I was told there would be no math
It’s about the content, stupid.
There is something going on in the comic book industry right now that is so bafflingly idiotic that I feel compelled to talk about it…even though it’s so bafflingly idiotic anyone could figure it our for themselves…except apparently Marvel Comics.
Anyone from Marvel who might happen to read this…consider it tough love. You and DC are the spine of this industry, and while creatively, we don’t much need you…stores could not keep their doors open long enough for readers to graduate from super hero stuff to non super hero indy comics if you stop publishing due to lack of sales. SO, it is in the best interest of the entire industry for you to stop losing sales, and understand how to put out books people want.
The big hubbub in the industry is Marvel’s a new gimmick called a “lenticular cover”. What’s that? I didn’t know myself until I read the angry posts from retailers…so the first problem is that it’s a stupid name. What this is, is a cover that has one image and if you tilt it you see another image…I’m guessing it’s got that grooved plastic coating that you used to get on fancy stickers when you were a kid…so congratulations on utilizing 1980’s technology. So…their big push to help sales is a gimmick cover, that stores have to pay a ransom to get (more on that ransom in a minute…I can only deal with one stupid aspect at a time).
“lenticular”…I think that’s Latin for -cheap gimmick-
Hey all you comic book readers…raise your hand if you remember the 90’s and when the industry went in the toilet because of gimmicks like this…foil enhanced covers, hologram covers, card stock cut away covers, bagged covers with some stupid trading card. It was all very cool but guess what Marvel…no one really gave a sh*t. and you can get any of those in a .50 bin at any comic-con. and THAT is not lost on the collectors you hope to get interested in this gimmick. and what isn’t lost on the rest of us is…you’re putting an awful lot of emphasis on the cover and not that much on the CONTENT INSIDE THE BOOK.
IT’S ABOUT THE CONTENT STUPID.
These covers are going to look pretty fancy I bet…you want to see some covers that’s aren’t that fancy but a lot of people bought because THE CONTENT WAS GOOD…
Those are fine looking covers, that sold a lot of books. they sold them without foil, or holograms or cardstock and cut outs…they sold without flu flunkers, blum blunkers, or who wonkwouts.
See a cover, in order to sell books, needs to do one thing-make the reader want to read the story. Because it is a COVER of STORY. You are trying to get them to buy the STORY. Readers look at these covers and think “whoah, who’s that? What’s going on? what’s gonna happen?” ..and they buy them to find out. They look at Marvel’s gimmick cover and think “I have Nintendo sticker like that when I was 9…it was Mario and if you tilted it, it was Luigi” and they continue on with their day. These gimmick covers you cooked up…they are about as compelling as a t-shirt or a poster and don’t even hint at a reason I should be interested in THE CONTENT.
Speaking of content, here’s a cover that’s not that fancy and isn’t even that good…
It’s not Kirby’s best cover by a long shot but the story, THE CONTENT, was so good that you’ve been able to reprint this (make money off of it) over and over and over for decades.
PEOPLE BUY BOOKS TO READ STORIES.
UNTIL YOU START PUTTING OUT BETTER STORIES, YOUR SALES ARE GOING TO CONTINUE TO LAG.
It’s not complicated. Books that are good, sell well and get good word of mouth. Books that aren’t DON’T. Simple.
Marvel isn’t big on simple these days…you wanna know what your store has to do to get these gimmick covers? ….here…here’s the best explanation I could find …good luck….
From comicsbeat.com website- All New Comics explains:
“To simplify things, we order 15 copies of Invincible Iron Man, in order to qualify for the lenticular covers, we need to order an additional 15 copies, then we can order as many copies of the lenticular cover as we want (although at a lower discount).
Let’s say 5 people want the lenticular cover instead of the regular cover, we would have 20 extra copies (15+15 extras + 5 lenticular=35 copies, we have pre-orders for 15, meaning we are left with 20).
Titles like Amazing Spider-Man which are higher selling, also have minimums. If you regularly sell 37 copies of Amazing Spider-Man and need to order 125%, that’s an additional 11 copies just to qualify for the new ones. If 1/3 of the people who get Amazing Spider-Man opt for the lenticular covers (that’s the same math as I used for Iron Man above) that is an additional 12 lenticular covers we need to order, putting our order at 22 copies more than we would normally order.
That’s an additional 42 copies of just two comics – multiply variations of that scenario across 29 titles, and you have hundreds of extra copies that will likely go unsold.
Even in cases where we need to order 100% of the qualifying title (Cable where we need to order 10 copies to qualify), we would be left with unsold copies of the non-lenticular cover.”
…huh? So if I understand this right…and it’s entirely possible I don’t…stores have to order twice as many copies of a series as they usually do in order to get to order even MORE copies…with a gimmick cover.
