Best-Selling Business Books Get Comic Book Treatment, Draw New Readership
Published: Sunday, November 20, 2011
Updated: Monday, November 21, 2011 16:11
Franco Arda knows business. He earned his MBA in the UK and worked in derivatives sales for an investment firm in London, Zurich and Hong Kong.
Today, Arda, originally from Switzerland, operates as CEO and Founder of SmarterComics, a comic book publishing house based in Palo Alto, California.
SmarterComics adapts best selling business books, such as "How To Master the Art of Selling"by Tom Hopkins, into graphic novels, giving college students overwhelmed by their local bookstore's business section a sigh of relief.
The idea behind the venture came from Arda's own experience writing a successful how-to book, "Fortune Favors the Bold."
"I wanted to dedicate it to my daughter to have a guidance to follow her dreams and success," he said. "But then I read the book and I thought it was super boring."
Arda decided to meet with a comic book artist to illustrate the text, and thus his comic book company was born.
SmarterComic titles, which include "Think & Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill, offer readers the opportunity to get the basics of these business books in a summarized format designed keep their attention and impart business wisdom through drawings.
"Basically, we want to provide people with comics that make them smarter," Arda said. "It's non-traditional education."
Arda also expanded the scope of the books to include classic works by legendary philosophers, including "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu and "The 50th Law" by 50 Cent – seriously – and Robert Green's "The 48 Laws of Power."
"They empower you to do something better or learn something new," Arda said. "All these comics can be read within less than an hour, and after you put those comics away you have improved in some way."
Most of the books put a contemporary spin on the classics, which also include "The Prince" by Machiavelli. If anything, seeing General Sun Tzu illustrated as a lawyer with his Fu Manchu mustache intact is worth checking the book out.
The panels are in black and white as to not take away from the text, which, in the vein of Twitter, is no longer than 200 characters per frame.
"The way we read today is totally different than how we did before," Arda said. "The idea has to be condensed in a short message."
Arda admits that the concept behind the project has garnered detractors, but online feedback from readers shows SmarterComics is achieving its goals.
"A lot of people have written nice comments," he said. "It's encouraging."
Arda hopes that encouragement stretches to a global audience, adding that company reps have approached publishing companies outside of the United States to expand the brand worldwide. The first overseas issue of SmarterComics will be published in South Korea in December.
The books, which average 60 to 70 pages, are available in printed format ($12.95), as well as digitally ($2.99 to $6.99) and can be purchased at select bookstores and smartercomics.com.