Tuesday, March 22, 2016

High-Concept Pitches, Aftershock-Style!

Part of the decline of Hollywood, or at least so the legend goes, was the loss of attention span of the studio execs. They could no longer be expected to read entire scripts, or even real synopses. The producer/writer/agent/whomever had to make "elevator pitches," i.e. you had the length of an elevator ride to sell the story.

The execs must have gotten even more jealous of their time, though, as those elevator pitches were apparently too long. Now they only wanted high-concept pitches, where you describe your concept as as mash-up of two (or more) other successful projects: "It's like Ghostbusters meets the Beverly Hillbillies, but in 1950s Las Vegas!!" (That idea is copyright me, btw) No wonder so many of our movies are, well, crap now, as studio executive care about nothing more than the pitch, and let people like Max Landis keep writing the finished product.

But the high-concept pitch exists in comics, too...at least when they try to sell the comics to retailers and customers.

A couple of weeks ago, this freebie turned up at my LCS:

Hey, I'll snag anything free!

And it's what you'd expect...synopses of the comics, sample pages, quotes from reviewers. But Aftershock thought that wasn't enough, so for virtually every project, they felt compelled to put, unattributed but in far bigger print than anything else, the high-concept pitch for each book.

Please note, I'm not slamming the books, or the creators. I get and enjoy couple of the books, some just aren't my cup of tea, and some just aren't out yet.

But I just find it amusing that Aftershock's marketing department found it necessary to break almost every single one of there books down to a lowest-common-denominator, "this book is really just concept X + concept Y" high-concept pitch.

Take, for example, American Monster:

Apparently, an interesting synopsis, preview pages, and actual reviews aren't enough to sell us the book. Let's try this:

Sold, I guess?

How about Replica?

I haven't read the book, but I'm willing to wager that it's nothing like this:

What about Insexts?

Gotta dumb it down to attract the fans:

Then there's Super Zero:

In case the actual premise isn't attractive enough for you, well, let's try this:

No, I read the book, and it's really not that in the least.

What about Second Sight?

Hmm, how can we sell this book?

Again, I read the book, and it's pretty good, and really, it's not like that at all. "It's like Silence Of The Lambs and Chinatown on SHROOMS"? That's borderline insulting to the book (although one character does partake of mushrooms, so...)


Seriously, you guys have got to stop this...



Maybe these are really the high-concept pitches that the creators themselves used to sell the books to Aftershock. But somehow I doubt it.

We grown up readers, Aftershock. You really don't need to dumb down the premises of your books for us. Have your marketing guys calm down a bit, and sell the work, not some two-bit elevator pitch that often has little to do with the actual work.

Unless, of course, you're interested in my new book, which is an X-Files/Gilligan's Island mash-up on steroids, and...


B Smith said...

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale
A tale of mystery
That started with the FBI
And Mulder and Scully...

Hey, I think you've got a winner there!

David C said...

Wasn't there a small comics line a few years ago that essentially existed for the purpose of selling story outlines to Hollywood? This might literally be aimed at Hollywood suits, not comics readers.