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What do Jesus,Lady Gaga ,J. K. Rowling ,David Beckham and the cast of Glee have in common? They are each the subject of a biographical comic book from Bluewater Productions....

Written by New York Times |
August 1, 2010 12:28:03 am

What do Jesus,Lady Gaga ,J. K. Rowling ,David Beckham and the cast of Glee have in common? They are each the subject of a biographical comic book from Bluewater Productions. And there are more to come: Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (August),Meredith Vieira (September),Olivia Newton-John (October) and the cast of Twilight (November).

Set in that middle ground between fanzines and traditional biographies aimed at the younger reader,these publications are the latest chapter in the publishing industry’s presentation of fact-based comics. The man behind them is Bluewater’s president,Darren G. Davis,and the true-story comics have been the company’s salvation.

“Without these comics,we wouldn’t be alive,” Davis said in a telephone interview. Bluewater,like many smaller comic book companies,was struggling with a tougher,smaller market and the declining sales of comics featuring the 10th Muse,a character Davis created,which was introduced in 2000. A Michelle Obama comic book from the new series sold around 65,000 copies,Davis said. By contrast,copies of the 10th Muse sell between 5,000 and 10,000.

The turnaround for Bluewater began with the 2008 presidential campaign. Another comic book company,IDW Publishing,released biographies a few weeks before the election telling the stories of Senators John McCain and Barack Obama . Those issues sold nearly 30,000 copies to comic book stores in the first month of their release.

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Davis was inspired to follow up those comics with ones devoted to Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin (The cover of the book featuring Clinton even mimicked the look of the covers featuring the male senators.) Davis said he was frustrated that the women “were being treated really unfairly in the press.” He thought that Bluewater biographies,which were released in February 2009,would help get their stories out.

Having such powerful women starring in comic books fits into Bluewater’s slate of “female empowerment” books,which include the 10th Muse,about a long-lost daughter of the Greek god Zeus,and comics featuring the Egyptian goddess Isis. The biographies of Clinton and Palin were published under a “Female Force” banner that went on to include Michelle Obama; Caroline Kennedy and Diana among others.

Putting out the comic biographies allowed Davis to tap skills from his earlier career in marketing,publicity and advertising. He had worked for E! Entertainment Television,USA Networks and Lionsgate. “I know how to utilize the press,” he said. “People are going to publicize a Sarah Palin comic rather than a small independent comic.”

Davis has since broadened the focus of Bluewater’s line. Enter the “Political Power” series with Colin Powell,Ted Kennedy ,Al Franken and Joseph R. Biden Jr. The company’s latest effort is its “Fame” series,which chronicles the likes of Lady Gaga,Justin Bieber and the cast of Twilight.

The Fame series will help Bluewater’s bottom line,and it will also help meet another of Davis’s goals and the Holy Grail of the comic book industry: attracting new readers. The biographies are sold at comic book stores, and even Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft stores nationally. who “didn’t even know comic book stores existed”.

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