Robot 6

DC’s Eddie Berganza to Marvel: You lie!

not Eddie Berganza

not Eddie Berganza

“Let’s put it this way…we lowered our prices and didn’t lie about it.”

DC Comics Executive Editor Eddie Berganza at C2E2’s “Brightest Day” panel this weekend, responding to a fan who asked if DC was better than Marvel.

You might recall the last time price cuts became a topic for discussion at a Reed Exhibitions comic convention. Back at October’s New York Comic Con, DC announced the initiative that would come to be known as “holding the line at $2.99,” dropping co-features (and two story pages) from all of its ongoing series and pricing them all at $2.99 rather than the then-increasingly-customary $3.99. Not even an hour later, Marvel Senior VP-Sales & Circulation David Gabriel announced that Marvel would be cutting prices too, with new books no longer launching at $3.99 as of January 2011. Though few details were forthcoming, the announcement piggybacked on DC’s in such a way as to lead to “DC and Marvel both cut prices”-style headlines (see here and here for examples). But the price cuts many believed were forthcoming on all new Marvel titles largely failed to materialize, with the new $2.99 titles located almost entirely in the limited-series portion of the company’s offerings. This in turn led Marvel’s then-VP-Executive Editor Tom Brevoort to claim that Gabriel’s statement (and, by extension, seemingly corroborative follow-ups at NYCC by Brevoort and Marvel PR guru Arune Singh) had been “misreported or misconstrued,” which frankly was kind of a stretch given the abundance of comics press outlets who reported the story in more or less exactly the same way. And thus you get Berganza’s pointed pushback.

Of course, Brevoort isn’t the sort to take this lying down. When asked about Berganza’s comments on his Formspring account, here’s how Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Publishing responded:

No, we didn’t lie about it. We’ve been offering more new titles at $2.99, and the $3.99 books stay where they are–we never said any different. (Also, given the pasting they took in dollar share in January and February, much of which was a result of their price reduction, I’d be surprised if they hold to it for the entire year as they said they would. I’m guessing that you’ll see more $3.99 DC books around September.)

Ah, comics: From debates about price points to figuring out whether the Hulk is really “the strongest one there is,” you wouldn’t be the same without semantics.

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Comments

25 Comments

Shurron Farmer

March 21, 2011 at 9:24 am

I believe Marvel should bring their main comics down to $2.99. For example, the Avengers titles are featuring an ‘oral history’ of the Avengers in addition to the main story; however, the oral history is just boring IMHO. Hasn’t this been covered in Handbooks and Indexes? Furthermore, even is the story is good why pay $3.99 for 22 pages of story instead of $3.99?

Shurron Farmer

March 21, 2011 at 9:26 am

Typo in the previous comment; the last sentence should state, “Furthermore, even is the story is good why pay $3.99 for 22 pages of story instead of $2.99?”

The only thing I know for sure is that the Hulk “is the strongest one there is” and Wolverine is “the best there is at what he does, but what he does best isn’t very nice” :D

Peace

The comment about dollar share sounds like nonsense.

Presumably, DC cut story pages to increase profit and lowered prices to increase circulation, which would affect ad rates. So the only thing that matters to DC would be profit and loss and number of copies sold, not dollar share of the total market.

Man, Tom Breevort seems to get sleazier by the day. In one paragraph he manages to completely gloss over the FUD that Marvel spewed with their original press release, engage in some chest-thumping over a fairly meaningless statistic in market share, and imply that DC isn’t serious about their pricing policy so it doesn’t matter anyway.

well just because you bring down a book to $2.99 doesn’t mean you are providing a good story, Titans comes to mind.

I dunno, I understand why people would refrain from buynig a $3.99 book over a $2.99, but lying about it? Marvel has been kinda open about this from what I’ve read.

That being said, the Flashpoint series is $3.99, didn’t they say it didn’t count because it was annouced before the drop point? That seems shady.

buying* whoops

You have to give Breevort some credit, every time he speaks he makes himself sound more petty than last time. You know it was kinda fun when he started this let’s attack DC gimmick, but like so many of Marvel’s recent gimmicks this has just gone on too long and is now just mean spirited and ugly. This is not what you want as a public face for your company it just reflects badly on everyone.

