web stats

CSBG Archive

Sunday’s Test Case

Finally, somebody’s gotten around to actually implementing an idea that I and other comics blogger-types have been carping about for years.

Ever since superhero movies started to be really big hits, comics fans and industry pundits have been trying to figure out how to convert a movie success into a surge of new readers for the comic being adapted. After all, the reasoning goes, clearly there’s millions upon millions of people that like Spider-Man, they’re all buying tickets to see him in a movie, why can’t we get them to spend some money on reading more of his adventures?

One would think SOME of the folks that liked the movies could be persuaded to pick up the comics... but it sure seems like they don't.

In particular, we’ve often wondered why Marvel and DC don’t make use of their huge corporate clout to get their books into places that are not comics shops, simply to let all those newly-minted superhero fans from a movie know that the comics are out there. (I’ve run into an amazing number of people who assumed that when comics disappeared from newsstands back in the 1980s, they simply died off, like pulps or radio drama or some other once-popular entertainment that gradually ceased to exist as a mass medium.) Especially, it seems weird not to offer some kind of sampler package of comics for sale in the theater lobby, at least.

Well, it looks like that might actually have happened. It wasn’t in a theater lobby, but it was in a non-comics environment — specifically, the big books table at Costco. We were down there to pick up some prescriptions for Julie, and while she was talking to the pharmacist I was idling away in the books.

And, lo and behold, I saw a big pile of these, right there in between a stack of Chelsea Handler’s new book and a collection of Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipes.

A movie-cover edition of Thor headlining a sealed baggie with three Marvel comics in it for $3.79. A real, honest-to-God sampler produced to tie in with the movie. And whatever you may think of Ms. Handler or Ms. Paltrow, those books are moving right now, so that’s some pretty solid display space for a Marvel comic.

Turn the baggie over and the other side has this cover facing out.

Captain America. Oh yeah. Now we’re talking. This is a seriously smart piece of comics merchandising, I’m thinking. Push the comic for the movie that’s out now and the one that’s coming in a couple of months. Well played, Marvel.

So I bought it, curious to see what Marvel was using as their sampler come-on for all those folks who loved the movies and wanted more.

I got home and opened the bag and the third comic in between turned out to be this one.

X-Men. Okay, again, well-chosen, what with First Class about to open in theaters as well. At first glance I am thinking this a really smart package.

It was when I settled in to read them that the wheels came off the wagon. The Thor story was chapter one of Fraction and Coipel’s “The Galactus Seed,” featuring not just Thor but also the Silver Surfer. It seemed like a well-crafted piece, but the story sure wasn’t any kind of introduction or jumping-on place for a new reader. At times it was a pretty hard slog even for me to figure out what was going on, and I’ve been reading Thor comics off and on for forty years.

There was a recap page in the front, and good on Marvel for including that; it was absolutely vital or I’d have been completely lost.

Understand, if I was picking it up on a whim in the comics shop, it was perfectly adequate as a first issue. I sussed out what was going on without too much trouble, I was mildly intrigued by the story, and I might pick up the trade collection some day if there is one.

But as a come-on for a person who was thrilled by the Thor movie and wanted more? Total fail. The story just didn’t feel very… I don’t know… “Thor-ish.” There’s a lot of talky setup stuff and scenes of various people, including Thor, brooding about Something Bad that might be coming.

The Captain America comic, chapter two of “The Gulag,” was even worse in some ways, though it was easier to follow. (Of course I’ve read all the trades up to this point so really I’d only missed chapter one of the current storyline, but still.) The book supplied a recap page, Brubaker did a much better job of setting everything up and building a mood, the story ticked right along, but… this isn’t the book that’s going to hook a movie crowd on Captain America comics. “Captain America” doesn’t actually even appear in the comic — everyone’s in civvies the whole time. Seems like an odd choice for the book to put in your loss-leader three-pack sampler.

The X-Men issue, Uncanny X-Men #535, struck me as perhaps the best-executed introduction to the characters and their world. It’s by Kieron Gillen and the Dodsons, and it’s about the X-Men returning to the Breakworld. It’s a well-constructed intro, still awfully talky but with more interesting characters saying smarter and funnier things, and most everyone on the team gets enough face time that by the time you put the book down you’ve got a sense of who these people are and how they relate to each other. Of the three, I think this is the one that I’d be curious about and want more of.

As an experiment I took all three books to Cartooning class to see if maybe it was just me that was reacting badly. This year, as it happens, I have quite a few kids who were comics fans coming in — I mean Marvel and DC, that is, not manga like the vast majority of the students I’ve taught over the last sixteen years. Their situation is almost exactly the same as mine was at that age — just starting to be able to earn enough money and get mobile enough to go and get comics on their own, but still only sporadic readers of any one title.

So I took these sample books into class and offered kids a chance to review them. “These are sample comics,” I told them. “What I want to know is, can you tell who’s who, can you tell what’s going on, and are you interested enough to read more? Because that’s what these are supposed to be, they’re trying to get you to read more comics.”

As I suspected, the students who took me up on it were my hard-core geek kids, the ones who sign up for cartooning just to wallow in being around comics at school. Troy lunged at Captain America, Eileen took Thor, and Josh got the X-Men.

A minute later Troy was back. “This isn’t Captain America,” he said, scowling. “And it’s part two. Shouldn’t it be part one?” He was clearly disgusted. His face had the same expression you have when you’ve fallen for someone’s practical joke.

Troy was so annoyed he decided he didn’t want to do a review, and handed it back to me. Niko reviewed it instead. Here is what he had to say:

You could not see Captain America until the last page. If I had never read Captain America then I would not understand this book. It was kinda clear if you know who Winter Soldier is and the book is about Captain America not Winter Soldier. If you read Marvel frequently then it would be a good book I guess but I would not read it.

Note that without any prompting from me, the two twelve-year-old kids who are both Marvel fans have nailed the big problem with using this issue as a sampler — it’s a Captain America book without any actual Captain America putting in an appearance, just Steve and Bucky in their civvies.

Bear in mind, I’m a fan of Brubaker’s Cap…. but I buy the books in trade collections, so I don’t feel cheated, and this comic reads just fine in that context. As a chapter in the ongoing novel Brubaker is spinning about Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, it works great. But as a stand-alone for movie fans? Not so much.

The Mighty Thor fared even worse with Eileen:

Did I understand who the heroes were? NO! Not at all. I did know who Thor was but I did not know anything about the silver guy or that lady who was naked.

Eileen refers here to the bedroom scene where Sif is trying to get Thor to come to bed with her, and he’s distracted because he’s brooding over impending evil. There’s nothing particularly naughty about it and Sif is discreetly covered by a bedsheet, but it did strike me that this was the thing that jumped out at Eileen. I’m pretty sure it would jump out at any kid who wasn’t regularly visiting a comics shop. Again, not a wrong storytelling choice, but a very odd marketing choice for the comic you put in your come-on general audience sample baggie. Any CBLDF board member could tell you it only takes one angry parent, one ambitious DA, or one eager-beaver local news crew to spin something relatively innocent into the next big comic-books-poison-our-children witch hunt.

But Eileen, truthfully, was mostly just annoyed by the whole thing. She kept pausing in writing her review to ask me questions… who was the silver guy, what was all the church stuff about, why did the story keep switching back and forth.

Eileen did not care for THESE scenes at all. Lit'ry foreshadowing is lost on young superhero fans. Even I thought it went on a little too long.

But let her tell you:

Was the story clear? NO! As I said I could not tell what was going on. I would not buy more of these because it was so confusing.

So a swing and a miss with both Thor and Captain America. Here’s Josh on Uncanny X-Men:

I knew who the heroes were but I could not always understand the story or who the villains were or what was happening. But probably it’s okay because I would buy more. Just if the story was more clear and tells who the people are better.

So let’s call that two bad reviews and one ‘meh.’ The hell of it is, these aren’t bad comics. They’re, all three of them, actually pretty good comics.

They’re just crappy samplers.

Look, here’s what I’m getting at. I really like Sue Grafton’s series of novels about tough female private eye Kinsey Millhone. I want more people to read them. So I tear ten pages out of the middle of, oh, say, G Is For Gumshoe and sell copies of that random ten-page sample at Costco or Target for a dollar each, with the idea of persuading buyers of that ten-page excerpt that Kinsey Millhone and detective stories are AWESOME.

Would that work? Of course not. Publishers don’t do that, because it’s idiotic. That’s not a very smart way to sell books, period. And neither are the comics in this three-pack. They don’t do the job the package is clearly designed to do, which is to present Marvel comics to a new readership in a way that gets those readers to come back for more.

Here’s the thing that’s really annoying. Marvel DOES do books that are perfect for this sort of sampler marketing…. the “Saga” giveaways.

For the slow students? THIS is what a sampler looks like. My kids love these.

I bring these into class every so often and the kids are ALL OVER them. They love the huge info-dump structure of the things, it’s not dry or didactic for them at all. Marvel could do a lot worse than to slap five or six of them together into a trade paperback and sell THAT at Costco for $4.99. That’s how I’d do it. I bet it would sell, and it might very well lead new readers to the actual books.

Oddly enough, DC is trying exactly the same thing, putting out a one-shot book tying in to the upcoming Green Lantern movie. On a whim I picked up their sampler as well.

A much better sample package, for sure.

And this is how you do it.

It’s a collection of various Green Lantern short-story comics, filled out with a news article and a few photos from the upcoming movie. Included are “Flight,” by Geoff Johns and Darwyn Cooke from GREEN LANTERN SECRET FILES 2005; “Alienated,” featuring Hector Hammond, from writer Geoff Johns and artist Ethan Van Sciver, from GREEN LANTERN #4; and “New Blood,” by Peter Tomasi and Chris Samnee, from BLACKEST NIGHT: TALES OF THE CORPS #3.

