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  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grooodyssey View Post
    Some good points, some I haven't considered. Although I'm highly skeptical that marvel putting out all these incentive variants have the sole purpose in mind to "help" the local shops. More likely they're doing it to inflate their sales numbers by having retailers order a whole lot more comics than they can sell. A lot of these unsold comics are going to the bargain bin one day.

    Having new people flood into your market is a good thing. You can't be blaming them for the decline of the industry and the bubble bursting. Marvel has everything to blame for how they ran their business in the 90s. You tell me no one in their meeting rooms had the foresight to step up and say, "maybe we should take a closer look at our business model and make some changes"as they saw their numbers keep declining until they're driven to bankruptcy.

    Take a look at Walking Dead. It's a monster juggernaut and brought in so many new fans. I walk into my Chapters bookstore (Barnes and Noble in the states?) and there are entire sections of nothing but walking dead trades and omnibuses. These sell like hotcakes. They sell like crazy and I'm sure most of the people were never comic book readers in the past. Some of these people will be going to a comic book shop for the very first time.

    You don't see Image have these constant relaunches of their walking dead title by slapping another #1 on the same book and have 6 walking dead titles, each selling biweekly. They are very careful with their new fan base and focus rather on making good comics and telling great stories. There's nothing stopping them from slapping a $4.99 price tag on the book. They could and people will still buy them but they don't.
    Having new people flood your industry and leave is incredibly damaging if you are producing product to meet sales needs. That's what happened. The publishers were
    riding a wave they knew would eventually end, and they were trying to maximize profits in the meantime. I would think that they learned some valuable lessons where
    they won't get caught like that again, and despite people saying that a crash is inevitable, the print run numbers aren't anywhere near the inflated levels during the boom.
    Marvel is commonly going to 2nd & 3rd printings now due to this, and that tells me that they are being conservative with their print runs. Btw, Image and other smaller
    publishers have a lot more freedom in the way they run their business than Marvel or DC. They don't have to deal with a corporate environment of a company the size
    of Disney, where the primary goal of the company is raising the value of the stock by exceeding established budgets and cutting costs, while having your hands tied by
    corporate policies. The smaller companies just go straight to the boss if they want to do something. A corporation will make you justify it first, and approve it whenever
    they get around to it. It can take forever for a big company to act on something simple, and that's just not the case for Image. Everything about these other publishers
    is small potatoes compared to the big two, so you can't compare them as equals. They are also the beneficiary of the mistakes the companies have made, so they don't
    have to experience the same thing themselves.

  2. #32
    Mighty Member Groo Odyssey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat Thomas View Post
    Having new people flood your industry and leave is incredibly damaging if you are producing product to meet sales needs. That's what happened. The publishers were
    riding a wave they knew would eventually end, and they were trying to maximize profits in the meantime. I would think that they learned some valuable lessons where
    they won't get caught like that again, and despite people saying that a crash is inevitable, the print run numbers aren't anywhere near the inflated levels during the boom.
    Marvel is commonly going to 2nd & 3rd printings now due to this, and that tells me that they are being conservative with their print runs. Btw, Image and other smaller
    publishers have a lot more freedom in the way they run their business than Marvel or DC. They don't have to deal with a corporate environment of a company the size
    of Disney, where the primary goal of the company is raising the value of the stock by exceeding established budgets and cutting costs, while having your hands tied by
    corporate policies. The smaller companies just go straight to the boss if they want to do something. A corporation will make you justify it first, and approve it whenever
    they get around to it. It can take forever for a big company to act on something simple, and that's just not the case for Image. Everything about these other publishers
    is small potatoes compared to the big two, so you can't compare them as equals. They are also the beneficiary of the mistakes the companies have made, so they don't
    have to experience the same thing themselves.
    This is a really good post. I think a lot of us here have worked for companies where the main goal was to raise the value of the stock, exceed budgets by cutting costs so we can all relate.

    So what's the solution here? I see in the new Previews catalogue there are 42 new #1 titles in July for DC's new Future's End. I don't read DC so not sure what's going on there but this is getting ridiculous. Long term there's going to be major consequences with what's happening now. We're already seeing the trends in the sales data.

