CBR: Mayo Report: March 2011 - "FF," "The Walking Dead"
John Mayo crunches the numbers for March 2011, focusing on event marketing, traditional performances by "The Walking Dead" and "Fantastic Four," IDW's Godzilla cover gimmick and more.
Full article here.
Preaching to this Choir, Brother
It's clear that comic book marketing is going to continue to be promotion- and event-centric, focusing only on the existing readership pool. This goes beyond the publishers. Retailers I've talked to only seem to care about sales of individual issues, not the trends. While they talk a big game to the media about reaching out to kids and others not currently reading comics, Marvel, DC (and, by extension, the other publisher) continue to wear blinders and see only the sales of what is in front of them. Even with their movie style "previews" in the back of their monthly titles (which Marvel and DC would use to counter your arguement, at least a little), the publishers are still only promoting "in-house" and for the next issue only. And it's an incredible waste of six pages, especially when only comic book readers will see these "previews," and they often can see them on any one of a dozen websites.
There is no thought to growing the pie, only to grabbing more of what exists. Marvel will get a boost from issue 1 of Mighty Thor and maybe a boost from Journey Into Mystery 622, but all of that will come from inside the industry, from current readers of comics. The public, as you say, will be just too damned confused by the Thor mess that Marvel has made. The death of Johnny Storm, the end of the Fantastic Four, and issue 1 of FF are all designed to grab immediate attention of the current readers. In six months - as you say - FF sales will be pretty much on par with the Fantastic Four sales (at least the issues written by Hickman). Why not just keep the old title and concentrate on building readership with exciting story? Well, that's where the marketing monsters get involved (I can say that because I'm a marketer, too).
The trend in comics for many, many years has been a slow decline. Others have argued that even though the number of sales per title are down the publishers don't care because the sheer volume of what they sell makes up for it. That is, they have a lot more titles on the market and even if they all sell only a few copies per issue, the cumulative number of issues sold (regardless of title) is as great or greater than in the days when there were fewer titles with greater sales numbers. In short, the argument goes, the publisher makes as much or more in profit today than yesterday.
The problem with this is the focus continues to be on the existing comic book reader, and not on the pool of potential readers out there. What that pool wants in comic book entertainment is not clear to the current management of Marvel and DC, et al. What it doesn't want, however, is quite clear. It doesn't want what is currently being produced. So the question is, what happens to the industry as the present pool of readers continues to age and die off. What happens to the industry when its leaders are gleeful over a trickle of new Free Comic Book Day readers, yet fail to bring in the needed waves of readers that are just waiting for the right invitation.
""Thor" #621 sold an estimated 42,104 units in March. With the movie coming out soon and seeming to have good buzz around it, it should be possible for Marvel to increase the sales of the title. Or, more accurately, the sales of the replacement title: "Mighty Thor." Or is "Astonishing Thor" the replacement title? And were does "Journey into Mystery" fit into things? Those of us who read comics know "Mighty Thor" is the replacement title while "Astonishing Thor" is just a mini-series and "Journey into Mystery" will feature Loki. Any potential new readers coming in from the movie might see all of those and give up in confusion. If they even set foot inside of a comic book store in the first place, that is."
This type of mongolism based marketing has been going on forever and it is precisely because of this that we have $3.99 prices and / or shrinking page counts. Meanwhile the people who think this stuff up get raises. I love the medium, but time and time again the business end appears completely clueless as to how to truly utilize valuable cultural trademarks. "Charge more, print more, care less"