Comic-Con: Inside the Marketing of ‘Dante’s Inferno’

Dante\'s Inferno Banner

The San Diego Comic-Con is many things. A haven for geeks, a place for gawking at nearly naked women, playing video games, buying memorabilia, and a great place to market your goods. Generally with the help of a nearly naked woman. I had the opportunity to sit down with Michael Trachiotis, a writer who was taking around an interesting proposal bridging both the comic and the movie world.

His project, Dante’s Inferno, is one example of how concurrent releasing is really making a strong push in the advertising world. We’ve all seen McDonald’s market toys to coincide with a movie and comic adaptations come out later, but what’s interesting about Inferno is the way the two media are being used to supplement each other. A screenplay has already been written for the film and it has already inspired a concurrent release of a comic version. What I have in my hand and you can download from the official site (link below) is the first chapter of a graphic novel that introduces us to the story and can be used as a marketing tool to prime the market for the rights to the film. What’s cool about this, says Trachiotis, is that you can begin marketing for the film long before your standard advertising would kick in. Many properties, I think, are being written with the hopes of one day becoming a feature film – this one has set that as a prime reason for existing. This also allows the creator to own the comic rights and sell the screenplay, maintaining a large degree of control over the future of the property.

This was the second person I had spoke with who talked about the internet being part of the future of marketing, which I think we all know about, but the many varied ways you can utilize the internet have yet to be fully uncovered. For example, one could simply take a number from Google Analytics, or any hit counting software, and show the number of unique visitors to a site. Take an online comic, show them 100,000 visitors a month and a built in international audience (the internet apparently exists outside of America!) and you’ve got yourself a sit-down meeting. When you’re in that sit-down and they ask you what you’re bringing to the table, you can dramatically slide the graphic novel across his desk.

Dante's Inferno Splash Page 2

The story itself follows the disastrous San Francisco earthquake of 1906 which ravaged the city and sparked a sweeping firestorm that virtually destroyed the city and turned it into hell on earth. Into this real world, the comic dives with a mixture of fictional characters (our hero, Dante Zuchelli) and real ones (reporter Jack London) as they chronicle and experience the events from different perspectives. The story makes great pains to remain as realistic as possible, from names to actual fire houses and real accounts. Trachiotis says he spent over six years of doing exhaustive research, followed by a long writing process for the screenplay. After that was completed, he embarked on the 2 year journey of bringing parts of the story to life on the page. In a move that more movie/comics should embrace, there are differences between the two. This is not a straight retelling of the screenplay, so the movie and the book would each contain various surprises regardless of whether or not you had already experienced one tale or the other.

Tormented and guilt ridden fireman Dante Zuchelli gives us the eyes for the story as we follow him as he puts his life on the line over and over again by entering the fire in an attempt to cleanse his soul. The story also delves into the world of corruption and follows various other story lines, all of which you can get a taste of by downloading the free “eco-friendly” e-book at the official site. The second part of the story will soon follow and be on sale for the planned price of $1.50.

Dante\'s Inferno Splash Page

I’ve read through the book and thought it was pretty cool. There are some great splash pages like the one I’ve posted above (a scene from a premonition/nightmare) which make me want to see this come to life on the big screen. Trachiotis, the creator and writer, is currently shopping the book around to various studios. Provided the picture receives funding, it may end up competing with Brad Bird’s 1906 a la Armageddon vs Deep Impact. Do yourself a favor and go download the free e-book because free is good and fire is sexually addictive. I mean cool looking. We’ll no doubt keep you updated on the film prospects of this flick.

Visit the ‘Dante’s Inferno’ Official Site

What is your favorite example of “inventive marketing?” If you’ve read the comic, what are your thoughts?

Stay tuned all this week as we bring you coverage from Comic-Con International. Not only will we be roaming the floor in search of love, but we will have the latest news Live from Hall H, great interviews with some of Hollywood’s hottest stars and random convention shenanigans, courtesy of our Comic-Con Attack Squad! To keep tabs on all of the happenings, just head over to our Comic-Con 2008 Homepage.

Robert Fure is many things: horror expert, ruggedly handsome man of the world, witty prose composer, and writer of his own biography page. Beneath the bravado is a scared little boy, ready to grow into an awesome man and make lies about a scared little boy inside of him. Wait a minute...

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