Robot 6

Brevoort: Marvel’s price announcement ‘either misreported or misconstrued’

Price rollback!

The widely circulated news that Marvel would lower prices to $2.99 on new titles was “either misreported or misconstrued,” says Vice President-Executive Editor Tom Brevoort.

The reports stem from remarks made on Oct. 7 by David Gabriel, Marvel’s senior vice president of sales & circulation, at the ICv2 Conference on Comics & Digital at New York Comic Con, less than an hour after DC Comics announced its across-the-board price cut. Gabriel’s announcement, characterized as a reduction from $3.99 to $2.99 for new titles beginning in January, was carried in separate panel reports by Comic Book Resources, Robot 6, The Beat, ICv2.com and other sites.

According to The Beat, Gabriel confirmed the information after the conference. His announcement seemed to be supported the following day in at least two Marvel panels in comments by Brevoort and Arune Singh, manager of sales communications. In the more than three weeks since the conference, Marvel hasn’t issued a press release outlining its pricing policy or clarifying the widespread online reports.

But in the latest “Marvel T&A” interview with Comic Book Resources, Brevoort says there’s been a lot of public confusion about Gabriel’s actual comments.

“I think that the key thing, from my understanding of it at least, is that people either misreported or misconstrued what David Gabriel actually said at that panel,” Brevoort tells CBR. “They kind of confused it a bit with the DC announcement and mixed them all together, and so it created what amounts to an unrealistic expectation for what would be happening in January. As I understand it, in the panel that David was in speaking about digital comics, he said that our digital comics sales had been really successful and that as a result of that, beginning in January we’d be able to start pricing some of our upcoming limited series and other releases at $2.99. This announcement came at around the time that DC announced that they were rolling back all their titles to $2.99, and people got very excited and confused and a little crazed, and I think that all of the particulars got lost in the shuffle. So now that the actual January catalog is out, people are going, ‘Wait! Didn’t you say all these books were going to be priced at $2.99?’ No, we didn’t actually say that.”

As Robot 6 reported last week, just three of Marvel’s titles debuting in January are priced at $2.99.

Talking to CBR, Brevoort goes on to break down what Marvel said at New York Comic Con: “One, we’re going to be able to do more things at the $2.99 price point as a result of the success of digital comics, and two, that we’re going to try to contract some of the wild line expansion that we’ve had over the next couple of months [the latter was revealed by Brevoort during the "Marvel's T&A Presents" panel]. It’s not all going to happen instantly — it’s not going to be that suddenly in January we’re down to only four Deadpool books. We’re still going to have the same number of Deadpool books that we normally had (or perhaps a little bit fewer just to pull that all back.)”

We noted last week that a shift has begun, with a decrease in $3.99 titles and a rise in $2.99 books — at least as compared to December. And on Friday, Marvel announced its “Point One” initiative in which select issues of 11 series between February and April will be priced at $2.99 as an enticement to new readers.

“… You’ll see more initiatives like that in the months to come,” Brevoort tells CBR.  “So really, what this kind of amounts to from my point of view is either people reporting the wrong message or reading the wrong message from those reports and then being upset that reality isn’t exactly the thing they had in their heads.”

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Comments

16 Comments

Y’know, you’d think Marvel would have corrected this “misconstrued” information at some point before this.

-J

And Tom really didn’t clarify it either. He says that as ‘he understands it’ Gabriel said that they could start doing more minis and other releases at $2.99. But none of the quotes attributed to Gabriel gave those type of details. To me it seems that they still have no actual policy or plan.

So if TB is bothered that the press has got it all wrong and misconstrued things etc, why doesn’t Marvel issue a statement clarifying it?

The Coolest Dad (tm)

November 1, 2010 at 10:31 am

It’s easier to issue vague statements and to correct them with even vaguer ones than it is to man up and just tell it how it is. Yes, DC cut their page counts to cut prices but at least they were honest about it.

Marvel could easily drop two pages if need be. The recap page, and the back page showing you the covers of the month’s comics related to the title you bought.

@Peter: I doubt that those two pages are contributing much to the cost! But if you cut story pages OTOH, you get to pay the creators less than for a “full” issue.

Marvel gets too much benefit from the doubt – they’re not going to announce anything they don’t have to.

It would amazing to boycott Marvels $3.99 comics in January.
I would love a comics web site to champion this idea. Marvel don’t have to announce or clarify anything, they hold all the cards it seems. Only by cutting off some of their $ will we ever get a price cut. If their $3.99 book sales drastically plummeted in January, they would surely scramble to react in time for February/March? What do you guys think?

lol it would BE

By cutting story pages, I can see how a company could produce a given issue for less cost, but is that really paying creators less? Don’ t artists get paid by the page? Or is that an old model and they work for different scales nowadays? If they _do_ get paid by the page, are those rates going down? Sure, they do less pages for a given issue, but they’re not being paid less, they can still do however many pages they did before in a day or week. I’m not trying to pick a fight, I’m really curious about this since I’ve seen it both ways: shorting the creators or just lowering the price of publication (since they’re making something smaller, but paying the same for the “raw” material)

Reduced page count would mean more time to do another issue of a series, meaning in all equal terms the artist would make the same if not a bit more money per year, with only very minimal “overtime,” as it were in terms of drawing.

The Coolest Dad (tm)

November 1, 2010 at 12:25 pm

@Lemurion – And that’s fine. The company really doesn’t need to tell us anything at all concerning their internal pricing / profit structure. However, the corporate sleight of hand used in the announcements / solicitations is becoming tiresome.

Raising a book to $3.99 and raising the page count to 40 in the solicitations and then dropping it at the last minute back to 32 pages while not dropping the price and then saying that the book was going to have it’s price raised no matter what and you should be happy to get 40 pages every now and then is completely disingenuous. Especially when you then go on to chide another publisher for dropping their page count / pricing.

Bottom line: I’d rather have no news than completely wrong news that they knew was wrong but put it out there anyway. Being told a story is going to be 40 pages / $3.99 when you don’t even have anything lined up for the extra 8 pages is poor planning. Why not solicit the story at 32 pages / $3.99 and then if you line up the talent for the back up, then updating the solicitations?

$3 for a digital comic?

Nice, Marvel. Nice. =\

funkygreenjerusalem

November 1, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Does anyone take anything Tom Brevoort says seriously?

He’s Marvel’s little pit bull – he’ll bark and bite and do whatever it takes to make it look like his companies always in the right, and won’t let a little thing like the truth get in the way.

His company fucked up their PR on this one – but apparently it’s everyone else’s fault.

Maybe he should get back to attacking DC for dropping two pages, without ever bothering to justify why his company needs to charge an extra dollar for two more pages.

It looks like there’s a wicked Misconstrue Flu going around this season. We comics bloggers need to get our shots next year!

This guy is unreal. So he’s blaming the fans for misconstueing “We will be lowering prices on new titles to 2.99 in January.” That’s a good way to retain readers . . . =(

Also, I love his version of when this announcement by Gabriel was made: “around the time that DC made their announcement.” Let’s be a little more accurate here, because clearly Brevroot is “misconstrueing” the timeline. DC announced their planned price drop. About an hour or two LATER Marvel came out with a hastily-made, vague, and generally weaker counter-announcement.

Does it ever getting tiring for Marvel’s management to be so childish, petty, and generally ridiculous about how they treat the business of comics? It’s certainly tiring for me as a fan . . . and that’s manifesting in me dropping pretty much every book from Marvel.

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