Chris Sully and our website go back a long while. Well, not Trending Pop Culture, but InvestComics. We first met up with Chris and Steve doing their thing on their NerdFu Podcast quite a few years back. Not withstanding or any bias here for the sake of this interview, but The NerdFu Podcast is one of the premiere podcast out there. If you’re seeking a good listen about anything and everything regarding the pop culture scene, the NerdFu Podcast would be right up your alley. Be sure to check out their podcast by clicking right HERE.
So as the years lumbered on, Chris Sully moved on to a new gig a few years ago himself, but he still holds down the podcast with Steve on a regular basis. So, besides being a co-podcaster extraordinaire, Mr. Sully is the Marketing Manager at Funko. Let’s chat with Chris for a bit.
Trending Pop Culture: Hi Chris! We last met up in person at New York Comic Con 2017. Have you been busy since then at all? (sarcasm).
Chris Sully: That was just this past October, but it feels like at least 84 years.
TPC: So, let’s jump right in shall we? From the beginning, how old were you when you discovered you were into the superhero stuff/pop culture stuff?
CS: My first memories of being a “nerd/geek” started with movies (like Clash of the Titans, Gremlins, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters), toys/collectibles (like Masters of the Universe, Transformers, GI Joe & Star Wars) & video games (Atari 2600, Contra, Super Mario Bros., Kung Fu, etc.). It didn’t seem out of the ordinary at the time, because my dad was into the same things and so were all of my friends.
TPC: So now that you’re a tad older, what gets you pumped now?
CS: Many of the same things still resonate, but at least I don’t have to ask Mom & Dad for money or put things on my Christmas wish list any more. I still LOVE movies, collectibles and video games, but with the popularity of comic cons, I actually have the chance to go and meet some of my heroes (actors, designers, creators) in person, which I NEVER thought would be possible.
TPC: What’s your take on the whole Thanos thing? You buying it? Is everyone dead in your opinion? Who comes back, who doesn’t? What happens next in Mr. Sully’s Infinity War film?
CS: Not everyone that vanished is dead, but I do believe that Marvel is daring enough to shake things up by killing off a few key characters and/or changing up who plays them. I am all for it. As much as I love Thor, Captain America and Iron Man, the Marvel universe has 100s of characters to choose from and I would love to see them all on the big screen at some point.
TPC: Okay, let’s move on to you meeting up with Steve and this wonderful thing comes of it, NerdFu Podcast. How does this come about and what were your expectations? If any.
CS: Steve and I knew each other for a few years, but never really hung out…. until we started talking about movies and nerd culture. He called me up on day and said “You wanna go to SDCC?” I honestly thought that was an industry event and never even dreamed about going. Luckily, we timed it right, before tickets became impossible to get. It was 2012 and we were off to San Diego for something we couldn’t possibly be prepared for. We were blown away by the experience and the people that we met and decided that we need to make this our job! Some of our line friends (people we met in our first long SDCC lines and still talk to today) joked that Steve and I were pretty funny and should start our own podcast. That stuck with us and a few months later (April, 2013) we launched the Nerd Fu podcast and our website.
TPC: What are some of the highlights from this podcast venture….so far.
CS: Most importantly, the podcast gave us the chance to hang out and talk nerd. We decided early on that even if that’s all that ever happened, we would be fine with it. Luckily it turned into much more. Over the last 5 years, we’ve been to dozens of cons all over the country, met many of our favorite celebrities, podcasted with some of our favorite podcasters and made a TON of new friends/contacts. We’re approaching our 225th episode of the podcast and hope to continue on for years to come.
TPC: Do you guys record live and edit or do listeners get the raw material?
CS: We have recorded live a few times, including our 100th episode, with a small crowd. That was a lot of fun and something we would love to do again one day. We’ve appeared at several cons as part of a podcasting panel and even started our own intro to podcasting panel we call #ReadySetPodcast, which we hope to do at future conventions. For our weekly podcasts, there is very rarely any editing. We basically hit record and then stop when we’ve gone through all of our topics/notes. This was mainly out of necessity (since we had NO editing skills in the beginning), but it has really honed our ability to lead a conversation, without dead air or weird pauses. We’ve definitely improved over the years and hope to continue to do so.
TPC: With your busy schedule at Funko, when can fans expect podcast episodes to come out?
CS: For Nerd Fu, Steve and I have worked really hard to keep our standard schedule of a new episode every week, typically on Thursday or Friday. There have been a few weeks without an episode, but not many.
TPC: You’re an obvious fan of the comic book fandom. What are you picking up these days? Besides what InvestComics recommended all of those years for you. Now Trending PopCulture is doing that for ya, right? Right??
CS: I am definitely a fan of comics, but (and this part may not sit well with others) I have never been able to get into the format. I’ve tried, but just can’t get hooked. I DO love the artwork throughout the comics and especially the covers. To me, they are works of art and I treat them as such. I have always found the investment side of collecting fascinating and found Trending Pop Culture (InvestComics) when developing the idea of making my own investment protfolio of comics. The Top 5 from TPC has been amazing, turning me on to tons of great investments over the years.
