Behind the Curtain: What it Takes

Before I even get started, allow me to apologize for the absence of this column for the past couple of weeks. I have been very busy with Comic Frontline’s official YouTube channel launch, CR, work and personal stuff, and I had about three weeks of ongoing colds and the like. So I’m sorry I did not have a column entry for you all.
With that said, where were we? Ah, yes…
2009 was a banner year for Comic Related. As I said last time, we exploded! We had relaunched the site, launched all kinds of new content, did our best San Diego Comic Con coverage ever, and everything was just so positive.

At the time, a friend of ours, Robert Hickey of BlueLine Pro fame, owned and operated a comic shop called Comics 2 Games. They had moved into a new, bigger location, and at times, we would all converge at that shop for some pow-wows and just have a good time. It was an amazing shop, and we have a lot of great memories from those times. Unfortunately, Bob had to sell the shop, and it moved to a smaller location. So we no longer hang out there.
The reason I bring this up is because many a CR idea (and other ventures we won’t discuss) were birthed out of our Comics 2 Games get togethers. Our iconic CR circle design was the result of such an occasion in fact. I believe it was John Wilson that came up with the idea of the open circle with the CR in the middle. As we talked, we all brainstormed and thought it would be cool to add little things on the end of the open circle depicting different sections of the site. Like a microphone for podcasts, a film reel for movies & television, and so forth. 
On the drive home from that meeting (the three of us, myself, John and Chuck Moore rode together this time), I doodled the very first version of that CR circle logo, and that was it. When I got home that night, I designed the logo that brandishes all our PR efforts, and is found in videos on Comic Frontline.
As time went on, we would eventually adapt this open circle design to our podcast logos, and even create “CR Versions” of other podcasts’ logos joining our network. Even Dark Avenger INC’s logo was designed with the CR open circle.
But I am getting off on a tangent. The purpose of bringing up the pow-wows was to illustrate one key factor behind the success of Comic Related. Sure, on the surface, it looks like all we do is post press releases, podcasts, etc. Regurgitated news that dozens of other sites post as well. But that is so far from the whole of what goes into running a comic news site. While the general opinion is that there is no real journalism in comics, there is still the concept of original content, and back in the day, we had that in spades.
I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, though. To back it up, we met often to discuss the future of CR and how we could constantly improve and grow the content, the brand, and the site itself. There was one time we had an overnight meeting/slumber party of sorts that included grilling out, playing video games, watching movies, and the meeting itself embedded within that. It was in those times, like the ones I mentioned from Comics 2 Games, that we would develop strategies for what we were doing on the site. What was working, what wasn’t. What kind of content we had that we liked, that we didn’t like, what did we want to add, who could we reach out to, and so forth.
We were always working toward being better than we were. Yes, we had achieved a great amount of success in a relatively short time, and people were starting to take notice. Publishers, conventions and individuals were starting to contact us on a regular basis, and we had some great, original content at the time, as I’ve detailed in past columns. But we were never ones to sit on our laurels and think that we’ve arrived. Sure, we joked about slow motion walks into SDCC, wearing sunglasses and owning the joint, but that was daydreaming, innocent fun. We knew we still had a long way to go and a lot of work to do to get there.
Our meetings would consist of several phases or groupings. We would discuss content, and break that down by category – columns, reviews, podcasts, etc. – and decide what was working, what wasn’t and so forth. We’d discuss what kinds of articles we all would like to contribute, what kind of stuff we each preferred to post and so forth. 
Then we’d discuss financial matters, like monthly costs to operate the site, advertising and merchandise, and so forth. Who would be in charge of this or that, who do we approach for advertising, what kind of merchandise do we want to have, what kind of setup do we do for conventions, what conventions do we attend, which ones do we do our “we’re not there” coverage, and so forth.
And finally, we’d discuss the evolution of the site itself in terms of coding and programming, what functions we’d like to see added or expanded on, what changes need to be made, and the like.
These meetings would leave us super-charged and excited to get to work and keep taking CR to new heights. But even though what we did could be considered a hobby since we all had other jobs as well, it was definitely work, and a lot of it!
Next Time: We look at what it really takes to stay current, interesting and to keep people coming back.
New Schedule: Given the missed posts and my current workload, to be safe, for now I’m changing this column to bi-weekly. It may return to weekly in the future, or it may even go to monthly. But I will keep you all posted here within the column of whatever changes are made. Thanks!
PS. You can find past installments of this column by searching for “Behind the Curtain” or clicking that tag in the tag cloud on the sidebar to your right.

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