Friday, December 12, 2008

Is it me or...

Does it feel like Marvel is kinda, I don't know, totally sabotaging themselves in what is currently a horrible economy? Over the past 3 weeks, it has become very obvious that both major companies are bumping up titles to $3.99.

However, DC seems to be spreading it a little bit more across their entire catalog. Just today, I rang up a large amount of customers that were all DC and a roughly equal amount who are all Marvel. And of the customers who had an equal sized pile, lets say a dozen books or so, the DC fans spent much less cash.

On the shipping list for this week, only 3 titles were $3.99 from DC:
-Final Crisis
-FC: Revelations
-Mirrors Edge
And really, who the hell is buying Mirrors Edge, so I'm just gonna count that as 2.

On the Marvel side, you had:
-Adam Legend of the Blue Marvel
-Astonishing X-Men Ghost Boxes
-Big Hero 6
-Marvel Apes
-Marvel Illustrated
-Punisher War Zone
-Secret invasion Dark Reign
-Wolverine 1-shot o'crap
-Wonderful Wizard of Oz
-X-Men/Spider-Man

Now granted, that's an eclectic batch from Marvel and not all Marvel fans are getting all of that.
And yes, DC just shoved a crapload of $3.99 specials down our throats with all the JSA 1-shots. But, after looking at the invoices, it's definitely Marvel showing this trend at it's strongest.

Long term, this has the stink of Marvel trying to destroy the single issue monthly business. And granted, that piece of the pie chart is shrinking and GNs & TPBs are a strong and always growing market. Not to mention the online stuff, which is honestly a smart move and new creative ground to move into.

BUT

There will always be people who want single issue comics, on a monthly basis. It is what the industry grew from, and it is hardwired into peoples heads. To ignore and abuse the potential for sales is just friggin' stupid. But, this is the comic book industry we are talking about. Fuckin' lobotomized sloths could do a better job at the Diamond shipping warehouses. ROB LIEFELD CONTINUES TO GET WORK. So obviously, shit ain't gonna be working at full speed and probably never will.

The thing is, if DC marketing plays its cards right, they have the potential to pick up a lot of those monthly sales. And Dark Horse and Image have a huuuuuuge opportunity here for new readership. And it's not gonna be for whatever reason Kirkman thinks about creative blah blah blah. That sounds all neat and promising, but honestly it comes down to how much money is going to be saved during a time of economic crisis. Even if I just follow the trends at our store and not assume it's playing the same way nationwide, Marvel is going to take a huge sales hit. At least 5 customers of ours have made a dramatic switch into just DC comics. If I offer them new alternatives at a basic $2.99 price point, they may even try the new Atomic Robo or the Boys. And hey, THEY DID.

Maybe I'm not reading any marketing/industry blogs. Maybe I'm too godamned busy running the store. But it feels like none of this stuff is really popping up in a real discussion, or at least not in a forum where people can actually see it. And if they are, cool, I'll shut up completely and read what you send me. But in the meantime, here are two more points of interest:

-Why does every damn book have to be on glossy paper? Would it not cut costs to drop down to newsprint? This would do 2 things as I see it. First, it would ideally cut down production costs that could be passed down to the readers. Second, it has the potential to bump up the secondary market value of modern comics. Because all those glossy stock books are gonna be easier to find down the road here, and none of them are really going to go up in value if everyone has clean copies of them. And if people want clean copies of the books, they could spend that on nice collected reproductions. Heeeeeeey there's that GN/TPB money you assholes wanted!

-Reinstate the single GN style releases for over hyped yet apparently demanded creative teams, therefore restoring the regular monthly schedule of books. You want a Mark Millar/Jim Lee/Steve McNiven/Frank Millar/Steve Skroce/Geof Darrow/Bryan Hitch/Kubert Bros/WHOEVER THE HELL book that will never be on time? Release it as an original GN and get all the hype you want ready for the book stores and mass market.

The supplementary plan I have for that one is WHY DON'T YOU STOP PAYING THE ASSHOLES WHO DON'T DESERVE A LUCRATIVE CONTRACT? Divide that money up to pay the GOOD talent (MARCOS MARTIN, PEOPLE) and pass the savings down to readers. Implement a punishment system. You can't meet a reasonable deadline or schedule? THEN WE WON'T HIRE YOU. This will support the monthly structure AND motivate the release of original GNs so these twits can be paid even though they need to learn something about work ethics.
And I don't care if that seems ranty or unfair. Fantastic Four and Wolverine, TWO OF MARVEL'S FLAGSHIP TITLES, are both horribly late and look at who's at the helm there. I have little sympathy for a man who wrote a story where a man named Shaft (Who I just propose we change his name to Dildo and be done with it) fought the reanimated corpses of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X.
GAWDAMMIT I HATE MARK MILLAR.

So yes. Rant is done. Ideas? Comments? Death threats?

EDIT:
Found some good links and actual discussion. Still, I want to see more.
http://www.ifanboy.com/content/articles/Comic_Books_Prices__How_Much_is_Too_Much
http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=18625
The way I see it, we shouldn't have to take the stance that maybe some books shouldn't exist simply because we can't afford them. They shouldn't exist because they are CRAP, but I'm not prepared to trust anyone in marketing or editing to decide such a thing. It's a decision based on sales, sadly. So to be fair, I still believe we need to even the playing field by dropping the production costs with only a few possible exceptions.