I really can’t find fault with that package at all. Some of the stories may not be to my taste, but considered simply as a book that is supposed to explain who Green Lantern is and what his world is about and why it’s cool, I think this is a very well-thought-out collection.

I took this one to class as well, and Lilian reviewed it, knowing almost nothing about Green Lantern. Here is what she had to say:

You nailed it DC Comics! The comic, Beware His Power… Green Lantern Super-Spectacular is an awesome comic that hit all the main bullet points as to how Hal Jordan came to be the Green Lantern. DC, you also nailed the backstory with his dad, showing a little of his family. The story is easy to get into, easy to understand, easy to follow. The comic was definitely a worthy comic to make especially if you want to watch the movie but haven’t read the comics, or you want a hobby or you already are a Green Lantern fan. This is an awesome comic book!

Written by Lilian.

So. Sounds great. Good job, DC. Except…

… I didn’t get this one from Costco. I got it from my regular comics shop. I haven’t seen this Green Lantern sample collection anywhere except comics retailers.

Where it hardly does any good at all.

So on the one hand you have a great-looking sampler from Marvel with brilliant display placement and penetration and that’s all wasted by using very unfriendly-to-new-reader comics as samples. Meanwhile, DC has put together a book about Green Lantern that could very well bring in a lot of new fans– seriously, that book was a hot property in class that day, the girls loved it– but as far as I can tell, it’s only gone out to the establishments that are the least likely to have any potential new readers find it in the first place.

Sigh.

A lot of people were worried that when DC and then Marvel were bought up by huge business conglomerates, there would be changes that would hurt the comics being published. Things like media and marketing, commercial considerations.

I see ridiculous situations like this and I can’t help but think Marvel and DC would seriously benefit from a few grown-up marketing and business decisions. Until that happens, I don’t think that fabled wave of movie-driven new readers is ever showing up.

See you next week.

97 Comments

To my mind, Marvel (and DC) should be putting out a monthly comic set in the universe of the films, written and drawn by some of their top talent. (We all know that RDJ Iron Man was about as cool as Iron Man has ever been; who wouldn’t want to read about him monthly?) These things should be sitting, in racks, *in the theatres*, for a couple of bucks. So that the mom who has brought her kid out of Thor can spend 3 bucks and give him some more Thor to read, and the guy who thought X-Men was cool can read some more of that.

(And, there you go, I glossed over that paragraph, but you already mentioned the thing about them sitting in the theatres. Add a space, too, where the local comic shop can stick a sticker telling you where they are, like the FCBD editions have.)

“So on the one hand you have a great-looking sampler from Marvel with brilliant display placement and penetration and that’s all wasted by using very unfriendly-to-new-reader comics as samples. Meanwhile, DC has put together a book about Green Lantern that could very well bring in a lot of new fans– seriously, that book was a hot property in class that day, the girls loved it– but as far as I can tell, it’s only gone out to the establishments that are the least likely to have any potential new readers find it in the first place. ”

Wow, you’d think this would be such an easy thing to figure out.

Taylor Porter

May 22, 2011 at 9:59 pm

This was a very interesting article.

I honestly think it would do a lot of good if some people at Marvel and DC read this article, and others like it.

It seems like we are so close, SO close to getting more people to realize how great comics are, but the big companies keep making mistakes. Listening to people like Greg Hatcher sure couldn’t hurt.

Great article. I often wonder why publishers don’t use any of the HUNDREDS of great single issue comics that succinctly sum up a character in 22 pages. Thor, Captain America, Spider-man. There’s at least one great summary of the character in one issue. Just sell that one. Anyway. Really informative article and great points made.

Travis Pelkie

May 22, 2011 at 11:06 pm

OK, I’ve seen a GL Movie thing like what you show, at a local grocery store, but I’m almost certain there was a different lineup of stories in there. I think they had the chapter from Secret Origin that was in the FCBD issue, and while it did have the Cooke story, I don’t think it had the Moore story. Not 100% there, but I don’t remember seeing it. So there may in fact be 2 different versions.

One thing with that is that the GL book is 10 bucks. 10 bucks for a comic book? say parents unfamiliar with them anymore.

I’ve also seen at local WalMarts similar newsstand magazines from Marvel before the big movies come out. Again, I wonder how well they do at 10 bucks a pop.

This local grocery store also will feature Marvel poster books (there was a Thor one recently), so what newsstands there are ARE getting these. It’s just, who knows how well they’re selling or if they’re reaching readers.

And this store has a spinner rack with selections from Marvel, DC, Archie, the Boom Kids stuff (Disney Ducks, etc), Dark Horse.

Also, those “Saga” books appear on the spinner rack, I just saw the Thor one recently. For 3.99. They’re FREE in comics shops, wth?

You’d think maybe Marvel, with the “Point One” initiative, would include some of THOSE books in the 3 packs? I see from the cover boxes that these comics ARE intended ONLY as 3 packs, so it’s not the random sampling I see in some 3 packs. Jeez, put in the reprint of Captain America Comics #1 that just came out recently. Or put that Thor/Cap FCBD book in some.

The sad thing is that this is what they’ve come up with after about 10 years of Marvel movies big in the mainstream. Maybe they’ll figure something out by the time Avengers comes out.

Oh Greg. Don’t be silly. You can’t use LOGIC. Why would we use LOGIC?!

More seriously, great piece. I’m always especially excited when someone manages to talk to “non-fans” and report back, and even better when they’re young.

So a great big “ditto” to your entire piece.

So there may in fact be 2 different versions.

Could be. I don’t have it here to refer to. I gave it to Lilian to keep so I honestly couldn’t tell you, I just glanced at it myself; I’d already read everything in it so I didn’t really give it more than a cursory examination. The GCD doesn’t list the Broome or Moore stories but does mention a Peter Tomasi GLC tale. When I was writing the column I couldn’t remember the exact table of contents so I looked it up, and most sites mention the Broome and the Moore, so that’s what I went with.

Either way it was a much better sampler.

I sent the article to DC, along with a letter berating them for being so dense. I don’t know if it will do any good, but it’s all I can think to do, short of going down to their offices, walking in, and screaming at their marketing department. How they could so stupidly squander an opportunity like this is beyond me, and it’s not too late to fix.

I actually saw the Green Lantern Super Spectacular one-shot at a local Safeway, so DC is at least trying to get them to mainstream retailers.

I sent the article to DC, along with a letter berating them for being so dense.

Well, DC is at least trying to do it right. Of the two, Marvel’s the one that’s being dense.

I actually saw the Green Lantern Super Spectacular one-shot at a local Safeway, so DC is at least trying to get them to mainstream retailers.

Well, that’s SOME comfort. It sure isn’t in the Safeway stores out here, though.

With reference to that Green Lantern volume, I think both Marvel and DC should be publishing and aggressively marketing books like that but as pocket-book size digests – like the DC Blue Ribbon digests of yore – to make them similar to the manga-type books that seem so popular. They can be filled with reprint stories from the 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond, and, possibly printed on somewhat lower quality paper to ensure that they are reasonably priced (i.e. much less than $10, more like the $5 range). And they should be available in Costco, Walmart, bookstores, supermarkets, etc., where both kids and parents can see them.
By the way Greg, hope you and Julie (and Katrina) are feeling better…

Thanks for a great article. Digest idea sounds great.
Part of me is starting to think that DC and Marvel DONt want more readers, maybe because of possible controversy like u mentioned.

David Scholes

May 23, 2011 at 3:58 am

It’s certainly a great time to be a Thor fan just now.

Thing is it didn’t seem so long ago that it wasn’t such a great time. Die hard Thor fans on sights like Alvaro’s comics Thor Message Board were grumbling about the lack of respect Marvel were showing their hero.

But times change.

As an Aussie science fiction writer:
http://www.goldenvisionsmagazine.biz/AlienHunter.html
I’ve written some Thor fan fiction. Scroll down below my author profile to see over 40 stories:
http://www.fanfiction.net/u/1276881/David_Scholes

Another great article!

Scholastic, at least, is getting Thor out there. Our school just had an elementary book fair and there was a Thor graphic novel on the table. It had the movie cover, but I think it was actually a collection of stories from the Marvel Adventures line. I only had a moment, so I just confirmed it was a graphic novel and didn’t bother checking out the stories. Have no idea how well it was selling.

Have seen both DC’s Green Lantern and Marvel’s Captain America magazine at Wal-Mart, but I wasn’t going to pay $10 for either. Also they were hidden behind the tatoo magazines. Not sure a casual looker would even spot them.

Excellent article, Greg. We probably all know at least a dozen people who will watch any superhero movie that comes out, but refuse to even consider reading a comic. Or, if they do, it’s something like buying Watchmen, and then once they finish it or put it down in frustration, they forget about comics once the buzz about the movies wears off.

I actually saw comic books in a newsstand at the Port Authority in NYC last weekend, and it absolutely blew my mind. When I was a kid I used to buy all my comics at the supermarket or from pharmacies/newsstands. I haven’t seen a comic in any of these locations in 15 years. They’re such great, neutral places for people to find comics while shopping, that it boggles the mind that comics aren’t being sold there. I’m sure a place like Wal-Mart could make a killing off a book similar to the GL one you posted.

[...] Sunday's Test Case | Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources A real, honest-to-God sampler produced to tie in with the movie. And whatever you may think of Ms. Handler or Ms. Paltrow, those books are moving right now, so that's some pretty solid display space for a Marvel comic. Turn the baggie . [...]