@Lando Seriously people need to stop bring up the price of Flashpoint. DC was upfront about the fact there were still going to be oversized issues above $2.99 price point. It is even right there in the initial announcement linked to in the post.

Also while it is true Marvel didn’t outright lie, they were purposely vague and obstructive with their actual intent. All in order to mitigate the impact of DC’s announcement.

Well, at least one of us is voting with our dollars– I’m not buying any of the 3.99 books, at least, not in singles. And I already buy my comics at a considerable discount.

@ Lando

DC’s original press release said

“Beginning January 2011, DC Comics will implement a line-wide pricing adjustment, lowering the prices of all standard length 32-page ongoing comic book titles currently priced at $3.99 to $2.99, it was announced today by DC Comics Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio. ”

seeing as Flashpoint is 40 pages. They covered themselves from day one. In no way shady.

I yet have to find an official word from DC that the storypages for 2.99 books where dropped to 20. It was a surprise for me.
20 pages for 2.99 is still better then 22 for 3.99 if you simply take the quantity into account.

and on another note DC ‘”pasting” in marketshare was more to do with the face they published 20 less comics than Marvel in February.and in January Green Lantern, Batman Inc and Flash weren’t released.

I don’t care what my comics cost, I care if they’re any good. This is why I don’t buy Marvel/DC superhero books, unless you count Tiny Titans and Young Justice.

Most superhero comics lately have very violent and meaningless (as in meaningless, overly-violent, usually undone in a year or three deaths, with no lasting impact and honestly not even a decent story in one issue much less twenty in a row) storylines.

Comics used to be fun. Now they’re just events that lack character and heart and are more about the current popular trend (i.e. vampires, and zombies) than they are about quality and telling good stories. I understand the desire to sell your comics and to make a profit, otherwise you won’t be in business long but constantly betraying the readership (either by destroying years of continuity or dragging it back up like DC & Marvel do) doesn’t help.

Just tell good stories. And stop putting out 30 Batman books and Wolverine books and Avengers books. Seriously, if they were all good, or weren’t all dependent on one another (despite everyone constantly saying they’re not) then people would buy the books. Marvel and DC have a strict policy of only selling to their audience and doing nothing to grow that audience. Between the prices, the excessive violence, and the tired and very nitpicky continuity that gets discarded, rewritten, or undone every week it is a miracle, at least to me, that super hero comic books have an audience at all.

Seriously, who cares about the price, write good stories and keep an art/writing team on a book for longer than a week, please.

I can’t remember the last time I actually looked to see how much a comic actually was that I was buying…I just see the final tally and I either go “sweet” or “Jeeeeeebus” pay and go on my merry way, repeat the cycle the next week.

All these people are so quick to call Brevoort “petty” or “sleazy” seem to forget the fact that he’s responding to a pot shot already. How would you respond to being called a liar in public?

You know what’s BS about Brevoort being completely blind to Marvel’s flaws?

Robot 6 a few weeks/months back ran an article about how Brevoort bitched that DC didn’t use finished artwork for some covers in a solicit for a given month, acting how it’s not professional. Yet this month’s solicits (and prior ones) for Marvel have things like Thor #3 having no cover AT ALL, instead using an uncolored interior page from Thor #1. And let’s not ignore how Marvel repeatedly has books solicited that have TBA and TBD constantly for writers and artists, showing a lack of quality for a story but publishing the book simply for the money as a cash grab tie-in.

And Dan Carter, Brevoort does nothing BUT pot shots, almost on a weekly basis. That he gets his fedora all frumped to a side because the other team called Marvel on their purposely misleading actions regarding their own price drops is something he should just man up and take, because really, what’s this make the score in relation to cheap shots, Marvel 100, DC 1?

I do find it hard to separate comics from the people who make them. Morally, we all know that DC is not good. And somehow Brevoort seems to be the bigger jerk here. He is saying that $2.99 per issue isn’t sustainable? Where’s his finance experience?

