A number of new comics publishers have targeted specific niches over the years, seeking to better serve and/or exploit untapped audiences in an effort to carve out a viable niche for themselves. Whether its minorities, women, GLBT, pre-teens, etc., it’s a topic I’ve covered specifically or peripherally several times in the past, so this latest effort caught my eye as taking a unique angle and, perhaps, having the most potential next to those targeting Christian readers.
MILITARY VETS FORM ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCTION COMPANY
Military veterans Ernesto Haibi, Tom Waltz, Gerry Kissell, Robert Scott McCall, Steven Fish and Michael Abrams, along with Richard Pille, who served as a civilian contractor for the U.S. military in Vietnam, announce their formation of Charlie Foxtrot Entertainment, Inc., an entertainment company whose primary focus is on making motion pictures, comic books and other entertainment about soldiers and the military.
Gerry Kissell of Charlie Foxtrot Entertainment states, “All of us at Charlie Foxtrot feel that in a time when war is at the center of mass consciousness of this great nation, somehow Hollywood, and others in the entertainment industry, manage to produce less than 1% of their over all productions about the military. There has been a gaping hole in entertainment, whether it is in film, television or in publication, regarding our soldiers serving in harm’s way. We see it as our job to fill that void, and to expand the coverage, making certain audiences and readers have the chance to experience what and who our soldiers really are, and to let our military know that they are not forgotten and are appreciated, and to insure that they are not dehumanized and relegated to being just some anecdote on the evening news. They are not just cannon and news fodder. Our men and women in uniform are amazing people, doing amazing things, and its time everyone knows it. We have made our creed simple and to the point, ‘By soldiers, about soldiers and for soldiers’.”
First project on their list is the epic war comic series, CITY of FIRE, due out in early 2007.
As a nine-year veteran of the Army and National Guard (who, thankfully, never stepped foot in a combat zone but has had several friends who did), and a self-defined progressive liberal, I get where Kissell is coming from here, and if he’s able to deliver a professional-looking product to the bookshelves and movie screens of America, he’s got a better chance for success than your average startup publisher. He’s got a potentially larger audience than just soldiers, too.
As I noted over at Johanna’s post about Charlie Foxtrot, where Kissell stopped by to offer a bit more insight into the company’s plans, almost every soldier has their own political beliefs — and they can range from the far left to the far right — but when it comes down to executing the mission given to them, politics go out the window. They have to; their lives depend on it.
Of all the enlisted soldiers I met while I was in the service, very few of them signed up out of a sense of patriotism or a desire to go to war. (Those who did, usually went into the Marines!) Most were simply looking to improve their lives, either taking advantage of the GI Bill and Army College Fund, or planning on a career. Some were from military families, continuing a tradition; some were from impoverished inner-cities and rural areas where options for jobs and higher education were limited; some, like me, had wandered aimlessly for a few years after high school and simply needed some direction.
I remember during Clinton’s first term as President, which coincided with my active duty enlistment, opinions were extremely polarized, not over the aftermath of Desert Shield/Desert Storm — generally believed over by the time Clinton took office, but for which soldiers still received the National Defense Service Medal for honorable service through November 30, 1995 — but over the military’s controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. There were heated debates, with unadulterated homophobia on full display (not to mention racism, sexism, etc.), but those debates rarely crossed the line into personal attacks because most soldiers ultimately buy into the “we’re all green” philosophy.
There was a Corporal in my unit, an avowed KKK member who fit every stereotype imaginable, but who otherwise was a rather nice guy with whom I and other non-white soldiers regularly drank beer and played Madden football or Mortal Kombat. We weren’t friends, per se, but as fellow soldiers, we shared a bond that was actually deeper than your average friendship. While we served together, we accepted each other’s differences as part of the job and, for the most part, had each others’ backs.
If CFE explores that dichotomy without choosing sides, and is able to do so with a professional-level product — something Marvel’s Combat Zone failed to do on both counts — they have a good chance at achieving some level of success on the publishing side. The City of Fire mini-series is the only project they have listed at their web site so far, though, and the fact that their URL is charliefoxtrotfilms.com suggests comic books might be their lead-in to bigger things. Nevertheless, I’ll be interested in seeing what they publish (or produce) and how they go about promoting it.