Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pushing The Line To $4.99!

Dan Buckley: History will not be kind, and neither will I

You didn't read that last diatribe about DC and think I'd forgotten my pals at Marvel, did you?  Of course you didn't.  And I didn't.

Did you look at the list for Marvel products shipping in June?  If you want to keep your lunch in or avoid slashing your wrists, I wouldn't recommend it.  So much for promising to hold their line down to a sane and manageable level.  They're shipping almost 200 items in June.  It's absurd.

 They're shipping no less than 13 different Captain America items.  This does not make sense on any level on any planet.

"But da movie cum out den!", shouts the ill-informed and inbred.  "Day make moh money dat way!"

No they don't.  Never have, never will.  Go look at the sales charts and show me where a movie spiked a product's sales significantly.  It can be done, of course.  Watchmen.  Scott Pilgrim.  300.  Whenever you have a focused place to leverage that interest, and ideally a venue in the mass market to exhibit that focused product, you get a major spike.

You've got $178 to spend on me this month, right?  No?  Ah, shit.
Does slamming a jangled mess of 13 different items on top of the 43 billion Capt. America items already available sound like leveraging focused interest to you?  It shouldn't.  Because it isn't.  It's mindless, counter productive, short-sighted short term thinking, and it's what Marvel specializes in.

If you're a comic book customer, and you've got $20 in your pocket to spend for the week, does any of this entice you into spending more?  In order to just buy the Capt. America product in June, you're looking at spending $177.87 retail.  There's no way.  No goddamn way.  And yeah, the poster for $8 barely counts, and the $50 art book is a niche item.  But just the comics?  Just the Capt. America floppy comics in June?  That's $22.94, and that's completely ridiculous.

Imagine being a retailer and trying to sift through that glut and figure out what a customer might actually want to buy.  You couldn't do it.  I'd under-order all of it, and I would be right to do so.  What's special out of that, when there's a dozen items glutting the rack?  It's madness, it's been proven not to work over and over and over and over again.  But Marvel just enjoys flushing its own industry so much, it just can't help itself.

Imagine being a retailer and watching Marvel double ship Capt. America: Fighting Avenger, Black Panther, Deapool, Hulk, Incredible Hulks, Mystery Men, Ultimate Spider-Man, Uncanny X-Men, Thunderbolts, Wolverine, X-Factor, X-Men, X-Men Legacy, and X-Men Prelude in the same month?  They're serving customers with budgets.  How does slamming two months of books into one month help that?  When you deluge the customer with $20 and no more to spend with those choices, you've now given them a reason to assess their pull and make cuts.  And cuts they will make, and cuts they have been making.  Looked at the sales charts lately, Marvel?  Is any of this sinking in?

Motorstorm, huh?  Sounds.....crappy.
Along with about 9 of those Capt. America items, why don't we go ahead and chuck "Amazing Spider-Man Ghost Rider: Motorstorm # 1" into the refuse bin where it belongs.  Was anybody clamoring for that?  Is anybody fooled at this point about the relevancy of "Fear Itself: Home Front?"  If you buy that, you deserve your fate.  We've only had about six of these mega-events to figure this out.  It doesn't matter.  The main event doesn't matter, what makes you think you need the UHF version of it?  Does the world need another Ka-Zar reboot?  We're getting one, or rather I should say about twelve people will be getting it.  Congratulations.  Not one but but TWO Marvel Zombies titles?  Note to Marvel -  it's not 2007 any more.  You can go ahead and stop making those now.  OK, glad we have that sorted out.

That Captain America and irrelevant glut nonsense isn't the worst of it, though.  How about Ghost Rider # 0.1?  Are you fucking shitting me with this?  No matter how ill-conceived and ill-received that "program" is, you're now going to stack an irritating and confusing .1 onto an issue with a fucking zero on it?  I should think that zero connotes all it needs to about the issue's accessibility.  Honestly, I would think that a # 1 would be sufficient.  We're all worse off any way diluting the brand with a ninth reboot, aren't we?  Do us all a favor and throw your decimal points in the trash, please.  Maybe we need to start thinking about how we might get an "ongoing" series to last more than a year, huh, and leave the decimal points alone?  Just a thought.

And believe it or not, it gets worse!  Hey, what's the best way to soften the consumer's discomfort over the $3.99 price point?  Marvel has decided the best tonic is to jump a bunch of books up to $4.99!  You think I'm kidding.  I'm not.

Marvel is shipping no less than ten comics in June with a $4.99 price tag.  There are going to be people internally questioning my indignation over this, because we don't really know anything about page counts or content.  Stow it, internal questioners.  It's bad, ugly business.

We need to be inviting people in, not driving them away.  Price points are a barrier.  "But what if it's a package deal reprinting several issues and pound for pound looks like a value?"  Fuck that.  If it's a reprint, than the creative costs have been subsidized, and they can and should sell it cheaper than $5 a throw.  New Avengers: Nannies and Nazis for $4.99?  I don't even want to know what that is.  I know that it serves no real market need, and I know it's overpriced.

Break it up and sell it in smaller chunks, but don't price people out before they even get to trying something.  It's absurd.  The only reason they're doing that is to prep their consumer base for yet another price hike.  Go ahead and laugh.  Me, I don't think it's funny.

I'm getting to the point where I don't know how much longer I can deal with the stupidity.  I certainly don't feel respected or appreciated as a consumer.  I'm never leaving comics, but what's occurred to me is that I won't have to.  There are large gaps in my reading, like, the entire Silver Age.  I still haven't read The Invisibles, for crying out loud.  I haven't even read the Hobgoblin stories from Amazing Spider-Man.  Big gaps.

I could stop buying modern comics right now and never go hungry for reading material, and never feed this irritating beast that is destroying the medium I love.  There are metric tons of material on the secondary market where I rule, and where the publishers see not a penny.  I could do it.  For the first time in my life, it's looking like a viable option.

- Ryan


Anonymous said...

I can't wait to get these a the library. $4.99?? F U Marvel.


Andy K. said...

When I saw the list over of items on Bleeding cool, I thought that Marvel had gone over the edge. I was just reading the actually solicitations and realized that I'm watching someone put a plastic bag over their head and breathing frantically. I recently dropped my last Marvel title, and don't regret it one bit.

Anonymous said...

Marvel by way of Stewie: "Here I go, just like that boy from INXS."


DJ said...

This is sad for one reason, no it's not because it's more ho-hum from Ryan being pissed at marvel, I'm used to that and he should be pissed. What's actually sad about all this is that it is 100% true and Marvel is crushing itself under it's own obese greed.

Fuck people at marvel saying fans shouldn't tell them how to run a company. Even monkeys could tell them that if they act in the best interests of comics AS A WHOLE they whole troop will survive longer instead of just trying to keep their head afloat.

New readers as far as I can tell are most familiar with marvel characters (thanks to their movies and cartoons) but at 5.00 a pop they're pricing themselves out of any of those people ever leaving their TV to find out where the characters on the screen come from, which then means no new people in the store to find other books as well.

The thought of me walking into my local convenice store as a kid to buy spider-man and then seeing image books (where I spend the majority of my money now) like Spawn, the Darkness, Witchblade all those really dynamically drawn books is gone. The way the industry was working was that marvel would bring the kids into the store and everybody else's books could try to hook them and keep them there, not so anymore. From the looks of this it seems that marvel wants to do nothing but put a big bullet not only in their own head but in everyone else's as well.