– Kevin Guillotte from Inked Marketing: An Interview by Dan Hickman
I am very excited to bring you the next in my line of interviews. Kevin Guillotte and his team from Inked Marketing have put together an amazing presence in the world of marketing. Meeting Kevin and discovering the sheer amount of interests we have in common has been an absolute joy for me and I hope that as you read about him and his incredible company, you’ll jump onboard the Inked train and show your support for all of their great work!
DH. What led you into this type of work?
KG: Dan, I have been an Artist for as long as I can remember and have always enjoyed it! The love of creating art, the passion for fellow creators and artists, and the backing of my amazing wife, Melanie, led to the formation of Inked Marketing. Inked is an ad firm built by creators for creators. She regularly coordinates with me about campaign content which allows for a smooth flowing pipeline of marketing progression, ensuring that campaigns stay on target. She is the fuel that inspired me to move forward with Inked and is now the arm Inked can't do without. I became a professional Artist at 16, then on to college for a Bachelor's in Liberal Arts. After that, spending many years at ad firms constructing award-winning campaigns for banks, casinos, telecoms, hospitals, etc. I decided to take 30 years of knowledge from big business and bring it to the industry that we all love. In one interview I was dubbed an “art-tre-preneur” and in another what Inked does was call “comic-centric”.
DH. How do you solicit or select the creators you promote?
KG: Headquartered in the Tri-Cities Area of Washington State, Inked Marketing supports both US and International clients, providing Global Marketing Solutions to place your comic book-based business in the correct position in the marketplace for increased visibility and growth. We are an ad firm built by creators for creators. The majority of our business has been word of mouth, and we like it that way. Our motto is "We do good work for good people!" As long as we continue to do that, that work will come. We do market ourselves with a website www.inked.marketing, where creators can view the "Inked Family Gallery" for past successes, or comic buyers can view LIVE and coming soon campaigns. We also market www.inkedpub.com, which is a direct line into the LIVE and coming soon campaigns area. Inked Marketing was founded on 3 SIMPLE PRINCIPLES that build long-lasting relationships and repeat customers. Stay engaged with our customers. Dedication to their success. Work as a team to grow their market.
DH. How are some ways you promote them?
KG: A big part of our success is that we don't treat clients like clients... we treat them like family! This comes through in our devotion to their success by offering solutions that exceeded their expectations! Why do some of the greats in the comic book industry turn to Inked when they want a successful Kickstarter campaign? Because of our Kickstarter solutions that exceeded their expectations and devotion to their success by offering marketing funding goals! Loco Hero from the creator Monte Michael Moore funded in 5 minutes and raised over $50k. Spicy Pulp 5 was a record-breaking campaign for creator Justin Gray with 916 backers! The Inked Team prides itself in capturing the essence of each campaign! There is a great deal of design put into every campaign. We feel each ad is a mini-billboard that has to capture an audience's attention. When people go, "That ad looks good!" it is because there was "ad architecture" used to move the eye around in a pleasing manner. Kevin Guillotte, Inked's Founder and Creative Director, has utilized the "break the dimensions" style for over 25 years! It is his trademark. "Use the space to your advantage and make an impact when the book calls for it.' An ad has to breathe. It is a visual pool game where you want to run the table." Kevin Guillotte – Inked Marketing Founder and Creative Director We also promote creators on our podcast called Atomic Comicradery www.comicradery.com and will soon be launching a second podcast called Voodoo Lounge www.levoodoolounge.com. On Atomic Comicradery we bring on creators with current or coming soon crowdfunding campaigns, as well as, a series called “Titans of Industry” with guests like Kevin Eastman, Bart Sears, Monte Michael Moore, Justin Gray, Rusty Gilligan, Gary Cohan, Dan Mishkin, and Chuck Dixon. These podcast and several more make up the NSC ROAD SHOW, a collection of comic or pop culture oriented that creators go on tour with to discuss their crowdfunding projects.
DH. Most successful project, to date?