    Fwiw I may sound overly harsh with my feelings towards Marvel, but I want nothing but the best for them and the industry. I want them to thrive. Marvel started my love for comics and if something happens to them I would be quite sad.

  3. #33
    Astonishing Member RobinFan4880's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grooodyssey View Post
    Some good points, some I haven't considered. Although I'm highly skeptical that marvel putting out all these incentive variants have the sole purpose in mind to "help" the local shops. More likely they're doing it to inflate their sales numbers by having retailers order a whole lot more comics than they can sell to get these incentive variants. A lot of these unsold comics are going to the bargain bin one day.

    Having new people flood into your market is a good thing. You can't be blaming them for the decline of the industry and the bubble bursting. Marvel has everything to blame for how they ran their business in the 90s. You tell me no one in their meeting rooms had the foresight to step up and say, "maybe we should take a closer look at our business model and make some changes"as they saw their numbers kept declining until they were driven to bankruptcy.

    Take a look at Walking Dead. It's a monster sales juggernaut and brought in so many new fans. I walk into my Chapters bookstore (Barnes and Noble in the states?) and there are entire sections of nothing but walking dead trades and omnibuses. They sell like crazy and I'm sure most of the people were never comic book readers in the past. They saw the show and found out about these comics. Some of these people will be going to a comic book shop for the very first time and will pick up other titles.

    You don't see Image have these constant relaunches of their walking dead title by slapping another #1 on the same book and have 6 walking dead titles, each selling biweekly. They are very careful with their new fan base and focus rather on making good comics and telling great stories. There's nothing stopping them from slapping a $4.99 price tag on the book. They could and people will still buy them but they don't, they're still $2.99.
    The variants are printed to sell more issues but as a side benefit they keep many comic shops above water. it is a symbiotic relationship.

    Of course I can blame new people. They were not here to read stories, become engrossed in the worlds or become true fans. They were just buying a commodity because they saw other people get rich off selling old comics. They were not like you or I. These are the same people who thought Beenie Babies were a good investment. They are the unthinking sheeple of society.

    Am I glad they bought comics? Of course. Am I happy about the way they consumed comics? Absolutely not.

    Companies too are to blame. The whole industry (DC, Marvel, Valiant, Image and all the other smaller publishers) were mesmerized by the wads of cash they were earning and were completely blind-sighted by the collapse of the bubble.

    It is like any other bubble - nearsighted people and companies work together to make lots of money, then lose it all when the next big thing rolls around.

    You cannot really compare the Image to the Big Two. They have completely different business models. Image just publishes comics and trades, they do not receive any part of the media money. Image cannot renumber a comic or do anything with the property without the express consent of the creators/owners (who generally take a longer view of things as compared to a company who is worried more about short term rather than long term profits). If you look at all the books Image produces, most of the ones with high quality art are set at the $3.50 price point, while ones with more simplistic art (or ones that skip coloring) are often priced at 2.99. It behooves Image to market their books more cheaply than the Big Two because it garners more good will and sets them apart from the crowd (side note: the Big Two's comics should actually cost more than 3 dollars but less than 4 but they decided to jump to the 4 dollar price point to avoid the backlash of raising prices two or three times over the course of a decade). The success of the Walking Dead is an anomaly in the industry. Image's next biggest title last month was Jupiters Legacy, which sold half as much as the Walking Dead. After that, you quickly descend into the 20,000 or less area, which is completely sustainable for creator owned properties but disastrous for the Big Two. Beyond that, you can start to see the Walking Dead take its first baby steps into bilking its base what with the fact that the new story arc is being double shipped and Issue 115 had sixteen different covers (which allowed it to become the best selling individual comic of 2013).

    Still, Image has been hugely successful in turning TV viewers into comic buyers. The Big Two could learn a thing or two.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grooodyssey View Post

    So what's the solution here? I see in the new Previews catalogue there are 42 new #1 titles in July for DC's new Future's End. I don't read DC so not sure what's going on there but this is getting ridiculous. Long term there's going to be major consequences with what's happening now. We're already seeing the trends in the sales data.

