Monday, December 27, 2010

Event Marketing vs. - gasp- Actual Stories

So its come to this has it? The Event loving chickens have come home to roost and sales are down at retailers for 18 months straight and suddenly the retailers and publishers are wondering where the readers have gone. And they both have different ideas of who to blame.

Johanna Carlson comes in with a short but succinct post about it, comparing quotes from Brian hibbs and marvel's Tom Breevort concerning cutting back the publishing line, since Brian believes that it is just such a glut of overlapping titles that has sapped the will of the consumer to buy. The Robot 6 post puts the two of them head to head.

Now, I know that i'm not the average superhero consumer. Quite the opposite it seems, since i tend to despise the event marketing and feel that it simply disrupts the actual writing of good stories, since there is so much crap that each issue has to do to make sure that it links in with the other issues properly. And, as we all know, they NEVER interlink properly.

So i've been buying Thor and Fantastic Four AS LONG AS THEY DON'T INTERLINK WITH THE REST OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE. And because there were some interesting stories going down there. But now I'm seeing multiple Thor books and FF appearsl to be coming out sporadically and Marvel is, once again, pissing me off. So yes, the local retailer is going to have a harder time getting my money because they are once again making my life difficult.

Why is it that hard? Because nothing succeeds like copying success, and if the event strategy has worked in the past, you're not going to convince the heads up at marvel with their sales charts not to do it again, despite the general blog-o-sphere showing that the public is tired of the events. Companies, constantly looking ahead by checking out the past are notoriously bad at taking the temperture of the general public. otherwise we wouldn't have seem so many Disco albums released after 1980. Or so many Secret Wars after the wars were no longer... um... secret.

So here's the deal guys: I don't quite believe in Brian's hypothesis that the event marketing has conditioned me to ignore titles that weren't part of the cross over, it has done the opposite. It has made me want to only look at titles that weren't part of the crossovers. But he's right in that the missing ingredient in comics right now is that they're not giving me my series heroin: a series so good that i'm there for it each and every damn month and if I don't get it I'll explode. And while Tom is busy asserting that sale don't aggregate if you were to consolidate the different Spider Man (and I'm sure that he has the data to back it up), i wish that he would answer the other unspoken question of whether or not sales would go up if you had a dedicated writer and artist creating a better product rather than a product noted for simply interlocking. Or a comic noted for being a great read rather than a comic noted for crossing over to other cross overs.

Either way, in a shitty economy, you're lost readers and that's never good.



The Groovy Agent said...

I have to chime in to tell you how much I agree with you. For the past decade or so I have actively AVOIDED comics that might even remotely have the chance to get mixed up in those blasted crossovers. As soon as a title joins in one, I'm outta there. Leaves me very few mainstream titles to collect and/or enjoy.

Oh, and to top things off, I'm boycotting Marvel altogether. DC had the decency to drop their prices, so I'll pick up a few of them, but Marvel has no excuse to keep robbing their readers of an extra buck per title.

The indys are getting my moolah these days. I can stand paying a little more for them because they actually need the money to stay afloat.

Thanks for such a fine and thoughtful post. Makes me feel less alone. ;D

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

happy to help! I've relatively amazed that marvel basically let the Hitch/Neary FF drop out of main continuity and has let Hickman continue the trend. So far, its made the FF a decent book to follow again. Straczynki's Thor was like that for a little bit as well. Faction's take on Thor just isn't working for me. That's about it.

Oh yeah, they cancelled my two favorites: Guardians and Nova.


You're right! Us little indy guys need all the help we can get!

thanks for doing all the great scans by the way!


Dan said...

Yeah, big Events have no appeal to me, really, whether back in the day where, imo, the only good that came from them was the inspiration for parody they provided for Dave Sim, or today. The reason is mostly that (with some minor exceptions) I don't care about the IP, but the creative team, and crossovers/events/whatever are all about the IP. Likewise, I'll read Morrison & Quitely's All-star Superman, but I won't bother with any monthly Superman title.

But whatever, I've been off the superhero wagon for longer than this new problem has been a problem, so in a sense it doesn't matter to me - I probably wasn't going to buy their books anyway. Which I guess means they have a larger problem: lifelong comic fans with disposable income avoiding their product like it's the plague.

I guess the one exception was that Annihilation event - I picked up the GNs after the fact, because of my starlinverse jones, and thought it was pretty good, despite about a third of it being pure filler and a waste of paper. It got me reading Nova & then GotG, both of which started out strong and then turned to crap - I wonder if the reason was that Marvel tasked Abnett & Lanning with managing events instead of actually paying attention to the quality of their books? Anyway, I didn't realize those two books had been canceled - I'd say "what a drag", except I'd just resolved to cancel my subs anyway. Sure, they featured some of my favorite Marvel properties (the exception I noted above), but I really wasn't liking the storytelling at all. They were phoning it in, big-time.

I think the only truely monthly book I buy these days is Hellblazer (I've been on board since #1). All of the others I read are published in occasional arcs, less often, or in limited series: all that awesome Mignola stuff, Brubaker's Incognito and Criminal, Fraction's Casanova, Sim's Glamourpuss and the occasional series whose publisher claims is a monthly but is lucky to get three issues out per year. I spend more money on art books and IDW & other reprints (Raymond, Caniff, O'Donnell/Holdaway, etc.) these days.

Time Bomb looked great, btw! And I'm looking forward to The Carnival: the human hourglass, which I just ordered.

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

@ Dan - you've just named a number of the series that i still enjoy in your next to last paragraph.

But you're right, and you hit the nail on the head: those of us with a life long love of comics avoiding their comics. ACTIVELY avoiding their comics.

Thanks for the kind words on TimeBomb. Paul did a good job with a hell of a lot of illustration to do for that project. It was fun to ink him again. I'll get your Human Hourglass off to you in a few days!

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting blog post. I read a lot of comics growing up as a child, and I recently found my love in it again when I attended an art show in Austin, TX put on by a buddy of mine using I spoke with several people there that said events that bring together comic books and people together is a sweet thing that they never experienced before. I mean the place called Art Authority even has a bar included so new found friends were buying each other beers while they agreed, argued, and networked all about comics. My friend Ross is now using Ticketbud to sell his next event tickets online at the same venue to bring even more people in next time. I will share the event page when I get the info to you guys. Again, I just stumbled upon the site and think this is great.