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  1. #16
    Flying Dog Owner DHacker615's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hibbs View Post
    Books with those special qualities to be real sales drivers are somewhat akin to catching lightning in a bottle -- you simply can't say "We want something that's just like WALKING DEAD" and expect that you'll get anything better than a cynically hacked out P.O.S.
    I partly disagree with this.

    There is no doubt that ordering an editor "give me something just like WALKING DEAD", having them hire the best available work-for-hire types and then expecting marketing to move the book would probably not produce anything worth reading. However, it is worth noting that exactly that plan is how the vast majority of mainstream superhero comics are produced.

    The "lightening in a bottle" formula is actually not that complicated: get talented creators and give them the freedom to something personally meaningful. That is why the great stuff almost always happens on the margins. The people working on the fringe have more freedom. How many people cared about the UNCANNY X-MEN before Claremont & Byrne, or DAREDEVIL before Frank Miller, or SWAMP THING before Alan Moore? Did anyone in '98 think that STORMWATCH would produce the template for the next decade of mainstream superheroes? Heck, how many people thought WALKING DEAD itself was anything other than Kirkman's stepping stone toward becoming a "Marvel Architect"?

    In contrast, the stuff most people fell in love with has had the life choked out out it. They are so controlled that they have lost the ability to cause joy.

  2. #17
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    I agree with DHacker615. If Marvel editorial told Slott, Brubaker, Bendis, Carey, Fraction, etc. "I want a book that someone who loved Scott Pilgrim would buy- give me a pitch." Its not about creating Scott Pilgrim clone books, its about the genre and the quality. This is a big, big, big, big, big fail.

    I see Mr. Hibb's point regarding "needing" the monthly but I disagree with the argument that its "okay" to inconvenience customers because of it. Why are publishers and retailers giving their customers a hard time with product they want to buy. I want to buy the TPB or HC as soon as its available. There's legions of us now. Customer preferences have shifted but you want us to continue buying monthlies? I put up with it because I have to. But there are A LOT more people who like the collected format. Publishers and retailers are leaving money on the table by ignoring us and continuing to focus on a format that has some positive qualities but is also acting as a sort of brake pedal for a product that a lot folks want.

    Its frustratingly ridiculous.

  3. #18
    Blue Captain bluetyson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CALuke View Post
    Don't buy comics from newsagents in Australia, get them from Comics shop like mind where where we get them 2 mouths before the newsagents do and only cost $6.80AUD($3.99USD) or $5.10($2.99USD).
    And I'm sorry today as a Ausisse Comic Shop, I can't help but agreed with BH, things are not looking good right now.
    But I do like the fact DC pieces are going down, that can only help a shop like mind where we have more DC fans then Marvel.
    Yes, I realise that - but this was just an extreme example of price.

    Of course, the comic shop I used to go to regularly closed a while ago.

    And given the dollar, cheaper to get from overseas - especially when you can get free shipping from The Book Depository on eventual trades etc.

  4. #19
    Blue Captain bluetyson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmurphy1968 View Post
    I think Mr. Hibbs is correct. How Many Avengers books do we have these days? X-Men? Superman? Batman? Green Lantern? This type of thing has driven me from all of the titles that are "family" book years ago. The exceptions are GL and Legion because I am really enjoying them all but with four GL titles (GL, GL Corps, GL: Emerald Warriors and Brightest Day) I am considering dropping theGL line.
    Heh. Waiting for the first month with 10 'New' X-Men number 1's. :)

  5. #20
    Eat your tomatoes! Alex Scott's Avatar
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    I'm with DHacker615, too. If someone likes the Twilight books, there are tons of (better!) vampire, horror, romance, or dark fantasy books out there to share with them. If someone likes Naruto, chances are they'd also like Bleach or Inuyasha. If my friends, who go to bars and listen to and/or play in indie bands, are wowed by Scott Pilgrim and want to read the comic, there's also... what, exactly? What if someone is more interested in sports? Japan is covered with sports comics, with everything from baseball to soccer to mahjongg. We got nothing--just the occasional bio or tie-in comic.

    I mean, yeah, lightning in a bottle is one thing, but they can at least try to catch some rain while they're at it.

  6. #21
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    It's nice to hear a member of the DM Intelligensia actually say the stuff I keep getting flamed for... I just wish some of this would have been up for public consumption four + years ago when we all knew what was coming.

    I find it very difficult to imagine turning this around if the regular monthly numbers take yet another shot this time from the moronic digital push that is aimed ONLY at the people who currently buy comic books, rather than any serious attempt to reach the 'real' world.

    And, yes, there is a part of me that almost wants to see all the TPB and digital boosters crying when monthlies aren't around to pay the freight for the industry and the prices skyrocket while the variety of product goes down the tubes even worse that it is now. Without the guaranteed profitability from the DM system, it will not be pretty.

