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I Love Ya But You’re Strange – That Time Wolverine REALLY Needed to Learn About Marvel’s Consumer Products Group

Every week, I will spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!

Today, we take a look at Marvel’s 1993 Financial Report, which they cleverly put out in the form of a comic book. I will be spotlighting Wolverine’s role in the comic because, well, he’s more popular than the other characters in the book.

Every year, publicly traded corporations have to issue financial reports for the previous fiscal year. They can come in all sorts of different forms. I’ve personally worked on a few over the years and they tend to be glossy affairs designed to accentuate the positives about their company (while, of course, still including the negatives). When a company is in the midst of a boom period, like Marvel was in the early 1990s, they can get away with being more unconventional in their presentation, since no one is going to begrudge you your delivery system when you’re giving them good news. Marvel’s 1993 Financial Report was based around Doctor Doom trying to inquire why Marvel had such an improved 1992…

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Doctor Strange puts together a group of Secret Defenders (which also served to promote that then-new series) to investigate. The next few pages were drawn by John Hebert and Bill Anderson….

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Hilarious stuff.

The individual spotlights in the report are awesome. I am just going to pick Wolverine’s, where he spotlights Marvel’s consumer products division (art by Andrew Wildman and Stephen Baskerville)…

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I love how insistent Wolverine is. “I have to find out, dammit!”

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While all but Black Panther and Black Widow eventually DID have films (in a recent Movie Legends Revealed, I discussed how Black Widow almost DID have her own film!), I think only the Blade project and the Spider-Man animated series are actually the same projects being discussed at the time.

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Finally, when all the other heroes return from their various spotlight missions, (the Fantastic Four one with Herb Trimpe art is particularly trippy, as is Thunderstrike’s trip to a comic book store with Tom Morgan art) Doctor Strange informs Doctor Doom that Marvel is in great shape and there’s nothing Doom can do to stop it.

But that is not a surprise to Doom…

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Awesome.

39 Comments

This might be the single most oddball comic release of all time.

Did DC ever do anything like this?

DC is “just” a division of a larger corporation, so they never really had the opportunity.

Wow. What the hell?

Matt E. Allen

May 29, 2013 at 12:42 am

My dad owned Marvel stock at the time this was released, and I still have it. I also have the ones from 1991, 1992, and 1996.

Watch out for the all-seeing eye of Uatu the Accountant!

Travis Pelkie

May 29, 2013 at 12:46 am

When did Marvel go public, anyway?

So did all shareholders receive a copy of this? That’s awesome.

Too bad they had to file bankruptcy a few years later, huh?

But I have to say, despite the goofy presentation, it’s actually a smart way to present the information. You see the charts with the info, and you see the characters that are driving the increased revenue. Cool stuff.

Black Panther never had a movie, either. Odd that he would have been one that was on track to be in a movie, before Spidey or others.

Black Panther never had a movie, either.

Oops, good point! Thanks, I fixed that.

Man I’m just sad that 20 years later and they’re still saying a Black Panther Film is “in development”

Wow… Just, wow.

If High School Business 101 had taught classes using this method, I might have paid more attention.

Too bad the bubble burst a couple of years later. Disaster struck way back to the Marvel Bullpen and industry vets such as Herb Trimpe were suddenly out of a job after years with the company.

The fact that Marvel rebounded to the point where Disney found them to be a desirable investment pretty much brings everything full circle with the stuff presented in this comic.

I’m willing to guess that the Hulk project was also developed into the 1996 animated TV show.

Technical point: Marvel’s bankruptcy wasn’t “We’re broke” but “We don’t want to pay our debts.” As detailed in the book Comic Wars, Marvel’s owner had used the company as collateral for his junk bonds; when they came due, he told bondholders they could either accept pennies on the dollar or he’d file bankruptcy and they’d get nothing. When he filed, Avi Arad and his partner realized they could afford to pick up the company for themselves (the technical maneuvers are beyond my ability to recount).
That aside, wonderful post, Brian.

Oh, sheesh. I can’t even bring myself to read this. I’m sure it explains the finances just fine, but that coloring is so gaudy that I’m turned off by it. Storm is surrounded by yellow in that one panel for no reason, and Wolverine and Madrox are surrounded by black (with a little green line to keep them from disappearing). Weird.

Amazingly, this looks and reads better than most Marvel comics from 1992.

I have to do some digging but I think I have this somewhere. Either this one or ’92.
My dad bought shares for my brother and me when we were younger.
Then they declared bankruptcy.

Why would anyone buy shares in a comic company?

Why would anyone buy shares in a comic company? Because it was profitable and the stock price was rising. Buy low, sell high, make some money. It’s the American way!

My way: buy low, wait til the price peaks and then start coming down, wait for it to rebound and go back up, keep waiting for something to happen, curse because I waited too long and now the stock is below the price where I bought it, get pissed off when Marvel declares bankruptcy and the stock becomes worthless.

Anyone who would buy stocks in a comics publisher is obviously not someone with much experience in investing.

Pete Woodhouse

May 29, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Would love to see how Marvel presents its figures for c.1996/97! Just a giant representation of a black arm-band? Coffin? Rope-and-gallows? Razor blade?

