Robot 6

Quote of the day | Tom Brevoort on the spinner racks of this century

Tom Brevoort

I could spend a tremendous amount of time, effort and energy trying to get comics back onto spinner racks in 7-Elevens. But that would be a waste of resources because the reason there aren’t any spinner racks in 7-Elevens anymore is because they were no longer fiscally feasible. The amount of money those racks generated for the amount of space and maintenance they required was not worthwhile for that organization. All the wishing in the world on my part is not going to change that. I think it’s imperative for us to reach out to the youngest possible demographic and appeal to their sensibilities to draw them into this world, but I think you’re going to see that through digital and animation more than traditional comic book publishing.

–Marvel’s SVP of Publishing Tom Brevoort in his brand-new Axel Alonso-less column “Talk to the Hat” on CBR, noting how 7-Eleven spinner racks are no longer a realistic gateway for kids into comics, despite what some fans may think. He also talks a lot about comics aimed at kids, and shares his thoughts on why certain titles work (Marvel Adventures Spider-Man) and certain titles don’t (Thor: The Mighty Avenger) to bring kids into comics.

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12 Comments

This generation’s spinner rack is iTunes. They need to get more of their comics into their app, and sooner rather than later.

Hey, that started out as a soundbite, a fairly glib thing to say, but as I think about it, the parallels are there. For publishers, digital publishing has a lot of similar pitfalls to sale-or-return. In both cases, the direct market was/is the safety blanket. Sure, it’s risky to abandon it, but the rewards are potentially huge.

Yep. iTunes and Apps.

Oh, and content that PARENTS are comfortable buying for their kids. Publisher need to figure out they’re selling t the parents just as much as they’re selling to kids.

Sir Manley Johnson

January 28, 2011 at 5:51 pm

i never ever see Archie comics in the grocery or 7-11.

In the article, he also points out that animation is the other gateway drug for these characters, and he’s right. My son and his classmates all love Suoerhero Squad, and that’s one area where Marvel is indisputably kicking DC’s ass right now. DC has nothing equivalent on the air right now for really young kids — I love Brave and the Bold, but it’s sometimes a little too intense — and Superhero Squad is cleverly indoctrinating a new generation into the Marvel Universe.

And for the record, I was a DC guy growing up, and I feel like DC rules the roost as far as comics for young, young kids, with Tiny Titans.

They still sell newspapers and magazines in a 7-11. There doesn’t seem to be any reason they can’t carry comics.

And kids are still reading books. So isn’t there a way to get to kids wherever it is that kids are buying The Hunger Games or Harry Potter?

The problem is increasingly that opportunities to browse are fading. The ability to pick up a comic or a book or anything like that and just look at it is not there online. And I have no idea how you sell someone something they didn’t know they wanted through Amazon.

If you want your new customers to merely read a comic book now and then, then yeah, an App for the I-phone or a Kindle for the PC is the way to go.

But if you want your new customers to become collectors, fans who will keep coming back, then you need to get the physical product out where they can see it. If the corner store/7-11 is no longer viable, then what about book stores and department stores?

Speaking as a collector from Australia, I can say the the number of titles available in at the newsagents is rapidly diminishing, leaving only comic shops or Borders as the place to buy comics. As these stores are not as ever-present as a department store or some of the other well known chain of book stores, many new readers are denied the chance to expand on their interest after watching an animated series or live action movie.

What about bringing back mail order subscriptions, direct from the publishers?

Convenience stores are dead.

Are there comics in Wal-Mart and Target?

They should be up front by the registers.

Spinner racks were viable when comics were $.25-$. 75. My parents would buy them for me after baseball and football practice when I was getting a Big Gulp. Even though I preferred them over the Big Gulp or whatever they were an affordable add-on .As long as comics are 3 and 4 dollars, they don’t serve a purpose in those places.

Register space costs money. It’s an impulse area where people wait in line… so of course it commands a pretty penny.

Department stores rarely have books, let alone comics. Specialty retailers like Barnes & Noble killed that market years ago. MAYBE Target or WalMart will have a book section, but it is small and usually contains only bestsellers. Toy stores, which once monopolized the 3-in-a-bag segment rarely sell books, let alone comic books. As Mr. Brevoort says, it’s not worth the trouble. Magazine stands require a lot of manpower. Each week is new product coming in, and old product being returned. Spinner racks succeeded by placing those colored strips on the top of each page, so retailers could pull by color, not title, each week.

Comics are still available at the newsstand. Not in the diversity of sizes that Europe has (I would love to get a premium toy when buying Marvel Adventures!), but there is some presence. I am somewhat surprised that Marvel doesn’t reprint older comics in digest form, like Condor did in Germany, offering 200 pages of reprints at a cheap price. Sell to the older fan and to kids who want a fun, cheap read.

I’m going to have to ask the manager at my LCS if young kids are coming into the shop and saying (like Brevoort said) “Hey, I just watched this cartoon about *insert character*, I want to buy the comics” because I’m kinda dubious about it. I think what’s important to DC and Marvel now is to get the kids hooked by the cartoons so they later buy the $70 video game and watch the movies.

I He talks about drawing them “into this world,” so I’m not even sure he’s talking about getting them hooked on the comics so much as the characters. These days, a kid can be a Marvel fan and have plenty of entertainment at his or her fingertips while having no idea there are comics focused on the characters.

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