring this great project to the great level it deserves.

I don't know if you know me. I don't know if you give half a sack of
wet crap about me. But the people who do know me know that my word is
true. I don't hold fire drills. I don't cry "wolf." When I say it's
on, it's on. I say it rarely. I say it only when it's true. I'm
telling you now-It's on.

Gimme one shot. That's all I ask. Try it, and if you like it, tell a
friend. If I'm fulla hooey, tell me. I'll send you a personal check
for $2.99. Straight up and true.

(Cue voice-over announcer's voice in your head now)

"So you don't forget, order before midnight tonight! That's Common
Grounds, coming in January from Top Cow Productions! And tell a

Thanks. Hey, if you were publishing a new comic, I'd do it for you.

Jim McLauchlin
Top Cow Productions

So, there it is. Check out the COMMON GROUNDS webpage at Top Cow, pre-order the book from your retailer. If you don't like it, you are guaranteed a refund from either the anonymous benefactor who has asked me to administer his offer for him, or through Top Cow EiC Jim McLauchlin. I think this is a terrific example of grass-roots activism by people who believe in a book enough to think outside the box, and I think readers owe it to themselves to give the title a shot. Our anonymous benefactor here and Jim McLauchlin at Top Cow are putting their money where their mouths are. Let's give the book a try and see if their campaign works.


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