"THROUGH THE FIRE AND FLAMES"
February 2008, Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. partnered for a creator owned comic from publisher Icon (Marvel subsidiary) called Kick-Ass. This series was based on the idea of what if in the real world someone put on a costume and tried to be a real superhero. This is definitely an 18+ book. As the series was going, Hollywood took notice and signed on to do a movie of it. If you have ever watched the movie and read the comic you will probably notice the first half of the movie is very similar to the comic, but the back half is very different. This is because the comic wasn't finished by the time filming had begun and the screenplay writers had to make up their own ending. I mention this title as it was a big seller for us here at Chimp's and Mark Millar did something awesome for advertising it. He had a contest on his forums where if you had a comic store and took pictures of flyers you hung up around your store, you would get listed in the back of the book. I of course had to take advantage of this. Take a look at your issues of Kick-Ass in the back. I'll wait.
So YES, we were listed in the back of each issue in the mini series. This would mark the first time Chimp's Comix would be advertised in a comic book! I of course ordered extra copies of the first issue as many of my customers wanted to get a copy just to have a piece of Chimp's history in their comic collections. It was also nice when they announced the movie and the values of this book went up, it was a double win!
The first weekend in May, 2008 marked a pretty big weekend for the Chimp's Community. On May 2, Magic the Gathering released Shadowmoor. With sales having dwindled due to Lorwyn not performing as well as normal, we started doing preorders on Shadowmoor to try to not get stuck with too much inventory. We were doing heavy discounts on full booster box preorders. Magic sealed product hasn't changed much on the retail pricing but we were trying to be more aggressive and competitive with the ever-growing online sales. Online sales were very aggressive on their price points back then and sometimes you could get boxes at about $2 above our costs. As a small business there was no way we could afford to match that so that's why we tried the preorders at these prices to lock in sales ahead of time so there was less risk on the financial side of the business. Nowadays, it is much more common for all sales to be around the same price but back then it was not. Unfortunately, the slow down from Lorwyn continued with the Shadowmoor block and preorders were very slim. FNM attendance was still down as well.
Also on May 2, the very first MCU movie was released. Iron Man came out and set the precedent for all future Marvel movies to come. Big name stars cast as bigger than life heroes. Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Tony Stark and to this day I can think of no one who could've done it better. Marvel Studios had sent all comic stores an official movie poster to be used in store to help advertise the movie and after hanging it up for a couple of months, I bought a frame and held a raffle on Free Comic Book Day for someone to win the poster framed. Turned out Marvel didn't really need our help to advertise this as it raked in a whopping $318, 604, 216.00 in Domestic box office but we might as well make a fan happy on Free Comic Book Day right?
Speaking of Free Comic Book Day 2008 (some photos of the store above), we continued doing the food donations for the local Salvation Army. Still growing at a steady rate. I believe this year was around 400 canned food items which I was pretty proud of. We regularly keep climbing on attendance and donations. This years Free Comics were: Jughead, Simpsons, Hellboy, All Star Superman, Death-Defying Devil, Transformers Animated, Broken Trinity, X-Men, Dan Dare, The Stranded, Shonen Jump, Sonic, Worlds of Aspen, Tiny Titans, Gyro Gearloose, Iron Man/Hulk and more!
Also in May, 2008 Grant Morrison's sequel to Infinite Crisis had begun. Final Crisis was released as a planned third part of a trilogy that began with Crisis on Infinite Earths. This series had beautiful art by J.G. Jones. Now this series brought in some new readers to DC and Morrison went so "Morrisony" with his story telling it was confusing almost every single person reading it. I had customers coming in frequently asking me to help them understand what they had just read. Now I'm gonna be honest, even with my long running comic book knowledge, I was getting lost. I could understand enough to help people with some things but other times I felt like we were all reading cliffnotes. It just kept jumping around all over the place and was super confusing. Now years later, enough people have dug into what the book was and can kind of understand it more, but I'm not sure anyone who isn't Grant Morrison really knows what the overall story was. The main takeaways were that the New Gods created by Jack Kirby and also known as the Fourth World was dying off to get replaced by the Fifth World with new incarnations of all of the New Gods including Darkseid, who for some reason found a home in a Metropolis Police Officer named Dan Turpin (of the Timmverse fame). Darkseid Dan "killed" Batman (spoiler alert), but not really as he became time displaced (we would find out later) when we found out in "The Return of Bruce Wayne" also written by Grant Morrison and still very "Morrisony". Now Return of Bruce Wayne was coincidentally just Captain America Reborn as Steve Rogers was also time displaced and both of those stories released at the same time. This would not be the first or the last time Marvel and DC did the same type of stories so similar and so close together, just wait ;).
