We have come to a shift in a paradigm. To help you better understand my statement, I want you to think about what branding stands out the most, when you visit Wal-Mart, Target, or malls in general. It is not the NFL, NBA, or any other sports league, it is not the most popular celebrity on television, and it is not your favorite meal. The most predominant branding in 2019 is SUPERHEROES! From t-shirts, to bike helmets, toys to breakfast cereals, the comic industry is no longer counter-culture, it is now culture! And, the highest grossing product on the big screen*.
The artists who were once seen as the red-headed children of publishing are now revered as celebrities. Comics which once cost merely a few cents and frequently thrown away, now sell for hundreds, or even thousands of dollars. The point I am making is, there is now huge amounts of dollars in the comic industry, and it is shaping our culture on the daily. Disagree? Ten years ago, did you know the names Deadpool, Green Arrow, or Deathstroke?
The reason this is important, is because of something I discovered four years ago. The majority of the individuals who pay hundreds to thousands of dollars for comics, thousands on cosplay equipment, and several hundred on a Comic-con tickets, are professionals; doctors, lawyers, attorneys, and contractors. In a majority of cases, these individuals have serious amounts of liquid funds, along with a garage of toys. Automotive toys.
What I have also found is that noone, except myself, is currently influencing these individuals on what automotive products to buy, or to whom they buy them from. Keep this in the back of your head we will get to it in a minute.
I wish to compare two different show attendees, and why this should perk your ears. One the car enthusiast to who may go to a one-day car show or drift event, to one who attends a Comic-Con (comic fan). The car enthusiast will pay about $20 for a ticket, spend about the same amount in food, and maybe splurge another $15 for a t-shirt in an event which may hold 3-5K attendees. In the 20 years of going to car shows throughout the country, I can count on my fingers the amount of times I saw an enthusiast make a thousand dollar-plus purchase at a car show.
Now, the comic fan will pay between $50-$250 for a Comic-Con experience that may be up to three days. These typical comic conventions are guests to attendee numbers ranging from 7K to 70K. Larger conventions such as New York or San Diego boast beyond 150K+ attendees. These attendees are willing to spend $150-$450 for a signature, and spend an equal amount, or more than that on a variety of merchandise through the event. Some are willing to buy slabbed comics for hundreds of dollars, or original art at $5K a pop. Sounds insane? When was the last time you went to a car show and saw attendees paying $20 to take a picture next to a modified vehicle? Well, we were getting paid that said amount, plus capturing the attendee’s email, just so they could snap a photo next to one of our themed vehicles just this past week.
The comicbook fan has the funds to spend, as opposed to the typical car enthusiast who goes on eBay looking for the least expensive aftermarket parts…..but is not influenced to spend those funds on their high-end toys. Except, when they discuss these modifications with the ONLY car guys in the Comic-Con, who modify vehicles, and thats us, Projekt Cars.
Todd McFarlane once stated to me that he bought three One Million Dollar baseballs so he could get “in” with the major leagues. He then went on to produce action figures in all major league sports, making millions for his company, the Todd McFarlane Group. I have also purchased my three “Baseballs” with the creation of the Todd McFarlane Spawn vehicles, the Stan Lee Civic, and now the Tyler Kirham Spider Buggy. I am “In” with the comic promoters, creators and fans, and seen as the go to “Car Guy” in the industry. The themed vehicles I will be placing in booths this year were selected for a certain reason, to influence the comic fan, and help who supported us, thereby sell more products.
* (1) Avengers: Endgame | 2019 | Worldwide Gross- $2,796,267,766, (3) Star Wars (The Force Awakens) | 2015 | Worldwide Gross- $2,068,223,624, (5) Avengers: Infinity War | 2018 | Worldwide Gross- $2,048,359,754
Todd McFarlane– is a Canadian comic book creator and entrepreneur, best known for his work as the artist on The Amazing Spider-Man and as the writer and artist on the horror-fantasy series Spawn. In 1998, he paid $2.6 million USD at auction for the baseball that St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire hit for his then record-breaking 70th home run, and $175,000 for Sammy Sosa’s 66th home run ball. Todd revolutionized the way action figures are now created (In three months, the company sold more than 2.2 million of the action figures nationwide).
Stan Lee– often known as the Creator of Marvel, American comic book writer, editor, publisher, and producer. He rose through the ranks of a family-run business to become Marvel Comics’ primary creative leader for two decades, leading its expansion from a small division of a publishing house to a multimedia corporation that dominated the comics industry.
In collaboration with others at Marvel—particularly co-writer/artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko—he co-created numerous popular fictional characters, including superheroes Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man. In doing so, he pioneered a more naturalistic approach to writing superhero comics in the 1960s, and in the 1970s he challenged the restrictions of the Comics Code Authority, indirectly leading to changes in its policies. In the 1980s he pursued development of Marvel properties in other media, with mixed results. Following his retirement from Marvel in the 1990s, he remained a public figurehead for the company, and frequently made cameo appearances in films and television shows based on Marvel characters, on which he received an executive producer credit. Meanwhile, he continued independent creative ventures into his 90s, until his death in 2018.
Tyler Kirkham is an American Comic book artist/creator. Working in comics for almost 15 years. He has worked for DC, Marvel, Image, and others. On titles like Amazing Spiderman, Superman, Deathstroke and Green Lantern. He has published creator owned graphic novels and children’s books. He is currently known for his dynamic cover art! You can see his work at www.tylerkirkham.com and follow him on Instagram and Twitter @tylerkirkhamart