EXCLUSIVE: Greg Pak Talks #SaveStorm Campaign, Storm’s Future and Does Digital Sales Really Count

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Since coming up with the idea of running a #SaveStorm giveaway last week, I decided to reach out to Greg Pak, writer for the current Storm solo series, and discuss all things Ororo Munroe. Greg shares his plans for Storm, without spoiling anything (sorry I tried), the #SaveStorm movement and clears up once and for all if digital sales count.

Good Morning Greg, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. I was so excited when the news came out that we were finally getting a Storm solo series. Can you walk us through how you were approached to create a series on the beautiful Ororo Munroe?

A while back I got a call from Daniel Ketchum, an editor at Marvel who happens to be the world’s biggest Storm fan. Daniel had just gotten the green light to launch a Storm series, which has been one of his dream projects, and he was wondering if I want to discuss writing it. What Daniel didn’t know was that for years, when people asked me what Marvel characters I’d like to write, I’d say Silver Surfer, Doctor Strange, and Storm. I’d written a Silver Surfer miniseries and the “Doctor Strange Season One” book. And now here was Daniel offering me Storm! She’s such a compelling character, so powerful but with this element of fierce identification with the underdog that can get her into so much great trouble… I couldn’t say no!

It seems all the stories have been Storm with characters that were prominent from her past. Is it difficult writing new stories about Storm while keeping her connected to her past?

That’s one of the basic challenges of working with legacy characters in decades-old shared universes. As a writer, I want to tell stories that feel fresh and surprising and take the characters in new directions — and particularly with a character like Storm, I wanted to write a book that someone who only knows the character from the movies or from seeing a few cartoons as a kid could pick up and run with. At the same time, these characters come with years of history and relationships that many readers are deeply invested in. So my job is to try to use the history in compelling, emotionally valuable ways while telling new, fresh stories at the same time.

Speaking of characters in Storm’s past, her lover Wolverine is now deceased. Issue 4 touched on it, what’s going on with Storm…what’s REALLY going on? Her statement of “This is how I grieve” shows just how powerful she is, all the pain she was in, looked as if she could have destroyed the world. On the cover of issue 4, Ororo looked so defeated, just broken. The scene between Hank and Storm was touching. Definitely a beautiful tribute to Logan and Ororo’s relationship throughout the decades. Can you tell us how you came up with this decision to portray Storm finding out about Logan’s death in this particular way? Which clearly worked!

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I’m always trying to find visual ways to depict characters’ emotional and mental states. That’s the key to good dramatic writing — and one of the glories of superhero comics in particular — all those crazy powers can give you amazing ways to express emotion. So this was a tremendous opportunity to embrace the opportunity to show how Storm would react to the biggest emotional devastation. I just tried to think of how her powers might express themselves in this moment in a huge, frightening, and ultimately beautiful way.

How will Logan’s passing affect the rest of Storm’s books and can you give us any hints on what lies ahead for Ms. Munroe?

In issue #6, Storm will start to reap the whirlwind. She’s been doing exactly what she believes has to be done for five issues, regardless of the consequences. Now the inevitable consequences begin to hit.

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I was relieved to see Storm in Marvel’s February solicitations, which means we have 3 more months of Storm. Storm is now a MOST WANTED X-Man! That cover from Stephanie Hans is INTENSE! Now I know you’re not going to tell us what Storm did, but does Logan’s death play a factor in Storm being wanted for _____? (Feel free to fill in the blank.)

I’ll avoid filling in that blank for fear of spoilers. 😉

But yes, a new enemy is about to rear his or her head, and the first attack will come in issue #6. And it will result in Storm alone and hunted. We’re starting to pay off many of the things we’ve been seeding in the first five issues. Dontcha dare miss it!

