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  1. #1
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    Default An idea for increasing comic book sales

    I believe the following idea will get comics in the hands of more kids. I started thinking about this once I heard Thor:Mighty Avenger was canceled.

    Would it be difficult to start a new line of, let's say, Marvel comics for the mainstream?

    This Marvel Mainstream line would feature comics on "pulpy" paper, for about $1.99, the stories would be mostly stand-alone, the cover indicia would just reveal issue month/year (so the consumer wouldn't feel like they're missing anything, as opposed to seeing issue #14 on the rack and thinking well I've missed the first 13 - never mind), and these cheaper comics, which feature closer to G/PG-rated stories or older classic tales, would be available at grocery stores and the big box retailers near the check-out.

    Let's the direct market continue as is. The DM will be a haven for collectors, completists, serious readers and those interested in "universal" or in-continuity stories and crossovers. The DM is where you'd find me and most of us, I assume.

    I don't see any harm being inflicted to the DM stores; in fact, the Marvel Mainstream could eventually steer people to the DM if handled properly.

    However, easily finding a 50-page comic for a couple bucks featuring either new stand-alone tales or classic inventory issues would be a treat for my son, and I'm sure millions of other kids.

    The challenge would be working out the partnerships with the new mainstream retailers.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    New Member optichouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikefalcon View Post
    This Marvel Mainstream line would feature comics on "pulpy" paper, for about $1.99, the stories would be mostly stand-alone, the cover indicia would just reveal issue month/year (so the consumer wouldn't feel like they're missing anything, as opposed to seeing issue #14 on the rack and thinking well I've missed the first 13 - never mind), and these cheaper comics, which feature closer to G/PG-rated stories or older classic tales, would be available at grocery stores and the big box retailers near the check-out.
    Thoughts?
    I imaging the biggest problem would be getting grocery stores/big box retailers to open up that valuable rack space to new product. I'm sure Marvel would love to have that level of exposure.
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  3. #3
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    I agree; that is the challenge. But I think it's worth the effort. Mr Brevoort, I'd be happy to tackle this one.

  4. #4
    indie snob Brandon Hanvey's Avatar
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    While a nice idea, the logistics and costs probably wouldn't work for the way publishers are currently setup.

    Your proposed price for the comics $1.99 for 50 pages would be hard to turn any kind of profit even with a lower grade paper which would not be that cost reducing anyway.

    Marvel would probably have to go for a smaller size, B&W and/or be mostly reprinted material in order to even think about any kind of profit off this. Especially if dealing with the big chain stores who would want a large discount off cover. Probably lower than the current Diamond non-returnable rate of 35% to 40%.

    Plus I bet the returnable issue would be a snag for some of the retailers since they are used to returnable sales on other periodicals such as magazines.

  5. #5
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    Brandon,

    While I don't know the economics behind the current state of comic publishing, I'd love to find out the details. What's it cost to print 100,000 copies of the current format versus 100,000 lower grade 40-50 page pulp comics? If someone out there knows, please share.

    I do realize this might be a bad example as Marvel has multiple titles printed simultaneously, but anyway...

    Also, what's the potential of the combined store presence of Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, convenience stores etc.? If the top selling comic is barely hitting 100K, that works out to about 20-40 copies sold per store (based on 2500-5000 comic shops - not sure where the number stands nowadays).

    Imagine 100 copies sold per Wal-Mart (8500 stores)/Target (1800)/Best Buy (1150) = 1,145,000 sold

    Keep the line simple: Spider-Man, Hulk, X-Men, Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America, Fantastic Four and an anthology for b-listers and new characters.

    Wow, fantasy retailing! Join in the fun!

  6. #6
    14 Time Rita's Champion SUPERECWFAN1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikefalcon View Post
    Brandon,

    While I don't know the economics behind the current state of comic publishing, I'd love to find out the details. What's it cost to print 100,000 copies of the current format versus 100,000 lower grade 40-50 page pulp comics? If someone out there knows, please share.

    I do realize this might be a bad example as Marvel has multiple titles printed simultaneously, but anyway...

    Also, what's the potential of the combined store presence of Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, convenience stores etc.? If the top selling comic is barely hitting 100K, that works out to about 20-40 copies sold per store (based on 2500-5000 comic shops - not sure where the number stands nowadays).

    Imagine 100 copies sold per Wal-Mart (8500 stores)/Target (1800)/Best Buy (1150) = 1,145,000 sold

    Keep the line simple: Spider-Man, Hulk, X-Men, Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America, Fantastic Four and an anthology for b-listers and new characters.

    Wow, fantasy retailing! Join in the fun!
    Well its a nice goal but once you think of several factors...it would be tough to work out.

    1.) The costs of even the cheapest pulp paper would play a part. But so would the creators and artists who would need to be paid. The costs would be trimmed some...but once ya factor in ...

    A) Paper

    B) Creators

    C) Other costs like the percentage that would go to these chains for sales.

    It would be a struggle to make profits here.

    Then you have to factor in...

    2.) The fact these chains will want something that has a higher profit point that a $1.99 item. Because they have higher priced magazines and all priced in the $4-$6 buck range pretty much. And this really is a key reason why comics aren't in Wal-Marts and other locations. Because even now at $2.99 , its considered not as lucrative as say Cat Fancy as a magazine to sell and make money on.

    3.) Finally , its a generous figure to say they would sell a 100 copies at each location. Some places don't even carry 100 of a certain magazine or anything like that.
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  7. #7
    Ohm, Sweet, Ohm dumbstruck's Avatar
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    Personally, I don't even think you need to come up with any kind of special line of comics. You just need to put comics in places where kids are introduced to them at a young age. Work out deals to put them in grocery stores, drug stores, and discount chains like Wal-Mart. Publishers would most definately have to operate this at a loss, but in the long run, I think you're likely to gain business by hooking new readers from a young age.

  8. #8
    Part-Time Sith Joe Acro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SUPERECWFAN1 View Post
    2.) The fact these chains will want something that has a higher profit point that a $1.99 item. Because they have higher priced magazines and all priced in the $4-$6 buck range pretty much. And this really is a key reason why comics aren't in Wal-Marts and other locations. Because even now at $2.99 , its considered not as lucrative as say Cat Fancy as a magazine to sell and make money on.
    A cool way around this is to sell digests, like Archie does. And Marvel has had success on that front in bookstores, specifically in regards to Runaways and Spider-Girl (so I hear).

    But aside from cost factors, I see an issue with the notion of it boosting sales. This wouldn't increase sales. It might make those store books sell really well themselves, but it wouldn't help the series on the direct market. If people can get the stories they want from the store, there's no need to seek out a shop and peruse more options.

    Though, overall, that's a trend I notice, at least in my area. A need to actively seek out a shop, as opposed to seeing it advertised. I mean, something like Free Comic Book Day is designed to bring in new readers, yet remains advertised strictly to the comic-buying public. Comics and comic shops could do with greater marketing to the general public. I think that would help sales more than anything else.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by dumbstruck View Post
    Personally, I don't even think you need to come up with any kind of special line of comics. You just need to put comics in places where kids are introduced to them at a young age. Work out deals to put them in grocery stores, drug stores, and discount chains like Wal-Mart. Publishers would most definately have to operate this at a loss, but in the long run, I think you're likely to gain business by hooking new readers from a young age.
    Seconded, for the most part.

    Whenever I see things like "new line/imprint" or "cheaper materials", I sort of shut off. The OP's idea is certainly nice and well-intentioned, but ultimately wrongheaded and naive. The only way to make real gains is by improving content/quality (across all the "main" books), lowering price, and increasing exposure/distribution.

    Creating a new imprint for that purpose would only doom such an effort. I mean, why should DC or Marvel bother with yet another auxiliary line? How much effort would they really put into it? (In the long run, it would suck. Just look at Ultimate and All Star.)

    The only way to create real change is through the main lines, period.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Acro View Post
    A cool way around this is to sell digests, like Archie does. And Marvel has had success on that front in bookstores, specifically in regards to Runaways and Spider-Girl (so I hear).

    But aside from cost factors, I see an issue with the notion of it boosting sales. This wouldn't increase sales. It might make those store books sell really well themselves, but it wouldn't help the series on the direct market. If people can get the stories they want from the store, there's no need to seek out a shop and peruse more options.

