Case Study

Comic-Shop Archetype Powers 'Piccolo'

Web Series Embraces Snarky Comic-Shop Clerk

By Published on .

The Creators: Alec Pollak, chief creative officer at Web video network For Your Imagination, and filmmaker Neil Turitz. Together they are the co-creators of the Web series "Kyle Piccolo: Comic Shop Therapist." Turitz's film work includes the movie "Two Ninas" starring Amanda Peet and Ron Livingston and "Knots" starring Jon Stamos and Tara Reid. Mr. Pollak and Mr. Turitz, both self-professed comic-book geeks, went to Columbia together and graduated in 1993.

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Distributors: Because Mr. Pollak works at For Your Imagination, the show was developed in house by the Web studio and is distributed by For Your Imagination. The show is available on iTunes, Blip, Viddler, MySpace, YouTube, Revver and other sites online including Kylepiccolo.com. For Your Imagination distributes its show using the TubeMogul service.

Sponsors: For Your Imagination landed Warner Brothers as a sponsor from the get-go. The first episode premiered with ads and trailers for "The Dark Knight" as pre-rolls, post-rolls, sponsorships and site-takeover ads. Those ads ran for the first five episodes and covered the cost of production for those episodes. For Your Imagination is currently in talks with other advertisers. The show is reaching an 18- to 34-year-old male demographic, but Mr. Pollak said he also regularly hears from viewers who are high-schoolers, as well as women in their 40s who like the show. "With the rash of super hero movies going on, this is the perfect time for this to be out there," Mr. Turitz said.

Content: The scripted show centers on a comic book clerk who dispenses advice to customers. For instance, in one episode a customer insists that the Green Lantern character is actually called the "Emerald Ringer." Kyle then informs the customer how to erase fear through knowledge of the Green Lantern. In another episode he dispenses relationship advice to a beautiful female customer, peppering his comments with therapeutic adages and encouragements. Each four- to five-minute episode is designed to be self-contained, like the Sunday comics, said Mr. Pollak. Viewers can tune into the series for any episode and still follow the storyline.

Backstory: Mr. Pollak and Mr. Turitz connected last October at a party and decided then to create a Web show centered on comic books. Other comic book Web shows like "Pulp Secret" and "iFanboy" are informational shows about comic books with hosts discussing the latest issues. "Kyle Piccolo" is a scripted sitcom. "As much of a geek as I am I have no interest in whatever other people think about comic books," Mr. Turitz said. "Godspeed to them all but it's not my thing. So I though what if it was a guy who solves other people's problems." The Kyle Piccolo character is informed by the actor Jack Black and how he has defined the sarcastic clerk role. "With Kyle Piccolo you take the comic book guy and you cross him with Frasier," Mr. Pollack said. The pair shot the pilot at the end of March and the show debuted in June. New episodes are released about twice a month.

Endgame: Mr. Pollak and Mr. Turitz said "Kyle Piccolo" is creatively satisfying because they can post the show immediately after it's done rather than waiting months or years. "We like these characters. We want to focus on doing the best thing we can on this medium so to think we could make a movie or a TV show isn't fair," Mr. Turitz said. "We are making a show and it's a Web show and I don't know we have any loftier goals at this point than to do the best we can right now."
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