By Tommy Zimmer
Legacy Comics of Windsor, Ontario in Canada has not changed from its original roots.
As Tony Gray, co-owner and illustrator for both Legacy and now GlassMonkey Studios, said, they started receiving promotional and educational opportunities for pieces for different companies and the local college that produced current Detective Comics artist Jason Fabok.
They were licensing characters like Gray’s character The Incredible Conduit, also one of their main titles, for small promotional and educational comics.
When they looked at the two companies, GlassMonkey and Legacy, as separate entities, they decided that Legacy would handle the promotional and educational opportunities while GlassMonkey would house all their monthly titles.
“It is more of an accounting issue,” Gray said. He said it works out for them nicely with both of their entities in play.
Mike Michalski, writer at the companies, added that if they wanted to do something further with a different character not fitting in with their universe, they would be able to do that by using both companies. Gray said an example of that is in the St. Clair College Promotional Video where you find a lighter Incredible Conduit instead of the darker one you will find in their ongoing series. He also said that he is surprised about how quickly the Conduit has caught on with readers and that readers are starting to warm to some of their other characters like Madame Malocchio from Dimension Macabre.
“I have read studies where if an 8 year old and he picks up 2 or 3 comics, the characters featured in them are ingrained in them the same way a Batman or Spiderman would be,” Gray said.
In the Conduit, things take a different turn with the first new GlassMonkey issue Tales of the Incredible Conduit. “The first issue really focuses on the amping up of his powers, and he takes on a more global sense,” Gray said.
He said the character will be taken inter-dimensionally, and the White Plastic, Madame Malocchio and Carla Homicide characters will be working together in one realm because the Conduit character was such a light and fun character that he was not able to fit within the universe of their other characters.
Gray calls it the “GlassMonkey universe”, and says they are all working together in a more cohesive universe and set of comic books than ever before. In terms of merging the universes, Gray said the training the Conduit is linked to governmental agencies involved in creating the outfit for White Plastic. There also will be constant overlapping with common villains being featured in both, and on some level, there will be some conflict between the Conduit and White Plastic too.
Their newest book Apes in the Woods by creator April Fawler is the first of several titles that are targeted at a children’s market. “We want to sell lots of comic books, and we want to be big and successful doing things our way,” Michalski said.
One of their prime directives is getting books back into the hands of kids, and he thinks it is a shame when you find kids today who have never held a comic. “If you put 100 kids who have never held a comic book and put a comic book in their hands, I guarantee you 97 or 98 of them will just go crazy for it,” Michalski said. He added they will start rereading them, and asking questions about what is going on.
Along with promoting literacy through the children’s titles, Michalski said, they appear at different book festivals through libraries and related locations. “We are really trying to push that through our company because the endeavor is just as important to us as is the business,” Michalski said. He feels that if kids are not reading comic books, where will the medium be down the road especially with it all going digital where you will not be able to have the tactile experience of holding a comic in your hands.
Michalski said they are still selling directly to different stores instead of the Marvel and DC Comics models via Diamond distribution where stores can buy books to return later if they do not sell them. “While that may be better for their bottom line in that it didn’t offer returns, it also creates a chasm between new and old readership,” Michalski said.
His example is that if Coke and Pepsi established a soda shop where that was the only place you could buy that, not as many people would drink either of the products because those not familiar with the product would not just walk into some place like that.
Gray pointed out that another of their goals is trying to make their comics affordable. “When we have a book like Apes in the Woods which is geared to young girls, we didn’t have that area targeted effectively or covered by our superhero books,” Gray said. He said they went specifically to April Fawler rather than having a “couple of 30-year old guys” thinking they know what young girls want to read.
Affordability is another issue in how it relates to getting kids to read comics. Gray and Michalski are making sure all their GlassMonkey titles are only $1 dollar each. They, according to Gray, are trying to bring them back to places like restaurants and convenience stores where he says, “they are eating them up.” “When you isolate them into specialty shops and you make them $3.99, $4.99, what ten-year old kid can really afford that?” Gray asked. Michalski remembered his allowance used to be $10 dollars (when comics went from 60 cents to 75 cents), and he was afraid that was going to cut into his titles as a kid.
He said that the most important thing about comics is that they introduce kids to writing and art, and any type of story can be told through them. “I owe my career as a journalist and writer to comic books,” Michalski said, illustrating his point.
GlassMonkey announced a new slate of books including Tales of the Incredible Conduit #1, Improbabilia (a Twilight Zone-esque anthology of creepy horror stories) and Apes in the Woods #2 at the Merry Christmas Con 2 in Windsor a few weeks ago.
Tommy Zimmer is an up and coming freelance writer and journalist from
Detroit, MI. He has freelanced for various websites and local
newspapers like the Detroit Free Press and Detroit Metro Times. He
also is working on many comic book projects, his first which is to
self published soon. At the same time, he is still writing for the
Free Press, and is very happy to be with Bleeding Cool and the
website ComicBookSyndicate.com. You can also listen to him on SuperPowerCast with his co-host Nick Ahlhelm on superpowercast.podbean.com. You can check all of his goings-on at zimmert101.wordpress.com.
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