And another random thought. You notice how some art, such as Kirby, just looks fantastic on newsprint? John Severin? Steve Ditko? This would be an interesting test for modern artists, I think.

3 comments:

when is evil cool? said...

as someone who has collected comics on and off for 30 years or so i think you bring up some good points. right now i'm at the shop 2 or 3 times a month. my pull list has been whittled waaaaay down though. this time last year i was keeping up with 15 monthly titles and a crisis mini. now i'm down to 9 monthlies and and no minis. i'll just wait for the trades or i dropped them altogether.

i think the dc weekly format is crazy. those would have been perfect for your newsprint idea. anyone who keeps up with those must a) have a lot of dough and B) a huge tolerance for bullshit. i think they're terrible. a nice experiment but cripes give it a break. and these events never seem to end (yeah you final crisis)all these tangent monthlies and one shots and tie ins. they enrich the story? short thought on that - no. mostly it's fluff or worse confusing nonsense you need a degree from dc university.

good titles with small readership will be the 1st to go when the big two discover readers can't fork over all that money week in and week out.

jonah hex is a great title. i've never missed an issue. a one and done every month on time and 9 out of 10 times. great art and usually a great story. i'd settle for it on newsprint if it knocked the price down. it might even raise readership.

how many batman, superman, xmen, wolverine, monthly titles, mini and one shots can the average buyer want and how many can they afford? when the consumers figure that out and get selective how long will take the big two to get wise? a few months? a few years?

wow. thanks for making me think about this stuff. sorry if it comes off kind of rantish.

Continually Spicy said...

No no, not rantish at all. You bring up good points, especially that a weekly should be newsprint as well. I'll be honest, I actually enjoyed the hell out of 52. But Countdown was a joke and Trinity is just a money drain. I have many customers who do enjoy Trinity though, so saving them money would be a nice favor.

I'll also raise my hand and say that while I completly understand that such titles as Final Crisis or RIP require too much inknowledge of the DC Universe, I personally love that type of shit. Is it a great marketing choice? No, but that's what we have All Star & Ultimate lines for as well. Now if only they would publish the damn things....

I blame the hype machines more for that than the creative teams. RIP should not have been broadcasted as a singular event that spins into the supporting Bat titles. It should not have been mass marketed to draw new readers in, because very few new readers will know what the hell is happening. Hell, many old readers don't know what the hell is happening. Ideally, it should have been offered as:
The culmination of an entire creative run by Grant Morrison's Batman, so please just read from the start of Batman&Son, skip all the other titles, and btw have wikipedia handy as you do it.

Should people HAVE to do that? No. But I'll tell you, I did a reread cause I hated the single issues with a passion. I had wikipedia up for anything I missed. And I enjoyed it immensly.

I hope Jonah Hex survives, cause that's damn good reading. Any book that hires Jordi Bernet is full on win.

I believe this is the 7th or 8th Wolverine 1-shot to come out in the past 2-3 months.

We will unfortunatly always see extra X titles and Batman/superman and Wolverine and so on. It's the same mentality behind why DC Direct releases a new Batman figure every toy wave. People will always buy it. I mean, I ordered Onslaught Reborn by Rob Liefeld and we totally sold copies. READ THAT SENTENCE AND REALIZE THE HORROR I LIVE EVERY DAY.

I really do want to know how some decisions are made in marketing. I am genuinly interested in the details behind it. And I know I sound full of myself when I say why the hell am I not working that shit, but seriously. Reprints of Watchmen #1? The Infinity Crusade TPB? 8 years before we see affordable soft cover color reprints of Marvel Masterworks? Even money says we see a new printing of Rob Liefeld's Hawk & Dove before we see a color reprint of Steve Ditko's Hawk & Dove. And with that, I just gave myself a stroke.

End rant.

when is evil cool? said...

i took in all yer points on this and agree.

i'll wait for the rip trade. maybe. i've tried to stay away from it when people told me it was long to get to the point. but that' morrison for you. a lot of build up and a lot of history that doesn't seem to go anywhere for an explosion at the end and a floating cowl. yikes i hope batman's okay. i think i can wait.

and when the market demands a new batman toy every other week i get that too. but there are so many other slick awesome characters out there. they need to start giving them their due too once in awhile.

52 i bought faithfully week in and week out. it put the spotlight on some cool characters and the story moved. countdown. i got to about 14 before i dropped it from the pull list. that thing was junk. trinity might be great for some but i'd need a second job to pay for all this crisis's s stuff. can't/ won't do it. and will they friggin finish it already. geeez.

the watchman issue 1 reprint got me steamed too. i know a movie is coming out and the hype machine must be set at 11 but come on. put more trades in the stores. they'll sell them. it should all be read all at once or in a 2-3 issue sittings. i bought the original issues when i was in high school. waiting for that to come out every month was murder. i bought the trade and gave it to someone and never got it back. now i bought the absolute watchman for myself as a xmas gift. but whoever thought let's rerlease the seperate issues should be beaten soundly. or made to read onslaught reborn. whichever is more painful.

you'll get yer ditko hawk and dove when i get my brainiac skull ship. around never O'clock. sorry man. thems the breaks.