PR: What Not to Do: Americanime Hubris

This is what you call hubris. Americanime Comics (link no longer available) thinks it’s created “a new genre of art” by combining American comics with the manga art style. Oh, and they’ve just happened to name it after their company. Somebody tell Marvel that their mangaverse must not exist, because Americanime’s work is “unique”.

This is the lamest excuse for a press release I’ve seen in a long time, and it can be summed up in two words: “bandwagon jumping”. I especially like the boring and generic sentences it uses, like this first one. They seem to exist solely to carry the buzzwords when they’re not being inaccurately redundant (“founded a year ago… in January of 2005″).

Americanime is a dynamic new production company developing many exciting properties. The titles of Americanime are currently being produced and published in the visual media of comic-book/manga and graphic-novel, with a unique twist. Through the combination of the American Comic-Book and Japanese Manga/Anime styles, a new genre of art has been established, Americanime.

Americanime Productions was founded a year ago by Michael Westerman in January of 2005. The company began with a screenplay for the title “Katharsis” he had written, with the intent of producing the first ‘Americanime’ film; written by an American and animated with a Japanese anime-studio. Recognizing the necessary capital to produce films, Michael moved to build the company from the ground up to ensure things developed as planned. As comic-books/manga are essentially a fine-art version of the storyboards used in film, it was a natural starting point. This also provides the dual benefit of establishing the visual representation of the title while achieving international exposure through the releases.

To establish a new genre of art and a successful company, additional titles were essential. For this an international search for the most talented artists and creators with like desires was embarked upon. The Americanime team has been assembled as such, comprised of talented and innovative individuals from across the globe, including the US, Philippines, Indonesia, Italy, Canada, Israel, and Japan.

With a talented team of professionals, intriguing titles, and a revolutionary style, Americanime Productions is geared to become an established name in the world of art and entertainment.

How’s that for a whole lot of nothing? Grandiose claims backed up by nothing, a guy who thinks comics is a good way to get into movies, where he really wants to be… this is another example of “what not to do”.

Similar Posts: PR: What Not to Do: Screwing up the Political Basics § PR: What Not to Do: Manga as Coat of Paint § Viz Enters J-Pop Field § PR: What Not to Do: Websites Lacking Key Information § Kodansha to Open U.S. Subsidiary; Manga Pricing to Change?


20 Responses to “PR: What Not to Do: Americanime Hubris”

  1. tangognat Says:

    Wow, that sounds lame.

  2. Rachel Says:

    “Anime?” Umm, “anime” refers “animation” and “manga” refers to “comics.” I suppose “Amerimanga” was already too close to being trademarked by other publishers, so they picked the next best fit.

    I know we big-eye artists disagree a lot over terminology (OEL Manga? Manga-inspired? Amerimanga?), but this is just ridiculous. “Americanime Comics” is like saying “American Animation Comics.”

    Sorry. I’m a semantics freak.

    I love these examples of what not to do. They are fun and informative!

  3. Aaron Says:

    Ben Dunn is just kicking himself for not having thought of this inspired idea.

  4. James Schee Says:

    Rachel beat me to it. The title seem the equal of naming a new comic company “Motion Picture Comics.”

  5. Johanna Says:

    Rachel, glad you’re enjoying them. It’s my way of making lemonade out of some of the terrible things that enter my mailbox.

    I mean, this guy’s confusing an art style (which is way wider than he seems to think) and a historically traditional format (“American comics”) with a genre.

    Aaron, heh, another good example of a predecessor.

  6. James Schee Says:

    Something else I wondered about. What is the American Comic Style? Does he mean superheroes(which have various styles in it)? Does he mean the Hernandez Bros.? Does he mean Frank Miller?

    It just doesn’t make a lot of sense…

  7. Lea Says:

    DANGIT! Why didn’t I think of this?

    Wait…

  8. Paul Sizer Says:

    I was poking around the Americanime forums and found this exchange. First, an answer from Westerman about the name:
    “Hello. I named the company Americanime because I will be moving into the production of animation, based upon a select few of the manga I publish. For this I will be utilizing Japanese animation style and studios, based upon comics produced in America, thus, the genre of Americanime will be created. Good question though, I have been waiting to hear it from someone. ”

    and then a really good question from a poster:
    “Alright…so let me get this strait. You plan to commission Japanese studios to take on American comics from an unheard of company? Where are the funds going to come on? Why would Japanese studios want American comics when they have an overabundance of Japanese comics at their disposal? Don’t forget language barriers and working laws. Why employ a Japanese studio, when American studios might be cheaper and produce much higher quality animation in terms of movement/fps/etc. ? This seems impratical to me and I’m curious how you could even get it to work…not realistic at all. Either that or you’re just looking at least 20 years into the future? I don’t mean that offensively at all, but this just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

    and Westerman’s answer:
    “The name of Americanime will not be unknown for much longer, so image will not be a problem. As far as production costs, it is far cheaper to utilize Japanese studios, who do primary animations themselves then sub-contract out the in-between art to firms in China and Singapore for expediency and economical reasons. For the translation of the title I already have two japanese translators, as well as German, Spanish, Filipino, and Italian if the opportunity should arise. I also have a business associate who will act as my interpreter in the coming negotiations, as my Japanese is not quite sharp enough to stand alone. I do not mind your skepticism, but I wonder as to its origins, have you had any experience in the industry?”

