Committed: Pullist, with Vincent Iadevaia
MyPullist.com is a monthly curated comic book service where people can subscribe to receive a mystery graphic novel each month. I first heard about this when one of the four founders of Pullist, developer and designer Vincent Iadevaia, contacted me to be the curator for April. So we ate lunch together and Vincent told me more about this clever new service.
Last year after a friend subscribed to a monthly clothing company, Vincent found himself asking why there isn’t a corresponding service for comic books. Together they discussed this for months, figured out the logistics, putting together a website, and generally organizing the concept before they launched the company 6 months ago. Currently their website offers a comprehensive look at what the service is, past curators and past books which have been sent out.
Initially they had envisioned it as a service to give new readers a taste of monthly single issue comic books, but soon realized that it would be difficult to introduce a book in the middle of a storyline. Instead they moved to graphic novels, as Vincent says, most are complete and as long as people can read the first volume, that can serve as a good jumping-on point for new readers. “When I was a kid I wanted a complete thing, I didn’t want to jump into the middle of a story. I was a collector and I needed to start at number one…” They also toyed with the idea of offering two choices each month, either an indie pick or a superhero pick, but it became really complicated… Rachel [Mercer, strategist and one of the co-founders] urged simplification. It was hard to draw that line and difficult to choose between the great picks. I’d like to think I’m well read and I haven’t read any of the comics which curators have recommended so far, so I couldn’t make that choice for other people.”
At this point they reached out to a few comic book creators who they knew from the Tumblr community for advice. This is where Vincent’s own passion for Jack Kirby comes into play. He runs a Tumblr for Kirby Covers, which had elicited interest from Joe Keatinge and Benito Cereno. This pseudo online connection was enough for Vincent to reach out to them for support as the first two curators of the monthly picks to send out.
Past curators have included comic book writers, artists, graphic designers, and editors, and in the future there is a diverse range of comic book creators, critics, and enthusiasts lined up to curate, including Chris Arrant (writer of and about comics), James Harvey (comic book and graphic artist), and Jake Roper (of VSauce). “At first the curators we spoke to were all comic book creators, but the problem with that is the only people who know them are already comic book readers so we’re being conscious about diversifying.”
“We have a lot of friends who are only getting into comics now, and they always ask me what they should read. I was getting to the point where I’d exhausted my list of things to recommend to people, and it’s also fun for me because I get a new comic book to read every month. We’re in a great age of awesome comics, the past 20 years have been amazing but it can be hard to pick up single issues so I’m starting to pick up more and more trades myself.”
Every book comes with a curator statement, introducing the book and creating context for it. Pullist seek to be advocates for the comic book medium, noting that comic book movies are a huge draw right now and that audience could be reading comics if they had the right introduction.
Vincent’s passion for comic books hasn’t just impacted his work, but also his body which is covered with the unique comic book art of Brooklyn artist, Myles Karr (pictured in this article). Like many of us, Vincent’s early comic book passions were ignited by recommendations from a friend, so he had his own comic curator of a sort: “In high school I kind of stopped reading comic books. Then I met a friend and he explained this terrible sounding story to me about some comedian who dies in New York city (turns out it was Watchmen) and he just can’t explain the book well. Five months later I picked up the book and read it in a single night! I grabbed him the next day and said ‘Steve! What the hell is wrong with you? You explained it so terribly, this is the greatest thing I ever read!’ From there I was going with him every Saturday to our local comic book store, Fourth World Comics (one of my favorite local comic book stores).”
Vincent’s personal top 10 list of essential comic books:
- Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus Vol. 1
- Hellboy, Vol 2: Wake the Devil
- Ghost World
- Akira, Vol 1
- Batman: The Long Halloween
- Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth
- City of Glass
- Essential Fantastic Four: Vol. 1