Dark Horse Direct: Interview with Melissa Lomax

We all love our comics but sometimes we need to let that nerd flag fly high and proud! That means getting as close to the characters as possible outside of the bookshelf, movie/TV screen, and imagination. Like some awesome product to highlight our love of our favorite properties! 

Meet Melissa Lomax who is Director of Ecommerce in Dark Horse Direct at Dark Horse Comics, Inc. She’s worked at Dark Horse Comics, Inc. for almost 10 years in the marketing and publicity divisions and when Dark Horse Direct started a year ago, she was the perfect fit! 

With Dark Horse Direct’s slogan “Fandom Delivered”, currently on their product line up of the finest high-end statues, toys, figures, and more with the best sculptors and manufacturers in the industry are amazingly high quality products from Game of Thrones, Halo, Hellboy, Mass Effect, The Witcher 3, and Umbrella Academy to name just a few! 

 

Lindsay Garber: Does this mark one year of Dark Horse Direct?

Melissa Lomax: One year.

Lindsay: Happy Anniversary.

Melissa: Thank you.

Lindsay: Was it Comic Con last year that it was debut?

Melissa: Yeah, it was July 9th 2018 that our anniversary came, but I was in such a flurry. I was going to make cupcakes, and take them to the office. Then the day came and yay us! Then I continued charging forward toward San Diego, because there was so much to do. But it was very exciting for me, and I was just so thrilled. It’s been a long year, because it was just me for a really long time, but now I have help. I have a great E-commerce coordinator to keep me sane. It was very fulfilling personally, just to watch it grow.

Lindsay: Let’s talk about the growth, it’s been a year now. What has changed, or had to change based on social networks, technology, that you had to adjust for, that you hadn’t prepared for, or maybe just really excelled at?

Melissa: Well, it’s kind of funny, because last February 2018, I had just come back from maternity leave. I worked in marketing at the time. They said, “Hey we want to start a direct to consumer site, what do you think?” I said, “Oh cool! When do you want to do it by?” “San Diego.” “Haha, alright, let’s do this!” I had three months to get a site up and running. We launched with a really strong first line of products. There were a lot of things that I wish could be different, but it was still great. From that point on we continued to add things. First we were USA only. Then we added international territories, and we had to learn how that worked on the back end. Then we started getting new product up and going, which was really exciting. We launched our Mass Effect Andromeda Normandy Ship on N7 day last year. It was really excited because it just blew up. Then we started adding more and more things. It’s definitely been a learning experience. Trying to find ways to make the site more user friendly, more friendly for me, and our side on the back end. We recently just launched our own social media platforms for Dark Horse Direct, because we were going through the Dark Horse Comics channels. But they have so much publishing going on, that it’s hard to get to that dedicated fan base that we are looking for. So it just made sense when we launched the Witcher Leshen figure statue. So I said, “Well now is the time, I’m doing it.” It’s good. I’m just always looking for ways, how can we get more eyeballs on the site, how can we reach the fans, and let them know we have these things. We are still very much in our infancy.

Lindsay: Let’s talk about the line up for what you have. Let me also say that I took a look at what you have on the con floor, and I can tell a lot of people like it, because of the face marks on the glass, really pressed up against it. The details are really amazing, just like you said about the Witcher figure. I don’t play the game but now I want to. I saw you got Hellboy, which is one of my favorites, and you are giving away Hellboy tote-bags this con, because of the anniversary of 25 years. Let’s talk about some of the line up, and about some of what you offer.

Melissa: I really like all of them, and appreciate them in their own way, but I really love the Spaceboy Statue, that’s not out there yet, but it’s for the Umbrella Academy. That one is really fun. To see people go that’s Number 1, he looks different. Yeah that’s because he is based on the comic. Especially someone who read those comics back in 2007, it’s really fulfilling to see it blow up the way we all knew it could, because it was so cool. Especially with the show which is awesome. I really love the Hellboy action figure, which was so cool. It’s fun to see Abe pop-up now, and people can also get Giclée Prints. We are trying to do more different items like that, which are more accessible, but still highly collectible. Dark Horse Direct is all about limited edition statutes and collectibles. I’m looking to bring in new products. What can we do, and what artists can we hire. I work with my fabulous editors to get that sorted out. What’s coming up in our publishing line, so I can help us both amplify their new comic, and have a cool thing that goes with it from Direct. Like we did with the Stranger Things.