    Fwiw I may sound overly harsh with my feelings towards Marvel, but I want nothing but the best for them and the industry. I want them to thrive. Marvel started my love for comics and if something happens to them I would be quite sad.
    The Future's End stuff is just apart of Gimmick Month at DC. They started the New 52 in September and so celebrate every year with a different gimmick. In 2012, they had every title make a 0 issue. In 2013, they had a whole slew of Villain issues with holographic covers. This September, DC is making every title jump forward 5 years and showcase where the hero/team may end up. The issues don't even really deserve a number but get one anyway. At the start of October, everything returns to normal. Most don't like the way gimmick month takes over the whole of September but it is hard to deny the success DC has had thus far.

    Marvel is not going anywhere. The comic side of the business is a great place to maintain control over characters/names/concepts as well as generate amazing ideas for movies/tv shows on the cheap. Additionally, Marvel is going to get a massive shot in the arm once they start making Star Wars comics (I know I will be buying most of them).
    Last edited by RobinFan4880; 05-06-2014 at 12:10 AM.

  4. #34

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    Great stuff. Finally some data to back up what many had already speculated. There's no question that slapping a new #1 on a title boosts sales. But it has been done so often now that it's starting to lose its effect. And when it no longer becomes viable, what does that mean for Marvel's sales tactics? What will they do when a new #1 is no longer enough? A part of me worries that they'll take drastic measures. I don't know what those measures will entail, but in my experience it rarely pans out when comic book companies get desperate. I think a little innovation is needed. It may not come for another five years, but at some point it's going to be necessary.
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  5. #35
    All-New Member id10tSavant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by strathcona View Post
    There is literally no difference except in your own head to jumping in on a #1 or a #362 (unless of course it's a brand new series, but that's not the point). In the past we had no option but to jump on at whatever number was on the stands that month, and guess what, we figured things out just fine... and that's without the benefit of recap pages or the internet. I really don't understand why people assume a #1 will be more accessible, it just boggles my mind.

    Plus, the fact that there was so much back story to get caught up on was a HUGE part of the draw for me when I was first getting into comics. I wanted, NEEDED to know more. And that drove me to buy more back issues. Though I guess Marvel doesn't care about that, since they make no money off back issue sales.
    I think there is a big difference between jumping in on a #1 versus a #362. Sure, all of us who have become comic book readers (I've been reading comics since the late 80's) were generally forced to start wherever, but it was still a boundary. I've had plenty of friends who have said, "I'd love to start reading comics, but where the heck can I start?" This is especially difficult as comics (in physical form) are usually only available at specialty stores. You have to make a trip to the comic shop to pick up a book - no longer can you just grab one from the rack near a checkout line.

    Digital has helped here a bit, as back issues are much more accessible, but relaunches also help a bit.

    But, if you read my post, I was more specifically referring to the ".1" issues that Marvel puts out. Those ".1" issues indicate a good jumping on point - it isn't in the middle of a story arch, it's the beginning of a new one. This is helpful, in my opinion, in expanding the readership of certain books.

    To say that jumping in to comics isn't daunting, that a barrier doesn't exist, is having ones eyes clouded in fandom. For you and me, the barrier wasn't much, but for others it is quite real. Even after becoming a fan there are barriers. Just look at how many Batman and X-men books are out there. Which ones should I read? Am I missing out if I only read one series? Plenty of people (not all, but plenty) will just skip out entirely so that they don't have to worry about it. That's all I'm saying here.

  6. #36
    Mighty Member Diamond's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GLFan5994 View Post
    You cannot really compare the Image to the Big Two. They have completely different business models. Image just publishes comics and trades, they do not receive any part of the media money. Image cannot renumber a comic or do anything with the property without the express consent of the creators/owners (who generally take a longer view of things as compared to a company who is worried more about short term rather than long term profits). If you look at all the books Image produces, most of the ones with high quality art are set at the $3.50 price point, while ones with more simplistic art (or ones that skip coloring) are often priced at 2.99. It behooves Image to market their books more cheaply than the Big Two because it garners more good will and sets them apart from the crowd (side note: the Big Two's comics should actually cost more than 3 dollars but less than 4 but they decided to jump to the 4 dollar price point to avoid the backlash of raising prices two or three times over the course of a decade). The success of the Walking Dead is an anomaly in the industry. Image's next biggest title last month was Jupiters Legacy, which sold half as much as the Walking Dead. After that, you quickly descend into the 20,000 or less area, which is completely sustainable for creator owned properties but disastrous for the Big Two. Beyond that, you can start to see the Walking Dead take its first baby steps into bilking its base what with the fact that the new story arc is being double shipped and Issue 115 had sixteen different covers (which allowed it to become the best selling individual comic of 2013).