Tom Fitzpatrick

May 23, 2011 at 6:24 am

Just wondering, when was the last time anyone saw a movie adaptation comic?
Not a tie-in.

I can’t recall any Marvel movies having a comic that’s a movie adaptation.

I do remember DC doing some of the four Batman movies in the 90′s, but did they do any of the Nolan movies?

Govt contractor taking time off from the job

May 23, 2011 at 6:38 am

First, haven’t check the whole comments section so this may have already been stated.

To Marvel’s credit, it doesn’t appear from the article pic that the movie tie-in/lead-in comics pack was a marvel marketing decision, at least solely. From appearances (and nothing else) it looks as if that pack may have been constructed by and employee and/or (not likely)managment decision at that individual store. See the 3.79 cover price as an example for that. Comparing to floppy prices at comic shops and boo stores who still have comic stands, that is a ridiculously low price for three comics in the market us commentors are accustomed to. Of course I could be wrong on that, not working in retail at this time. But I have sweated out many previous years in my life in the retail mines and am accustomed to managers taking items they would like to promote (such as these three comics) and discounting them to enable a better hustle/sell towards new potential customers. Maybe I’m completly off base here, just wanted to throw my thoughts into this packaging effort, it may not be a decision to criticize or praise the Marvel/DC comics-power-structure on,

Have a good day you great CSBG team.

Actually, I found the Green Lantern Super Spectaular in the local Barnes and Noble, and I’m relatively sure it might be on the shelf in Wal-Mart.

Great article. Its always interesting getting opinions on comics from people who dont read them all the time.

The issue with the nudity was quite interesting. My wife was looking through some of my comics the other day for some inspiration for a college course she is doing and she was shocked at some of the female outfits the provacative poses (most of the comics she was looking at were Marvel). This was the first thing she really noticed and thought it was really inappropriate. She is not exactly negative towards comics either, she loves some of the superhero movies and I got her to read Scott Pilgrim and she loved it.

I think this would be a genuine concern for parents looking to buy a comic for their kids.

You can pick the GL one up at Toys R Us. Surprisingly many stores are starting to have a kid friendly rack of comics connected to the hot properties. Other than that, I whole-heartedly agree. DC needs to penetrate better with these kinds of titles, and Marvel needs to start thinking of penetrating with the right issues now since they can get them out there. Something other than SuperHero Squad, Marvel Adventures, and random all ages issues that just plop you in the middle of storylines and confuse new interested readers.

Like others above, I’ve seen that GL sampler at both my local Barnes & Noble and my local grocery store. Flipped through it and thought it was a decent package for new readers. That was good. I saw it at my LCS too, where they ordered one copy and considered it repetitive product.

FYI, there are Thor and Cap sampler books almost exactly like the GL one at my B&N too. Tons of neat stuff crammed in those. I’d compare the GL book to those instead of a packet of single issues.

Back when the first X-Men film came out, some of the cinemas in the UK handed out free copies of a movie adaptation comic, in the card-cover US-size style typical of reprinted US comics at the time. Seems like this would be a great thing to do for ongoing titles.

The Point One initiative is almost tailor-made for this purpose, but all they did was put them in comic shops where only comic fans go. Rather than doing them all at once, the Point Ones should have been launched alongside their counterpart films. Make them shorter or flimsier to keep costs down if you have to, but give them out free, at the cinema.

Look, the sad truth of the matter is that these sample comics are aimed at only 2 types of “new” readers.

1. Existing older teen and adult comic book readers who are not currently reading/buying those books on a regular monthly bases. This is why they don’t bother to explain who the characters are or explain what is going on in the comics. They are preaching to the converted and the lapse converts. Remember Stan Lee’s mantra “Every comic is someone’s first comic”.

2. New older teen and adult non comic book readers. This is why both of the Marvel sample books were boring talking heads (and in the case of the CAP book, no costumes until the last page).

VERY interesting article. DC got the format right, Marvel got the distribution right. But neither one scored a bullseye. I am thinking though that Marvel was probably testing the waters with this effort and DC probably has that sampler available in other locations as well. (as noted by some of the comments above)

I offer these suggestions as well:

Advertise. FCBD is a wonderful event but it needs more than just a few posters on the comic book shop to lead people into the stores. It needs media coverage, outdoor, radio and ambient advertising. Not all advertising needs to be expensive. If all the comic book stores in one city worked together, they could make FCBD the event it needs to be by pooling their resources.

Know how launches for like GTA, HALO and even the new iWhateverMac products garner loooong lines? Well, FCBD needs to be hyped up more. Some countries report getting lines like these. It CAN be done.

And here’s a simpler solution, It has been all these years. Go retro. Go to drugstores, convenience stores, gas stations and even newsstands. In their heyday, comics were available in ALL these places. The gas stations I frequent still carry Archie comics.

Yes, retro. With some updated methods though. This article shows that should be two kinds of distributions. Comic Book stores carry all the regular books. While these shops carry the books (like the samplers) that would lead new readers INTO comic book stores.

It’s not rocket science.

You know what’s really weird though? Marvel has done ZERO to promote this so-called new marketing initiative. Did anyone have any idea that you could buy 3 of their comics at Costco for $3.75? Marvel hasn’t said a word about it, its like they’re very quietly trying to experiment with this.

But i like the point at the beginning of the article that suggests that Marvel and DC have their comics available in the lobby of movie theaters so people who watch the movie can try them out. I mean, maybe I’m being cynical and its not as easy as it sounds but SERIOUSLY, why arent Marvel and DC doing this?! A BILLION people went to see the Dark Knight, could you imagine how many batman comics would’ve sold if DC had a couple of Bat books in the lobby of movie theaters waiting for people?

I just saw the Green Lantern magazine a Barnes and Nobles. Fantastic.

Insightful article, but unfortunately that Marvel sampler pack was, as a previous commentator, not Marvel-dictated. I’m guessing a well-meaning Costco staff member put that together with the concern of moving product, not hooking readers to become lifetime fans. That pack is cheaper for three comics than any of those would be alone, and they’re all the newest issues of those series.

I do agree that a lot more could be done, but from my experience in and around the comic industry and with the people I know in comics and in retail, there are a lot of weak links in the chain of getting this stuff accomplished. Take, for instance, a complaint that the all-ages magazine editions of Marvel comics are often tucked away behind tattoo mags or otherwise hidden. Marvel can bust its butt to get these magazines into grocery stores, but I know my local Kroger’s magazine section is organized by high school employees, not by commands from on high. Marvel, as a company, has little influence on where these end up in magazine racks, and they won’t be able to compete for check-out space with trashy gossip mags.

At mass market book stores like Borders and Barnes & Noble, publishers have to pay for table space if they want to be featured in key places around the store, and that’s still swayed by buyer preference. While I knew a buyer at B&N Union Square in New York who loved comics, a lot of stores do not have specialists. And I have to say that I shudder every time I pass a comic rack at any book store near me because the floppies are usually in horrible condition, which does not encourage purchases.

The digest suggestion is an interesting one, but it’s not like Marvel hasn’t been active in that realm for years. Going back to the Tsunami imprint (which spawned Runaways if nothing else!), Marvel has been marketing all-ages material in smaller packages to better attract fans and parents weary of new mediums and heftier price tags. Unfortunately, a lot of them never sold better because, shockingly, kids are not stupid. If an eleven-year-old wants manga, she is going to find actual manga, not be tricked by a similar size. And there is always an awful push and pull with the direct market. All-ages books like Tiny Titans, Thor the Mighty Avenger, and Paul Tobin’s Spider-Man are some of the best books I have read in my lifetime, but they don’t sell in the direct market so publishers can’t continue to take a loss on them just to try to beef out trades that may not sell any better.

On the reverse side, even as a liberal adult, I’m sometimes perturbed by what kind of content amounts to “A” or even “T” nowadays. I understand that times change, but it feels almost weekly that I am shocked by what makes it into a book. In New Avengers, a Nazi’s head exploded into a cloud of blood from a sniper shot. Jessica Drew is unnecessarily naked in the Avengers point one issue. E’ryone is gettin’ some all the time. And then there was the Black Hand issue of Green Lantern that I still can’t get over. A lot of fans eat this stuff up and it helps to move product this existing group, but it pushes these books further from mass appeal with each near-nip-slip and necrophilic comment. My favorite example is the completely capable Emma Frost series that came out in digest form, was geared toward a slightly younger audience of women, and had… Greg Horn covers. Push and pull. I’ll also say that there is only so much an editor can predict about how an artist will work. While it’s easy to decry Marvel and DC for their portrayal of women or for unnecessary violence, I’ve heard no small number of cases where the artist has a bit of fun or adds elements to the final work that cause controversy. When a major artist submits an overly cheesecake woman or a gory stabbing, an editor has only so much control over what can be changed while considering deadlines, the working relationship with the artist, input from other departments, and a proven track record that previous instances from this artist sold really ridiculously well. For every one person online condemning Greg Land or Rob Liefield, there are ten more actually buying their books every week.

As for the Green Lantern sampler, I really have to contend that it works in a vacuum but not as a hook. My own growing distaste for Johns aside, the current GL book is impenetrable to new fans. This sampler is a fantastic line-up for someone looking for a taste of what’s offered, but if this potential fan were to pick up the current issue of GL (if she could figure out which of the three books to read), she would be knee-deep in a rainbow explosion of continuity and fan service. Reading just two of the three books has left me, a long-time reader, decently out of the loop as well. The outlook for the rest of the summer, prime movie crossover time, is bleak: more cross-over, alternate reality nonsense, a cross-over aftermath special, and potential reboot. This is not how you hook new fans.

