Whether it's films based on Spider-Man, X-Men, and The Fantastic Four, or celebrities like Nicolas Cage who are now writing their own titles, comic books and graphic novels are now commanding tremendous media interest - and not just in the enthusiast press.
"It's a really exciting time to be in the comic-book industry, and there are a lot of great stories," notes Jeff Klein, an MD at Dan Klores Communications, which represents Marvel, home of Spider-Man,Iron Man, and a host of other well-known superheroes.
But Klein, who earlier this year was able to get the death of Captain America on the New York Daily News' front page, stresses, "Your PR has to be proactive in both finding angles and finding media, because there are not people at newspapers who regularly cover comic books."
The good news, says Filip Sablik, Top Cow's VP of marketing and sales, is that "the media is much more open to seeing comic books as a valid form of entertainment."
He adds that while much of the current media fascination is as much about the films, video games, and other licensed properties as it is about the comic books themselves, there are ways to get lesser-known comics and graphic novels noticed, especially if they're packaged into a trend story.
"The thing about comic books is that it is still a relatively small community," Sablik explains. "So often times I'll reach out to people at, say, Image Comics, our parent company, and we'll work together on a story."
Larry Lieberman, CMO of Virgin Comics, notes that you also need to be flexible in the story angles you choose.
"For some reporters, you make the connection through the writer," he says. "For others it may be the illustrator, the cover artist, or the story line. We have Nicolas Cage doing a comic book for us, Voodoo Child, set in post-Katrina New Orleans. And we got media interest because it created a mythology that acknowledges the real world in a literary way."
Perhaps the biggest sign of the growing public and media interest in the category is the Comic-con convention in San Diego, which has grown over the decades from several hundred fans to 125,000 attendees last year - including 3,000 journalists.
"Our core press has always been non-traditional bloggers, fan sites, and genre magazines," explains David Glanzer, Comic-con's director of marketing and PR. "But we're now also getting more mainstream press ... Comic books used to be considered a niche audience. But now the media has come to realize that these same people are the mainstream fans of pop culture, as well."
Pitching... comic books
Stress the financial success of movies that were based on graphic novels to get reporters to understand that comic books appeal to far more than a niche audience
Comic books and graphic novels today have great art, so leverage that by including compelling images in every pitch
Many comic books deal with real-world issues such as civil liberties or natural disasters, so use those to get coverage outside of the entertainment pages