Thank you Wolverine … or Hugh Jackman is the holy grail of comics

OKAY … HE’S PROMOTING A MOVIE … BUT STILL …

I’m assuming that at this point, with the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie opening just days away, that most comic book fans have already seen the Public Service Announcement that was recorded by MOVIE STAR Hugh Jackman. If you haven’t, I’m including it here and now because there are many longtime comic book professionals that wondered (mostly in the past) if it would ever happen.  

JOE FIELD HAD TO WAIT 25 YEARS FOR THIS 

When the news broke many days ago about this video combo promoting the Wolverine movie that included a PSA for Free Comic Book Day, I got on the phone and called one of my favorite retailers, Joe Field. Joe’s store, Flyer Colors is, regrettably, one of those great comic book retail outlets that I’ve never had the good sense or good luck to actually visit.

This SATURDAY is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! Don't forget!

This SATURDAY is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! Don't forget!

How do I know it is a good store? I don’t, but I do know a couple of things. First, I know and like Joe Field. He thinks clearly, he speaks his mind, he’s thoughtful and he is nice to have around, whether at dinner or at a business meeting. Joe Field is my kind of guy. When I grow up, I hope that people think I’m 75% the guy that Joe Field already is. The second thing that I know is that a comic book retail store tends to reflect that personality of the owner … or at least the guy in charge. Based on these facts, I’m sure Flying Colors is a great store.

*** BLATANT PLUG WARNING *** FLYING COLORS, 2980 Treat Boulevard, Concord, CA 94518, (925) 825-5410, http://www.flyingcolorscomics.com

Joe Field and some FF action figures

Joe Field and some FF action figures

I called Joe Field when the video and press release hit the comic news sites because Free Comic Book Day (FCBD)was Joe Field’s idea. Congratulations were in order. The first Free Comic Book Day was held in 2002. Like many good ideas, Free Comic Book Day is both genius inspiration and simply obvious. It seems like the kind of idea that has been, or always should have been, part of the comic book industry landscape. So bravo, a fanatic round of applause for Joe Field.

I called Flying Colors and Joe took a few minutes to talk to me. After telling me some important information about the Wolverine/FCBD public service announcement, we started to talk about how this seemed to both of us like a major milestone in the history of comic books to both of us.

“I remember writing to Comic’s Buyers Guide 25 years ago,” Joe said to me. “I wanted to know what it would take or how we could get a BIG celebrity to endorse comic books. And now it has finally happened.”

Some guy sitting outside FLYER COLORS (sorry dude!)

Some guy sitting outside FLYER COLORS (sorry dude!)

HUGH JACKMAN IS THE HOLY GRAIL OF COMICS

RAVER written by Walter Koenig, published by Malibu

RAVER written by Walter Koenig, published by Malibu

I’ll reveal another piece of my discussion with Joe later, but talking to him got me to thinking about my own past. During the early days of Malibu Comics, the “partners” (Scott, Dave, Tom and Chris) would have long exhaustive discussions about steps we might be able to take to use the power of media celebrities to get Malibu Comics noticed.  We seemed to have this kind of talk every couple of months. We even did a comic book with actor/writer Walter Koenig of Star Trek fame, with limited results.

In the recent history of comics, there is example after example after example of attempts to leverage celebrity to draw attention to a comic  … less so to comics in general.

Over at Heidi MacDonald’s BEAT (which I support with a double-dose of fanatic applause) she wrote the following:

“Second: Back in The Dark Ages, for decades, comics folk thought that a “Milk Board”  — an industry advocacy arm that would put together promotional efforts featuring celebs who said they read comics — might help raise the profile of the medium to the general public. In fact, entire organizations were formed to work towards this milk board, before petty differences or inertia would inevitably end the efforts.

And now, it’s almost like the Milk Board came to us.

So, once again….yay us!”

hugh-jackman-got-milk

Jackman's MILK BOARD advertisement. CLICK ME ... I'M A LINK!

BEFORE WE GO ANY FURTHER … THANK YOU HUGH JACKMAN!

Sure it was big when Hugh Jackman’s Swordfish co-star Hallie Berry (did they do any other movies together? :-) showed up at Comic Con International to promote the Catwoman movie. To me it just doesn’t feel as big as Jackman/Wolverine looking into the camera and talking about how great comic books are for children and as a weapon against illiteracy. 

There is a long list of celebrities that were more than willing to work in comic book movies who had no interest in supporting the comic book industry. We didn’t get this kind of thing from Christopher Reeve, Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson or Gene Hackman. We didn’t get this from Patrick Stewart, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Robert Downey, or even Samuel Jackson.

Hallie Berry and Hugh Jackman were together in SWORDFISH, plus some guy named Travolta

Hallie Berry and Hugh Jackman were together in SWORDFISH, plus some guy named Travolta

There isn’t any evidence that Hugh Jackman is a comic book fanatic, reader or collector. And yet there he stands, saying the words and conveying the ideas that Joe Field has waited 25 years to see. And many of us have waited side-by-side with Joe. Maybe those other celebrities would have done it if asked. The fact that comic book publishers didn’t have the guts, clout or reach to get this done before now is sad.

Thank you Hugh Jackman for saying “yes.”

COME BACK TO FUNNY BOOK FANATIC TOMORROW. 

There is more (LOTS & LOTS MORE) aspects to this story, which I have yet to reveal, but this post has already gotten too long. I’m even skipping my regularly scheduled edition of The Gene Colan Project for this post.

That’s my version of the story.

           — Dave Olbrich (DWO) Wed. April 29, 2009

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8 Comments

Filed under Behind the Scenes, Fanatic General, Fanatical History, Point-of-view, Product Plugs

8 responses to “Thank you Wolverine … or Hugh Jackman is the holy grail of comics

  1. Mak Herr

    As someone who was heavily involved in the behind the scenes of the first four FCBD events, I can assure you that the publishers did attempt reach outs to the movie studios involved in corresponding movies at the time and they got little to no cooperation.

    Very happy to see the right things fell into place finally to make this happen.

  2. Junkie1

    I, too love Hugh! I am so glad he kept Wolverine going. I am doing a Hugh Jackman tribute on my blog this week in honor of the Origins release! http://littlejunkies.wordpress.com/2009/04/29/hughku/

  3. Tom Mason

    Hey look – Raver! Of course, the lesson of Raver was that celebrity in sci-fi fandom doesn’t translate to foot traffic in the direct market. We couldn’t get the books to where Walter’s fans congregated and they couldn’t get to their LCS, if they even knew such a thing existed.

  4. Pingback: Jackman/Wolverine Free Comic Book Day PSA: The story behind the story « Funny Book Fanatic

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