KG: It depends on how one judges success. In terms of funds raised, the number of backers, or just getting a book funded for a new creator. Here is how Inked views each: Funds Raised: Monte Michael Moore's first book as a creator, Loco Hero #1 ($50,423 and 670 backers at 2016% of goal) www.inked.pub/locohero. That book is very special to me! I had been a fan of Monte's work for years before I met him! He is what I consider a Renaissance Artist who masters each of the types of art. He can draw, paint, sculpt, carve, airbrush. You name it! I have many of his works in my personal collection. NAME FUNDED BACKERS PERCENT 1 Loco Hero $50,423.00 670 2016% 2 Blood N Bullets $45,938.00 679 918% 3 Loco Hero 2 $38,259.00 617 1530% 4 Spicy Pulp 5 $29,777.00 916 297% 5 Spicy Pulp 6 $27,438.00 858 274% 6 Sisterhood $19,121.00 397 740% 7 Montage $16,460.00 175 658% 8 Billy the Kit $14,778.00 373 184% 9 Sisterhood One Shot $10,115.00 252 276% 10 Siege Command $9,053.00 171 150% Top 10 Inked Marketing Campaigns based on funding amount. My wife and I moved to Colorado Springs, CO, about four years ago. Monte lives near Denver, CO. Short version is that he came onto a panel I was running for a virtual comic con we produced and told the story of Loco Hero, a story he had written a few years prior. During that panel, I expressed that "You have to launch this campaign!" We talked offline, and Monte decided to go ahead and launch the Kickstarter at that time, and Inked was born! He is such a tremendous talent and joy to collaborate with, as well as a valued friend! Four projects later, and he is bringing us "Moore!" Number of Backers: Justin Gray's Spicy Pulp #5 ($29,777 and 916 backers at 297% of goal) www.inked.pub/spicypulp5 is another book I was a fan of Justin back from his DC's Jonah Hex days. New Creators: Two creators come to mind, Zackary Marois with Voyage the Call #1 and Edgar Pasten AmeriKaiju #1-3. The exciting thing about both of these Kickstarters is that they were referrals. That being said, both had already started and were not trending well. They required some "triage work," which takes a much different and dynamic approach, but our formula helped fund both books bringing Zachary and Edgar's work to life. Voyage: The Call #1 www.inked.pub/voyage ($5588 and 164 backers at 111%) AmeriKaiju #1-3 www.inked.pub/amerikaiju1 ($3229 and 71 backers at 107%) Consistency: Plus, I feel the consistency of funds raised and the number of backers leads back to our proven worksheet system. Team Effort: Last but not least is the Inked Marketing Team success! I know I am biased, but I genuinely feel we have what I consider the Avengers of "comic book marketing!" Our team is best known for creating award-winning Kickstarter campaigns landing Inked several "Projects We Love" from Kickstarter. Note: Do you want a team question or save it as the ending? Here is a summary of the team. Kevin Guillotte is the Founder and Creative Director of Inked Marketing. His passion for fellow creators and artists created NSC LIVE TV, the NSC Roadshow, Atomic Comicradery Podcast, and Inked Marketing! He holds a Bachelor's in Liberal Arts, formulating successful campaigns for creators such as Monte Michael Moore, Justin Gray, John McCrea, and Frank Forte. Melanie Guillotte is our General Manager. She regularly coordinates with Kevin about campaign content which allows for a smooth flowing pipeline of marketing progression, ensuring your campaign stays on target. She is the fuel that inspired Kevin to move forward with Inked and is now the arm Inked can't do without. Brandon Bishop is our data developer and resident Information Architect. He holds a Master's in Computer Science and runs PIVOT, one of Inked's support companies that focuses on NSC and Inked clients' digital landscape like user experience (UX), blockchain, and what we have coined as "data emulation." Richard Boom is one of our crowdfunding Campaign Specialists. Richard owns the art agency BAD (Boom Art Department), and in 2019, he started publishing various comic books on Mummies with the release of "Sisterhood." Richard and Kevin dive into the core of your crowdfunding platform, strengthening your project's most vital elements while weeding out the excess, giving your campaign the extra mile it needs to speak clearly to your audience. Luke Gartner-Brereton is an Australian author, composer, and music producer who writes comics, novels, and graphic novels with a horror/fantasy bent. Luke also owns and operates Vanilla Groove Media (VGM), a boutique music and media production company that works with indie creatives across the globe. Es Kay – Animator/Letter, Rusty Gilligan – Graphics/Inker, Edgar Pasten is one of our writers/graphic designers. Edgar's comic book related contributions are attributed to BOOM! Studio's Power Rangers as a member of the Saban Brands in-house story team. However, he is a seasoned product designer, specifically in toys. His designs can be seen in mass-market retail all over the world in the toy and novelty aisle. He has been a toy designer for well over a decade and has developed many patented toys. He recently stumbled on a new love for writing and is excited to share his stories with you. Edgar is a graduate from Otis College of Art and Design, where he developed a passion for all things art. Al Wikeen is one of our writers/graphic designers. Tim Harris is our news writer for NSC LIVE TV, Chuck Pineau is one of our editors. He is a freelance writer/editor who has worked for companies such as Second Sight, Antarctic Press, Markosia, and Scout Comics. He is best known for (co)writing Welcome to the Void, Essence House, and Belial. Mike Williams is one of our editors and the newest member of the Inked Team. He is a California-born soul with a Southern heart. He holds a Bachelor’s and a Master's for creative writing entertainment from Full Sail University and is a Comics Experience Alumni. Our big 3 key components are process, placement, and people in order to apply to a powerful and successful Marketing Solution tailored to your needs.
