One of the ways a web series tries to attract attention is by premiering around a certain event, where a core audience is starving and excited for new content. Two web series are about to take advantage of San Diego's annual Comic-Con (July 21-24, with a preview night on July 20), aiming at the nerdy set with satirical episodes about superheroes.
One is Shelf Life, which will be about action figures on a young boy's shelf and promises to have an edgy take on a variety of topics. There's a tagline on its website that touts, "This ain't no Toy Story," which should sum up the kind of attitude to expect from such a show. An exclusive Comic-Con trailer is set to debut on July 20 on YouTube.
Another superhero web series debuts on July 20 on Sony Pictures Entertainment's Crackle site called Issues. In this live-action/cartoon mix, animated superheroes (voiced by the likes of Seth Green, Rob Riggle, Ron Livingston, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Greg Grunberg, and Eric Stonestreet) get therapy from Dr. Ted (Josh Cooke). It's another series that aims for men ages 18-34.
These are perfect kinds of genres for a web series, and to debut them around the excitement of Comic-Con is a good start. We have seen a similar approach from the hit web series The Guild, which targets not only people who attend the convention, but also people who regularly use their computers. Comic book and action figure enthusiasts tend to fit into that demographic.
San Diego's Comic-Con attracts a (capped, due to crowding issues) attendance of 125,000 per year and has become a favorite place for any fan of every kind of media. If you make a good showing at the convention, you can create good buzz. Up-and-comers like Shelf Life and Issues know who their audience is, and have a forum to reach that audience. The hope then is to connect.
Issues won't be premiering at Comic-Con, but its timing is certainly aimed for it. While it may not get the convention buzz, what it does have going for it is name talent. Seth Green has become a legend in animation voicing Chris on Family Guy and co-creating the Cartoon Network series Robot Chicken. Then there's Rob Riggle, who has been everywhere in comedy the past few years from The Daily Show to Funny or Die sketches, to movies like The Hangover. Ron Livingston has had a solid career but will always be known for Swingers and especially Office Space. Greg Grunberg isn't a household name but he was a mainstay on J.J. Abrams' Alias and later, the short-lived, and at times beloved, Heroes. Eric Stonestreet just won an Emmy for his role on ABC's Modern Family. And Eddie Kaye Thomas, who is best known as the guy who got lucky with Stifler's mom in American Pie, has been the voice of Barry on American Dad for the last six years.
Here's a trailer for Issues:
Meanwhile, Shelf Life's nerd cred comes from comic book pro Paul Jenkins, who won the comic book equivalent of the Oscar, the Eisner Award, for his Marvel Knights series Inhumans. He's been a writer on several incarnations of Spider-Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, and Wolverine. To have a guy like that co-writing for a web series is a major coup, and creators Yuri Lowenthal and his wife Tara Platt, longtime voice actors for video games and anime, must be thrilled.
Issues debuts on July 20 on Crackle.com. Shelf Life is set to debut later this summer, and a Comic-Con exclusive trailer hits YouTube, also on July 20.