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by poneley View Post
    I agree with DHacker615. If Marvel editorial told Slott, Brubaker, Bendis, Carey, Fraction, etc. "I want a book that someone who loved Scott Pilgrim would buy- give me a pitch." Its not about creating Scott Pilgrim clone books, its about the genre and the quality. This is a big, big, big, big, big fail.
    One thing to bear in mind is that most of the non-cape books one can name that went on to major sales and fame (eg WALKING DEAD, SCOTT PILGRIM, Y, BONE, almost anything else) STARTED OFF very small and grew slowly overtime.

    Take SCOTT PILGRIM for example, that book didn't *really* "break big" until v4.

    As a general rule, it takes between 8 and 24 months before you're going to see any significant return on your investment, and for every Y, THE LAST MAN, you're going to find five GREEK STREETs.

    Now, that's not even close to suggesting that companies shouldn't try and build these kind of books, but you're being extremely silly if you think this is an easy or trivial matter.

    I mean, Matt Fraction's IRON MAN sells something like 5 times better than CASANOVA, yet, in my opinion, CASANOVA is more likely to appeal to that SCOTT PILGRIM mainstream audience. If you're Marvel, which are you more likely to bankroll?

    Quote Originally Posted by poneley View Post
    I see Mr. Hibb's point regarding "needing" the monthly but I disagree with the argument that its "okay" to inconvenience customers because of it. Why are publishers and retailers giving their customers a hard time with product they want to buy. I want to buy the TPB or HC as soon as its available.
    I'm not clear on who/how publishers or retailers are trying to somehow prevent you from buying your preferred format? Virtually everything comes out in a collected format within a month or three of periodical release, if there's any kind of a market for it.

    I'm certainly not arguing for "inconveniencing" the consumer -- as I said, I'm a BOOKstore more than a PERIODICAL store (month to date we're currently sitting at 59% books vs 37% comics), but it is crystal clear to me that if somehow we abolished the periodical tomorrow 80%+ of the currently published comics would disappear instantly, with no, zero, none, zip, zilch *chance* of a paperback edition.


    Quote Originally Posted by poneley View Post
    There's legions of us now. Customer preferences have shifted but you want us to continue buying monthlies? I put up with it because I have to. But there are A LOT more people who like the collected format.
    Just so I'm clear, are you positing that there are physically more people interested in buying a paperback or HC release of a title than the periodical? (your wording is a little wonky)

    If so, you're unambiguously incorrect. Not just a little, but by a lot.

    In the article I linked to ICv2's database of sales, go examine those lists: you *can not* find any examples of book format material that sells better in the same time frame as the periodical release.

    Even adding the bookstore sales (which I see and track every year from BookScan figures, you can find the last few years here in CBR's database of my columns) you're not going to find any solid examples (except, possibly, comics that are sub-200 in the Top 300 chart)

    Again, I say this as a store specializing in books, not periodicals -- there are ALWAYS more readers willing to purchase a serialization than a collection.

    Sorry.

    -B

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by QCCBob View Post
    It's nice to hear a member of the DM Intelligensia actually say the stuff I keep getting flamed for... I just wish some of this would have been up for public consumption four + years ago when we all knew what was coming.
    Come on, Bob, I've been saying very similar things for nigh on two decades now -- go pick up TaW v1.

    -B

  9. #24
    Junior Member die_yng's Avatar
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    Excellent column, Brian!
    You really, really nailed it. I agree with everything in this article (the only point I don't, is that Dark Horse is not producing more Star Wars books, they are about the same amount per month they've been for years, sometimes a lot less).
    Your column title is also very fitting, because that's exactly the way it feels, trying to get the publishers to finally accept these truths is a "Don Quixotian" endeavour.

    Frankly I don't see any positive changes, while DC has made a more reasonable rise in the content to prica ratio, it's still an increase and other publishers are pretty much up to 3,99-

    I don't see any one publisher trying to change anything sgnificant and if they haven't "got it" by now, they probably never will.

  10. #25
    Junior Member MikeCr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by poneley View Post
    Second thing, Mr. Hibbs mentioned “Walking Dead” or a “Scott Pilgrim” or a “Y, The Last Man”. Why haven't Marvel, DC or anyone created properties that people who enjoyed those books can get more of. If you like Walking Dead, read this. If you like Scott Pilgrim, read that. Its simple. My non-comic book reading buddy devoured Scott Pilgrim but I didn't really have any suggestions for other similar type books. This is a major fail for all publishers.
    I'm pretty sure every major publisher would love to happen upon another Walking Dead, Scott Pilgrim, or Y: The Last Man. The problem is that it's really, really, really difficult and if even you do manage to there's no guarantee that you'll hit the right market at exactly the right time to match the success those books enjoyed.