Archie, Ardden, Aspen, Bongo, Dark Horse, GG Studios, Image, Slave Labor and 215 Ink sell < $3 comics with a much lower dollar share than DC, and I'm willing to bet they'll continue to do so past this September.

I always love how the market share is meaningless when it does help people’s arguments. It’s usually those same people who are quick to point out that DC beat Marvel with most books in the top 10 or had the number 1 book. I would love comics to be 2.99 again, but I would also like movie tickets to be $7 for a night show, movie rentals to be 2.50, and gas to be $2 a gallon. It’s not going to happen. Everything is going up in price. As a consumer, the best we can do is get the most for your dollar. If 3.99 gets me a top notch creative team on my favorite books, with extra pages of story or other cool bonus content, then it’s worth it to me. I was against the price drop without the reduced page count from the start. I don’t want less for my money, I want more. DC didn’t just drop the page count on their 3.99 titles, they did it to their 2.99 ones as well. I actually am paying the amount of money for 2 less pages on a lot of the books I am reading, and I was really enjoying a lot of the back-ups they did away with.

Edit, supposed to the market share is meaningless when it doesn’t help their arguments.

funkygreenjerusalem

March 21, 2011 at 4:30 pm

I yet have to find an official word from DC that the storypages for 2.99 books where dropped to 20. It was a surprise for me.

They announced it at New York Comic Con, and then did several press releases, interviews and blog spots about it.

Google ‘Jim Lee Dan Didio 20pages’ and a whole bunch of stuff will come up from October last year onwards.

All these people are so quick to call Brevoort “petty” or “sleazy” seem to forget the fact that he’s responding to a pot shot already. How would you respond to being called a liar in public?

Actually, this is the first time DC has responded to many, many comments Brevoort has made slagging the company – and damn near everyone is calling Marvel a liar in public after announcing they were dropping prices as well, just to hijack DC’s publicity.

Breevorts’s jeered them for dropping prices – saying that WB is subsidizing DC as a non-profitable entity, and Marvel can’t drop prices to $2.99 as Disney expects them to make money (this of course in retaliation after the comics press got annoyed at being called liars, when he tried to take back statements saying Marvel would drop prices).
He’s also slagged DC many times over dropping their page count, and launched an (apparently unsuccessful) campaign to send in unsold DC comics for variant Marvel covers.

The only difference with DC’s comment is that they don’t have a history of jeering like he does, so it’s twice as powerful – and it really does highlight that Marvel lied to sabotage a day of good press for DC.

Honestly though, just from who’s got the loud mouth and does or the slagging, if you didn’t know already, you’d assume DC was number one, and Marvel was the under-dog desperate for attention.

And Dan Carter, Brevoort does nothing BUT pot shots, almost on a weekly basis. That he gets his fedora all frumped to a side because the other team called Marvel on their purposely misleading actions regarding their own price drops is something he should just man up and take, because really, what’s this make the score in relation to cheap shots, Marvel 100, DC 1?

Depends – I think DC should get extra points, as their call was true, and un-hypocritical.
Not much of what Breevort says has either of those going for it.

I always love how the market share is meaningless when it does help people’s arguments.

I know what you mean, but in this case, it’s more the case of Breevort tying it into his argument willy-nilly.
He’s taking the cheap shot, with no evidence that one beget the other, and that’s why it’s rather meaningless.

I would love comics to be 2.99 again, but I would also like movie tickets to be $7 for a night show, movie rentals to be 2.50, and gas to be $2 a gallon. It’s not going to happen. Everything is going up in price. As a consumer, the best we can do is get the most for your dollar.

Yeah, but the only motivating factor in this price rise was Marvel raising their quarterly profits to gear up for the Disney sale.
There was no price increases down the line in production – and Marvel said they did it to maximize profits.

As sales across the board plummeted after the price increase, doing away with it is a smart long term move.

Before I say what I have to say, I have to stress that I am a Marvel Zombie and a DC Fanboy. I don’t want to come across as one said or the other. Now let’s face it, Marvel did lie. They were trying to jump on the price lowering bandwagon that is all.

