In this week’s MEANWHILE … column, frustration mounts over Marvel’s lack of marketing …
By MENACHEM LUCHINS, owner, Escape Pod Comics, Huntington, L.I.
This week marks the fourth installment of Marvel #1s in shops and if you want to spend about 3 seconds you can see pretty much every comic site in the world reviewing them.
You can get the reviews by week, by character, or even by creator. Meanwhile, the House That Stan Built (let’s NOT start on the veracity of that statement, OK?) has been rattling off announcement after announcement about even more titles launching in 2016.
The assumption seems to be that some of the titles currently being launched won’t be around by the time this second wave comes out, otherwise Marvel will have close to 100 titles on the shelves — numbers that any one company hasn’t had on the market in decades.
How many books Marvel has out in the upcoming year, though, is not what this week’s column is about. Nor is it the quality of said books or the blundering decision to flood the market with so many variants on so many books that customers are already beginning to balk at buying ANY of them. For all that could be said about these things, the most glaring mistake Marvel has made recently is in marketing.
When the mantle of Thor passed from the Odinson to a woman, The View was the first to know. When Sam Wilson took up the Mantle of Captain America, it was discussed on national news programs across the country. Brian Michael Bendis went on late-night talk shows and Joe Quesada came as close to becoming a household name as he ever could when appearing on The Colbert Report about the Cap change.
But where’s the hubbub over all these new Marvel books? Why hasn’t anyone been on a talk show, a news program or anything of the sort pushing these books?
Those of us in the comic community have so many niche websites and YouTube channels that we constantly forget that most major events in comicdom happen without causing so much as a blip on the radar of the rest of the world.
Even when Fox News created an uproar over the events of Sam Wilson, Captian America #1, most of the “handling” was left to fans and the creators involved with the book. Meanwhile, the company who went on national news less than a year ago to announce the change just let it play out, despite having a pretty “heavy” media personality they could have turned to.
I know what many of you are thinking: What does it matter, right? It’s the quality of the books that matter and we don’t need a bunch of “fake geeks” coming in and ruining comics again, right?
Well, as I like to point out, this column is supposed to be a retailer perspective and I can tell you that retailers are not happy. When DC launched the New 52, it was quite clear that the whole purpose was to get new readers. Heck, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and Scott Snyder starred at a launch event at Midtown Comics where they not only signed late into the night but also gave out pizza to the customers waiting in line!
More than one retailer I’ve spoken to is stuck with loads of copies of these books because we assumed that the media frenzy Marvel had created with each recent change would be multiplied when their new line launched, at least on some level. We expected Robert Downey Jr. fans to come in for Invincible Iron Man #1 and all those Sherlock fans to at least try out Dr. Strange #1.
Instead, we found that Marvel would rather ignore their newly created line in favor of more announcements about books not out for another 6 months.
And when these books finally come out, will they get the national press they’re getting now? Will the company who is dropping the ball on a universe-wide renumbering do anything to push their new books?
It seems like a pointless question for most, but for us retailers it’s a huge one that will affect our ordering. If we don’t see some real support from the Disney-owned company soon, I can assure that our orders on these books will be much lower.