Robot 6

Comics A.M. | Why Marvel spoils stories in the media, Green Lantern lateness

Ultimate Spider-Man #160

Publishing | Arune Singh, Marvel’s director of communications, addresses how Marvel works with media outlets to break major storyline news and in many cases spoil the story, like Ultimate Spider-Man dying. Their goal is to hopefully bring lapsed or non-fans into stores: “When we line up this kind of mainstream media coverage, it’s offering the promise of breaking this big news to the outlet. It’s with the knowledge that they’ll be the ones making the headlines, being referenced by other sites and getting the attention. But if we wait till the story breaks or the Wednesday books go on-sale, someone else is going to buy the issue early in the morning and break the news. Is it possible that mainstream outlets will still pick up on the news then? Yes, it’s possible. But the only way to guarantee that big, sweeping placement worldwide — as you’ve seen with the Death of Spider-Man — is to break it before anyone has a chance. And that kind of placement is, as I mentioned above, what will get us attention from outside the industry.” [ComicsAlliance]

Retailing | Toronto retailer Chris Butcher worries about how well the two late Green Lantern movie prequel comics — one shipping this week, one shipping in August — will sell so long after the film’s release. He also discusses the lateness of the final issue of the War of the Green Lanterns crossover, which won’t come out until after the epilogue story in this week’s Green Lantern Emerald Warriors #11. [Comics212]

Business | David Maisel, the former chairman of Marvel Studios who stepped down after the Disney merger, will serve as a special adviser to Rovio, the company behind the hit game Angry Birds. He will also serve as executive producer of future Angry Birds films. Surely an Angry Birds comic is being worked on somewhere. [Business Wire]

from Mister Wonderful

Best of 2011 | Already? Yes, already. names its best graphic novels of the year so far. Topping the list is Daniel Clowes’ Mister Wonderful, followed by The Cardboard Valise, iZombie Vol. 1: Dead to the World, the Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus and Anya’s Ghost. []

Comics | PopGun editor Joe Keatinge shares his love for Alejandro Jodorowsky and Jean “Moebius” Giraud’s The Incal: “Incal’s a comic which definitely deserved the prestigious format. Moebius’ linework always benefits from having a larger format, but the sheer scope of Incal warrants as large a presentation as possible. It’s not a small story – it begins with detective John Difool making a run-in with a giant monster who bestows him with the titular Incal, which eventually leads him to become something of a messianic figure. That all just barely scratches the first twenty-two pages. Throughout the entire saga, you’re faced with sprawling metropolises without an end, alien assassins, genetically spliced creatures, religious crusades and flying cars aplenty.” [Broken Frontier]

Batwing #1

Retailing | Retailer Ron Cacace from Fallout Shelter Comics in New Jersey discusses the DC relaunch: “From a retailer’s perspective, it’s easy to get excited about the possibilities that 52 #1 issues can bring. It’s also easy to get completely terrified. My initial reaction was that there would be no way to accurately order all of these comics and not risk taking a huge loss. I could easily assume that most of the people buying titles such as Green Lantern and Scott Snyder’s Detective Comics will stick around for the new issues as these books will remain relatively untouched. (Snyder will move over to Batman, but the creative team on Green Lantern remains the same.) But how should I order a title such as Blackhawks or Batwing? These aren’t characters with a built-in fan base or a previous title that I can judge my orders against.” [The Weekly Crisis]

Digital comics | David Brothers argues that digital comics should be sold as complete stories, not single issues. [ComicsAlliance]

Comics | Evan Hughes dives into the story of Harold von Braunhut, the man behind those sea monkey ads that used to run in the back of comics. [The Awl]

Creators | Becky Cloonan’s newest project isn’t a comic, apparently but an illustrated edition of Dracula. [Ink and Thunder]

Conventions | The artist site deviantART will sponsor the Artists Alley at Comic-Con International in San Diego this year, and they are offering two “scholarships” to pay all the expenses of the con for a webcomics artist and a traditional artist. [deviantART]



About Marvel spoiling their stories in the media:

As much as I’d like to say that’s BS, it works. I was visiting my LCS last week and at least TWO people were wandering around aimlessly – Lost. One of them asked where the Spidey comic was and I pointed it out. They each bought one.


Ah, but the bigger question is if those two buyers will ever RETURN to buy more comics. I kinda doubt they will…

The only issue I have with Arune’s comment is around the polly bagging. He says that not all fans read up on what’s going to happen, or is happening, through the internet and aren’t spoiled, which i agree with. He goes on to say that the polly bagging is for those people, so “the mystery is still preserved for them.” Marvel rewards some of thier readers but not all, just because some don’t read the solicts or info on the net. I’m not fond of this business model.

