2000AD 1700 interview #8 – Charley Grafton-Chuck

For this Q&A we’ve gone directly to the 2000AD Nerve Center to speak to Charley Grafton-Chuck. Promotional guru at Rebellion and operator (cough) of the 2000AD Twitter droid.

As I understand it, your role within 2000AD is based around public relations and promotion. Could you give us an idea what kind of thing that entails?

I am the person between 2000 AD editorial and the press mainly!
Anything to do with promotion of material especially GNs falls under my role. It means organising events like signings, our presence at conventions and getting coverage of our material in the press. Reviews, interviews, features etc. It also involves working on the team that comes up with strategy for campaigns. E.g. The US push.
I also maintain the social networking sites and deal with press requests etc. Its always different, never a dull moment!

Is this strictly limited to 2000AD related products or do you also get involved in other things for Rebellion such as the recent Alien/Predator game and the Abaddon books?

No, I work across all our brands as PR Coordinator, although do primarily more work for 2000 AD at the moment as there is always constant flow of work opposed to the developer side which isn’t as reguar. I also do studio PR so any time there are press opportunities or we are in the press, I work with senior management on the strategy and response.

Gamewise – the guys who publish our titles handle the PR and marketing however I work with them from this side to get all they need and to make sure we as developers are doing all we can to get the maximum exposure. Working with Sega of AVP was great, really awesome team who delivered an amazing campaign for the game – which was completely reflected in the sales.

Prior to working with 2000AD how strong was your geek-fu? Were you a gamer/comic fan at all? Has it been a culture shock?

Haha! How do I answer this one? Well the term geek (which should be a compliment I’ve come to realise!) is pretty broad as there is sooo many amazing products and IPs out there and think that term generally describes someone who is passionate about something that requires a little more intellect!  I knew about some stuff (was a massive Buffy fan) but have to say not a massive amount about 2000 AD. I’ve learnt and discovered loads since being here – ABC Warriors is a personal favourite – loving the Mills/Langley Volgan War collection and both creators have been great to work with regarding the PR side. For example ABC Warriors Volgan Wars Volume 3 is out this week (16th) and both of the guys jumped at the suggestion of doing a signing at FP (also the 16th) which makes my job a whole lot easier!

Games wise I grew up with an older brother and we had every Sega/Nintendo console up until 2002 practically. I own an Xbox 360  now – may not be as into it and as good as the guys I work with but love sitting down and playing good platform games. Sonic is an all time favourite of mine since early childhood but I get mocked about it by the hard core gamers I work with!

The comics industry is so far reaching –that was a bit of a shock to me. I was familiar with a lot of the Marvel/DC characters but didn’t realise the scale of talent and comics which are out there. Working here has really changed my whole view of comics, it’s an amazing art form and I’m glad that its reaching and gaining the recognition in further reaching circles than it traditionally used to.

2000AD seems to be making a big push this year to get more of a presence in the American market. What kind of things have you guys been doing to achieve this, and how has it gone so far?

Well we launched a US exclusive line of Graphic Novels to the wide market in the states, as previously our material was only in specialist shops. We have worked with the US journalists to get reviews, previews and features as well as having presences at New York Book Expo, SDCC and NYCC coming up. We actually launched the US books at San Diego with the help of the godfather of British comics and 2000 AD founder ( and one of my fav people) Pat Mills.

Its still pretty early but looking at the figures its going really well. Of course it was timed perfectly with the Dredd movie being announced and I know for a fact that has really helped!

How far ahead are events and promotions planned out? And yes, this is totally leading into “Are there any plans already in place for when the Dredd movie comes out?”

Depends what the event is and what the promotional push is to be honest – I can get ready for a UK con in 6 weeks but US ones take several months. Partly due to location.
We look at the schedules and see what it is we’ve got coming out and what we can do for them as well as the logistics. For example we have Zombo by Al Ewing and Henry Flint coming out simultaneously as a US version and a UK version in mid October. NYCC was the perfect venue and event to have Al signing at – but we need to know what we want to do quite far in advance in order to get it all booked and then start scheduling interviews with the press etc.

Movie wise – that would be telling!

Having met some of the 2000AD creators at various cons, I would imagine organising them is somewhat like herding cats. Weird, drunken, funny looking cats with odd accents. How have you found dealing with them all? Are you like Malcolm Tucker in “The Thick of It” ?

LOL: Conventions  can be pretty hard work for creators, even when they are off the clock, having a pint, they are still working. Doing that for 72 hours straight is exhausting! I have to say they have all been really good, the ones I have worked with so far – always give 100% for 2000 AD and their work and are super lovely at the same time! Sorry no gossip here I’m afraid!  And anyway they deserve a pint or 5 after signing all day!

Off the top of your head, how many awesomely cool things do you know are in the pipeline that you can’t talk about?

Oh we’ve got loads of good stuff going on  *Smiles knowingly*

Any you can mention?

Well seeing as it you guys:

I can confirm the there will be an all new Rogue Trooper in the prog being written by Gerry Finley-Day – Can’t tell you when but it IS happening!

For the US market we’ve got another two volumes of the Mega City Masters coming out. I won’t give it away but 2 massive names in US comics are doing the covers for these – neither have been done 2000 AD stuff before.

Mega city Masters 02 is out 12th Oct

Lastly Zombo – out Oct 12th has an exclusive 1 page strip that introduces Zombo’s nemesis in the next series. This is exclusive to the GN and won’t appear in the prog at all.

As a semi-professional player, what advice would you give people who were just starting playing “Cookie Dozer” on the iphone?

Haha! Try and collect the doughnuts early on – that makes it so much easier.

I know you also…um…. maintain the 2000AD twitter droid. (For non 2000AD fans the editor is an alien and the staff all robots. It’s like Santa and his elves for comic nerds). How important is twitter and other social media as a promotion tool, especially for a product like 2000AD?

Twitter is invaluable I think. It is such a great way to reach a larger audience than you would through traditional PR channels and takes the editorial wall away as well. It is also great way to communicate with press and creators as well as getting feedback from the fans. I also learn a lot of what’s going on in the comic’s world through twitter – it’s a great source of information!

I am always surprised when I see companies who sell a consumer lifestyle product who aren’t on twitter! Social media is the biggest advance in marketing and promotion since the internet!

And lastly, for those of us already thinking of our Xmas lists, what cool stuff is coming out in the next few months?

Well for the US ones to look out for are:

And in the UK uis gotta be
•    Leviathan – Dec
•    Meltdown Man -Nov
•    Al’s Baby – Nov

And of course Zombo on both sides of the Atlantic out mid October (more of a Halloween gift)

Thanks for taking the time from your busy (Twittering) schedule to answer these  😉

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