    Still, Image has been hugely successful in turning TV viewers into comic buyers. The Big Two could learn a thing or two.
    You're just considering the direct market sales, though. And let's be honest: the majority of costumers in that matket will never buy any comic that is not from the Big Two. On the other hand, Image is expanding in the trades market, where potential new readers can be found. That's why Image and other small publishers are said to be the future of mainstream comics: they are actually trying to expand the comics audiencie.

  7. #37
    Philosopher King RockyBanks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenozoic View Post
    I have to say as an older reader that the new #1's make it a LOT easier to just dump a title, and not try out the relaunch.

    A solution (not necessarily my preference): magazine-style numbering (for example, this month's "Amazing X-Men" would be Volume 1 Issue 6). This way, whether a title is 12 monthly issues, or double-shipped in the summer (or whenever), there would always be a new #1 issue each calendar (or publishing*) year. It would be both a great jumping-on point for new readers, and a mark of longevity for the long-time readers.

    * The company could choose a kick-off month for the new system's 'publishing year', perhaps at the beginning of summer: "Start off your summer vacation with the new #1 issue of _________!"
    FCBD in May would be a great time to start.

    I've said for some time, though, that the "ongoing series" is going the way of the dodo, and I wish the Big 2 would just go ahead and embrace it like they want to. Both publishers are headed towards the Hellboy model, where a new limited series--with its own #1 issue--begins with each story arc.

    Batman: The Court of Owls #1
    Batman: The City of Owls #1
    Batman: Death of the Family #1
    et cetera
    Last edited by RockyBanks; 05-06-2014 at 07:06 AM.

  8. #38
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    I want to point something out that was overlooked by the article because maybe the author didn't have this information.

    For the past few years Marvel has been using ordering incentives with retailers. Not just in terms of variants, but discounting, often steep discounting. These discounts are tied to orders of previous comics. For example, they offered that if you got double your order of AvX #5 you would get an extra 15% off your order price of Uncanny Avengers #1, in addition to the normal variant cover offers. This made many retailers more likely to order extra copies of these titles. Since either they could take advantage of the reduced price, or now have access to more-lucrative variants that could subsidize the expense.

    What happened by the time of the second-wave (All New Marvel Now) of relaunches is that many of these offers were being tied to books that themselves already had inflated order numbers. To qualify for the new incentive, you would have to over-order a comic you had already over-ordered previously. This makes it less financially viable for retailers to "double up" on the order incentives, since they were would have to grossly over-stock the product to receive the discount.

    This might account for some of the attrition seen in the numbering relaunches is what I'm trying to get at, in addition to the fact that there weren't any premiere titles being relaunched in this wave until Amazing Spider-Man did.

  9. #39
    Astonishing Member CSTowle's Avatar
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    Buying a comic with an issue # like 362 wasn't a problem when I was a kid because the writers treated every comic like it was a story unto itself, instead of Part 4 of a 10 part series. There were long-term plotlines that developed and paid off (sometimes, loved the X-Men but they'd often forget to tie off those threads), but each issue would also have its own story.

    If the companies are going to stay with the "write to the trade" format, I'd like to see them do what one poster suggested and do a season. Whether this is one year, two years, or something in between I wouldn't mind new #1s every year as long as I knew the previous story was going to wrap up. Also, it would push writers to hook you and keep you coming back for next season (complete with season "cliffhangers").
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  10. #40
    Astonishing Member RobinFan4880's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by id10tSavant View Post
    To say that jumping in to comics isn't daunting, that a barrier doesn't exist, is having ones eyes clouded in fandom. For you and me, the barrier wasn't much, but for others it is quite real. Even after becoming a fan there are barriers. Just look at how many Batman and X-men books are out there. Which ones should I read? Am I missing out if I only read one series? Plenty of people (not all, but plenty) will just skip out entirely so that they don't have to worry about it. That's all I'm saying here.
    This is one of the reasons I often direct newer readers to Marvel Unlimited. They can try out all the latest comics (from 6 months ago) and see if they appeal to them, read a back catalog of comics to "get the full story" and help them jump past any barriers they may feel are impeding their entry into the hobby.

