Watch the Book: Graphic Novels Test Online Trailers

A trailer for War of the Worlds went live on the Web this week, but it wasn’t for the upcoming Steven Spielberg/Tom Cruise summer blockbuster. Instead, the :90 film promotes the release of a graphic novel based on H.G. Wells’ tale of alien invasion.

Though the book isn’t connected to the upcoming Spielberg film, startup graphic novel publisher Best Sellers Illustrated hopes to use online video to harness the viral effect of fan sites to promote the title. The title, Best Sellers’ first, publishes this month.

“It seemed to us that a trailer was a good way to support awareness and excitement for the book,” said Best Sellers VP Aron Kessler. The clip initially launched on the Waroftheworldsfilm.com fan site before being posted on the publisher’s own Web site.

Sandpail Productions produced the trailer using artwork from the graphic novel, adding music and narration. The publisher estimates it spent $15,000 to produce the streaming preview.

“We tried to do it as close to a Hollywood-style production as possible,” Kessler told ClickZ News. “We think it is probably the most high-tech trailer that has been produced for a graphic novel.” The novel’s author, Stephen Stern, has also initiated a blog.

A handful of European publishers have used online trailers to promote graphic novels. In the U.S., where graphic novels are soaring in popularity, publishers Sentinel and Image Media have also experimented with the format. Graphic novel sales in the U.S. and Canada were up 25 percent in 2004, with revenues exceeding $205 million, according to trade publication ICv2.

Best Sellers also plans to create a trailer for the upcoming manga-inspired (define) graphic novel, ShyGirl. “This book absolutely has to have a trailer,” said Kessler.

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