Back in the day when the prices were raised, it was said it was to save the lower selling titles and we all know what happened to the lower selling titles. Then they said it was to keep getting the top of the talent. Ok, no problem there. I understand you want to keep Bendis, Fraction, and such in your stable and happy. I assume that Brubaker and Deodato are part of this talent and thus making Secret Avengers 3.99. Well now that they are leaving, shouldn’t that book now be 2.99. No disrespect to Nic Spenser and Scott Eaton but they don’t fit into the high price talent yet. IMO, they are in the same pool as Gage and McKone when Avengers Academy was launched. They lowered the price of Thor when JMS and Copiel left and when Gillien and Tan took over, until when they thought Fraction Ferry were taking over. Also, ok you want Jason Aaron on Wolverine, thus making this a 3.99 book, but please tell me, and again no disrespect, are Charlie Huston and Juan Jose Ryp in the same calibur, thus making Wolverine: The Best There Is a similar priced title.

So now they say that 2.99 will be the new price of #1’s and mini series. I only see that price on mini series that they know will not sell that good. Captain America: Hail Hydra, I don’t think anybody was really demanding that, so 2.99, Daredevil: Reborn?…..that might sell….3.99. And can anybody find me what new ongoings had a 2.99 price? I can’t remember personally, all I can remember is Venom and that was not 2.99. We already know that Moon Knight won’t be, so it is safe to assume that Daredevil and Punisher will not be as well. Plus Moon Knight #2 is listed at 3.99 which is hard to believe when the last series lasted 10 issues. Ghost Rider, that’s a tough one with Rob Williams and Matt Clark coming on board.

Now off the subject of the lie, after 26 years I reading Marvel, I am on the verge of leaving them. It is a hard decision but when the you see what is coming on Tuesday you might be able to understand. In the new soliciations, there are alot of titles double shipping. So not only do you have to deal with the higher prices, but on some titles like X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, you get them twice at that price. June is going to be a killer month and I don’t think Marvel realizes the position they are putting their fans in. They are going to be flooding the market again. I wish someone there would wake up and put themselves in our shoes because I want to continue reading Marvel and their characters but I also want to read DC, Image, Boom, and IDW.

Well I guess that is it for now. Thanks for reading and I was not looking for a fight, just wanted to get some stuff on my chest and telling my wife doesn’t work when she has no idea what the hell I am talking about

Comics used to be fun. Now they’re just events that lack character and heart and are more about the current popular trend (i.e. vampires, and zombies) than they are about quality and telling good stories. I understand the desire to sell your comics and to make a profit, otherwise you won’t be in business long but constantly betraying the readership (either by destroying years of continuity or dragging it back up like DC & Marvel do) doesn’t help.

Comics are still fun. Off the top of my head, here are ten titles currently being published that are fun in different ways: Powerman and Iron Fist, Sixth Gun, Amazing Spider-Man, Casanova, Batgirl, Atomic Robo, Batman Inc, Knight and Squire, Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine, Godland, and I haven’t even named any of the titles that are explicitly for kids.

As for cashing in on trends, well, I’m struggling to think of a period in which comics didn’t rely on popular trends for profits. The 50s and 60s? No, Stan Lee has gone on record about his publisher’s dictum to direct the line toward whatever genre was selling at the time, to the extent that Captain America suddenly changed to a horror comic in the vein of Tales from the Crypt. The 70s? I don’t believe so: the monster books look like a direct response to the renaissance of horror at the box office. And surely you don’t buy that Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu showed up on the stands at the height of Bruce Lee’s popularity by sheer coincidence? The 80s? Well, I consider the 80s to be a banner period for comic books, but even then, the Big Two weren’t above the occasional toy and TV tie-in or blatant cash-grab like Secret Wars 2. The 90s of course were a decade devoted to cash-grabs.

