Friday, January 16, 2009

To be fair to Marvel

From Diamond Comics:

"In case you’ve been in a coma or hiding in a cave, this week’s long-anticipated release of Amazing Spider-Man #583 captivated consumers – selling through all versions of its first printing in record time "

I wonder....I wonder if this is because NOBODY HAD ANY. Bah. General feeling from other stores that I picked up on was that hey, economy sucks, we don't remember there being a back up story just a cover, so really we are sorry but c'mon. And I have to say we were in the same boat.

In the interest of fairness, this was the actual Diamond Daily notification:

"Retailers that exceed their orders for Amazing Spider-Man #575 that were placed by its FOC of October 9 with their orders for the regular Amazing Spider-Man #583 by its FOC of December 18 will qualify to order as many of the Obama Variant as they wish while supplies last.........Plus, if this main story weren’t enough of a draw, #583 will also feature a backup that sees Spider-Man meet President-Elect Obama. "

Diamond did give us a heads up. They did inform us of the back up story. It was only mentioned on the online update, so if you don't check that then it was easy to miss. I try my best, but dude. I manage a friggin' store. I got enough stuff to do. Did I screw up personally? Yeah. Sorry. But really, DC has a rep who calls me to let me know of important things. Dark Horse has a rep that does the same. It sure would be nice to have a little help from Marvel, considering retailer confidence is fairly low.

Both major companies have their problems when it comes to promotion and marketing. On the flip side of that if other comic book store managers are anything like me in their everyday experience then they are exausted, frustrated, and usually a little on edge. It's not ideal, but I believe that's what most managers are like for any type of retail. So this means that even if the retailer gets the word out, there is still room for human error. So what does this result in? For the publishers and retailers, a whole lot of missed opportunities. For the consumers? A lot of missed comics. And that just straight up sucks for everybody.

As a retailer, I have to say that the best company in the market right now that actually really tries to help retailers out would be Dark Horse. I have an assload of reasons, but here's a bunch in a nice easy list format:
-Weekly calls from a representative
-Accessible retailer website and weekly newsletters
-Pretty much all their HCs & TPBs are packed with protective slips between each volume to protect against scuffing damages, a very common problem that happens when items are shipped from Diamond.
-Say what you will about licenced properties, Star Wars, Aliens, Indian Jones, Buffy: they bring the customers in.
-Seriously, Buffy? Thank you. Perhaps the greatest new individual title to bring in new readers and new customers that continue to come back. I just signed up another new subscription customer last night just because of Buffy.
-And y'know, they publish the Goon.

And of the main two? Marvel or DC?
All I can say is that in the past year or two, Marvel has contributed the following to my downward spiral towards retail insanity:
-Death of Captain America
-Avengers Elektra/Skrull hype
-Dark Reign solicitations (or absence of any actual useful info)
-Brand New Day and the huuuuge sales drop off
-The endless amount of Wolverine one-shots
-To be fair, items that shipped late are returnable. But I sell out of Millar Wolverine, so it's moot. Spider-Man is always on time, damn them.....I mean, gratz! >_>

DC causes of insanity:
-Loss of sales from Countdown (note:certain copies were returnable)
-Loss of sales from Trinity (note: ditto)
-Good job having your core titles (Action, Batman) running late. BUT....we still sold fairly well
-Good job with the All-Stars always being late. BUT.....we sold virtually all of them regardless.
-RIP & Final Crisis, not really easy to get into. But......we still sell a crapload of them. And hey, last issue of Final Crisis was returnable because it was late......
-....I am actually trying to think of some, I am not just biased.

Bottom line. Retail stores need money to survive. Sucks but true. And if I had to weigh the the two out, Marvel has been the most detrimental. Now, you really do have to take regional differences into account though. I sell more Buffy and Green Lantern than I do X-Men. Anything Garth Ennis touches is always stronger than any 2nd tier DC title, and often times stronger than a core title. And I saw the report that basically every month Wonder Woman bleeds readers, but I order a steady quantity every month. And we are by no means a huge store. We don't have more than one location. But we have good traffic and a strong subscription customer base.

So yeah. That pretty much ends that rant. Marvel gave a heads up, and they don't deserve the level of finger pointing they are getting for this particular internet bitch fest. Well, they kinda do, but for other reasons. You get what I mean.

Huh, I ran the spell check and not a single mistake. Something....something is wrong.

Edit: As of this point, about 25 pre-orders on the 2nd print of Obama/Spidey. And I have explained the entire publishing scenario far too many times today.


when is evil cool? said...

i was watching the news on wednesday and they did a report on this particular spidey issue. it was 8 in the morning and people already were waiting on line outside. for a comic book. in the cold ass weather.

when i went to my local shop at lunchtime to pick up my usual haul. the guy behind the counter told me they sold out on tuesday. they had a sheet full of names to reserve a copy of the 2nd printing coming out next week. at 1:00 wednesday there were already 36 names on it. crazy crazy.

Continually Spicy said...

Yup, I already have people down for the 3rd print.

I really want to maul anyone who is selling the 1st prints online for more than cover.

when is evil cool? said...

i didn't even think of that. folks selling them online with a jacked up price are jerks.

however the people buying it for let's say $20 ... do they think it'll be a collectors item worth more in the future and it's a smart investment or are they just swept up in a hype and deserve to be bilked? tough to say.

me i can wait until next week for my 2nd printing.

Continually Spicy said...

Actually, I guess on ebay the normal cover is going for $30-40 while the Obama variant is in the $70-100 range.

For a 5 page story -_-