DH. What spurred your focus towards Indie projects?
KG: Independent comics is where my passion started with comics as a child, and it continues to have a special place in my heart for them. The community aspect was a big draw. The freedom to create their characters and stories was fascinating and still is. As I got to meet many indie creators, I began to feel a kinship. Then once Inked started becoming more and more involved in collaboration and marketing of indie projects, I knew I was in the right place.
DH. Long term goals for your company?
KG: For our group of companies to become a turn-key source for indie creators of any size. In addition to marketing, a creator can come to us for their crowdfunding, editing, lettering, coloring, “swag,” printing, and distribution needs. We are placing companies in alignment as we speak to handle all of those aspects and are hoping to have them all operational in 2022. Fission Press www.fissionpress.com is one of those companies. PIVOT will handle the data needs. Sidekicks will handle “swag.” Finally, the last piece of the puzzle will be a publishing company with the current working name selected as “84” from the year that I first picked up a comic book. This venture is slotted for 2023 or 2024, depending on the growth rate of the other companies involved.
DH. What started you on collecting?
KG: In 1984, while my Dad was in the hospital for surgery, my Mom brought me to the gift shop where I picked up my first comic, DC's Warlord January issue #77. I still have that very same book today. It sits on my desk as a reminder. Recently I got to interview Ron Randall and Gary Cohn, the creators of Barren Earth, a story within that very issue. Both will be signing a copy soon. I also spoke with Dan Jurgens and Bob Smith about it, and I hope they will appear on our Atomic Comicradery podcast and sign Warlord #77 as well. 6a) Favorite book – That is a tough one. If I had to pick one indie it would have to be the first one Inked help turn into reality which is Loco Hero #1. If I had to pick a mainstream book/s it would be a small pile (Stan Lee signed Amazing Spider-Man XXX, Neal Adams signed Batman issue XXX, Peter David signed Incredible Hulk #377, Peter David signed Spider-Man 2099 #1, Steven Butler signed Silver Sable #1, and Warlord #77 (Soon to be signed by Gary Cohn and Ron Rondall), and Wolverine #2 90s series) and 2 indie (Justice Machine #2 by Comico and Alien Legion XXX by Epic). Favorite collectible – The studio is filled from desks to shelves with vintage collectibles. My wife collects as well. Vintage He-Man is what I grew up with, and I have an extensive collection. Trap Jaw is my favorite character. It is all a reflection of my childhood, as most people's collections are. If I had to pick just one, it would be a McDonald's trash can bank that my Mom got me which sits on my desk alongside a small Galaga game and Tron figure.
DH. Have you thought of producing your own works? If so, what's your focus?
KG: I have produced many of my own works, being a professional artist for many years. My main focus has always been in cranking out work supporting other creators, magazines, etc. There is a comic that has been in production for some time that will be unveiled in 2022.
DH. Where do you see Indie comics going in the future, compared to the major publishers?
