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Darby Pops Off: Jeff Kline on Bringing Hollywood to Comics

Written by Kristine Chester | No Comments | Published on August 7, 2015
The content that follows was originally published on the Darby Pop Publishing website at http://www.darbypop.com/darby-pops-offs/jeff-kline-on-bringing-hollywood-to-comics/

Darby Pop Publishing is something of an anomaly in comics. Where many publishers produce comics and then option them off for TV and film, most of our writers are coming from TV and film to make comics. In this week’s article, Darby Pop founder Jeff Kline discusses that reversal and ponders both the value and disadvantages of entering the comic publishing world after working in Hollywood.

If you have a thought on the topic of the week, please join in the discussion on social media at Facebook (facebook.com/DarbyPopPublishing), Twitter (@DarbyPopComics), or in the comments below.

Until Next Time,


Hey All –

In hindsight, we might have made a serious tactical error.

Before going “public” with Darby Pop Publishing, David Wohl and I spent some time talking to professionals in all areas of the comic book business. (Two-plus years later, I use the word “comics” and “business” in the same sentence with some hesitation, but that’s a topic for another, more exasperated blog post…).

Anyway… Darby Pop came into being because I had people I worked with in entertainment who desperately wanted to break into comics. As did I. And, in many ways, the established comics “industry” remains a pretty exclusive club.

So, I collected a handful of concepts (then, scripts) from writer pals, turned to some of my animation cohorts, found a willing distribution partner in IDW, and Darby Pop Publishing was born.

Originally, we assumed we’d lean heavily on our “origin tale” in early marketing efforts; it seemed to be a true point of differentiation. In brief: even as many of the writers and artists working in comics were doing so in hopes of getting into movies and television, we were a bunch of movie and TV professionals pursuing comics ‘cuz we loved the form. And the freedom. And, quite honestly, the community.

BUT, during our due diligence, we were told more than once by “those in the know” that sharing the reality would be a detriment to our launch. That, if we leaned on our movie/TV roots, the comics community would assume we were “carpetbaggers” – publishing one issue of a book in hopes of landing a quick option, then never going forward with another floppy. Or, placing a solicitation in PREVIEWS, and never even bothering to publish at all.

Obviously, as we’ve proven some 40+ issues and 6 TPs later, that was NEVER our intention. But, we became concerned enough that, in our early PR efforts, we pretty much downplayed our raison d’etre in favor of a “safer” message.

Was that a mistake? Did we bury our best opportunity to break through an over- saturated marketplace?

Or, were the “experts” right? Would you – the potential reader – have never given us a second glance if you perceived that we were “Hollywood?”

Again, I’m hoping that we’ve disproven any notion of being “pretenders” at this point in our history. Darby Pop does lean heavily toward high-concepts, and an overall “summer movie” feel with our books, but we’ve been bleeding red ink since we started, so – believe me – this is a labor of love, not commerce.

I wouldn’t mind if it became a labor of love AND commerce, of course. But for the moment…

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Did we fumble the ball on the first snap? Or, was the play call the right one? If it’s the former… how can we recover? If it’s the latter… how do actually win this freakin’ game vs. just playing it?

And I’m sorry about all the football analogies, but I live in New England, so the Patriots are pretty much the lead news story no matter what else is going on in the world.

Thanks for reading…
Jeff Kline
Founder – Darby Pop Publishing