CBR: Tilting at Windmills - Jan 15, 2009
It was a huge week for comics publishing in a number of ways and at the same time both DC Comics and Marvel Comics made big mistakes in handling one of the biggest weeks in comics in years. Brian Hibbs discusses it all in the latest TILTING AT WINDMILLS!
Full article here.
I want to comment on this week's column, but you would not hear me over the sound of my deafening applause!
I am a store owner.
I never miss an opportunity to interact with the general public and sing the praises of our beloved comics.
At every single cinematic midnight release this year, I was at the theaters.
Giving away t-shirts, comics, posters, prizes for best costume, etc.
All of them.
So naturally I feel that when it came to a marquis opportunity to promote comics to mainstream audiences this week with the Spider-Man/Obama comic,
Marvel and Diamond didn't provide me with the information needed to be effective.
I would bet that most stores had to work EXTRA hard to not have droves of unhappy customers.
"Sorry, come back next week and I'll have more!"
is not something I like to tell hundreds of people.
Now to be fair, my orders of the 2nd print are 8 times my normal orders for Amazing Spidey, and most of them are spoken for.
I will probably do some additional numbers with the 3rd print at this rate.
I just can't help but feel like I would have done better and had happier customers if I was equipped with the knowledge about this book in a timely and fair fashion.
Great column this week.
A tip of the hat, sir!
yeah, check your invoice.
Diamond is shipping us exactly half of what we ordered of the second print (the rest should be coming the next week, we have been told)
I know ever since the clone saga Marketing has been kept away from editorial decisions but c'mon guys (comics editorial) ....don't stop speaking and listening to them!
Good points well made.
Can't wait for the bookscan stuff. I used to have access to the UK version and always liked trolling it for the comics info.
I am invoiced correctly.
Originally Posted by thefourthman
I just hope they all make it to my shipment.
The more time goes on the more I see Dan Didio
really screwing things up at DC.
I really hate to say it but it's true.
If ever there was a worse FUBAR than Death of the New Gods, or even Countdown, it has to be the whole death of Batman RIP / Final Crisis # 6 fiasco.
So now they're publishing for the collected edition, but in 2 separate titles ? Yeah, that's the way to keep things accessible to new readers.
Having read comics for most of my 40+ years, I feel pretty safe in saying that A. Bruce Wayne is not truly dead, and that B. based on A. he will be back eventually as Batman.
The idea of Batman fighting through Purgatory or the "fate worse than death" that Grant talked about previously, is great, BUT, Batman is a street level character. Despite being the pinnacle of human perfection, he still feels out of place to me in Justice League and certainly in the presence of someone like Darkseid.
Are you kidding me ?
Non-fanboys are A. going to buy this, esp when the "death" of Batman was covered months ago, and B. this Grant Morrison crossing over of two different non-fanboy friendly titles is where this is all spelling out ?
Are you serious ?
Batman - the second most, arguably the most popular, iconic superhero ever, if not in the DCU, and this is what we get ?
Are fans clamoring ? Is Joe Bag of Doughnuts buzzing ?
There must have been some other way.
I love Grant's stuff most of the time, but editorial really dropped the ball on how this was put together, and I can't believe DC, let alone Paul Levitz, let it come out like this.
Face cloth for egg, anyone ?
<<<<<< Not a hater, but in fact a huge DC fan. In fact, DC's my fav spandex publisher, but this has just been terrible
Why was anyone caught short though? Marvel sent out information and we had at least three weeks to make adjustments. They said what the requirement was to be able to unlock the Obama cover that you could order in any quantity (granted I tried for a certain number but Diamond could only secure me a number less than that). I emailed Diamond so much that they must surely have been hating me, but I had to be clear and sure on this. No missing the requirement by a couple of copies, I had to know for sure what was confirmed so I could plan.
Another shop in town was quoted in the newspaper as saying that Marvel did not alert retailers to the new content at all and they were unable to adjust beyond what they had ordered accounting for a normal issue. I tried to combat that buck-pass when I was interviewed with what facts I knew, but it didn't make it in as it directly contradicted what this other business was saying. And I know other retailers have been saying this same thing. This information was out there at least three weeks prior to release through three different means that a shop would have had to totally ignore. I'm fairly certain that no amount would have been enough to increase by, but to say that Marvel messed up or nobody knew before the comic showed up isn't true. We are all truly busy as small businesses and my store has truly been lucky to have been extremely busy through the holidays when so many other businesses are hurting. But I am not so busy that I can afford to not read updates or only read some of the updated industry information but not all of it.
Shops could have done great business if they were prepared and plugged in. Marvel gave me a tool and my shop was on the front page (THE front page) of the local newspaper and I was on the local news twice yesterday. I got the kind of positive advertising that money really can't even buy because I got creative. In these times, creativity is going to be a deciding factor on what businesses live and die. I'd been telling my resources in the media that this book was coming literally three weeks ago when I first heard and it had enough juice trough the Associated Press that they decided to bite locally.
I'm not saying that stores should do what I do or that my ideas are better or in this case I had access to more information than other stores. But this thing about nobody knowing has to stop in its tracks right here.
I got the information and I MADE my own media blitz. I don't need to be told that there is going to be a media blitz behind a comic book featuring a team up with Spider-man and Barack Obama who publicly said that he likes Spider-man comics. As soon as I got the info from Diamond and the order I made minutes later was confirmed, I sent emails to my contacts at the newspaper and I called a television station. The same day. Then I continued to call and email whenever I had more information (cover images, number of phone calls, etc). On Tuesday I had a newspaper I never contacted to come to me. On Thursday I had a camera crew for a station I never contacted to come to me. Anyone could have done the same thing to create their own buzz. If the media didn't bite then at least the shop tried.
I love my fellow good retailers, but I will not join the mob calling out for Marvel's head on this because some places did not utilize the tools (printed matter, Marvel retailer email, Diamond email) available to them in advance in order to make the best possible decisions for their businesses.
Its going to be really tough out there and to be frank, the shops that sit back and let themselves get scooped like this, the shops where the staff doesn't read anything and can't answer questions, well I don't know what they're going to do to stay alive.
I don't post here as much as I should, but this drew me out. My name is Jermaine, but I also go by the name "Lord Retail, " and have had a strong presence online for a good while. I've been working hard for a very long time to make my store a great one whose name is known beyond North Carolina. My store is called Acme Comics (est 1983) and is in Greensboro, NC. If you read all of this, thanks for listening.
Please read this article, watch the video, and look at the slide show. If this could happen for me then it could have happened for any shop.
That is always a very real danger. The Spider-man comics were literally in the very last box we opened and we were all sweating bullets by then.
Originally Posted by ComicbookJeff
And 50 of the 200 Presidential Material reprints we ordered arrived damaged and unsellable. So anything can happen...
Bottom line, we need more Batman not less. With the success of Dark Knight (every time I watch that I find myself craving a good Batman story to read, almost like the character is new to me or something), removing Bruce Wayne, not having Batman or Detective on the shelves for any length of time, well its risky right now. I guess we will see.
Originally Posted by hondobrode
And the fact that Marvel's afterthought scooped DC's magnum opus that had been building for such a long time, I don't even know what to say about that. Plus, Quesada also being on Sports Center talking about Wolverine this week as well, I almost feel bad for DC. But then I think about their marketing tactics (I'm thinking, but you know, nothing is coming to mind) and then I don't feel bad at all.
Quote from this column: "I havenít read the front story yet, but to the best of my recollection, there are currently no African-Americans in Spider-Manís supporting cast whatsoever, so those grandchildren probably arenít going to be rushing back for more Spidey comics."
Not to defend BND Spidey but this is completely untrue. In the past year we had Robbie Robertson quit The Bugle and go to Frontline where he now works with Peter. We've had Bill Hollister, an African America Mayoral candidate, and his daughter Lily who while blond and light skinned is clearly the daughter of a Black man. If you also consider Vin Gonzales, the cop of Latino heritage, this seems to be the most racially diverse Spider-Man has ever been.
Hats off to you, friend!
Originally Posted by The Amazing Lord Retail
I did the same.
I typed up press releases to all local media news outlets.
When I arrived at my Central New York store, there were news vans waiting.
Camera crews filmed me walking into the store, carrying shipment boxes.
(Talk about sweating while flipping through the shipment!)
I was in a shirt and tie. I had quotes ready.
My store was spotless.
I am not a lazy retailer.
Nor do I subscribe to mob thinking.
I agree that Marvel deserves praise for the rush to print more copies, and Diamond did an awesome job of making sure I got the copies needed.
I have personally seen Marvel go out of their way to help out the little guy.
I can't say that Marvel doesn't care about retailers.
I can't say it because I don't believe it.
I do, however, think that the biggest comics event since Superman died, has a little room for technical improvement.