One thing i would like to see, and i can’t see how it can be tracked, but how many new readers, and by new i mean never read comics before, start buying comics on a continual basis because of these media blitzs? I beleive he points out FFs increase in numbers since Johnny’s death, but i don’t think it’s from new people coming in, but comics fans who see that something matters and need to be a part of that.

Snikt Snakt:

I think we all know by now – Marvel doesn’t care about returning customers. All they care about is the initial bump to claim success.

GLEW #11 is hardly an epilogue to War of GL.

Basically just a one and done that could have been inserted anywhere.

Brandon Morgan

June 29, 2011 at 7:54 am

The spoiling thing sort of gets to me. In what other entertainment medium would that sort of marketing be considered appropriate?

@Andrew, I’m sure they won’t be lost in a little while. It’s good that Marvel’s trying to get new readers, both for Marvel and the readers. However, the whole problem with putting the Death of Spider-Man story in the media is that it’s not clear enough in the headline that this isn’t mainstream Peter Parker, it’s a totally different one.

“Ah, but the bigger question is if those two buyers will ever RETURN to buy more comics. I kinda doubt they will…”

They won’t. The sales charts prove it again and again and again and again and again…

@Ryan: How do you even BEGIN to explain that to a non-comics reader? I think the only thing that can come of “explaining it better” is that you’ll either A) confuse the newbies, leading to them deciding it’s not worth the trouble, or 2) giving them the impression that it doesn’t “matter” because it’s not the “real” Spider-Man.

Get them in the doors. If even a very few of them remain readers, this is a good thing.

I would think that, in light of the re-launch, retailer might be wise to order light on all the brand-new #1s. With that many new books coming out, it would be better to sell through and re-order rather than order big and be stuck with three dozen Batwing or Justice League Dark #1s.

And gads, I need to check my grammar more thoroughly before I hit “publish.” Apparently, my caffeine hasn’t quite kicked in yet.

@Brandon Morgan

Seen a movie preview lately? I regularly get tweets like “the preview for ‘Attack the Block’ is out but for crying out loud, don’t watch it, it gives everything away!” Robert Zemeckis, back when he was making live-action movies, was quite candid about how a large chunk of the audience doesn’t want to be teased, but to know EXACTLY what they’re getting for their money.


Ultimately, does that matter? An enterprising retailer can easily sell that as a positive – that the comics with this trade dress tell a story about Ultimate Spider-Man dying and the aftermath, and the ones with that trade dress about Amazing Spider-Man in action.

I knew something was up with Emerald warriors coming out this week. What is DC doing? This is why dc is a mess. I am not even going to mention DCNU crap.

New readers will buy comics; they just won’t by them as pamphlets that can only be found in a dedicated comics shop. Trades and OGNS are doing just fine in the bookstore/big box market. When we talk about “saving comics/bringing in new readers” now, what we’re really talking about is bringing new readers into the direct market and the monthly, shared-universe superhero book.

Christopher Burton

June 29, 2011 at 11:21 am

As much as I wish it were otherwise, I suspect that Marvel makes much more money off of licensing and merchandising than they do off of comics publishing. Publishing stunts like the Death of Spider-Man and spoiling it in the mass media don’t really serve to boost readership although that may be the case on a very short-term basis. No, they’re really using it as free advertising for the Spider-Man brand. As long as consumers are aware of the Spider-Man brand (even if it may not be from reading the comic books), Marvel can continue to license the character for everything from t-shirts to Broadway musicals.

As for the first headline, at least wait until people can buy the issue to actually spoil it for everybody. This time the story broke on Tuesday and there wasn’t an early release either. As far as I could tell, CBR did a good job of somewhat burying the story under other headlines and pieces. In any case, this was the second time I was spoiled before my some media outlet before getting to actually read the issue.

As for DC’s being late, while having two or more parts of “War of the GLs” ship in the same week wasn’t an elegant solution, this is even worse. They should have just held back this issue, give the creative team time for the next and then ship it the same week or the week after Green Lantern, where “War” actually ends.

Aren’t all of the books that are part of the DC relaunch returnable for the first three months or so?

For gauging interest on new titles . . . maybe retailers could set up some sort of online survey (it’s fairly easy with Google Docs forms) and ask customers to check off which titles they’re interested in?

It wouldn’t be 100% accurate, but it might help store owners figure out if, say, Static Shock is something they’d be safer stocking by the handful or by the armload.

I don’t understand how anybody didn’t know this was coming. Spider-Man dies in the final part of a story called “The Death of Spider-Man”, a story which Bendis promised was going to be about the death of Spider-Man. This isn’t some out-of-the-blue story, they’ve been hyping it for six months or more [in retrospect, I realize that’s because they knew they could get a media blitz out of the lack of understanding about the distinction between “Ultimate’ and “regular”].

Pfff, feels more like they’ve been hyping the Death of Spider-Man for over a year now.

It’s time for Bendis to shit or get off the pot.

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