Thursday, April 15, 2010

Quite a Week for Sketch Maven 

(I said, I wasn’t going to be posting much on this blog and I guess I’ve kept my end of the bargain.  Seriously, for more timely information about comic art and Sketch Maven, fan us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.  That said I did want to discuss something that was going to take more than 140 characters.)

What a week it has been for Sketch Maven!  We have been seeing a significant increase in traffic and transactions on the site ever since WonderCon ended, but the buzz we got this past week took that to a whole ‘nuther level.

Let me recap.  Early Monday afternoon, I got an email from a fellow Cartoon Art Museum board member, Ron Evans, which basically said (and I’m paraphrasing) “Dude, you’re on Mashable!”  Samuel Axon of Mashable wrote a great little piece on Sketch Maven for their Microsoft Biz Spark series profiling up and coming startups.  That article was retweeted over 500 times by Mashable’s over 2MM followers and drove our biggest traffic day ever.  Then Wednesday came and Sketch Maven appeared in millions inboxes for everyone in the US who subscribes to their area’s Thrillist daily newsletter.  That said, for much of the Wednesday morning, Sketch Maven had slowed to a crawl from the mass of visitors (sorry about that everyone!).  And for good measure, earlier today, we hit the front page of the Google search for “original comic art”.  (From an eCommerce perspective, that is a “Very Big Deal” for a company that is still only a few months old.) 

While, of course, I am excited about the coverage for Sketch Maven, I am also excited about this from a general comic art community standpoint.  By my count millions of people across the US have seen emails, tweets, and newsletters talking about original comic art.  Some will ignore it and move onto something else, but thousands were curious and wanted to learn more! 

This week, I spoke to a lot of people over the phone that checked out our site for the first time and many didn’t even know what comic art was.  (Don’t feel bad if you don’t- I was there once too and we have a lot of info on our site to help explain it to you!)  Talking to these new fans, be it at conventions or over the phone might be my favorite part of my job!  About 75% of the initial sales to users on Sketch Maven are to people who have never bought comic art before.  We are introducing people to a new hobby that may not have heard about it otherwise and I get a real rush out of that.  I firmly believe that every lover of comics, sci-fi and general pop-culture needs to own some piece of comic art.  Original comic art is something that no one else in the world owns, all you fans need a piece in the office or den of where you live.  I promise to keep working until that is true!

It has been a heckuva week, and it is still only Thursday!  Now I’m off to my hometown of Chicago for the inaugural C2E2 convention.  I am confident that the Reed Expo folks will put on an excellent show and this will become a new Chicago tradition… now a note to Wizard/Reed- Chicago is big enough for two cons, let’s not put them out on the same weekend.  I hope to see many familiar faces at the show. 

Thanks to all of you for your support of Sketch Maven!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Shocked... horrified... helpless...

I think many of us have shared those emotions over the past few days when seeing what has happened to Haiti after the January 12 earthquake.  No country should have to deal with a disaster of this magnitude but Haiti really didn't need this. Haiti is the poorest country in this half of the world, a country where the average family makes less in a year than what the average American family makes in a week. Haiti was poor before, now the country is devastated.

Non-profit, for-profit and government agencies have stepped up to help Haitians and Americans have begun to give in record numbers.  It is important for us at Sketch Maven that we help in this effort (even if the magnitude of a month and a half old startup like Sketch Maven cannot come close to that of a GE).  For 48 hours, Sunday January 17 - Monday January 18, we will be donating 10% of all the sales on Sketch Maven to the Red Cross Haiti Relief and Development Fund. Said another way, for a couple days all the money that Sketch Maven would have brought in for sales fees will go to the people of Haiti. There are also several pages that sellers are donating which you can view in our Homepage Showcase under 100% to Haiti (all that money will go to the charty). Over the next days, weeks and years Haitians will need more than our money and prayers... but this is at least a start.

I'm sure you have already received "asks" for donations from many places already, if you have already given, I commend you. But if you have not, and can find a way to spare it, please donate directly to the Red Cross or another reputable organization helping those in Haiti. And if you would like to buy something from Sketch Maven, please buy within the next 48 hours as we will be donating 10% of the proceeds to the Red Cross this Tuesday.