    Though, overall, that's a trend I notice, at least in my area. A need to actively seek out a shop, as opposed to seeing it advertised. I mean, something like Free Comic Book Day is designed to bring in new readers, yet remains advertised strictly to the comic-buying public. Comics and comic shops could do with greater marketing to the general public. I think that would help sales more than anything else.
    Good points, and I again agree (with qualifications). A big advertising push is essential. However, the LCS is still a dead-end (sales-wise). I mean, where's a distributor going to make more money? At Wal-Mart or a a specialty store?

    The key, ultimately, is making comics fun again. They should be short, sweet, and relatively inexpensive. Fans (new and old) of all ages should be encouraged to buy them. And finding a vendor should be easy. Like finding a place to buy your favorite magazine. Once comics become as ubiquitous/popular as fashion mags, there will be more than enough readers to go around.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by dumbstruck View Post
    Personally, I don't even think you need to come up with any kind of special line of comics. You just need to put comics in places where kids are introduced to them at a young age.
    Agreed. Comics used to do this, and had more exposure and sales success, but that was when the market was in a different place. I don't feel comic companies care about getting younger kids into comics, through comics. It sure seems like cartoons and movies, are aimed at kids, and comics are targeted to teens, 20 somethings.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by ACS View Post
    The key, ultimately, is making comics fun again. They should be short, sweet, and relatively inexpensive. Fans (new and old) of all ages should be encouraged to buy them. And finding a vendor should be easy. Like finding a place to buy your favorite magazine. Once comics become as ubiquitous/popular as fashion mags, there will be more than enough readers to go around.
    Good ideas. However, it seems that comic fans, not casual fans, but die hard fans, think comics are still an underground entertainment/art. If comics experience the sales levels and exposure they once had, there is contingent that think comics some how lose something if they have huge commercial success. I agree with you, more fans the better. It seems that a lot of comic fans shun the idea of comics becoming anything more than a niche market.

    More people like comic related stories, but don't have the dedication to keep reading/subscribing month in month out. Comic fans are a fickle breed. It also seems like comic manufacturers know this to a certain degree.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikefalcon View Post

    Thoughts?
    The "mainstream" has no interest in reading comics. Putting out a line dedicated to them would be a complete waste of time, even if you ignore that at the price point you suggested it wont make money and the fact that walmart and the like wouldnt even consider stocking the stuff to begin with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MNM View Post
    The "mainstream" has no interest in reading comics. Putting out a line dedicated to them would be a complete waste of time, even if you ignore that at the price point you suggested it wont make money and the fact that walmart and the like wouldnt even consider stocking the stuff to begin with.
    You see, it's that kind of thinking which is hurting the industry. "Oh, it's hopeless. Let's just settle for less." And what happens when the annually shrinking audience of buyers just dies out? Should DC and Marvel give up on the format entirely?

    Honestly...

    I understand that comics will never be as popular as, say, cable television. I'm simply suggesting that there's room for growth. How many people regularly read comics in this country? Most figures put it around a million. That's pathetic. It's not even 1% of the US population. I know comics could get 3 million monthly readers if they tried.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by ACS View Post
    I understand that comics will never be as popular as, say, cable television. I'm simply suggesting that there's room for growth. How many people regularly read comics in this country? Most figures put it around a million. That's pathetic. It's not even 1% of the US population. I know comics could get 3 million monthly readers if they tried.
    I agree with you. I feel as though comic manufacturers are gun-shy about making comics more availible. It seems as though they fear another, boom and bust similar to the 90's. Comics as an entertainment form have never been stronger. For starters, there has never been a time with more comic-related material than now. Comics have achieved a measure of mainstream success, with all the Hollywood adaptations. So people are interested in comic related stories.

    There is more interest in comic-related material, but comic readers, are a niche in a niche. While i think comics could have a huge mainstream success, marketed well and exposed. Sadly, comic shops are such a dying breed since comics have lost their collectability. Comic shops are the biggest source of comics (and the ocassional book store) there just isn't as much exposure for comics to be mainstream. Retailers like the Walmarts of the world would likely not see comics as generating much interest or revenue, given most comic manufacturers aversion to accepting returns.

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