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamond View Post
    You're just considering the direct market sales, though. And let's be honest: the majority of costumers in that matket will never buy any comic that is not from the Big Two. On the other hand, Image is expanding in the trades market, where potential new readers can be found. That's why Image and other small publishers are said to be the future of mainstream comics: they are actually trying to expand the comics audiencie.
    Go to any big box retailer and look at the number of trades. The Big 2 have all the other indy publishers beat by a wide margin. However, do you know who has the Big 2 beat? Manga. Manga is the entry point for many into the world of comics today because they embrace more than just one genre. Indy publishers are, in a way, piggy backing on this concept by diversifying their lines and offering something other than more Adonis-es hitting one another.

  11. #41
    Mighty Member Groo Odyssey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarvelMaster616 View Post
    Great stuff. Finally some data to back up what many had already speculated. There's no question that slapping a new #1 on a title boosts sales. But it has been done so often now that it's starting to lose its effect. And when it no longer becomes viable, what does that mean for Marvel's sales tactics? What will they do when a new #1 is no longer enough? A part of me worries that they'll take drastic measures. I don't know what those measures will entail, but in my experience it rarely pans out when comic book companies get desperate. I think a little innovation is needed. It may not come for another five years, but at some point it's going to be necessary.
    Yeah good post. There will come a time when a new #1 will no longer be viable and I'm worried what drastic measures they will take as well. Yeah, the innovation is called writing good stories that will hook in readers no matter what number you have on the cover and at the same time draw in new readers.

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stryfe8 View Post
    This is what I've been saying since marvel started this relaunch nonsense (only without the statistical data)

    One point not mentioned which causes even more loss, is that the older fan, the ones who used to have hundreds of issues of one volume are losing interest, and stop buying.
    So while in the past you could always count on the core fan base, that fan base is diminishing as well, and will be much harder to get back
    This is pretty much what's happened to me as a Marvel reader. There are so many Avengers and X- Titles it's almost impossible to jump on-board. I'm pretty much just reading the bare minimum of favorite writers (Peter David on X-Factor and Bendis on X-Men) and then waiting for the movies or TV shows. I've pretty much fully turned to DC which I've found to have better writing, more engaging art and a sensibility that seems to welcome new readers.

    And that's the crux of the problem with Marvel titles in general. While they're constantly relaunching in order to get new readers involved, there doesn't seem to be anything in the writing that reaches out and welcomes newcomers.

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by CSTowle View Post
    Buying a comic with an issue # like 362 wasn't a problem when I was a kid
    I think one of the things that make people assume that jumping in the "middle" will be a hindrance is spelled out in your anecdote. When we all did this and simply jumped in, most of us WERE KIDS, we didnt even know what # was on the cover most likely, nor what that really meant. The VAST majority of people purchasing comics today are adults who have grown up in a world where if you missed an amazing show or turned on a film in the middle you can hit your on demand or your boxed sets or your netflix and ALWAYS be able to start something from its beginning. No one would watch Lost and start midway through season 4. Comics are working hard via Marvel Unlimited and digital and trades to make those experiences a reality for new prospective readers, and i simply look at what MArvel has been doing for the past few years as another experiment in seeing what delivery methods and release schedules and numbering systems work the best for the consumers of today, rather than sticking by what worked for readers coming up in the first few decades of the DM.

  14. #44
    Extraordinary Member DebkoX's Avatar
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    How does/did Hawkeye sell so low?!
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  15. #45
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    So many valid posts here. For me, it's starting to feel like character fatigue especially since some creative teams are not staying on past twelve issues. It is a little tricky to keep track of what volume it is etc.

    And prices vs. quality (and the cut to 20 pages in every floppy)... oy. That still hurts.

    I am not sure what else Marvel can do besides ask Disney to bolster their marketing fund.
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