I think Invincible Iron Man is still the best example of launching a book near a movie with enough elements of the film and the comic to draw attention from both crowds. While I think the new Thor book will be awesome, I agree that it’s not accessible like it could easily have been if the Galactus arc had been pushed back in favor of something more… Norse. I have high hopes for the new Captain America book to walk the same balance Iron Man did. The issue remains that the industry can’t continually reboot to cater to new fans. Readers who want to take the plunge will need to accept that there is continuity on which to catch up. That’s one of the reasons I respect the extra page Marvel dedicates to a recap, even as others complain that it’s a waste of space. As an adamant reader of some 50+ books a month, it’s nice to have a reminder of where we left off.

I feel there is something to be said for pushing comic shops instead of just the comics themselves. I vaguely remember buying some issues of X-Men and other comics in CVS and other stores when I was little, spurred on by the awesome animated shows of the nineties, but I never had a lull period after they faded out because, around the age of 8, I asked my parents to take me to the nearest comic shop. Over a decade later, I STILL shop there. I go to college in another state and I have my comics shipped to me because I’ve been loyal for so long. My shop has admittedly hokey commercials that run in my area, and a shop a little farther from me has been doing pre-movie commercials in theaters for years. These things worked on me from a young age without comic reading parents or relatives.

It’s only so much of an accomplishment to get someone to read a sample pack of years-old comics at a Wal-Mart. A focus on the retailers that make this business, a way of drawing attention to local shops, seems like a more sound way to cultivate returning fans. Run a Diamond store locator ad in the back of your samples, or even before your movie. Don’t pretend we’ll beat out US Weekly or Twilight for space at non-comic shops. Prepare for upcoming films in a way that won’t alienate us longtime fans or newbies. None of us have easy, sound answers and we all have critiques, but I think it’s worth it to remember that Marvel and DC have only so much control on non-direct markets and a real goal should be to draw potential new fans into our home field rather than continuously extending ourselves into theirs unsuccessfully.

I think “Govt contractor taking time off from the job” already covered this but I wanted to bring it up too, there’s a good chance that Marvel had nothing to do w/ the comics in those packs. I know that 3rd party companies
often will buy up stacks of [presumedly over-printed, unsold] comics from the publisher at a deep discount rate, and bundle them up for sale. Chances are pretty good this was the case w/ these comics.
Although, it doesn’t explaine why the 3rd party couldn’t do a better job of it.

(As if I didn’t post enough with the last comment)

Going retro would be viable only if these places of distribution were interested. The reason comics faded from newsstands and the like was because it became, for these businesses, more profitable to use that space for other items. A place like a gas station can put novelty lighters on a rack, not need to update every week, and have a perennial seller. That was the biggest issue — why purchase a product that needs to be updated and lose money on throwing out older issues when you can replace the space with products that have months or even a year of shelf time?

DC and Marvel are not looking down with disgust at having spinner racks in grocery stores, gas stations, and the like — these businesses are not interested in working with Marvel and DC any longer. It’s the issue of different links in the chain and Marvel and DC shouldering blame.

The idea of movie comics is really intriguing. Again, this would be an awesome place to advertise and encourage seeking out local stores. I remember hand-outs at one of the Spider-Man films, but not since. I imagine it’s costly, but you would think that DC would always have had the financial backing and that Marvel should now be able to afford it. Something small but quality could be a great addition to their marketing push.

I’ve seen hat Green Lantern sampler at EVERY grocery store in my town. It’s amazing. Must be the most readily available comic where I live since back in the 90s when grocery stores had EVERY Marvel and DC book.

@Tom Fitzpatrick
IDW did a adaptation of the new Star Trek movie recently. 6 issues and than a TPB.
No ideas of how well it sells outside of Comic Shops, but it’s still beiing done.
When I think closer about it, IDW also did the first two Transformer movie-adaptations and is now moving on to no.3.
And they do prequels to those movies also.
So these things excict, if you just look away from Marvel&DC for a second…

But I guess you were thinking about an adaptation of an Marvel/DC movie, then I’ve got nothing recent as well.

Marvel should get Whedon to write, or atleast co-write a prequel to Avengers as a straight to TPB/HC and it will sell like crazy (no matter who the artist is) Maybe they should give David Messina (IDW’s Star Trek guy) an offer he can’t refuse…
(For the record, Messina is a FAST artist, John Byrne-speed, whose lifebread is doing likeness.) But doing such a thing seems to reasonable for either Marvel or DC, so don’t count on it.

I’d bet dollars to donuts that the Marvel three-pack wasn’t an actual Marvel movie tie-in book. They did have the Captain America digital download tie-in and a Burger King Thor tie-in.

They also have the following coming up in July:

http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/joshw24/news/?a=35108

My guess is – as you indirectly suggested – that Marvel & DC mostly hire young comics enthusiasts (professional or not) and move them up through the ranks, when they should hire ‘outside’ experienced marketing pros and school them on comics. Having a fresh perspective on comics and the experience of communicating with the market (distributors & audience) is a perfect recipe for successfully leveraging the movie releases for bringing in new readers.

Comic writers and Comic Book Shops need to seriously step their game up if they want new readers.

Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Matt Fraction, and most of the other top writers seem to be oblivious to the fact that their comics are inaccessible to people who haven’t been reading comics for 10+ years. Long time comic book readers hated Jeph Loeb’s Red Hulk, but that is the kind of book that is going to bring in new readers. Jeff Parker improved the book, but made sure to keep it accessible like Loeb’s book. The book should have been sold in movie theaters, but it never was.

There should be more comic book shops in plazas where there are movie theaters. There are many movie theaters that are in large and crowded plazas. If a person leaves Thor and is thinking about reading a Thor comic, they are out of luck. But if there is a comic shop right in the same plaza, the moviegoers are more likely to enter the store and buy something.

They may not only buy a Thor comic, they may buy other comics as well. This would help invigorate the industry. I used to go to a comic shop that was only 5 minutes from my house. Now the closest comic shop is in the next city, and is hidden behind a huge billboard and 100 foot trees.

Comic shops need to take risks by moving into busy and crowded plazas near movie theaters. If a comic shop had just opened next to a movie theater a month ago, they would do good business this summer. People would walk from the theater into the shops after Thor, Priest, X-Men, Green Lantern, Captain America, Cowboys & Aliens, Conan 3D, and Judge Dredd.

Gene Ray's Cosmic Cube

May 23, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I’d like to point out the disparity between the Dark Knight numbers and the actual comic sales are beyond just different. They’re comically (ha-ha) and bizarrely skewed. It really indicates to me that there really not much that can be done to promote comics, as their format and subject matter is completely worn out.

Maybe I’m dense, but why don’t Marvel and DC, being owned by two of the biggest entertainment companies around, print more copies of the paperbacks of more critically-acclaimed or classic stories and put those in Costco, Wal-Mart, etc? Wal-Mart has a huge (Frito-Lay?) display with the Green Lantern all over it, and we all know they’ll have a similar but smaller display when the DVD comes out; why not something similar with comics right now? Why was there a random grab-bag of recent comics at Costco; why not, say, the giant Walt Simonson hardcover? (I know it’s out of my price range, but Costco’s discount probably would have made it more reasonable.)

Both companies seem excited to push their characters on the wider world, but still a bit ashamed that these characters appear in comic books.

I’d bet dollars to donuts that the Marvel three-pack wasn’t an actual Marvel movie tie-in book.

and…

…unfortunately that Marvel sampler pack was, as a previous commentator said, not Marvel-dictated. I’m guessing a well-meaning Costco staff member put that together with the concern of moving product, not hooking readers to become lifetime fans.

I don’t think so. It clearly says next to the barcode, “Not to be sold as a single unit.” It was meant to be part of SOME three-pack. Likewise, why do a movie cover on Thor and plug the upcoming Cap movie on the Captain America cover if you’re NOT trying to get some kind of a bounce off the movies?

I’d like to point out the disparity between the Dark Knight numbers and the actual comic sales are beyond just different. They’re comically (ha-ha) and bizarrely skewed. It really indicates to me that there really not much that can be done to promote comics, as their format and subject matter is completely worn out.

A HUGE part of Dark Knight’s numbers had to do with bandwagon jumpers intrigued by Heath Ledger’s death and the chance to see his last performance more than the actual quality of the movie. Those fans would have no interest in reading a Batman book, since you can’t insert a Heath Ledger performance inside one. So it’s not a fair example.

Yeah but also the Dark Knight had an INSANE amount of good buzz and word of mouth surrounding it. Not only that but i’m willing to bet a good 50% of the people that saw it, went to see it a second and third time as well. Everyone i talk to has seen it at least twice.

The thing is, if kids wanted to get into comics they would take the effort to find out the past backstories for themselves, fans usually start off young watching cartoons then pick up the comics habit in their teens (or back in the day, they would perhaps have bought a comic at a newstand or convenience store) .

What you need to see are cheap trade editions, especially of origins and classic tales.
The floppy editions won’t seem worth the price for new readers. They won’t likely want to start reading current releases in the middle of story arcs anyway untill they feel they have caught up continuity wise (if they find they’re interested enough that is).

John Trumbull

May 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Nailed it, Greg.

“A HUGE part of Dark Knight’s numbers had to do with bandwagon jumpers intrigued by Heath Ledger’s death and the chance to see his last performance more than the actual quality of the movie.”

Wrong!! In fact the first thing I thought about upon hearing his death was that it would negatively impact the movie. Regarding the success of the Dark Knight and possible increased comic sales, I have never seen anything so utterly stupid as picking that time, as if any time is good, to remove Batman from his own books. “Hey Mom, you bought me the wrong comic. There’s a fake Batman in it.” Another point not mentioned is that arcs themselves are the biggest hurdle to attracting new readers. Totally inaccessable, and It’s no coincidence that when arcs took preeminence, sales dropped. I personally have given up trying to attract people to comics. It just doesn’t happen.