Recently I noticed a #SaveStorm hashtag flying around social networks and upon review, I was shocked to see Storm’s sales numbers haven’t been great. According to reports, Storm #4 has only sold 19,862 copies. She-Hulk #9 has sold 21,418 copies and Elektra sold #7 15,021, both have been canceled and Storm’s numbers land in between the both of them. How surprised are you that the sales haven’t been high enough for this amazing woman of color series? What were your thoughts when you started seeing the #SaveStorm movement? Is there anything that us STORMchasers can do to help secure a future for Storm?

Daniel and I have planned the story through issue #12, so there’s no immediate cancellation looming. But of course every mid-range book in comics faces potential cancellation sooner or later, so it’s always fantastic if we can bring new readers to the book. It’s a huge deal when a book actually increases its readership without a big event tie-in or variant cover campaign. So if the book’s numbers ever tick up, that would send a big, positive signal.

And yes, I’ve been very moved by the #SaveStorm campaign. It means a lot to know how much the character and book mean to so many different people. We’re doing our best to tell the best stories we can every month — I’m thrilled it’s reaching people and very grateful that people feel strongly enough to spread the word about the book to their friends and followers.

I’d like to thank you and BlackGirlNerds and Marvel Politics 616 and Brett White over at CBR in particular for writing so passionately about the book over the last few weeks and helping it find its audience.

And here are some thoughts about what folks can do to help the book, which I’m stealing from the interview I did last week with Marvel Politics 616:

Most importantly, call or visit your local comics shop and preorder the book. Tell them you’d like to create a “pull list,” and you’d like to put every upcoming issue of “Storm” on that list. Then the shop will order them for you ahead of time and “pull” them for you, holding them for you until you pick them up. That helps books thrive because when people make pull lists, stores know there’s a demand and order more issues as a result.

Secondly, spread the word among your friends, both in real life and online, and encourage them to buy the book. Posting your personal reactions and reviews on blogs or social media can make a difference, particularly among your friends. I buy books every week because friends I respect talk them up. Word of mouth remains the biggest seller.

Finally, with a book like “Storm” in particular, I think there’s a lot to be said for putting the book into the hands of people who don’t necessarily buy comics regularly. At the New York Comic-Con, I had a booth in Artists Alley. And every time I put some copies of “Storm” #1 on the table, they sold out with a few minutes. I’m not even exaggerating — it typically took less than half an hour for people to snap them all up. I think “Storm” may be one of those books that has a huge potential audience that never makes it into comic book stores. The readers are out there. We just need to reach them.

And finally, please note that you can buy every issue of the book digitally at Comixology.

And the trade paperback collecting the first five issues comes out in February. It’s called “Storm: Make It Rain,” because of course it’s called “Storm: Make It Rain,” and you can ask your local retailer to order it for you, or you can preorder it on Amazon here
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You can find your local retailer by visiting Findacomicshop.com

People sometimes wonder if digital sales and collected trade sales “count” in terms of keeping a book alive. The short answer is “Absolutely.” Any way you choose to buy the book makes a big difference.

Thank you so much for this insightful interview. Please let our readers know where they can find you online, what else you’re working on and any information on if you’re signing anywhere. I’m sure our readers would love to get their copies of Storm signed by you!

Thank you for the interview and support!

You can find me at GregPak.com, Twitter: GregPak, and Tumbler: Greg-Pak. My next public appearance hasn’t been announced just yet, but I’ll probably do at least one event in New York City in December. And I’m working on my convention schedule for 2015 over the next few weeks — should have some announcements soon!

Other big projects include “Batman/Superman” and “Action Comics” and the “Make Comics Like the Pros” how-to book that I co-wrote with the great Fred Van Lente. You can find out more about all of that stuff at GregPak.com.

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Greg Pak did something pretty dope for the readers here at VixenVarsity.com, peep Pak’s tweet below.

That’s right! Greg Pak has signed TEN Storm #1s and is sending them to me! I’m keeping them all for myself *evil laugh*. Ok, I lied. These 10 copies will be given out VERY soon to 10 lucky readers. Stay tuned to VixenVarsity.com for details on your chance to win. We want a second season of Storm. Let’s #SaveStorm STORMchasers!

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