I also don’t buy that quality has slipped over the years. The comics of the new millenium are as good as comics ever have been, better even in some ways. The new millenium has seen a rise in the level of craft, with improved paper quality, lettering, and coloring technology. Artists are allowed ample time to complete a book, as opposed to the expectation of pages turned out at an assembly line pace, the status quo in Kirby’s day. Moreover, in many, many more instances than in past times, writers have near-total control of the characters they write, while limitations imposed by the constant oversight of censors such as the Comics Code have largely evaporated.

I understand the urge toward nostalgia to justify disenchantment with a genre you have most likely outgrown. But your pining for better days bygone is truly “No Country for Old Men”-esque in its character, in that it seems doubtful if the halcyon times of “fun” comics, free of trendy gimmicks, ever existed in any sustained capacity.

Seriously, if they were all good, or weren’t all dependent on one another (despite everyone constantly saying they’re not) then people would buy the books.

This is a pretty romantic and – as far as I can tell – unfounded assertion. Case in point: Thor the Mighty Avenger. Completely independent of continuity, Thor the Mighty Avenger garnered about as much good press as any comic book ever has. It was, by every account, a great, fun, all-ages title, and it sold like sunscreen in a snowstorm. Quality and critical reception aren’t good predictors of sales for the Big Two, and reality shows that continuity is a selling point, not a deterrent to purchase.

And if by “people would buy the books,” you mean people outside of the established audience, again I have to disagree. The vast majority of people will never read comics regularly, no matter what the companies do to reach out to them. I think this is just the way the culture has moved, and it’s a reality that people have to accept. Book sales are down overall, and judging by my experience as a guy fresh out of undergrad, I have to say that young people don’t seem all that interested in fiction. Also, while many of the books that have picked up audiences beyond the usual Wednesday crowd ARE good, like Watchmen and Scott Pilgrim, in most cases, it’s the “importance” of the book, evidenced by its adaptation to other forms of media, and not its quality that appeals to the broader public.This is reflected in all the great works (such as the recent LINT or, again, Thor: TMA) which don’t make any kind of showing on sales charts. In short, a Marvel or DC line composed entirely of good comics probably wouldn’t do much to spring the industry out of its slump. To reference yet another film, if you build it, they still may not come.

Seriously, who cares about the price

This may be the most quixotic notion yet. To answer the question: people who can’t afford to devote 10% of their income to comic books. At $4 an issue and $25 per GN/TPB, plus sales tax, it’s pretty easy to see how one might end up spending over $200 a month on comics, even with a relatively modest pull list. Maybe you’re rich enough that it’s no skin off your nose, but I don’t think the average American can afford to be so artistically pure-minded about his purchases.

By the way, before I hit the “publish” button, I should add that I’m not trying to pick a fight with you in particular. It’s just that your post expressed many of the popular ideas I strongly disagree with and have been meaning discredit for a while now. I think there’s an overwhelming tendency among comic fans to point fingers and to point them as far away from themselves as possible. It’s very easy to blame a powerful, impersonal entity like DC or Marvel for the problems in the industry. While there’s certainly much room for improvement in their publishing strategies, the truth is that no one wants to see the industry thrive as much as the companies do, and if things are going badly, we should consider also that fans may be voting poorly with their wallets and that decline may be in part the inevitable result of changes in culture and economics over which the tiny comics industry can exercise no control.

Does this sort of back and forth happen in any other media? Do movie studios, television networks, publishing houses, or record labels engage in this?

This whole ‘Marvel vs DC’ thing is way past used up. It was fun when Stan did it — in the freaking 1960s.

I stopped buying marvel comics in January for exactly this reason. I also started to notice a significant difference in the quality of books that marvel was putting out post-Secret Invasion. There is no marvel title that exists right now that is worth $3.99. Name one book. None of them. Maybe Iron Man, but that is a stretch.

Another thing that bothers me is how marvel always goes out of their way to publicly bash DC. Why is this necessary? They have been the top dog for sooooo long. Being number one does not give you a license to bully your competition. Name any other industry where this is a successful marketing tactic. Its almost like watching two over-rated politicians go at it.

If marvel lowered their price I would definitely go back. Until then they will get none of this collectors money.

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