Mike Todasco
General Manager
Sketch Maven, Inc.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Top Ten Comic-Related Videos of 2009

2009 was a big year for comic-related films with the release of G.I. Joe, Watchmen, Wolverine Origins, Star Trek, Surrogates and others.  But, those flicks were hit or miss.  Fortunately for all the Fanboys and Fangirls out there, there was plenty of high quality comic-related entertainment on the web in 2009.  We sifted through hundreds of clips throughout the year, to build this list; we hope this will serve as a nice bookend to 2009. And as it goes with all "Top Ten" lists, they will always be some controversy, so please share your opinions in our the comment section.  While the Best Comic Video's of '09 might pale in scope to The Onion's "Top Ten Stories of Last 4.5 Billion Years", we hope you'll get a chuckle or two from these clips.  (Click here to see the full press release.)

Happy Holidays Everyone. Here's to a great 2010!

10. Ewoks Run Amok on the Today Show
In one swoop, this completely changed my opinion of the Ewoks.  Yes, all the dancing, unrealistic fighting, a horrendous cartoon, and out of place "cuteness" can now be now forgiven.  Now if we can only get George Lucas to hump Al Roker's leg, I would fully forgive him for Episodes 1-2. 

9. Batman Vanishes

I believe it was Bob Odenkirk from Mr. Show who I once heard discuss how there are some sketches, that take almost no effort to write.  Once you have the concept, it writes itself- taking nothing away from the creators of this video, this is one of those sketches.  I always thought Batman's vanishing defied physics, this explains a lot.

8. Batman Community
Christian Bale-Batman impressions are to the aughts what Ed Sullivan impressions were to the 60s or what Reagan impressions were to the 80s..  but nobody does it better than Danny Pudi. Here "Batman" explains why he won't celebrate Halloween.

7. The Shadow Hare
And the only person who doesn't do a Christian Bale-like Batman voice is the one dude who actually thinks that he's a crime fighter.  I'm sure Cincinnati's Shadow Hare doesn't instill fear in all that wish the city harm, but I hear he makes a mean sandwich.  Part 1 is below and the sequel to the broadcast can be viewed here.

6. Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film as "Fun, Watchable"

I think this quote sums it all up... "Earlier today Paramount released this statement to ease fans' concerns. 'We stand behind this film and firmly believe in a few years, it will seem just as dated and cornball as previous Star Trek films.'"

5. Saturday Morning Watchmen
You know there is someone at ABC who would have green-lighted this back in 1988.  And sadly, I would have watched it every Saturday.  And as a Bonus Video: College Humor's take on Dr. Manhattan's Pants.

4. Astonishing X-Men
Kudos to Marvel Comics and Neal Gaiman's Continuity Studios for re-imagining the old-school motion comics in the 1960s and creating an entirely new experience.  Ultimately readership in comics is on the decline and we need publishers to do whatever they can to find new audiences.  Years from now we may be hearing how motion comics were the way many people are introduced (or reintroduced) to comic books.

3. Star Wars: Retold (by someone that's never seen it)
Just funny!  A great concept that was very well edited and pulled together!

2. Green Lantern Fan Trailer
Probably the greatest fan trailer ever made.  Before Ryan Reynolds was announced as playing Hal Jordan, we were able to see Nathan Fillion "playing" the role.  With an army of writers, full cast and crew and $150MM to spend, the real Green Lantern film will be tough to match the excitement and drama of this two minute clip.

1. The Ballad of G.I. Joe
The concept of the video is "What do GI Joe and Cobra do after hours?" but the real question being asked is "How would a GI Joe movie look if it were true to its comic and cartoon roots?" The answer to that is "incredible". The uniqueness of costuming is one of the things that made the 80s franchise special, something that I think the movie clearly missed. But I won't knock the GI Joe movie here, there have been enough reviews dedicated to that. The Ballad of GI Joe pulls together a phenomenal cast (with A-listers like Julianne Moore and Billy Crudup), a great tune that is actually on my MP3 player, funny lyrics, and a genuine affection for the characters that shines through. Oh yeah, and there is a dueling, kick ass clarinet solo at the end. I never thought I'd utter the phrase "kick ass clarinet solo".

Honorable Mention: Scott McCloud at TED
Scott McCloud is one ambassador of comic books that we are lucky to have. Here is his speech at the prestigious TED conference back in '05 (but it was posted in '09). He talked about his upbringing, comic books and shared some life lessons we should all live by. To paraphrase those:
1. Learn from everyone
2. Follow no one
3. Watch for patterns
4. Work like hell

Monday, December 14, 2009

Welcome to the Sketch Maven blog where, from time to time, we'll be posting longer-form or slightly off-topic items related to original comic artwork, comic books the comic industry, and whatever else catches our fancy.

This won't be updated too frequently so if you're looking for more timely info on Sketch Maven and want to learn more about us, you can check out: