SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
Comic-Con International kicked into full gear Friday in a bustling second day that was capped off last night with the presentation of the 24th annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. Here’s the highlights of the announcements emerging from the second day — and a few holdovers from the first day — of the San Diego convention:
• During its annual “Cup O’ Joe” panel, Marvel teased post-Avengers Vs. X-Men plans that include: A+X, described as “the opposite of [AvX: VS],” by such creators as Jeph Loeb, Dan Slott, Dale Keown and Ron Garney; Avengers Vs. X-Men: Consequences, a five-issue miniseries written by Kieron Gillen that addresses the effects of the summer crossover; Marvel NOW! Point One, featuring Nick Fury Jr.; and an October one-shot called Avengers Vs. X-Men: Babies, by Skottie Young.
• After initially dismissing Kickstarter as a potential source of money for the stalled Goon animated movie, creator Eric Powell teased he plans to launch a campaign on the crowd-funding website.
Sadly, I’m broke this week so, no thoughts on The Amazing Spider-Man.
Actually, I have a lot of thoughts about the idea of the new Spider-Man adventure out in theaters this week and a lot more thoughts on the idea of the new … *sigh* Marvel NOW! relaunch happening this October. A lot of thoughts about the need to be popular and successful, and what that means for the little nerd in all of us.
Because it’s very important to remember that when you see a new and younger Spider-Man or a fresh first issue on the stands for a book that was just renumbered what seems like last year, all of that gloss and fanfare just isn’t for us. It’s not for the longtime reader or the devoted fan; marketing rarely takes us into consideration. After all, they have our money. All they have to do is put together a solid creative team with a fresh idea and publish it regularly. And who wants to make it that simple?
Let’s talk about how frustrating it is to organize a comic collection when things get renumbered, and mourn the loss of the familiar, and why we don’t have to rage against the marketing machine after the break.
The takeaway from November’s direct-market sales estimates seemed to be that Marvel had rebounded from its thrashing the previous month by DC Comics, whose New 52 numbers appear to be settling. With 33.3 percent of dollar shares and 37.94 percent of unit sales, the House of Ideas came within two points of its competitor.
However, in its analysis ICv2.com suggests that those numbers don’t tell the whole story, and that the sales of some of Marvel’s top titles are a bit — or, in one case, “seriously” — inflated.
The retail news and analysis site reminds us that the publisher’s top-selling comic at No. 5, the $5.99 Point One, was over-shipped, with stores receiving double their initial orders as free copies. That means retailers didn’t order an estimated 113,352 copies but rather around 56,600, placing Point One at No. 29 on the Diamond Comic Distributors chart, between The Amazing Spider-Man #673 and The Avengers #19.
Skipping past The Avenging Spider-Man #1 and Wolverine and the X-Men #2, with their variant covers — four for the former alone — brings us to Fantastic Four #600, the anniversary issue whose $7.99 price tag helped Marvel to gain ground in dollar share.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
If I had $15, I’d first get the third issue of my favorite New 52 title, Batwoman #3 (DC, $2.99). Seriously, J.H. Williams III is hitting a home run on every outing here when it comes to my tastes. Although the writing isn’t up to the level of Greg Rucka’s time on the book, it’s close and only bound to get better. Next up I’d get Point One #1 (Marvel, $5.99). I think this format–an extra-size preview book for what’s coming next–is an interesting experiment, and I’m intrigued most by the Nova story, but also interested to see what the others do. Third would be Uncanny X-Force #17 (Marvel, $3.99), to get the one-two punch of Rick Remender and Jerome Opena. Iceman as a bad guy? I dig this.
I hate to start it out this way, but we have to talk.
Despite fan apathy, despite the louder bolder act from the Distinguished Competitor, Fear Itself is a mighty fine event book. It has a very easy premise that people unfamiliar with comics can get into (hey, you know Thor? It’s like all the bad guys are that strong now), it’s got that “Versus” style atmosphere where people can debate all day long on who should have really been the first down or defeated in the Worthy vs. Heroes, it’s got a super-powered upgrade coming up for us by Iron Man, there’s been some tragedy and some triumph, and coming up in October, we’ll have closure with an ending that multiple comics can build up or down from.
Or maybe not.
Remember in the last Lord of the Rings movie when they just kept having to tie up so many loose ends or add so much finality to the main story that it just felt like the audience just didn’t know where to applaud in a well-made film? Or even worse, you drank a really big soda during a three-hour+ movie and really wanted it to have a firm sense of a finish so you could escape? Yeah.
So, thanks to some New Math numbering by Marvel, it looks like #7 of Fear Itself really doesn’t end so much for our heroes because come November, we’re getting a Captain America ending, an Iron Man ending and a Thor ending (Depending on how well you do playing through the game, does this unlock any achievements?) If your mini-series is seven issues long, you should be able to tell me a complete story between issues #1 and #7. Afterwards, if there is a banner theme running around the books as they’ve done historically since Avengers: Disassembled and even further with some of the old annual arcs, so be it. I think, as comic readers, we’re more familiar with picking up what looks good coming out of a major event and deciding for ourselves that hey, let’s see the prologue with a certain character after the book is finished. Even a Fear Itself: Thor #1 one-shot would be more preferable, because at least with some distance from the main series, it feels like we’re moving on and not buying a very sneaky issues #8, 9 and 10.
Yeah, it’s probably too much of a sour note to play against the backdrop of a very solid set of storytelling, but man. What a way to start November.
Let’s see what else is coming from the House of Ideas in November 2011, shall we?
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Three down, one to go … here’s a list of the major comics-related announcements made at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Saturday:
• A number of new projects were announced or promoted at Image’s Creator-Owned Comics panel, not the least of which is the return of Brian K. Vaughan to comic books. Vaughan will write a book called Saga, which is co-created and drawn by Fiona Staples. Vaughan told CBR that the book is “an epic drama chronicling the life and times of one young family fighting to survive a never-ending war. 100 percent creator-owned. Ongoing. Monthly. Fiona and I are banking issues now.”
• Image also announced that Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman is collaborating with Charlie Adlard on a new series of graphic novels called Album. The books will be released roughly 18 months apart, 60 pages long, with different themes each year, with the first being Passenger. It’s co-published with Delcourt in France and will be available simultaneously in English and France.
• Jonathan Hickman and Nicky Pitarra will team up for The Manhattan Projects at Image. Hickman is also doing a book called Secret with artist Ryan Godenheim.
If you’re reading this, you had a first comic. You probably can even remember the issue number. Often times, just the words “first comic” automatically conjure up images and speech bubbles freshly discovered to new eyes. Some of you may have liked your first comic, some of you may have had to read a couple before that shining moment of comic book glory arrived, but without a doubt, there’s always your first.
It’s odd to think, then, that there’s a segment of the pop culture populace that doesn’t really know how comics work. It’s like being aware of a hit TV show for them; yeah, they heard the name or saw a commercial when watching Dancing With the Stars, but they don’t watch it. Comic shop employees have probably heard the stupefied question, “They still make comic books?” on more than one occasion in a store that has comic books clearly on display. They might even have “comic books” in the name of their establishment, leading me to wonder whether people have walked into shoe stores surprised that they still put laces on the things. Still, they are out there: the new readers. It’s a just and important cause to make sure you are “new reader friendly” in the industry, because no matter how much money movies bring in, comics are a steady serial income. They are a unique staple of Americana in their own way, and it would be a sad day when you couldn’t read sequential pictures and words that tell a story on a monthly basis.
So let’s attract that new reader! Let’s be new reader friendly! I believe that children are our future, show them Spider-Man and let them lead the way! But should we give them everything? Should we be so reader-friendly that everyone who stuck with the Clone Saga and Chuck Austen’s X-Men be left in the cold for their dedication? New isn’t always better, and a continual reboot of your product or characters may leave them kind of teflon-like, where no story sticks and all your attachment wipes clean with a #1 issue.
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February! Love is in the air! Presidents are in the air! The holiday season is done with, and we can all look forward to a bright new year.
Or not, as Marvel is bringing you this future month (and I do quote from THUNDERSTRIKE #4 (of 5)‘s solicit) “scenes of excessive action and angst in the mighty Marvel manner”. Angst! Not just fear, anxiety or strife, but angst in the mighty MARVEL manner! That’s right, other guys! You don’t do trauma like we do trauma!
Really, it looks like February is just going to be promoted as a downer with a lot of terrible things happening to good people and then Captain America takes on some pigeons. But it can’t all be doom and gloom, can it? Can there be a prevailing mood for books during certain seasons? Does the House of Ideas have a post-holiday melancholy? And if so, what’s Deadpool doing in the bathtub? Please, join us as we click for more information below and look at Marvel’s menu for February 2011.
I am no financial expert. There is no reason to come to a comic shop clerk to learn about big corporate business and how it should be run. There is no way to know Marvel’s financial plans or the details of their exact revenue unless you turn in a smashing resume and work your way into corporate. I will never have access to Marvel’s bank book and nor would I want it (unless it was written by Abnett and Lanning). Numbers and bookkeeping are incredibly boring to Yours Truly and it would be presumptuous and foolish of me to start dictating how Marvel Entertainment should be running their business from my couch.
But that’s essentially what I’m going to do today. You have been warned.
And the worst part is that it’s something no one wants to hear. Marvel, love ‘em or leaving ‘em, has to make money. They have to put out product that people will give them money for and it has to be a lot of money. It’s a rare case when a company packs it up because they have all the money they need. No chance of Marvel doing that any time soon, so they think up new ways to please the public so that they acquire more funds to make more product, etc. etc. So what happens when the best way to please the public… is to lower your prices?