I read comics, but not much Marvel or DC. They seem like such circus events, and not human-level stories so much, where I connect with characters, and I feel like I am in a rich world with visceral emotions. The independent publishers provide much greater variety of story, and that may be a better avenue for getting folks into comics. That is how I got in, and periodically I pick up what seems to be a more intriguing or ‘special’ issue from Marvel or DC. You may also consider the fact that at least half of ‘comic’ movies are not DC or Marvel, but they are also not so obviously ‘comic’ movies.

I think one of the main reasons that comics aren’t about to enter the mainstream is that a) Single issues no longer offer a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end in one issue and b) trade paperbacks WITH complete stories are too expensive for most casual readers to make an investment. (For that matter, single issues are too expensive to get me to spend my spare change from grocery shopping on, for example).

Also, I think America’s intelligence level is slowly decreasing to the point where it is easy to watch and digest a two-hour movie but considerably more difficult to actually read and think about a book (comic- or otherwise).

Wrong!! In fact the first thing I thought about upon hearing his death was that it would negatively impact the movie.

If that’s the first thing you thought, then you thought wrong. You apparently haven’t studied the impact previous entertainer’s deaths have had on their posthumously released product.

Brandon Lee’s Crow, Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon, James Dean, Selena’s music, Tupac and Biggie’s posthumous albums, death has an effect of boosting sales on posthumously released product, especially when you’re young and die in your prime.

Greg, last I checked you don’t work in marketing or have a degree in marketing.

Also, last I looked, Marvel and DC both employ people whose sole job description is marketing, presumably people with some type of supposed qualification in marketing.

Please explain how you are so much better at their jobs than they are. What exactly do they do all day?

Actually here in NYC, the theater I went to see Thor initially had the FCBD Thor/Captain America to give to patrons on the Premiere Day. That book does a much better job to ‘initiate’ new readers to the characters than any of the ones listed here AND is a pretty good one off adventure…

The problem is when these go into the shops to find this book a) Thor The Mighty Avenger is cancelled and b) Outside of the Gurhiru Cap that just past, none of the Captain America issues are close to this style. Therefore it is incumbent on the employees of the shop to have some knowledge of the books to help these customers out.

That’s the problem with comic book universes, eventually all of them get to a point that it gets complicated to someone new to the party….

“I don’t think so. It clearly says next to the barcode, “Not to be sold as a single unit.” It was meant to be part of SOME three-pack. Likewise, why do a movie cover on Thor and plug the upcoming Cap movie on the Captain America cover if you’re NOT trying to get some kind of a bounce off the movies?”

The barcode thing is true, and puzzling, but you should remember that these covers are both available at local comic shops as well, and are not specific to some sort of non-direct market push. Regardless, I still feel like these sorts of arguments rarely take into account additional factors outside of editorial decisions or even the marketing team. If we tried to implement half of the suggestions here we’d end up with a completely different industry failing in all new sorts of ways.

Well, Chris N, I do have a degree in marketing and have been working in sales for over a decade, and I completely agree with what Greg’s saying. Just because Marvel and DC have marketing people doesn’t mean everything they do is right, or that they’re doing everything they can do.

Also, by your logic I would not be qualified to say that a meal I ate at a restaurant tasted bad because I’m not a professional chef. You don’t need to be a certain thing to have a valid opinion on said thing.

Chris N. – what Mr. Hatcher is saying isn’t some advanced marketing technique – it’s COMMON SENSE. Fortunately you don’t need a degree for that. Too many times the smartest people in the room are the ones making the biggest mistakes because they’re overthinking things. The best advice I got from business school – the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple Stupid). And yes, I have a marketing degree and have marketed my own business for the last 14 years.

Regardless, I still feel like these sorts of arguments rarely take into account additional factors outside of editorial decisions or even the marketing team. If we tried to implement half of the suggestions here we’d end up with a completely different industry failing in all new sorts of ways.

You may well be right. Certainly, there’s all sorts of other factors at work here. But Marvel and DC have been failing spectacularly in THIS particular way since at least 1989 when the Michael Keaton Batman came out. They keep trying to compete with other comics for the FAN’s dollar without ever really bothering to try and branch out and get a wider READERSHIP’s dollar as well. It’s as though they’ve assumed that hardcore fans and casual readers are so incompatible that there’s no use trying to do something that appeals to both, and then once they’ve arrived at this false premise they decide that rather than go after the larger group of all those potential new readers, they will doggedly retreat further and further into a fan-service bubble, betting the farm on the steadily-shrinking base of hardcore fans to support them.

It baffles me. Especially since today one is part of Warner and the other is part of Disney. Both of those companies have been selling movie-related products to children longer than I’ve been alive. Why isn’t any of that expertise ever loaned out to the comics division during what has to be the single largest swell of popularity for superheroes since…. well, EVER? Thor’s the #1 movie in the country. Smallville just wrapped ten years of telling Superman stories that also featured the JLA, the JSA, the Legion, and Booster Gold and Blue Beetle. Young Justice and The Brave and the Bold are doing well — in fact, I think Warner’s had some kind of DC property going in animation since the first Batman series from Bruce Timm.

Measure that potential for new readers against the last twenty years of a shriveling superhero comic sales landscape supplied by publishers that seem content simply to cater to a massively over-specialized hobbyist audience. I honestly just don’t get it. When they do try to reach out, it’s some sort of weak-assed effort like the Marvel 3-pack I mentioned in the column. They clearly have the deep-pocket corporate resources to do it right, but they don’t. You don’t need a degree to wonder why that is.

Greg, I really can understand your arguments here but it really isn’t THAT simple most of the time. Movies != Comics. Disney has allways struggled to sell comics in the US, nowadays most Disney Comic stuff is produced here in europe, and read her as well. I guess Micky Mouse as a comic is much more successfull in germany then in the US.

Mainstream Marvel AND DC Comics need you to either know beforehand what you are getting into or to read up on stuff. The Thor book is a great example. It IS explained who the Surfer is and what his “job” is. But it also is set in the current Marvel Universum so there are some things that are not explained.

Marvel has some Kid friendly stuff out there and Movie Tie ins as well, just not in a form that would apply to Kids and Movie fans.

Travis Pelkie

May 24, 2011 at 3:46 am

Jazzbo, Harpo, Chris N IS saying that Greg, without formal training in marketing, has better ideas on the topic than the people that Marvel and DC have hired. He’s saying, with a bit of sarcasm, that the Marvel and DC people are blowing it, and “casual observer” Greg is doing better. The “please explain” bit wasn’t, I don’t think, meant as a knock at Greg.

To the people who think that this Marvel 3 pack was something a Costco employee put together — on this computer screen, I can’t read it, but when I looked before, I believe that the Thor one says in the “Marvel” box “Movie 3-pack”. And I believe that Cap issue has printed on it the “not for resale” blah blah on it. I’d say those indicate that it was a Marvel thing. Why they chose such a crappy bag….

And why would a Costco just randomly happen to have 3 comics (that are new) that need to be discounted quickly, and those 3 comics all tie into the 3 Marvel movies coming out soon?

re: comics in movie theaters — that’s something I think the LCS have to do, probably teaming up together, have a pile of free Thor (or whatever) comics that are good intro comics, along with a photocopied ad for the store(s), probably with a % off coupon, or something. If I get something free, and a coupon for something else free or cheap, I’ll go for it. I think a lot of people will. But I don’t think the comic companies (or their parent companies) care enough to do this themselves.

re: Barnes and Noble are, according to Bleeding Cool, looking into expanding their new comics sections (floppies) by quite a bit, which will hopefully help people to find comics, especially areas with no comics stores.

This proposed takeover, where the … Direct TV? people want B&N for the Nook might affect that, though.

Travis Pelkie

May 24, 2011 at 4:20 am

Oh, and I have out from the library 2 volumes of XMen First Class trades that are newer that feature Jeff Parker’s favorite stories from that series. Obviously, even though it took me a bit to figure it out, they’re out for the movie. But it’s interesting that they ARE collecting these stories, in a volume that presumably is fairly new reader friendly, and probably fairly cheap (I don’t have them right here, so I’m not sure what cover price is.

If they get these books (which are the smaller dimensions, sort of digest size) into big box stores and so forth, that could be a good intro for readers.

Travis Pelkie

May 24, 2011 at 4:28 am

And dammit, I meant to say this before. I believe that there was a Batman Begins movie adaptation, because I’ve seen at one library that I go to a Batman Begins trade of a movie adaptation and more. There’s also a trade of Superman Returns prequels, and maybe one of a movie adaptation. I think they did these as floppies, too. Dunno if they did anything after, though.

Isn’t Costco something that tries to buy stuff as cheap as possible? Stuff that sits somewhere and does nothing? I would guess that Costco asked Marvel if they could provide some surplus comics and that Costco put them together, but there are ways to find that out.

I would guess that Costco asked Marvel if they could provide some surplus comics and that Costco put them together, but there are ways to find that out.

The easiest way is to simply look at the barcode. The Thor issue says “Marvel 3-pack” and “Newsstand.” The Captain America issue says “Not for sale as a single unit.” So does the X-Men issue. The GCD won’t let me link to the images but those particular variants are catalogued there. There’s simply no way that Marvel didn’t ASSEMBLE this package and seal it with those specific covers facing outward in hopes of attracting fans of the movies.

Costco may have dropped the price down. But I doubt it. They generally don’t knock off much of the price for books or DVDs.

