Selling Dreary Or How I Accidentally Called a Sex Service Hotline

Kelley Van Dilla (Head of Marketing) tells us how he became a member of Team Dreary.

September 2012. I’m sitting in the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport waiting for my connecting flight to Santa Fe, NM, where I grew up and will visit my mom. I get a friendly email from a friend: a prominent film producer is looking for an intern to help him sell comic books. Sounds like gold to me. I email Daryl Freimark and we set up a time for a phone interview. Fast forward a few days. I’ve read the first issue of Dreary and I’m about to go in for my second phone interview with Daryl. The task? Pitch Dreary to Daryl as if I were pitching it to a comic book store. I’m slightly flustered and more than a little scared. I’ve never been a salesman and I know nothing about telemarketing.

But something works. I get the gig. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I’m touring Southern Utah with my mom. A few weeks later I find myself entrenched in the mountainous task of calling every comic book store in America via a more than somewhat out of date website called THE MASTER LIST. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for the website and it has been instrumental in promoting Dreary, but part of the challenge is that many of the stores have since closed or changed locations and phone numbers. It’s fabulous to get in touch with a comic book store owner who loves the sound of Dreary and is happy to give our book a try. It’s less than wonderful to call a small bookstore that has nothing to do with comics and pitch Dreary to an elderly woman who’s hard of hearing and just wants to tell you about her half a dozen cats. For half an hour. Then there are the listings which are no longer comic book stores. “The number you are trying to reach is no longer in service” is easy to deal with. Private homes tired of telemarketers, not so much. Anyways, onwards and upwards. I’ve got a book to sell. A book I believe in. So I swallow my embarrassment and guilt at having unintentionally bothered a complete stranger and I call another number. Until something makes me stop. Something so unexpected and completely ridiculous that I’ve just got to write it down. I’m working my way through Washington state, making good progress, especially in Seattle. I punch in the numbers for the next store on the list and press dial. It doesn’t even ring once before they pick up, but instead of a person saying “hello” or “The Comic Shop, how may I help you?” all I hear is what can only be described as sexy music. Then a woman’s sultry voice almost whispering in my ear, “Are you ready for live nasty hot sex action? Oh you’ve come to the right place… mmmmmm….  Ill get down on my knees baby oh oooooh and wrap my soft wet lips around your big, throbbing—” And that’s where I hang up. And I just sit there. I’m working in Daryl’s office in Brooklyn. He’s sitting right next to me. But I just sit there. Completely stunned. Too stunned to move. Too stunned even to laugh.

Unfortunately none of my calls were ever quite as exciting as that one, but when I called stores again this past August (2013) to sell the trade paperback, I talked to some wonderful people who fondly remembered the single issues of Dreary.

Jesse James Comics in Glendale, Arizona was thrilled to hear we were doing a trade paperback and told me they sold out of every single issue of Dreary. They’re wonderful people and I’m always happy to talk to them.

A few people I spoke to loved my description so much that they ordered a few copies while I was still on the phone with them. I think I emailed both Daryl and Dave whenever that happened.

Probably the most striking interaction I had this summer was with a store owner in South Carolina. I gave him a brief rundown of the plot, to which he responded in a gruff and tired voice, “Is it an Adult Book? Does it have nudity? Are there bad words? Cursing?” I told him, “It’s fine for teenagers and doesn’t have any nudity, I can email you a copy .” He gave a kind of snort as if I should’ve known better and said, “I haven’t read a comic in 30 years. That’s how old this store is. I just sell them. I don’t read them.” That put a cork in my mouth. I didn’t know what to say. I think I mumbled something along the lines of, “well.. I’m glad you’re still in business and I hope you order a few copies of our book.” I honestly can’t remember.

Being a part of Team Dreary has been a wonderful trip so far and I am so glad to be a part of this ride. New York Comic Con is just around the corner and I’ve got a great costume in store. Not even Daryl or Dave know what I’m up to. I can’t wait.

I hope to see you there!


Kelley Van Dilla

Head of Marketing


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