Jeff Gomez is the world’s leading producer of transmedia entertainment properties. As such, he knows a good property when he sees one. CBS grabbed Jeff for the weekend of the San Diego Comic Con and he blogged the comic con experience and trends. In his final article for the weekend, he talked about his work with us and how the DIY attitude that NEW-GEN possesses is the new wave of the future in the comics industry.
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Comic-Con: A new generation powered by steam and DIY online
(CBS/What’s Trending) – Chris and J.D. Matonti and their mom Julia Coppola have been coming to Comic Con the better part of a decade with their “transmedia property” New-Gen. When I first encountered them a few years back, their super hero story was a pastiche of teens, nanobots and Egyptian mythology crudely illustrated with their own drawings. On day four of Comic-Con, I finally encounter their booth while touring across the exhibit floor and am shocked by the professional gloss and intense color of the latest issues of New-Gen. They have animated videos running on the table; Mark Hamil (Luke Skywalker himself) is voicing the character of Gabriel. They even have a theme song!
“Guys! How did this happen?” Like so many hand-stapled ashcans and photocopied ‘zines in fandom’s past, New-Gen could have stayed exactly as it had started, a labor of love that never improved, a dream forever being pursued. “We had some help from our friends,” smiled J.D.
Rather than treading water, the boys and Julia tapped their tiny but loyal Facebook fan base to help them spruce up the property. They landed better and better pencillers, found a fine semi-pro colorist who decided to use the book as a showpiece, and through sheer audacity (and rivers of New Yawk charisma) they wheeled and dealed Hamil into the creative loop. Bits and pieces of each comic were passed between writers, artists and graphic designers through the magic of You Send It, and WHAM! — New-Gen has even caught the eye of some Hollywood producer types.
The intrepid New-Gen team is not alone. So much of what I’m seeing from so-called amateurs on the show floor looks simply dazzling. Like never before, software and social media is allowing us to convey our wildest imaginings. With a touch of charm and a smidgen of leadership — sheer force of nerd will power — we are capable of arraying mighty creative forces and not just turning out a cool comic book, but producing an entire line of quality products. These kids are selling print-to-order novels and trade paperbacks, custom-made action figures, even animated features that use Machinima techniques (where you can bring your stories to life within video game engines and record them to DVD). Want a taste before you buy? Check out their digital comics on the web, or the latest episode on their YouTube channel. And some of ’em are doing it all on a McDonald’s cashier’s salary!
The Do-It-Yourself mentality at SDCC is not limited to comics, of course. More and more of these costumes are simply spectacular. I’ve noticed a below-the-radar subgenre has been slowly bubbling to the surface, riding the DIY wave: steampunk. Perhaps the manifestation of 21st century kids yearning for the innocence and mystery of yesteryear by way of Jules Verne and H.G. Welles, steampunk imagines an alternate 18th century world, where we never abandoned steam to power our inventions, but somehow pushed forward into a bejeweled, science-fantasy world. Steampunk costume-players wear ornately tooled gadgets, protective goggles and umbrellas, clockwork broaches, and weathered boots. Bands of them stalk the floor seeking out supernatural menaces, or gathering expeditions to the moon. They sell their handcrafted wares on Etsy, and call for spontaneous meet-ups through Twitter to scavenge antique stores for “parts.” Man, it’s a great time to be a geek.
Thus, we come upon the surprising but true theme of my most recent odyssey across San Diego Comic Con. The convention has become wonderfully less necessary! My first SDCC was in 1986, and when all of us got there it was like reaching a nirvana we never thought existed. We were able to talk with people we could never find in our own neighborhoods. It proved we weren’t alone. But when the convention ended, we slunk back to our indifferent homes to live among the mundanes. Thanks to the amenities of the digital age, that’s no longer true. So Comic Con is no longer a single desperate outlet: It’s a punctuation, a celebration of who we are, a four-day parade of our creativity and the creations that inspire us.
Comic Con is no longer the exception that proves how alone we are. It’s the steam that powers another year of our social expression. So never surrender! And live long and prosper!
Jeff Gomez is the world’s leading producer of transmedia entertainment properties. As CEO of Starlight Runner Entertainment, a New York-based digital production company, Jeff has worked on such blockbuster worlds as James Cameron’s Avatar, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean and Tron Legacy, Microsoft’s Halo, and Coca-Cola’s Happiness Factory among many others. Jeff is a board member of the Producers Guild of America East, and sits on the advisory board of the PGA New Media Council. Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_Gomez or on Facebook at Starlight Runner Entertainment.