Robot 6

Comics A.M. | Borders seeks bonus approval; Marvel’s ‘Point One’ sales

Borders

Retailing | A bankruptcy judge is expected to hear arguments today from the bankrupt Borders Group, which is seeking to pay $8.3 million in bonuses in a bid to retain key corporate personnel. The struggling bookseller says that 47 executives and director-level employees have quit since the company declared bankruptcy on Feb. 16 — two dozen just this month — leaving only 15 people in senior management positions. In a court filing last week, U.S. bankruptcy trustee Tracy Hope Davis objected to the bonus proposal, characterizing it as “a disguised retention plan for insiders, which also provides for discriminatory bonuses for non-insiders.” [The Detroit News]

Publishing | Todd Allen looks at sales estimates for the first issues in Marvel’s “Point One” initiative, which featured self-contained stories designed to serve as a jumping-on point for new or lapsed readers: “With the sole exception of Hulk, retailers ordered less copies of the ‘jump on’ issue, than the regular series.  If you figure people picking up the title would also pick up the ‘.1′ introductory issue, this is a flaming disaster and there aren’t going to be a lot of these comics finding their way into the hands of new readers.  It smack of very low buy-in from the retail community.” [Indignant Online]

Conventions | Heidi MacDonald wraps up last weekend’s MoCCA Festival. [Publishers Weekly]

Comic-Con | The deadline for contributions to the 2011 Comic-Con Souvenir Book is April 29. [Comic-Con]

Retailing | Michael Waddell spotlights Memphis, Tenn.-area retailers Comics and Collectibles and Comic Cellar Cards, Comics & Games. [Memphis Daily News]

Daniel Clowes

Creators | Robot 6 contributor Sean T. Collins talks at length with Daniel Clowes about his new book Mister Wonderful. [The Comics Journal]

Creators | This Q&A with Lynda Barry covers a fascinating range of topics, from nervousness and figure skating to brain function and how art works. [The Boston Phoenix]

Creators | Mike Carey discusses his Vertigo series The Unwritten. [The Associated Press]

Creators | Jeffrey Brown chats about The Incredible Change-Bots, and the possibility of more installments: “I think there will be a third and possibly final book, although I don’t want to rule anything out. I still haven’t done any kind of parody or tribute to my other favorite toy growing up which is G.I. Joe. I had a bunch of ideas for a G.I. Joe parody and as I was finishing the second book and then doing some of the drawings and things for the compilation of odds and ends. I realized that I could very easily fold the G.I. Joe parody into the third Change Bots book. So it won’t be too specifically G.I. Joe, but there will be a third book where the Change Bots are now living on Earth and fighting with each other and humans as well. I haven’t quite figured out all the details yet. It would be down the road a couple of years before I get to that.” [Topless Robot]

Creators | Jesse Schedeen looks at the essential comics of Stuart Immonen. [IGN.com]

Creators | Eva Volin interviews Alexis Fajardo at WonderCon. [Good Comics for Kids]

Comics | Ben Morse compares and contrasts Marvel’s Thunderbolts and DC’s Suicide Squad. [The Cool Kids Table]

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21 Comments

Not surprised the point one comics were a fail. Marvel needed to reach beyond singing to the choir to make this initiative a success, and once again they banked on greed and the status quo, ending up with a pointless point one project. As this article offered, they needed to lower the price point to make this successful to potential new readers – make it an appetizing impulse buy, or something a comic geek could afford to buy extra copies to share with friends, etc. But we’re talking about Marvel here, so I’m guessing that idea’s way off the table. Also, the point one issues needed to be distributed beyond the comic shops. They needed to be distributed in chain book stores, or even take it a notch higher and set up displays in Targets or WalMarts. This is where potential new readers can be found. You sell comics in comic shops to appeal to established readers. I don’t read Hulk, and as a follower of Marvel comics I know why I don’t read Hulk. I don’t need a comic to try to tell me what they think I don’t already know from reading articles on sites like CBR. They need to radically rethink their outreach plans.

Shame, the Iron Man, Thor and Cap books were pretty decent, especially the Iron Man.