TPC: We’re going to assume you’re a collector of all things pop culture, including Funko POP!, correct? When did your affection towards the POP! figures begin?
CS: I bought my first Funko Pop! sometime in 2011, for my wife. It was the Hermey Pop! from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I stumbled onto it at a Target and really liked the style. Then I started finding others, like Marvel & Disney. When we attended SDCC in 2012, we walked into the booth and got a feel for how big the business could be, and started collecting more and more.
TPC: So, did you ever envision yourself actually holding a position at Funko? How does this come about?
CS: I really never thought it would be possible, but that didn’t stop me from dreaming and hoping. I worked in social media at a Fortune 100 company for a few years and it clearly was not the right fit. During that time, we had started Nerd Fu and gotten to know the marketing team at Funko. When I saw that they were hiring for a new marketing position, I immediately reached out! Because of the work we had done at Nerd Fu, they knew what I was capable of and gave me a shot. We picked up and moved from Texas and haven’t looked back since. It was one of the best decisions of my life.
TPC: Seeing you at New York Comic Con every year is extremely breathtaking to witness. The production and the constant teamwork is mindboggling. You have one of the, if not the busiest booths every single year. In which this happens at many shows, not just NYCC! What challenges accompany being the head marketer of the most sought-after items within the pop culture genre?
CS: I am just one member of an amazing team. We are blessed to have an amazing fan base (known as the Funko Funatics) and volunteers that come out to the conventions to help us stock and sell all of the exclusives. These conventions take months to plan for and require very long days at the cons, but it is all worth it. Seeing the happy fans come thru and leave with the giant blue bags of exclusives, then the photos that they share of their collection online makes it all worth while. If we didn’t work hard to make that happen and respect the fans, we wouldn’t be in the position that we are in. I happily jumped into the machine that was already running and I do whatever I can to keep it running.
TPC: What’s the one thing you hear the most from fans regarding the Funko line?
CS: Everyone wants to know when we’ll make __________ (insert fandom here). We are all fans of something and we all have a few movies, TV shows, video games, etc that we would love to have figures for. I’ve been lucky enough to see Firefly, The Goonies, Ghostbusters, Monsters, Inc and a plethora of my fandoms turned into Pop!s and I know that is what our fans want for their fandoms.
TPC: It’s absolutely no secret that there is a very deep aftermarket for Funko POP!’s. Baseball has the Honus Wagner card, Comics has Action Comics #1, finish this; Funko has……
CS: That is really a question for each fan. There are a few of the all-time greats, like the 2012 SDCC Gold Loki, the flocked Sulley, the Chrome Batman, etc., but I don’t think there is the ONE that everyone is after. Part of the beauty of creating figures for so many unique licenses is that fans have a huge field of figures to pick from. For me, it’s still the Gold Loki and the original flocked Chewbacca Pop!
TPC: In your opinion, what is it about the figures that makes them so popular year in and year out? And what separates them from so many others trying to emulate the Funko brand?
CS: First and foremost – it’s the art! The Funko artists are amazing. The style of the figures is what first brought people to Funko. The licensing is the other important part. Funko has offered thousands of licensed products, including licenses that other companies might not focus on. As I me mentioned before, everyone is a fan of something and they want to add a figure or figures from that fandom to their collection/desk. The price point is also attractive. Pop!s typically retail for around $9.99, which is not a big ask, especially compared to other companies that make statues or figures that can run hundreds of dollars.
TPC: What can we expect in the future from Funko? Any surprises or we just going to get continued awesomeness from Funko?
CS: It’ll be straight-up awesomeness from here on out. But seriously, the licensing team and artists are continuing to push the boundaries of what and how we bring everyone’s fandoms to vinyl (and other) forms. Pop!s will continue, along with other figures, like my new favorite VYNL and the new 5 Star line. Funko has plush, shirts, action figures, keychains, blind bag/box figures…. Funko acquired LoungeFly last year as well, which adds purses, wallets, backpacks, mini-backpacks and more. And be on the lookout for Cereal and Pez, all coming soon!
TPC: What about you Mr. Sully? Are we going to see you with a big fat cigar, white suit, running New York City trying to kill Spider-Man in the future? You shouldn’t kill Spidey, he’s a nice boy.
CS: Ha! I don’t have any plans to take over the city or go after any superheroes. I’m more than happy to continue with Nerd Fu and Funko, podcasting and interacting with other nerds and talking fandoms. I’ve been doing it my whole life and I’m just stoked that someone is willing to pay me to continue doing so.
TPC: Thank you for spending a little time with us Chris. We’ll listen to you (and Steve) on NerdFu and catch up with you at New York Comic Con 2018.
CS: Can’t wait! I’m really looking forward to returning to New York and NYCC again this year. See you there Jay!!