KG: There are many seats at the comic table and room for everyone. To me, though, more digital (pdf versions) and "direct to store distribution" are where I see the future of Indie. With that in mind, Geekosity is the first place where I would like to unveil a few things that align with that future. First is a partnership between Inked Marketing and Overcast Comics. Overcast will handle the "direct to store" portion, and Inked will handle the marketing and creator Kickstarters. Inked and Overcast started talks soon after Kevin first met Overcast owner, Travis Webb, while Inked was taking care of a Kickstarter for him called Starlite. It was a natural fit because the two gelled right away! The other cool part of how all this plays out is that Ron Randall (one of the artist from the first comic Kevin ever picked up) did a variant cover for Starlite. Ron had recently appeared on Atomic Comicradery podcast right before Kevin met Travis. Next up, I would like to announce the soft launch of Indie Comics Hub (ICH) www.indiecomicshub.com, a community built for indie creators, and the future launch of NVERSE TV www.nversetv.com (launch 2022), where people will be able to visit comic cons on a virtual level. We felt that animations to catch the attention of comic book customers were essential, so we added Fallout Studios/Vanilla Groove Media to our list of companies. Come let our team build you an AniMOTION TM that will bring your characters to life! We can even blend your Kickstarter intro video with an AniMOTION TM to tie it into the overall look and feel. Vanilla Groove Media (VGM) was chosen because of the nature of how Kevin and Luke worked together. VGM has produced over 4000 music tracks, and their music has been featured in more than 30 television shows and films. The creations the combined companies produce help set the customer's crowdfunding campaigns stand out. One of the cornerstones to Inked Marketing is NSC LIVE TV and the NSC ROADSHOW. As a creator, come be treated like a ROCK STAR as we take you on tour with podcasters worldwide, expanding your audience base with each show! Got a Kickstarter, Indiegogo, ZOOP, or a project you would like to tell thousands about? Come get on the tour! Are you a podcaster that would like more creators on your show? Come join our roadshow! LIVE reads on-air on a variety of podcasts Coverage on several large worldwide networks A way to connect to audiences
DH. What sleeper books do you think people should really take notice of?
KG: That is a tough one because there is so much great work out there! I would say keep an eye out for the rest of 2021 for the following: Stone Harbor Comics Debut (BioPunks and Legend of Althea) – from creator Royce Adkins offered on ZOOP AmeriKaiju #4-6 – from creator Edgar Pasten offered on Kickstarter Shadow’s Daughter #1-4 – from creator Morgan Quaid offered on Kickstarter The Rogue #1 – from creator Darin Lord Munsey offered on Kickstarter Blood N’Bullets #2 – from creator Monte Michael Moore offered on Kickstarter Outlier #1 – from creator B Lincoln Bransch offered on Kickstarter Hopeless, Maine Volume 2 – from Outland offered on Kickstarter Starlite #5 – from creator Travis Webb offered on Kickstarter 11. Personal influences? First off, my parents supported a kid that wanted a career in Art. They started me off at 10- years-old with a Radio Shack "Trash" TRS-80, and I fell in love with computers. I am a traditional artist, but I love a great graphic design piece. There are many creators, and I know I will leave some out, and I have been blessed to be able to talk with and become friends with many of them. Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, John Romita Sr. and Jr., Allen Bellman, Mike Zeck, Gary Cohn, Ron Randall, Peter David, John Byrne, Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, Chris Claremont, Tony Isabella, Roy Thomas, Mike Ploog, Bob Layton, Jim Shooter, Joe Kubert, Bryan Silverbax, Monte Michael Moore, Justin Gray, Frank Forte, Bart Sears, Rusty Gilligan, and many more! GRAPHIC OF PETER DAVID SIGNED BOOKS AND FLASH POSTER I was voted most talented at my high school. My high school art influences were Morris Fuselier (who just did a piece we are using in Voodoo Lounge Podcast), Mickey Stoker. I was voted most talented at my high school. Meeting Artist Steven Butler at Paper Heroes, my local comic shop, was also inspiring to teenage me. Inspirational college Art professors were Heather Ryan Kelley, Bill Iles, Lisa Bell Reinauer, Gerry Wubben, Marty Bee, Gary Porter, and Larry Schuh. For general art influences there was Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol, and Ansel Adams. Media like MTV and Wired magazine and gaming on my Atari 2600. There were childhood movie influences as well, like the Star Wars Trilogy, Flash Gordon (the signed movie poster hangs over my computer), Conan The Barbarian, Ghostbusters, The Last Starfighter, Gremlins, Tron, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to name a few.
Thanks for your interest in Inked Marketing and for taking the time to get to know more about it!
Kevin was also gracious enough to share with me the news of a new comic company; Stone Harbor Comics that is about to release two new books. We have exclusive aniMOTIONS (™) from Inked Marketing of some pages from the books!