How Can the Film Industry Learn from Comics? Sitting Down with David Baxter on Legion M

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my foray into the world of comics, it’s that the creativity of creators and the community knows no bounds. This was before I had ever attended a large convention. I had the great opportunity of attending WonderCon in Anaheim at the end of March. While overwhelming, it was amazing to me the dedication to creativity that the culture fosters.

On the second day of the event, I approached a booth and was met with a tall man dressed and made up as The Hound from Game of Thrones. This man was David Baxter. Previously working as a writer at Image Comics, he is now the VP of Development at Legion M. A fan-owned entertainment company, behind films like the cult classic Mandy starring Nicolas Cage and the upcoming Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. Legion M, like the culture behind comics, is trying to foster creativity in new ways for the film industry.

Comics Covered: Would you say that Legion M has a lot of relation to the world of comics and the ideas that come from it?

David Baxter: Well who did we go to when we first tried to get investors? We went to Comic Book Convention fans. The reason being that fandom at the conventions is the most deep, most immersive, and people want things that represent the characters they love. So we thought that if we’re going to try and create a company that is entirely owned by fans, comics book fans represent those who are the most die-hard. Let’s start with that group! Facebook was very accommodating because they know who clicks on the right ads. We had an incredible response when we first started because of it.

CC: I feel like Legion M can fill a void in that, creativity is such a beautiful thing in the human mind. Attaching it to business, with huge companies that are dictating what we watch, it’s tough to go out and support what you want, because it might rarely get to that level of exposure.

DB: Well we saw that there was this void. The studios, for all intents and purposes, are owned by corporations so there are three things they have to do: maximize profit, minimize risk, and monetize art. In that order, decreasing in importance. We are flipping that, we want to, primarily, monetize art, then, maximize profit, and lastly, minimize risk.

Risk and Creativity

CC: It makes sense. Risk and creativity are truly opposites of each other. More creativity yields more risk, which is not usually what you want in a business.

DB: This industry, before many corporations took over, was run by people who took creative risks. You could say storytelling was going on since the ancient Greeks, but there were certain kinds of stories that we tell over and over. The key is to tell stories that are fresh and new and apply themselves to the current generation. You know, right now you’re looking at me dressed up as the Hound from Game of Thrones. I’ve been going to conventions and dressing up since 1997. I always wanted a job that allowed me to keep doing that. So now, I’m able to keep my finger on the pulse of pop culture. Attain a knowledge of what people like. It’s because of this history, including writing Marksmen over at Image Comics, that I was one of the first hires at Legion M.

All About the Fans

CC: I’m glad you mentioned Image Comics because they specifically identify themselves as “creator-owned” comics. What would you say Legion M is trying to identify as in the film industry?

DB: Our mandate is that the fans who consume the media should have some kind of say in it and should benefit from the fact that they are paying for those things. Why can’t they own a piece of it? Great art is not made by committee, but we live in an age of data driven research and our founders know how to make informed decisions from the power of the crowd. This is contrary to larger studios, who tend to go to book publishers before a book comes out and then they have to wait to see if the public responds to it. We don’t have to wait, all we have to do is ask our growing community.

CC: You have a direct line.

DB: Right. We want to be a curator of “nerd cool.” We want to find what the community is wanting, then we can use our contacts to look at what’s out there in that same realm. We’re the kids playing dungeons and dragons out exploring and finding what’s out there and new.

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Legion M Team