June 2008 marked the release of Marvel's next annual event called Secret Invasion. This was a story that showed a spaceship crash on earth and reveal long dead heroes and ones that were still around come out of it. This raised questions and eventually showed us that the alien Skrull race had infiltrated many positions of power on Earth. Spider-woman was revealed to be the Skrull Queen and the heroes didn't know who to trust anymore. Their best friend could have been an imposter. When Professor X was doing an autopsy on Wolverine (who "died" years before this) found out he was replaced with a Skrull, he didn't tell anyone. This was a sign of things to come but when Wolverine showed up again as Apocalypse's horseman Death, they kinda just ignored it. The Skrull invasion had already begun. This series like a few before them had a very intriguing premise and of course in the last part, went for a rather simple answer. Norman Osborne saves the world by figuring out who all the Skrulls were and of course he uses this to his advantage. He stops the Skrulls and is claimed the savior of the world. He gets the position Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Satuday, July 5th, 2008 at 11 am, we tried again to do a video game tournament. I like many others got bit by the Guitar Hero bug. This video game franchise took the world by storm and tons of people were playing these games. I was hooked, but not very good. I thought it would be fun to hold a tournament to see how our local players were at this game. Now having the bad luck of the last 2 video game tournaments, I scheduled this one in the summer so we could avoid a blizzard. Attendance was pretty decent for the time. I believe we had about 14 or so players show up. Below is all of the rules on how the tournament was run including prize pay out:
System: Playstation 2
Format: Single Elimination
Entry Fee: $10
Rules:Registration starts at 11 AM. Practice round is from 11 AM to Noon. Everyone must take turns. Tournament will start at noon and will last until completed. You will be called up to 1 of the 2 TVs when it is your turn to rock out! After your song is over, put the guitar down and do not hit any buttons. We will use this screen to determine the winner of your match.
There will be 3 seeds (Medium, Hard, Expert). Each seed must have at least 4 participants. If any seed has less than 4 participants, that seed will no longer be active and will be grouped with the harder difficulty seed (1 level harder). Players are welcome and encouraged to bring their own guitar controller. Controllers can NOT be modded and if found to be, that player will be disqualified.
Round 1 will be a seeding round to determine the level of difficulty you will be playing the rest of the tournament in. Everyone will be tested on ability to play on a surprise song set on Hard difficulty. You will then be placed in a single elimination tournament.
The person with the highest point total on your song will win. After your point total, your note streak will be the tie-breaker.
You get 1 try at the song, if you fail the song and the other person finishes, they automatically win the round. If both of you fail, whoever gets further in the song wins. If both of you fail at the same percentage, the round is marked as a tie.
Round 2 song: Paranoid
Round 3 song: Welcome to the Jungle
Round 4 song: Black Sunshine
Round 5 song: Stricken
Round 6 song: One
Prizes: Prizes will be cash determined on the amount of players in your seed minus bonus round prize (if required, see below), and costs of running tournament. There will only be 1st place prizes for each seed.
Bonus Round!: This round will only happen if 16 or more players show up. The 1st place winners from each seed will play each other on "Through the Fire and Flames" in their difficulty. The winner of this round will be based on the following (tie-breakers are in order): 1. Percentage of notes hit. 2. Longest note streak 3. Points 4. Percentage of song completed The winner of this round will win a brand new copy of Guitar Hero Aerosmith for the console of his/her choice!
Now of course we would have to go out and purchase the game on the console of their choice if there was enough players but there wasn't for the Bonus Round. It was a fun day to watch the talented players thrash these songs head to head. Once it was all said and done, there was one winner remaining. Congratulations again to Nash Klinefelter for taking home the win. Since there wasn't enough people for the Bonus Round, he decided to "show off". I say show off because man he was good at this game and I wasn't. He played Through The Fire and Flames for everyone and actually finished the song on Expert. Anyone who has played this on Expert knows how ridiculously hard it it.
July 18, 2008 The Dark Knight releases to movie theatres and proves to all of us the late Heath Ledger portayed an amazing version of the Joker in a well thought out movie. This was not a popcorn movie, this was a much deeper story with a lot of meaning. As much as the story was thought out, nothing compares to the viral marketing this movie set out to do. No movie before this had pulled off what this one did with it's viral marketing. Pretty much all of the websites they had set up have since been shut down, but here is a little bit about it followed by currently active links that go into greater details about it.
I was following this news constantly at www.superherohype.com which had been doing an amazing job of keeping up with it. At the SDCC, they had dollar bills with George Washington's face covered in Joker makeup mixed into the currency at the con. This dollar bill had a phrase "Why So Serious" on it and if you searched that online you would find a website (that is now shut down) if you followed the instructions posted there, you would meet up to get your face painted in Joker makeup. A bunch of people then ran into the streets painted up as Joker among other things that they did at San Diego Comic Con.
At Wizard World Chicago, they secretly (since it was a last minute announcement and I missed it) held a Q&A with members of the cast and premiered the 7 minute trailer that has appeared in IMAX since then.
They have held held campaign drives for Harvey Dent for District Attorney. You could meet up with a "Dentmobile" and receive T-Shirts, buttons and flyers to show your support for Harvey Dent.
The Gotham Times (a local Gotham newspaper) had a website you can view the current newspaper at. If you took part in special events, you would even be mailed an actual hard copy of the newspaper!
The Joker even has his very own version of the newspaper up at www.thehahahatimes.com.
The latest piece that we are all hoping will reveal a new trailer all started at Clown Travel Agency website. This would lead you on a hunt to find a bowling ball bag. Inside the bag was a bowling ball with a phone number etched into it and a phone. If you called the number, it would state that your identity was confirmed and to await further instructions.
All in all there was over 20 different websites all with their own games to solve. Some gave the first image of the Joker, some led to a trailer, some let people on a chase in their local businesses (cakes and bowling mainly). There were so many odd and neat collectibles released virally that would be pretty neat to own. I do own a copy of one of the newspapers, but that's it.
If you are interested in delving deeper into the viral marketing (which was very interesting to be a part of), check the following links:
During 2008, I asked my landlord to get a sign on the end of the building to help advertise the store. I created this image and my Mom (Cindy Kelley) hand painted it for me (as I didn't have time to) using acrylic paints on plexiglass. Then it was covered with another pane of plexiglass to protect it from the weather. It is still hanging on the end of the building.
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End Part 10...