@immel:

“Isn’t Costco something that tries to buy stuff as cheap as possible? Stuff that sits somewhere and does nothing? I would guess that Costco asked Marvel if they could provide some surplus comics and that Costco put them together, but there are ways to find that out.”

That is what they want customers to believe, but they sell jewelry at higher prices than some not-so-big jewelry stores. You think you are getting stuff on the cheap, and often you are, but really it is just another market to sell stuff, however it gets in the store.

I’m 17, and if it hadn’t been for my dad collecting comics, I’d never have read them. They’re so bogged down in history and back story that unless you’ve read a majority of the stuff it’s hard to get into. I don’t think .1 was actually a great jumping off point for readers, and even new series like Spider-girl and FF rely on the reader having at least a basic knowledge of previous goings on.

What would be good is if they published really great one-shots, then filled in some back story in-between them, with short bits of writing. Maybe with a list of major villains or whatever in the back? What would be EVEN better for people who have been reading for a while, but not long enough to have loads of issues is if marvel actually published trades of stories that went in order and numbered them so people could casually read them.

Great article, btw.

Here’s a question that I don’t think enough people bother to ask:

Why do we care so much about whether or not other people read comics too? I used to be an evangelist for the comic reading hobby, both among adults and kids, but I started wondering why recently. What’s behind it? Why do we care?

Travis – I see it now that you pointed it out. I read Chris N’s statement wrong. My bad. It’s a pet peeve of mine when people insinuate that unless you do whatever the topic is (write, act, direct movies) you can’t comment on whether it’s good or not. But that’s not what Chris N was doing here, so I apologize for misinterpreting it.

Why do we care so much about whether or not other people read comics too? I used to be an evangelist for the comic reading hobby, both among adults and kids, but I started wondering why recently. What’s behind it? Why do we care?

I can’t speak for anyone else. But for me it ‘s this:

Comics produced for a GENERAL audience tend to have a higher level of craft involved than those that cater to hardcore fans. I believe that when superhero comics were a MASS medium, rather than a specialty, hobbyist thing, that the overall quality of storytelling was higher. Creators worked at it a little harder. It’s the difference between the hugely popular, easy-to-get-into movie versions of Thor and Iron Man and the continuity-heavy, “I don’t get it” versions of the comics.

The trouble is that everyone reads that as meaning we should only have the Marvel Adventures versions or something. I honestly think that it’s possible to have comics that appeal to BOTH demographics but for whatever reason, both fans and creators have created this false, binary idea that it must be one or the other.

I’ve loved superhero comics since I was seven years old. I can say with an absolutely straight face that they changed my life. It was something magic. I hate the idea that that experience is less and less available now to young people because Marvel and DC are so caught up in placating their adult-fan audience.

I know a large part of the reason I care whether other people read comics is simply for the survival of the genre. The current comic reading audience keeps shrinking. If new readers don’t come in, eventually it could get to the point where it just isn’t economically viable anymore for these companies to produce comics. That might be a long shot, but it’s still a possibility. I’m sure at one point people thought it was a long shot that radio dramas would ever go away.

It’s weird to see Americans talk about “getting comics into non-comic shops”. Here in Canada there is a robust GN/collected edition section in every bookstore and even some high profile titles sold at HMV.

@Jazzbo – took the words right out of my mouth.

I don’t go to my LCS anymore. Too expensive and a little creepy. I get my trades online or at Barnes and Noble. Just there this past weekend. They had an endcap covered with Green Lantern books and merchandise. They also had an endcap with Thor books. I picked up the second Thor The Mighty Avenger trade. Then down by the magazines there is a display of singles that had been Marvel only, was now covered in DC books. I picked up the latest Batman Brave and the Bold. The rest were mostly Bat books. I guess Diamond is stepping it up with B&N.

“The trouble is that everyone reads that as meaning we should only have the Marvel Adventures versions or something. I honestly think that it’s possible to have comics that appeal to BOTH demographics but for whatever reason, both fans and creators have created this false, binary idea that it must be one or the other.”

Exactly. Marvel Adventures is just the flip side of the same problem. The subtitle of that line might as well have been, “Stories that don’t matter!” Kids demand stories that matter. All kids want is to be taken seriously.

What if Marvel made two Iron Man movies simultaneously, one that had a lot of rape-’n'-torture and another that was all pie fights? Nobody would have gone to see either one, since they would have found it confusing and insulting to have to place them themselves in one category or the other.

Movie blockbusters are all PG-13 action-adventures because that’s the sweet spot that mature kids and fun-loving adults have in common. For the past twenty years, almost no comics have been aimed at that sweet spot. Everything is either rated PG or R. Even Invincible has to rip his enemy’s organs out, fer chrissakes, just to prove he’s serious. So sad.

Matt Bird: Where exactly are the rape/torure issues of Iron Man? I think the current Iron Man series is kind of close in tone to the movie. Then again, I think the talk of the horrible things in modern comics pretty hysterical, and that there’s tons of comics in the American market on about the same rating level as that Iron Man movie.

This is a terrific article, and it illustrates exactly what’s wrong with the Big 2 these days. For ever step they get right (Marvel comics in Costco, a great sampler from DC) they get at least one very big thing wrong (Marvel’s comics not new-reader friendly, the GL sampler only available in comic shops).

If the marketplace is all about survival of the fittest, then I have little hope for Marvel and DC comics. Their characters will survive and thrive in other media, but the pamphlet publishers just can’t seem to get anything right.

“Comics produced for a GENERAL audience tend to have a higher level of craft involved than those that cater to hardcore fans. I believe that when superhero comics were a MASS medium, rather than a specialty, hobbyist thing, that the overall quality of storytelling was higher. Creators worked at it a little harder. It’s the difference between the hugely popular, easy-to-get-into movie versions of Thor and Iron Man and the continuity-heavy, “I don’t get it” versions of the comics.

I defy you to back this up anyway but with your own opinion. The “continuity” in “continuity-heavy” comes just as often from the decades when comics were for “general” audiences as from the last twenty years (if not much, much more). 90% of what Johns draws on for his stories was seeded in the 40s through the 60s, when comics were selling at newsstands. And though it’s much more bizarre, it’s the same for Morrison, and you could make similar arguments for Claremont’s X-Men legacy and more. I also don’t think it’s even slightly fair to say that creators don’t “work as hard” today as they did decades ago.

I’m also confused by your assertion that the difference between comic story lines and the movies has to do with mass market comic appeal and creator effort. The reasons the movies are easy to get into is because they’re stand alone movies with the potential for two, three more stories tops. There have been 900 issues of Action Comics. Ignoring the thousands of other Superman appearances, do you see a disparity between storytelling challenges when a new issue and a new story is expected every month rather than once or twice every few years? The struggle between honoring what’s been done and keeping things fresh and accessible?

“The trouble is that everyone reads that as meaning we should only have the Marvel Adventures versions or something. I honestly think that it’s possible to have comics that appeal to BOTH demographics but for whatever reason, both fans and creators have created this false, binary idea that it must be one or the other.”

I won’t repeat myself, but the last few lines of my reply stand against this statement too. Fans complain if changes are made, fans complain if nothing changes, and fans complain if stories are rehashed. Prices of printing and shipping comics have risen, in part because fewer comics are purchased. Since prices have risen, fans are more discerning in their purchases. If a book seems not to contribute to ongoing stories or not to directly and permanently affect favorite characters, fans are less likely to buy it. Vicious cycle.

Marvel and DC, as well as smaller companies, are eager to make books that we want to buy, but if we only buy books with Blackest Night spread across the top and ignore everything not tied into it, it’s clear which books to cancel when it comes time to assess the market. Batman Inc., which I love, is absolutely mired in continuity and takes multiple reads from even diehard fans, but it sells like wildfire because of the passion put in by Morrison and his team of artists. R.E.B.E.L.S. drew on continuity to tell a fresh story that rewarded prior knowledge but didn’t require it, and it got axed because fans weren’t biting.

We have taught the Big Two, over the last decade especially, that we LOVE continuity and want to see it in every book or we won’t buy it. Sales clearly reinforce this. Where’s the sweet spot between accessibility and keeping up with the past decades? Do you think it really exists in a sustainable way?

The Ultimate books say otherwise. We can blame mediocre creative teams late in the various books’ histories, but the truth is that the Ultimate Line outlived its accessibility just like any book is fated to after a decade of existence. It’s very difficult to exact change on characters, the central tenant to storytelling in any medium, and still supply new stories every month. Movies don’t have the same challenge. The film version of Iron Man only needs to tell between three and five or so powerful, character-changing stories, and it has years to do it. Like it or not, continuity is a necessary part of sustaining comics on a monthly basis.

As far as why we need more people to read comics — I want more people to read comics for the same reason I want more people to listen to the bands I like and eat at the restaurants I love. I appreciate the hard work put in by the creators and I feel that the product is of value. I want to share that value and I hope that the creators enjoy the success they need to continue creating. I miss Doctor Voodoo and S.W.O.R.D. and Runaways and R.E.B.E.L.S. and…

That being said, and my various long comments aside, I don’t know if it always makes sense to try to equate interest in Thor the movie with any likelihood of interest in Thor the comic. Characters can traverse media all they like, but we’re not all inclined to do the same, even when we have an interest in different media.

Take, for instance, video game adaptations in comics. They sell poorly across the board. I love comics, I’m liberal with my spending on comics, and I really like a lot of video games. Regardless, I have no interest in the Halo comics, the InFamous comics, the Mass Effect comics, or any other adaptations. I’ve liked many of the creators involved, and there was a time when I had access to all of the Halo stuff for free, and I still didn’t care. I liked the games as games and I didn’t care to see them in my very favorite medium.