Borders = EPIC FAIL

I know half a dozen Borders ex-employees who are getting zilch from their “bankrupt” boss. Why should the clowns who steered the ship into the iceberg get rewarded?

For Point One, I suspect what happened–or at least one factor that may have played a role–is that the idea of a “.1 issue” was ambiguous enough that some confused these with “director’s cut” or similar editions. Uncanny X-Force #5.1 sounds like it should be Uncanny X-Force #5 with a bit of added material, more than an issue between #5 and #6. Marvel tried again and again to explain what these issues were, but I don’t think the branding itself was clear enough to convey the message, which is a significant problem. Because of this, too, it puts a lot of the burden on retailers to hand-sell–if I’m a casual reader who’s not reading comics news sites, I have no idea that “.1″ is meant as a great jumping on point.

Anxy’s got it here: “You sell comics in comic shops to appeal to established readers.”

You want new readers, you need to get out into the general public. Then, maybe you can pull people into the comic store, when they like what they see.

After picking up our weekly comics, my friend and I discussed how our Marvel pull is getting smaller as our DC list gets longer. Gowing up as Marvel Zombies, we never thought we would be buying more DC than Marvel comics. Marvel has so many titles coming out, but I’ve already decided that I won’t be buying anythin “new” at 3.99. My friend went to the extreme, he’s just dropping all Marvel titles.

Oh wait, this was about the .1 intiative. I’m glad it tanked. I saw it as another way of Marvel trying to get more cash out of me. When I started reading comics it was with Uncanny X-Men #166. I had no idea who the X-Men were, but within a few issues I had a general idea of their entire history. I didn’t need any special jump on issues. This was also before the internet so all the info I got was from the comics themselves.

I didn’t get the .1 issues, and I had each title on my pull list!

My LCS treated these as one-shot issues, not as a part of the ongoing series despite the odd .1 numbering.

So, despite having the title on our pull list, if you didn’t put down your order thru Previews you didn’t get a copy.

“Borders = EPIC FAIL

I know half a dozen Borders ex-employees who are getting zilch from their “bankrupt” boss. Why should the clowns who steered the ship into the iceberg get rewarded?”

QFT

It just sounds like they’re trying to drain the coffers as much as possible before the ship goes under…

Marvel’s Point One: Not only a failure but confusing. I am a regular Marvel reader & here’s some thoughts & how it affected my buying habits:

1) I thought a .1 issue would replace the regular issue, so if issue 322.1 came out, I didn’t look for issue 322.

2) Numerically, wouldn’t 322 come before 322.1? I think the new story arcs got this wrong.

3) What’s the point of having a .1 “intro” issue when the next issue is being done by a different creative team?

4) In some cases the issue before & after the .1 books were done by different creative teams. Thanks to the .1 initiative, this was brought to my attention and was able to drop some titles I might have picked up otherwise (not a Bachalo fan).

Really, these .1 issues are nothing but Annuals with a regular page count.

I just read jason’s response. Yeah, many LCS’s & online stores use pull lists so I could definitely see this as a reason for many .1 books not being picked up.

I get my books from DCBS but just don’t trust the “pull list”, so I comb through the offerings each month 1 at a time.

I thought the general concensus on the ‘.1′ event was that it was a failure before the first issues ever shipped. Marvel never made it clear. The LCS retailers surely didn’t give a damn about it (I knew more than my local retailer when I asked his thoughts about it). And Marvel’s explanations didn’t even follow suit with what actually happened. Explain the Thor.1 issue to me. A different creative team on an issue between the second to last and final issues! How is that a great ‘jumping on’ point?!
Point one = FAIL.

Or, the .1 ‘initiative’ was never about ‘jumping on points’ but about flooding the market with more product to bolster the monthly balance sheets. Marvel made their extra $$ regardless.

Borders:
From the linked Detroit News page: ” ‘The more employees (Borders) loses, the harder (Borders’) senior management and director-level employees must work to compensate for these losses,’ Borders’ attorneys wrote in the filing.”
My God! They have to WORK…HARDER??? Didn’t they already do ENOUGH to Borders???