John Hebert, where did you go?! and Andrew Wildman too, for that matter. Those men drew some of my first comics, as they had the gig on X-Men Adventures. Greg Adams, the inker on that, is still going strong.

Funny, Nick Napolitano drew one of those XMA comics

This was cannon? If you dig the biz side of comics check out Comic Wars: Marvel’s Battle For Survival.

Kabe,

Andrew Wildman is penciling the “Transformers: Regeneration One” series for IDW right now. Its a continuation of the Marvel series from back in the 80’s-early 90’s.

Bill,

Thanks; Transformes has long been his bread and butter.

Duff McWhalen

May 31, 2013 at 4:45 am

when I think of the Marvel that would have put this out, I imagine ponytailed, earringed suits rolling their sleeves up to get a crack at the break room’s arcade machine while “Motown Philly” blasts in the background.

Duff McWhalen

May 31, 2013 at 4:46 am

oh and 15 million a month? Jesus.

This reminds me of the new Target/JLA ads. Bob Harras idea?

It’s crazy that the comic calls for licensees to use original comic artwork but the entire comic is nothing but swipes! Dr.Doom swiped from John Byrne, Numerous X-Men lifted right out of Jim Lee’s run, Michael Golden’s Dr.Strange and Dale Keown’s Hulk are the ones that I recognize by just skimming through it.

I certainly see plenty of attempts to evoke certain artists’ style, but I don’t see any outright swipes. Do you have a particular example of an outright swipe?

Still waiting on that BP movie, Marvel…

they went bankrupt because of greed, during that time, Mcfarlane disclosed Marvel planned to release hundreds of monthly books to the detriment of quality. I never liked Todd but I believed him. when Cable had his own series, i lost interest in the character because of mediocre stories and unbelievably horrendous art by steve skroce. Bishop and Gambit were also given mini-series of their own, I bought it and was disappointed, i decided to drop several other titles afterwards.

Keown swiped Hulk, pitt anyone? most image characters in the beginning were unoriginal.

The Doctor Strange image is the opening splash page to Doctor Strange issue # 55. The artist just added pupils and reversed it :http://thebaxterbuilding.tumblr.com/post/28915971370/stunning-michael-golden-depiction-of-dr-strange

The image of Wolverine slashing the sentinel is from Jim Lee’s cover to X-Men #9 vs Ghost Rider :http://marvel.wikia.com/X-Men_Vol_2_9

Surprisingly difficult to find a link to the Byrne image of Doctor Doom, But I believe that is lifted from the interior of Fantastic Four #258

Can’t find the Keown image online either, But I believe that is from Incredible Hulk #384 or 385

One thing you have to consider about Marvel artwork and it’s quality during this era was how thin they stretched their line. In an effort to control the marketplace, Marvel flooded the racks with books every month in an attempt to force competitors out of sight. After all, people were more likely to pick up a random Marvel book with their extra cash than a book by somebody you’ve never heard of. DC did the same thing. He’ll, they still do it now, which is why they have so many damn spin-offs of popular characters.

This lead to a massive influx of creators, especially artists, who really hadn’t yet achieved a sustainable level of quality on a monthly basis. Basically, if you could hold a pencil and draw something that resembled a humanoid shape, you got a job. Books from that era era are littered with the names of creators that nobody remembers. A handful of creators managed to improve their work to a point that they are still working today, but I would guesstimate that probably 80% of those people are gone and forgotten.

Actually, that might make for an interesting series of articles, going back through some of the credits on those books and seeing who is still around and who has disappeared…

@Anonymous
I worked with a fellow who bought Marvel stock and make a killing with it, enough to retire in his 30s and move to New Zealand.

Back in january of 1997, just after marvel declared bankruptcy, just might have been the best time to buy their stock.It may have went even lower.Just remember by 1998, the company was on the edge of going down.

Something about Jubilee knowing all this information about merchandising and explaining it to Wolverine makes my head spin.

BTW, regarding the Andrew Wildman question, Transformers: ReGeneration One ended earlier this year, and Guido Guid actuallyi did the pencils for most of the last several issues. (Wildman did return for part of #100, the final issue.) If you liked his work on the original Transformers comic (and who didn’t?), it’s definitely worth reading–maybe a bit rushed in the end, but far better than an awful lot of comics out there.

Also Herb Trimpe has done some work for the post-155 issues of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (also published by IDW), though mostly just covers.

“I’m the best there is at what I do. And what I need to do now is find out about Marvel’s profits.” – James Howlett

Dave J, I actually bought a ton of Marvel stock (the only stock I’ve ever purchased) in January or February of 1997. A year later, after the company restructured, I got a letter explaining that my stock in the old company authorized me to buy a certain amount of stock in the new company for a reduced price. As a poor college student, I couldn’t afford the new stock. And so my old stock expired. Since I wasn’t willing or able to re-invest in the new company, buying the old stock when I did was completely worthless.

Kabe…John Hebert was run out of comics and went back to his own planet.Actually, he went on to be a firefighter, investment broker, EMT and fire marshall and is now a fingerprint examiner with the Justice Department.he appreciates the shout out…and just being remembered.

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