Bill Walko is concerned about Spider-Man’s bad press. The webslinger could use a good PR agent, while Donna Troy needs to schedule a meeting with the Origins & Acquisitions Division of The Hero Business. Because if there’s anyone that can whip these heroes’ brands into shape, it’s the marketing team of Morgan Sinclaire, Dr. Eli Malefactor, Simon Perch, Brody LeBlanc, Parker Jameson, and of course we can’t forget Bravado. These are the image and branding masterminds of Bill Walko’s The Hero Business.
Boasting the tagline, “With Great Power. Greater Marketability,” The Hero Business swoops onto Kickstarter for season 2 of Walko’s webcomic. Using his real life marketing career as a jumping point, taking a satirical poke at characters, like Donna and Peter Parker, and many of the frustrating elements of comics continuity is exactly what makes The Hero Business so great.
“We play with those sorts of things a lot in the comic,” says Walko. “One of our characters is a mystic named Deus X Machina. He’s an all-purpose continuity cleaner, but his services don’t come cheap. And why should they? With continuity the way it is, he can name his own price!”
Letting reality seep in, Walko often finds absurd things happening at his day job in marketing and finds ways to translate it into Hero Business. “[S]ometimes it’s subtle marketing stuff. Like, I did my own Hero Business-style takes on sexy Halloween costumes and smart home AI’s gone awry.”
Although the Kickstarter is for season 2, The Hero Business is easy to get into, as Jamie Kingston pointed out in her 2014 review:
“The storylines are short and hilarious, and Bill’s very careful to link back any continuity reminders so even if you come in late, you can easily catch up. The art, already adorable, has come a long way, so you have that to look forward to when you archive binge. Hope you find it as irresistible as I do.”
Walko’s artistic style has evolved over time, becoming brighter and sharper and very much reminiscent of the kind of art you’d see in popular animated series today. In fact, the promotional video for the Kickstarter features a catchy opening sequence with Tim Lowe on music and vocals.
“Tim is a very talented musician,” says Walko, “so I enlisted him to collaborate on a theme song that would be like a throwback to old sitcoms and cartoons. I always thought it was a smart idea to explain the premise in song. It’s catchy! We remember them! So Tim and I came up with that together. And I’ve absolutely considered an animated version of the comic. I’d love to see it get picked up and turned into a series, I think it’s well-suited for that. (Netflix, if you’re reading … call me!)”
Much like the modern sitcom template that Walko has based Hero Business on, the series has expanded grandly since its 2010 inception, with a cast of six main characters ballooning to add a stock of over 40 characters that Walko expertly weaves into the tapestry.
“For the storylines, I map them out like season-long arcs. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is actually a huge inspiration in that regard. So I break them down like that. Each episode is its own story, but it somehow informs the larger arc. The episode plots are inspired by real world workplace inanities. But the ‘magic’ happens in how that mundane day-to-day stuff clashes with the fantastical superhero stuff. That’s where I find a lot of the humor, and then the stories start to write themselves.”
Though the Kickstarter has already been successfully funded, there are still a number of cool stretch goals Walko hopes to unlock, including an “Employee Manual” and various other unique prints. You can also check out the webcomic online at www.theherobiz.com.