My best friend Mike and I see every “nerd” movie together, and he loved Thor, but he doesn’t want to read the comics. He likes The Umbrella Academy and a few other comics, he understands the medium, and he likes the Marvel characters, but he doesn’t want to read them even with access to my vast and free catalog. I love horror books and Hellboy comics, but I don’t suspect I’ll be reading the multitudinous prose Hellboy outings any time soon.

Crossover potential exists, certainly, but it’s not going to be a magic way to “save” comics. I am sure only a very small percentage of filmgoers walk away from these films not knowing they’re based on comics. I am sure also that these filmgoers understand that comic shops exist, and that Amazon and booksellers carry these books. What if they just don’t care?

I fell for comics because of cartoons, but I got deep a year or so before Morrison took over X-Men, at a time where many books were pretty dismal and the movie boom was still on the horizon. I shopped at a friendly and inclusive shop and I attribute much of my continued interest to that experience. I wish a climate existed that would allow for more shops in more areas, and that those shops were more like mine and much less like one that just closed recently in Ann Arbor, where the employees were in the back playing Street Fighter and rang me up on a computer with an anime boob mousepad. It would be nice to see more of a relationship between retailers and communities so that those who did have an interest felt comfortable exploring that.

I dont know why either Marvel or DC would push comics on move goers.

An average movie goer is NOT going to go pick up a comic right after he/she sees the movie. Like mentioned before the comic characters that are adapted are very different from their source material. When Watchmen came out, DC tried to push the sale of the graphic novel and stores like BN and Borders ended up with tons of them that nobody was buying. Comics just arent accessible to non fans. Its very very hard to jump into a monthly book these days. I just dont know how any company expects to change that.

Travis Pelkie

May 24, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Maybe some of your local bookstores didn’t sell Watchmen, Lee, but didn’t Watchmen sell like a million copies before the movie came out?

And then after….

Which might be the problem, too. These days, movies open and close quickly, and the first weekend determines the “success” of it. If you didn’t like the movie, why pay for the comics?

One thing I think is important to note is that (and Greg, you’ve talked about this plenty) people in general want access to big chunks of comics, movies, tv shows at a time. I’m guessing that TV DVDs make up more of the money that companies make from shows nowadays than the money they make from the ads during the shows. People buy seasons of TV shows, movie multi packs, GNs and trades, because they want a bigger story. And virtually all movies, all TV shows, all comics, are open for sequels/new seasons/new trades, because the companies want you to come back for more. The monthly comic exists mainly for the regular comics geek, and the trade is for people who like the medium (and the superhero genre), but aren’t into the monthly/weekly trip to the LCS (if they’ve got one).

I don’t think the medium of comics is dying yet, though. Between kids digging on manga, libraries aware of comics as “real” books, big book companies seeing the potential sales for GNs (like, say, GB Tran’s Vietnamerica), and so forth, the danger appears to me that the monthly superhero books might die off, but the medium of comics is as strong as it’s been.

Remember too, the medium, in all it’s forms, has been around for centuries. See the examples in Understanding Comics, the David Kunzle books, the articles in Overstreet about the Victorian Era stuff, etc etc. And too, look at how someone like Raymond Briggs or Maurice Sendak have always done comics, just not always been CALLED comics creators.

The medium still has, and always will have appeal. It’s the narrow genre interpretations that are living in comics shops currently that will probably die off in the near future.

Travis Pelkie

May 24, 2011 at 7:13 pm

And re: Dalarasco on Canadian bookstores: US bookstores are also packed with comics (at least in my area), so we’re not behind in that aspect. We just want more!

Actually, I went to Toronto on a school trip (damn, that long ago?) just about 15 years ago this week, actually. We went through a bookstore in some mall (I think) at one point, and I’m still kicking myself for not picking up the Miracleman book I saw. Grrr…. Can’t remember which collection, but years later hearing about how one of them was REALLY rare, I wonder if that was the one I saw, and I get sad….

These comics weren’t created to pull in new readers. They were created to tell stories (or parts of stories). Marvel likely had extra copies and so they sell them in bulk at Costco. The fact that the three comics have movies coming out this summer probably helped them get them sold in Costco. Most new fans buy comics at book stores where, at least in my area, movie related comics are prominently displayed. They are trades containing a complete story, so none of this “Captain America is on one page” complaint. You are judging these random issues not based on what they were created as, but what you decided they should be.

You are judging these random issues not based on what they were created as, but what you decided they should be.

I love how this idea keeps coming up in one way or another, as though it’s the READER’S fault he can’t appreciate the genius of endlessly serialized comics incorporating God knows how much obscure continuity.

I’m judging them based on the packaging versus the content. I don’t know how to make it any plainer. It’s a three-pack sold in a general-interest store not normally known to carry comics, with covers clearly designed to capitalize on the current movies being the only thing visible. How is that not aimed at a casual reader? Everyone at Marvel knows that the fans get their books at a comics retailer or mail-order. You only put your books in a Costco or some other outlet like that in an effort to grow your audience.

What’s more, it’s sealed in a polybag, you can’t flip through it, so those movie-tie-in covers are all the average joe has to judge as to what the content might be — and yet when it turns out to be something completely different from what the movies have led him to expect, and not a terribly inviting place to jump into the narrative to boot, apparently it’s that reader’s fault for not getting it.

Okay.

Travis Pelkie

May 24, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Yeah, I don’t know why people keep thinking that it WASN’T something Marvel purposely created to be sold in a 3 pack at Costco (or wherever). The cover boxes clearly indicate that these were PRINTED specially for this market. (The covers, anyway, but that’s nothing new in comics, multiple covers)

If you’ve been watching Marvel for the past several years, since New Avengers 30 and before (I have that issue from a newsstand, but they were doing it before), they’ve been printing special newsstand versions of their comics, usually a buck or 2 more than the DM price. Plus, as I said a while back, those SAGA books are appearing on newsstands for 3.99. Just recently, the Must Haves have been on the newsstand. The Wolverine one (issues 1-3 of the newest Aaron book) were there, and the Astonishing SpiderMan Wolverine one was 6.99 on the newsstand, 4.99 in my comic shop. They are printing multiple cover prices, aiming at different markets, it’s apparently working well enough for them or they wouldn’t keep doing it (in fact, it was suggested when Marvel boosted a lot of their line to 3.99, the newsstand cover prices were a “trial balloon” that showed people were willing to pay that amount.)

I think the marketing dept of Marvel has got a decent idea, package 3 comics related to the 3 Marvel movies over the summer, and sell them in big box stores, it’s just that the comics, like Greg’s saying, are shitty intros/continuations of said movies.

And if even comic geeks like Greg or I can’t follow wth is going on in the books in the 3 pack, how’s Joe Average going to follow them?

It’s probably online somewhere, but Dave Sim’s Comics and the Mass Medium essays in the back of Cerebus 217-220 (I think) discuss how comics keep trying for mass appeal, through movies and so on, and how someone watching, say, Barb Wire is more likely to watch a Baywatch rerun with Pamela Anderson than to go pick up more comics with Barb Wire in them (this is from about 1997, mind you.)

“I love how this idea keeps coming up in one way or another, as though it’s the READER’S fault he can’t appreciate the genius of endlessly serialized comics incorporating God knows how much obscure continuity.”

But the previous poster is right — these comics were created as issues in the books’ current runs, not as movie tie-ins or gateway issues. It’s a good way to sell more issues and it might hook readers even if it didn’t hook you. Honestly, those books, especially Captain America, the book your students complained about most, are not aimed at a preteen level. It follows Dan DiDio’s insistence that recaps are unnecessary because readers with a desire to know more will seek out ways to do so. I don’t totally agree, but I also can’t fault Marvel for wanting to make some extra money and possibly hook a few readers in the process. If the GL sampler had anything current, it’d be in the same situation.

What do you suggest instead of ” the genius of endlessly serialized comics incorporating God knows how much obscure continuity”? Honestly, how would you try to shift stories to combat this? Do you have examples of books that do this that still continue to flow into future story lines? Green Lantern: Secret Origin might seem accessible but how will a reader who jumps from that to War of the Green Lanterns of Blackest Night fair?

You seem very antagonistic toward books that use much continuity to tell stories, but I’m not sure what direction you would suggest. A book set in the “movie” universe? It’d have to deal with likeness issues, stay away from stories that might be translated to the screen, avoid characters whose rights are represented by other movie companies, and would be mired in its own continuity in a year. It’s the medium itself, and if you wipe the slate clean too many times you will lose more fans than you can gain.

“make some extra money and possibly hook a few readers in the process”

Any marketing strategy that has that as their goal is piss poor – amateur at best.

“Pull in 10,000 (100,000?!) new readers a month with a strategically planned tie-in comic(s) at these 4 stores (name them) that reach these 4 different markets that we think would be the most likely to 1) buy/pick up the product and 2) be interested in reading more (because we designed the stories with an ultimate cliff hanger that they all HAVE to know the result of.)”

Wouldn’t something like that be a better strategy, whether or not it fails to grab new readers? Thinking along these lines, I think it is very obvious that Marvel and DC are not even on the radar for a well-thought marketing plan for taking advantage of these movie releases with tie-in comic ‘specials’.

You know, Marvel did a number of Iron Man 2 tie-ins that also saw digital release. Did you read them? I didn’t, and I love Joe Casey. I didn’t say the Costco pack was a massive success or well-thought-out plan, it’s just something that was low effort that could help. I think Marvel and DC are both going to be more interested in digital methods to get new consumers, rather than paying huge regular fees to have their product carried prominently by distributors uninterested in carrying floppies when they can sell a few select trades.