    Hmmm, yes, I agree, this seems not very well thought out, and is using comics (and the people who make them) to propel his latent film career into action.

  9. Scott Says:

    Recognizing the necessary capital to produce films, Michael moved to build the company…

    That phrase just doesn’t make much sense. Recognizing he lacked capital is the way it probably should lead, or maybe he recognized it walking down the street, or maybe he recognized that others had it and he didn’t or…

  10. Rachel Says:

    Ever notice that people who say that they are soon going to become famous the world over rarely make more than a ripple, but those who say nothing at all become renowned?

    On a side note, self promotion is tricky. How do you show yourself in the best light without going too far and becoming a bullshitter? I always have trouble with self-promotion. I either come off too modest or over the top. I wonder if this man will chronically puff up, or if he’ll grow out of it?

  11. Johanna Says:

    Rachel, I’ve always heard “under-promise and over-deliver”. Avoid the grandiose praise of yourself and concentrate on what you offer those you’re trying to reach. I don’t care what your comic company does for you — I, as a reader, want to know what it does for ME. (For instance, provide quality books I want to read.)

    Sure, there’s always hype, and there’s always an element of smoke and mirrors, but downplaying it and keeping your audience’s needs in mind goes a long way.

  12. Ed Cunard Says:

    Sure, there’s always hype, and there’s always an element of smoke and mirrors, but downplaying it and keeping your audience’s needs in mind goes a long way.

    That’s pretty good advice. I’d also add “only promise what you can deliver.” On the business (rather than the creative) side, in the past five years, I’ve seen people discuss investors that didn’t end up investing, promises that an issue of a comic was “guaranteed to be the most talked about issue of the year,” companies promising to be out-selling other companies within a specific time frame. Limit statements to what you yourself can do, not what you think you are capable of.

  13. Michael Westerman Says:

    Greetings,

    This is Michael Westerman, the owner of Americanime Productions. The feedback to my press release is appreciated and welcome.

    The document is intended to generate interest in the company and products; the result of a collaborative effort throughout the various incarnations of the business and marketing plan. The format and assertations are meant to impart upon audiences the nature of the art, and while it has been done by others such as the Marvel manga, the styles and artists on the titles are unique in their own way and thus may be categorized differently.

    The mention of the developments of Americanime is indicative of the direction of the company, and considering the press release is influenced by the business goals of the organization are relevant data. The model of first developing comic-books, then proceeding to film, video-game, and other media development and licensing is the model followed by a majority of comic-book companies, yes, partially due to lack of a huge amount of start-up capital. The company has been built during my tenure at Northeastern University through investiture in the business plan and organizational structure through various means of financing.

    Regarding the quality of the products, I will leave that judgement to the potential fan, as such things are subjective. Thus far seven issues from four series have been released nationally by Diamond Comic Distibutors and are available at a comic-store near you, can be ordered through Previews magazine, and are available on the Americanime Store.

    For more information visit the Americanime sites at:
    http://www.americanimeproductions.com
    http://www.americanimecomics.com

    Regards,

    Michael Westerman

  14. Brian Says:

    In response to Mr. Westerman’s comment:

    You seem to be overlooking something pretty fundamental here. Your business model is based on the assumption that people will buy your comics. So many publishers just put their stuff out there and don’t know how to support it. We’ve seen so many publishers come bursting out of the gates with the right intentions (Crossgen, Dreamwave, Alias, Speakeasy, etc.) but crash and burn due to poor marketing practices. I noticed in a previous post that you had questioned the validity of someone’s argument by challengin their experience in the industry. I can tell you that, yes, I have had experience in the comics industry; not just being some punk kid with a portfolio, but working in the editorial department for IDW Publishing, a now well-known indy publisher. If anything, theirs is the business model you should be following. They picked up well-known properties with established fan-bases (CSI, The Shield, 24, etc.) and provided an exclusive product. They also used established relationships built from within the industry to procure well-known talent (Ashley Wood, Steve Niles, Ben Templesmith) with established fan-bases. They then used the capital from those projects to fund smaller but promising projects. What you are doing is presuming that people want American stories in a Japanese art style. This is far from an exclusive product. In fact, one might say the market is super-saturated with this. If you walk into a Barnes & Noble, TokyoPop has more books on the shelf than any other graphic novel publisher.

    Avid comics readers are very discerning and must be very selective when deciding what will be on their pull list. Yes, you have released seven issues, but how much of the market share did those seven issues get? What was your initial print, and what were your initial order numbers from Diamond? Retailers also have to be very selective with what they bring into their stores. How much promotion did you do pre-launch? Did you contact any retailers directly to promote your books? Did you send out flyers? Or, was your only means of promotion sending out your well thought-out press release to every comics site on the web?