Hey Marvel…stores order as much as they think they can sell, and some of them have been at this for a while and are pretty good at estimating how much they need. They are ordering 100 copies because they can sell 100 copies. If they thought they could sell 200…they wouldn’t need your gimmick to get them to do so. THEY WOULD JUST ORDER 200 COPIES BECAUSE THEN THEY’D MAKE MORE MONEY THAN ORDERING 100 COPIES. This is a scheme Tony Soprano would come up with, force the store to order more than they need until they go out of business…wait …I think Tony Soprano DID EXACTLY THAT TO THE GUY WHO OWNED THE SPORTING GOOD STORE.
You might be thinking “so…just don’t order any of that cover”. Well, here’s the problem with that for stores, and if I gave Marvel a little more credit for thinking this through, I’d call it “slimey”- If you are a store and have customers who will want this, you can either take the financial hit and order twice as many copies of something than you need OR take the risk that those costumers will get it somewhere else. If you are a rival store, would you take the financial hit to steal 20-30 customers? If you think you can keep those customers and they spend 50-100.00 a month…yeah, you just might.
A lot of retailers are pissed off and refusing to order any. If I had to predict Marvel’s next move to rectify things it will either be
B-rework the requirements on the next one.
…or and I can’t imagine this happening, but I have hope
C-JUST PUT OUT BETTER CONTENT SO SALES GO UP.
Here’s some tips, in the vain hope that Marvel gives option C a try-
1-Stop jamming politics and social issues into it…people get ENOUGH of that EVERYWHERE ELSE. They read comics as an escape from reality and grown up crap. AND no matter which side you take, you’re pissing off half of the people. You can only piss off half of the people so many time before HALF OF THE PEOPLE STOP BUYING YOUR BOOKS.
2-Stop with the splash pages and crappy visual story telling. Every time I flip through one of your books it’s like a pamphlet of movie posters…one splash page after the next of the hero in an action pose, looking cool…THAT’S NOT A STORY. No one buying your books is oblivious to the fact that they paid for a 24 page story and got 14 pages of story and ten pages of eye candy. And the other 14 pages…half the time I can’t tell what the hell is going on, or where anyone is in relation to each other. Go back to square one and focus on making sure the visuals and the story are working together. Editors aren’t supposed to JUST make sure there are no spelling errors, they’re supposed to make sure the book makes sense…and that includes the visuals. I know establishing shots aren’t fun to draw…but they are more fun that trying to figure out what is going on in your comic books. Ever read Mignolia’s Hellboy? It’s amazing and I have yet to see a splash page in it, it is page after page of solid, interesting, understandable storytelling…it can be done.
3-It’s 2017…maybe it’s time to move the hell on. You’ve published more pages of Spider-man than there are pages in the NY phone book, the Bible, and the collected works of Mark Twain combined. Maybe…the horse is f*ckin dead. Maybe your poor writers and illustrators are turning to politics and splash pages because there isn’t ANYTHING LEFT TO TELL.
Maybe..it’s time to branch out, focus on some new characters, maybe even shift away from super heroes…DC did pretty well for awhile with Preacher and Death and all that. They couldn’t support the whole company with them, but guess what? that was the 90’s and they might just maybe…have been ahead of their time. and it might, just maybe, be the perfect time for one of you to go that route again. because not only are you beating a dead horse, not only are you, in the minds of readers competing and being compared to the stories of those characters done in the past…you are competing with movies and t.v. shows. That next issue of Daredevil…it’s ain’t going to compare to Daredevil season 2 on Netflix.
Here’s another thing, but it’s too late to fix. Collecting comic books isn’t always a constant in peoples lives. They do it for awhile…find other things…come back to it. There’s a eb and flow. But you’re constant restarting of titles and switching genders and every other f*cking gimmick you use to try to breath life into the dead horse…IS A DETERRENT AGAINST READERS COMING BACK. I liked the Avengers when I was a kid..if I wanted to start reading again now…I have no earthly idea where to start. NONE. I have no idea which renumbered series is connected to another or for that matter which series has been erased from the Marvel timeline because of some alternate reality writing loophole. Did House of M happen or not? I don’t f*cking know. Is Spider-man married or not? Captain America was dead, and now he’s alive…did he get brought back from the dead or is that whole timeline null and void because it was all a dream or some sh*t? I’m sure a lot of readers know but guess what? a lot of us don’t, we’re confused and so we are simply not bothering to find out or buy any of your books. And no gimmick cover is going to unravel our confusion.
That genie is out of the bottle, and off point…the point is CONTENT….CONTENT…
I hope I wasn’t too subtle.
When Douglas is not complaining, he and his work can be found here