Marvel and the “Point One” program:
Should have been taken out of the comics shops and put in Toys R’Us, Target, Wal-Mart, etc.
Missionaries don’t sit in church.

Atomic Kommie re:Borders

Exactly. It is scary to think what stupidity Borders Management could come up with if they were working at it say twice as hard. Let’s see – my local Borders had a full Geneology center, then replaced it with a Digital Music center (incompatible with iPod), then featured the Kobo…none of which anyone wanted. Giving them bonuses for completely misjudging the market over and over is crazy.

If they had simply cut prices and advertised once in a while they’d likely still be competitive.

It’s hard (re: impossible) to deny Marvel’s fantastic marketing skills but even the best misstep now and again. The Point One campaign really was a great idea with awful execution. For something that was to bring in new readers, they made it confusing for new people to understand. Even hardcore fans were confused by it.

Nothing on the covers even explained what it was for. How would anyone know? And why were these only in comic stores?

The idea of putting out an extra issue of a series is great. It gives new and current fans more to read. But there is a better and far more logical way to do it:

- Number them regularly, with no confusing .1 at the end. If you think about it logically, it’s obvious that 50.1 comes after 50 but it’s still weird for new readers. So just put out an extra regularly numbered issue during the month.

- To differentiate from the other issue that comes out that month, price them at 99 cents ($1.50 at the most, but we all know 99 CENTS would be more eye-catching).

- Don’t try to think up a cool marketing slogan like “Point One”. Simple is better. Every one of these issues should have a big label across the top with the name of the new reader campaign. And what is that name? “99 CENT STARTING POINT!” And right under that? “Perfect for new readers!”

It really is that simple and it would do wonders for the industry to have a wide campaign like that.

Another thing about the .1 books was that with the exception of a few series, most of these came out during a storyline. So, the people who bought the .1 to jump on, and bought the next issue were lost. The Spider-Man worked out well as a Venom #0.1, but unless you read it, you had no idea. Spidey was in all of just a few panesl in the entire issue.

Marvel failed, and unlike the previous Flashback issues, nothing excited me. Although Cap, Iron Man, Thor, Spidey, and Hulk were pretty good.

@Jeff:

I agree that Marvel is usually quite good at things, which makes the Point One initiative doubly puzzling. Thinking “logically” that 500.1 comes after 500, I think, was part of the problem—typically, people count in whole numbers. Back when the #0 and #1/2 issues started in the 1990s, it was clear these were meant to be origin stories because the number was less than one—thus, the stories take place before what we would normally consider the beginning. But, especially in an era in which people are conscious of version numbers from software and the like, attaching .1 to a whole number makes it sound like a revision rather than an intermediate counting number.

Several months ago, this column linked to an article about someone starting an ad agency that markets to comic readers; the agency was being started by guys that designed Colgate toothpaste ads for comics last year. Can anyone point me to that article?

Another stupidity with ‘point one’. The point-ones were priced at $3, but the next issue of many of those series were at $4.

Why pay $4 for an ordinary comic? (so why pay $3 to get started on an overpriced monthly title?)

I actually bought the recent X-men point one issue to reconnect with the book and characters after not getting it for awhile. A random purchase is something I never do but seeing point one and knowing it would be self-contained and a new jumping on point won me over.

I think the numbering is weird too, and I’m sorry to see that it looks like its not working out too well.

And for anyone that is still saying Marvel needed to put the point one issue in stores like Wal-Mart? A) Wal-Mart doesn’t want individual issues of comics and that’s not necessarily what this program was for and B) The bulk of new readership is going to be digital anyway.

Peter Morningstar

April 16, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Let’s be honest here, the point one issues were never a jumping on point. If you need an example of this take the Thor title, a point one followed shortly thereafter by a new issue #1 series relaunch, which means that Marvel marketing either don’t plan ahead, and don’t know what they’re doing…or the whole agenda was merely something else entirely than the one stated; namely sell more product to the same people who buy the regular titles, something i would say which is justified by the fact that for the majority of titles, orders placed for the point one issues were less than the regular issue.
Yet another market deception from the House of Lies.

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