    What I’m basically getting at is that any potential readers out there will look beyond theatrics and buzzwords and look for actual substance in your books. They might indeed be great works, but no one will even give them a chance if you do not promote properly and offer something that no one else is offering.

    It’s also a huge mistake to use this as a springboard into another industry. It has never ever worked. Every successful comic publisher has been in it to publish comics first. Any other media that gets developed from that is peripheral to the publishing end.

    I now question your experience in the industry. Mark Alessi thought he had a great business model, but look at how that turned out. He has now gone back into IT consulting. I do hope the best for you, as I really am a fan of small press. I just suggest reevaluating your approach to the whole process.

  15. Michael Westerman Says:

    The necessity of advertisement and marketing is a fundamental aspect of any business, whether product or service based, and is well understood and employed by Americanime, within which there is a multi-faceted advertising and marketing strategy in place. To directly market to retailers and fans alike the comic and anime convention circuit is key, as well as advertisements within the trade periodical Previews magazine, which sells to 55,000+ fans each month as well as 5,000+ retailers. Each month the releases of Americanime are listed within this catalogue guaranteeing exposure for the current releases, while the ads increase visibility. Indirect marketing and buzz comes from the press generated through reviews, flyers distributed at conventions and snail-mail, and the presence of the books on the shelves at comic-stores throughout the US and Canada. These in conjunction with online advertising and other means are an effective strategy to achieve the ends of exposure, with the merit of the product then determining the course.

    Links to the current reviews of Americanime’s series can be found on the main page of the Productions website and news link on the Comics site. Below is a list of the past, and planned, conventions that Americanime has or will attend within the small-press or exhibitor areas.

    2005:
    Anime Boston – Boston, MA
    Anime Central – Chicago, IL
    Otakon – Baltimore, MD
    Monkeyhouse Comic-Book Spectacular – Boston, MA
    Wizard Boston – Boston, MA
    Big Apple Con – New York, NY

    2006:
    Monkeyhouse Comic-Book Spectacular – Boston, MA
    New York Comic Con – New York, NY

    Upcoming:
    May – Anime Boston
    July – San Diego Comic Con
    …and potentially a few others!

    For more information check out the websites!

    http://www.americanimeproductions.com
    or
    http://www.americanimecomics.com

    Regards,

    Michael Westerman

  16. Johanna Says:

    I find those numbers for Previews distribution suspiciously high (most other sources estimate on the order of 3000 retailers, not 5000), and an ad in the catalog has yet to be demonstrated as effective, given the sheer weight of how many other titles are included every month. I’ve never seen your books on any comic shop shelves, but I’m only one person.

    What you’re describing, to anyone familiar with the comic market, is only the most minimal level of “exposure”. It won’t sell your books, because there’s just too much other stuff out there doing exactly the same thing.

  17. Michael Westerman Says:

    The numbers quoted on the sales of Previews magazine are cited directly from the Diamond Comic Distributors website.

    The most minimal level of ‘exposure’ would be something similar to what Brian had mentioned above, only sending out an email to all the online comic sites, or perhaps merely sitting upon a Previews listing and hoping for the best. I am advertising within the largest and widest-read trade periodical , and marketing directly to the fans and retailers through conventions, direct advertising and also online; this is a proper advertising setup. The definition of minimal is ‘smallest possible in amount or extent’. I would not consider an advertising/marketing campaign with a dual demographic (fan, retailer) that utilizes multiple media and direct marketing to be a minimalist approach.

    Your excessive negativity towards myself and company, to which you have admittedly never come across on shelves nor personally seen, met, or read, is unfounded. I will happily provide copies of the product for review to enable a just opinion.

    For more information on Americanime Productions and ours series, visit the websites at:

    http://www.americanimeproductions.com or
    http://www.americanimecomics.com

    Best,

    Michael Westerman

  18. Johanna Says:

    Mmm, and Diamond wouldn’t have any motive in exaggerating their sales and thus apparent influence, would they? You’ve ignored my key point in focusing on the semantics of “minimal”. My point was that everyone’s doing the same things you are. The only thing you’ve done so far to set yourself apart is argue with me, and that won’t get you very far. :)

    If I was “excessively negative” towards you, I wouldn’t have allowed you to post what amounts to three ads on my site. As for review copies, you haven’t yet contacted me to ask how to get them to me. I hope you’re not expecting me to seek YOU out — I already have too many review copies waiting for my attention, from companies who’ve been sensible and polite.

    If you think I’m “excessive”, and you can’t take this level of criticism, then you’re not ready to launch a public comic company. People don’t start with neutral attitudes; many start with the expectation that they won’t bother with you or your publications until you give them a reason to seek you out. Wasting your time arguing with me isn’t spreading the good word about your books.

  19. Aidan Says:

    You know what was great about this? All of Westerman’s responses (except perhaps the last one. Actually…) seemed to be form letters. He probably had those on his computer just in case tricky websites such as this ever wanted to put the boot in.
    I do remember AmericanAnime getting good press in CSN. I remember it because I used to read a webcomic of the same name and felt the creator should totally sue.

  20. Press Release How-Tos » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] We’re using the latest hot buzzwords [...]

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