    Worse, if publishers try to crassly force "a new Walking Dead" all we'll end up with is title after title of derivative ripoffs. Take a look at the Hollywood system if you need an example of how that sort of "creativity by following superficial elements of success" works. Or too many comics in the '90's.

    Brian, I share your concerns about Marvel at the moment by the way. They've really lost the ability to produce "hits" and their performance at the top end of the sales chart, both nationally and anecdotally where I work, reflects that even though they still tend to do okay in gross figures. My perception is that there is a pervasive sense of ennui amongst the core Marvel fanbase right now and, even thought they ARE publishing some very good titles, the market isn't rallying around many of them in a significant fashion.
    ... and yet here I am arguing on the interwebs.

  11. #26
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    Cool A Cunning Plan...

    Every time this discussion comes up, I remember a quote from Kyle Baker's TCJ interview (lo, so many years ago) that Marvel and DC are not in the comic-book business, but are in the business of licensing properties for movies, t-shirts and whatever other merchandising.

    That would certainly explain why there are a ton of crappy Thor (and Green Lantern, AND Green Hornet) comics out ahead of a major movie -- to promote awareness -- when one or two is MORE than enough. It may also suggest why the only non-crap Thor comic -- Langridge's -- was cancelled; perhaps it didn't fit the Johnny Bravo jacket that the marketing department designed, i.e., the light romantic tone was at odds with the post-300 homoerotic hyper-masculinity so in vogue today.

    It seems to me like the marketing departments at Disney and Warners have taken over creative control. "Just shut up and buy, fanboy!" You want to know what they think of us? Just look at the product on the shelves. Never in my 30+ years of fandom have I felt less respected by the industry, despite the plethora of Adam Hughes busts and Absolute Editions. To paraphrase Alan Moore, "Love the medium; despise the industry."
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  12. #27
    Junior Member MikeCr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by don1138 View Post
    Every time this discussion comes up, I remember a quote from Kyle Baker's TCJ interview (lo, so many years ago) that Marvel and DC are not in the comic-book business, but are in the business of licensing properties for movies, t-shirts and whatever other merchandising.
    That's often the perception but, particularly for Marvel, the numbers reveal that they still make a significant portion of their profit - and enjoy a well above average operating margin - on their publishing endeavours. Maybe that will change now that they're just a small division of a larger company but I think that this sort of thinking confuses the issue. Central to Brian's argument is that too often desire for (above industry standard) profit has lead to short term marketing decisions that threaten long term stability of the core periodical comic publishing business.
    ... and yet here I am arguing on the interwebs.

  13. #28
    Not comics, it's Vertigo. noh-varr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Scott View Post
    If my friends, who go to bars and listen to and/or play in indie bands, are wowed by Scott Pilgrim and want to read the comic, there's also... what, exactly?
    There is a lot of stuff, which part of Scott Pilgrim are we focusing on to get similar titles? Heavy video game references? Sidescrollers would work nicely, or an of several dozen great web comics going right now. The fact that the main characters are in a band? Hopeless Savages, Pounded, or even Black Metal, all from Oni. Relationship dramedy? Everything I just said (minus Black metal), Dramacon, Love as a Foreign Language, True Story Swear to God, or Box Office Poison. The format of just graphic novels? Many of the above, plus Crogan Adventures, manga in general, and more and more books every year. Or to make it really simple, another book done by the same creator? Lost at Sea.

    There's a ton more, as I am sure the second I hit reply I will come up with another dozen or so titles, bu really there is a lot of books you or anyone else could hand someone who enjoyed Scott Pilgrim.
    Noh-Varr Reviews: The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, and Nate Powell.

  14. #29
    New Member CALuke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluetyson View Post
    Yes, I realise that - but this was just an extreme example of price.

    Of course, the comic shop I used to go to regularly closed a while ago.

    And given the dollar, cheaper to get from overseas - especially when you can get free shipping from The Book Depository on eventual trades etc.
    Well how you get your comic is up to you, but being a comic shop owner I can't agreed with order them from overseas.
    After all it's not a easy business and us comics shop need all the buyers we can get.
    I don't know if we can do free postage, but we do ship orders all over Australia of up to 10 comics for only $5.00 P&H

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hibbs View Post
    Come on, Bob, I've been saying very similar things for nigh on two decades now -- go pick up TaW v1.

    -B
    I meant the specific flaw in the current system that has reduced monthly comics to almost a zero priority. I have your book, got it day one. We agree far more than we disagree, but you're a lot less argumentative than I, unless you're sueing them for us all. I just wish more retailers and especially groups of them were more vocal when publishers start to go bad rather than waiting quietly for the inevitable.

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