Lindsay: Yes, No. 6, which I am very excited to learn more about.

Melissa: That will be cool.

Lindsay: So are you saying that there is a figure or something cool coming out for No. 6 for Stranger Things?

Melissa: No we don’t have that license, but we can do piggyback publishing, like a variant comic. Jenny Frison did the art, and signed it, so we sold that exclusively as a bundle with the Giclée Print. That included digital codes with it, so you get this cool variant out of 250 comics, which is super limited for a comic book, and a beautiful print that you can display. Then you get digital codes for the first series. We are trying to think of fun ways to engage with people.

Lindsay: I love the packaging idea, because obviously the fans are there for the story, they wouldn’t be knowing about the characters without the story. Some of them are straight up gorgeous, and I don’t care what they are from, I want it.

Melissa: Yeah.

Lindsay: But offering that bundle is a really great marketing plan, it is less work for the consumer, and limited offer for fans. I’m glad to see those things are being thought up and offered.

Melissa: Yeah, we want to offer value for money, and we know we are asking for a little more.

Lindsay: “Fandom delivered”.

Melissa: For every fandom. We are known for doing a lot of video game stuff, but it’s been my goal with the prints, to go back to creator owned things. Trying to do more with things that hearkens back to what Dark Horse Comics is known for. It’s all in the family.

Lindsay: Even Game of Thrones stuff.

Melissa: Yeah, Game of Thrones.

Lindsay: I would love to get that chair, and just place a poseable figure into it, cross worlds.

Melissa: Our social media strategist, Cara O’Neil, had put the 18′ throne, and other iterations, and made like Russian nesting dolls. It was really funny. In our office, we like to put other stuffed animals in it. I had a Tentacle Kitty in it for a little bit, or a Pikachu.

Lindsay: All hail Pikachu.

Melissa: It’s fun, we have a lot of fun with it.

Lindsay: It seems like a great environment. All the different types of people you work with to make these things happen. You say you work with editors, and various others, to find out what is coming up. Can you tell us the various people in your day to day that you need to work with to make this happen?

Melissa: Oh gosh, sure. Being in Dark Horse Direct, I am very luck that I get to work with almost every department on a daily basis. I most closely work with the Products Development team, we all sit in a big pod together. We are constantly talking about what we have coming out, because the products take a considerably longer amount of time to get up and running with approvals. I also work with editorial on some of the publishing, and print items, that we are looking to do more of. Then I work with the Marketing team, telling them we want to announce these items, can we get some social media help, and newsletter help. I am going to be tweeting this on this date, can I get a re-tweet? Then coordinating with our shipping department, since we are shipping out directly to our consumers. How is this working on shipping with this product coming? Can we work out how to do it. Our design team does a fabulous job coming out with the marketing materials. They do all the photography in house of the product photos. All the videos we do in house. We have a fabulous design team. I could not be more lucky to work with an amazing multi-departmental company. Everyone is fantastic at what they do.

Lindsay: That’s great to hear. It’s amazing that everyone is basically in house. From photography to packaging?

Melissa: Yep, we do the packaging in house, not printing, but design it and then send it to the manufacturer. They send us the template and we design it, make sure it’s all looking snazzy.

Lindsay: What do you think will happen, looking forward, for this department?

Melissa: More! I want to do more. I want to do different kind of products. Basically, if there is something that a fan wants to see us do, I want to know about it. I would love to look into how to do it. It’s all about reaching all of those fandoms, and people no matter what they like. I love the diversity of it, because we can literally do anything, and that’s really exciting for me.

 

Dark Horse Comics was founded in 1986 by Mike Richardson with the idea of establishing an ideal atmosphere for creative professionals. Thirty years later, Dark Horse has grown to become the third-largest comics company in the United States and still continues to look for ways to cultivate new passions in our fans in every format possible. Be sure to check out their comic and product line up and follow their social networks to get the latest news! 

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