When Green Lantern hits, I am sure the movie-cover Secret Origin trade will move a ton of units, and other trades will see a spike, but I doubt the series itself will make a massive surge and I’m sure most trade sells will ebb as soon as the movie releases. Just by the nature of the medium, most fans of the movie will want the one or two trades deemed “most relevant” or “best” and won’t go deeper because of cost or lack of interest. If DC relaunches GL at #1 in September, adds those weird bio suits to the mix, and suddenly has Hal Jordan quipping more than ever, the series still won’t see a regular sales increase because most movie fans would rather buy one book or — much more likely — wait for another movie. It’s just not an exact crossover market.

Also, “whether or not it fails to grab new readers” is a bigger threat than that sentence makes it out to be. A planned tie-in comic needs a paid creative team on top of the paid creative team for the regular ongoing(s). Marvel or DC would need to convince non-comic retailers that it’s smart and profitable to carry their product despite past record that it’s not, and would need to then pay for featured presentations within these stores. If it’s self-contained, then it threatens to draw in no new regular readers. If it ends on a cliffhanger, it threatens to piss off or confuse consumers unfamiliar with the medium who expected to be buying a complete product. I think it’s a largely the case that American consumers don’t HAVE to know the result of anything if it means more effort and more cost.

That was only intended as an example of an actual plan, not just a mediocre re-purposing opportunity for some extra profit. I am by no means a marketing professional, and any good marketing campaign requires research, relationships, development, etc.

I think the main point of the article is that their seems to be no marketing strategy whatsoever. It is easy to see the Disney marketing machine at work with toy, book, digital tie-ins with any IP movie they put out, especially if you are part of the target market. They find you, and expose you to the IP in some product fashion. And they have all of the problems/issues dealt with. But, yes, that comes from a history of doing it (like decades worth).

If Disney wants more people to read Marvel comics, they can make it happen. Perhaps they don’t want that, or don’t care. Whatever the case, there is no marketing machine at work when it comes to Marvel & DC movie tie-ins and bringing broader audiences to comics.

“It is easy to see the Disney marketing machine at work with toy, book, digital tie-ins with any IP movie they put out, especially if you are part of the target market.”

Definitely true, but when is Disney drawing people in to a product that’s released one “incomplete” installment at a time over three to seven months? Disney comics, as I think was mentioned quite a bit up there in the comments, don’t particularly sell very well in America. Disney can hype direct-to-DVD movies, video games, young readers books, toy, and plush out the wazoo, but it’s been a long time since they had a formidable comic presence. Not a good one, mind you — some of the most recent stuff is awesome — but Disney comics have not been moving dollars like the best selling Marvel and DC titles. It’s still just a question of media difference. The best orange sellers in the world can’t necessarily save a dying apple crop.

Not only should publishers sell their comics in theaters, but how about giving away a “free” $1 comic with each ticket?

I’m not sure there’s enough info to determine whether Marvel or Costco was responsible for the package. It could’ve been a joint effort. For instance, Costco comes up with the idea and puts in an order to Marvel. Marvel assembles the package using its own materials. That way, it may look like a Marvel-only product, but Marvel’s marketing department wasn’t involved in its assembly.

P.S. I for one have seen “The Dark Knight” only once.

In terms of availability, the Green Lantern sampler just showed up at my local grocery store. So even if it showed up at the LCS first, it’s showing up in other, “non-traditional” places now…

“After all, the reasoning goes, clearly there’s millions upon millions of people that like Spider-Man, they’re all buying tickets to see him in a movie, why can’t we get them to spend some money on reading more of his adventures?”

Well, that brings up the paradox. Many of the most profitable film and TV franchises derive from items you would not let someone see you reading on the subway.

Many prominent media franchises of the last thirty years or so, or franchises which have grown more prominent in the last thirty years or so or so have some basis in children’s entertainment.

Transformers
Star Wars (inspired by the Flash Gordon serials)
Harry Potter
The Lord of the Rings (started with the Hobbit, and the Hobbitt received initial reviews as a children’s book)
Doctor Who (created to teach children about science and history)
Star Trek (the original Star Trek series underwent cancellation when they found out too many younger viewers made up the demographics)
Narnia
Shrek
Pirates of the Carribean-which started as a theme park ride (!)

http://images.businessweek.com/ss/07/08/0808_franchises/index_01.htm

http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2010-11-17-potterboxoffice17_ST_N.htm

“Look, here’s what I’m getting at. I really like Sue Grafton’s series of novels about tough female private eye Kinsey Millhone. I want more people to read them. So I tear ten pages out of the middle of, oh, say, G Is For Gumshoe and sell copies of that random ten-page sample at Costco or Target for a dollar each, with the idea of persuading buyers of that ten-page excerpt that Kinsey Millhone and detective stories are AWESOME”.

Reading private eye novels on the subway remains socially acceptable. The odd thing though; how many private eye movies have produced sequels in the last forty years other than Shaft?

Continuing Kinsey Milhone thought:
The last forty years have seen several examples of attempted hard-boiled detective/police/private eye films series that never reached more than one film.

Larry Cohen intended to make a few sequels to his 1982 remake of I, the Jury. The script for one of them served as the basis for 1987′s Deadly Illusion, but as of 2010 no further Spillane based films have reached theaters.

Kathleen Turner bought options on many of the VI Warshawski books. Only one film came out.

Other authors who wrote various reasonably prolific series adapted into only one film-John D. MacDonald and Travis McGee (one theatrical film, Darker Than Amber), Walter Mosely and Easy Rawlins (one theatrical film, Devil in a Blue Dress), Lawrence Block and Matthew Scudder (one theatrical film, Eight Million Ways to Die). James Lee Burke’s Heaven’s Prisoners featuring Dave Robicheaux only had a direct-to-DVD follow-up, In the Electric Mist, with Tommy Lee Jones taking over from Alec Baldwin.

[...] CSBG’s Thor test case: Converting movie super-hero viewers to comic readers. [...]

Ay yi yi, putting those “Saga” packs out to the general public, along with stuff like the GL thing, THAT’S WHAT I KEEP SAYING!!! If the Big Two had put out more of those instead, and into non-comic stores, THEN we wouldn’t have the big DC relaunch and people won’t be so confused. Have you also considered the “Reading Chronology”-type books?

I got wind of Marvel’s cosmic stuff thanks to the “War of Kings” Saga one-shot, and I have the Son of Marvel Reading Chronology one-shot. That really helped me understand a few bits of the fictional history. Honestly, why didn’t the Big Two take a cultural relativist approach on this? Now that I think about it, trying to run a comic book company and trying to get more readers is like anthropology. There are proper ways to do/study it, but only if the researchers do it EXACTLY the right way.

Now that I think of it, I think one underlying cause for all the problems we’ve been discussing here is the fact that each of these companies, each of these components of the entertainment industry, have been working themselves at a ludicrously fast pace for the past several years or so, and the recent economic situation kicked them into overdrive. This may sound crazy, but why doesn’t every comic company, every film studio and television studio, every toy factory just, i don’t know, TAKE A BREAK. STOP. GIVE THEMSELVES TIME TO RECOVER THEIR COMPOSURE. Metaphorically speaking, picture the entertainment industry as a runner practicing for a race. If the runner overworks him/herself by constantly working out without taking a little time to cool down, then they are at a great risk of hurting themselves greatly. So why doesn’t the entire entertainment industry take a year or so to cool down? Stop the presses, the cameras, all the employees take time off to relax (and in the case of the comic writers and artists, prevent themselves from getting carpal tunnel syndrome). What do any of you think of this?

Acer, while that sounds somewhat appealing from a creative standpoint, it makes little sense from a business or economic standpoint. With movie visibility, comic companies need to strive to reach what they can of that potential crossover demographic (how well they’re doing it, as argued here, is up for debate). If someone sees Green Lantern and is overwhelmed with the desire to pick up comics, it would not behoove DC to have no new comics on the shelves.

Casting aside the idea of the movies totally, taking a break runs counter to the sequential nature of comics. When a book is delayed substantially, no matter the buzz, sales suffer. Batman: The Dark Knight, All-Star Batman and Robin, Batman: Odyssey (hmm, a lot of trouble in that office, eh?) all debuted big and dipped when it was shown that the creators couldn’t maintain schedule. A massive part of what drives the remaining direct market crowd is getting these regular story bites each month, and depriving us of that for even a month is likely to turn off readers. Of course, that’s not to mention the damage that would do to the retailers during those proposed break month, when they’d have to subsist on trades and Image/Dark Horse/etc. sales.

It was just an idea, mind you.

You know, I’m really suprised that despite the reactions to all these business and marketing decisions over the past few years or so, no one in the fandom has ever thought of this: “Ask not what your comic book company can do for you, ask what you can do for your comic book company”. Hasn’t that idea ever crossed the minds of both the guys in charge of the company AND the fans?

Oh, I know it was just an idea. I didn’t mean to sound harsh or dismissive or overly critical, just responding.

As far as the “Ask not,” I think that we, as a whole, tend to feel pretty entitled as comic fans to always want the Big Two to peddle to us and do their best to please us. However, we’ve seen pundits and critics champion awesome-yet-underselling books for years, asking us to do what we can by voting with our dollars. Similarly, I know I always urged people to drop books with which they were unhappy rather than slag through mediocre runs, as a way to vote with dollars. We’re just an odd bunch, and we make weird decisions sometimes.

[...] they run a day or two late, but they're always worth tracking down and reading each week. Take this week's column. Greg comes across a 3 pack of comics at a Costco featuring Thor, Captain America, and X-Men. Are [...]

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives