Who killed Thor: The Mighty Avenger?

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201011171216 Who killed Thor: The Mighty Avenger?
While everyone is concerned about Ultimate Spidey dying and Superman dying and Batman died but now he’s incorporated, and who will die next, here is a very real, very tragic death amongst us: Thor: The Mighty Avenger has been cancelled:

Created by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee, the critically acclaimed all-ages series was announced during April’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo as a timeless, accessible take on the classic character. The comic began with Thor’s reappearance on Earth after a thousand-year absence, enabling the creators to chronicle the thunder god’s first meetings with friends and foes ranging from Jane Foster and Captain Britain to Hank Pym and Mr. Hyde.


Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee — the kind of creators beloved in the blogosphere and more than capable of creating the sort of readable, done-in-one, jump-right-in-here-folks comics that most people say we need.

But it didn’t work.

From Paul’s sales charts:

138. THOR: THE MIGHTY AVENGER
07/10 Mighty Avenger #1 – 20,076
07/10 Mighty Avenger #2 – 14,315 (-28.7%)
08/10 Mighty Avenger #3 – 12,112 (-15.4%)
Decent sales by the standards of Marvel’s all-ages books.


Evidently not decent enough.

So we have once more the giant disconnect between what people SAY they want to see, and what people are actually buying. Thor: The Mighty Avenger is such a fail of comics sales that even Marvel e-i-c Joe Quesada has to pass the buck:

“Sorry about the TMA cancellation, folks. For the record, I don’t make those decisions. That said, it’s a great [comic] and may be back again someday.”

Why? WHY did it have to die?

Basically, despite what every says they want over and over and over — CLEAN ACCESSIBLE COMICS STORYTELLING DOESN’T SELL. The book’s editor, Nate Cosby, weighs in on the state of selling comics:

This is the way it’s been; this is why the mainstream has been flooded by “important events” and why the events have become less memorable. Cuz when EVERYTHING’s important, nothing is (to crib from The Incredibles).

There’s enormous pressure on the creative teams, editors, and marketing departments to make every new story seem like a reinvention of the wheel. This can become… silly. It’s perfectly normal to have no fewer than 5 or 6 “events” launching the same month, all promising NEW DIRECTIONS, BOLD STORYTELLING, taking you PLACES YOU’D NEVER BEEN, showing THINGS YOU’VE NEVER SEEN!!!!


He sums it up up with one chilling formula:

Huge Event x Huge Marketing Push = Huge Sales

Huge Marketing Push / 30 Mini-Events = So-So Sales & Lack Of Event Individuality


That’s where we’ve gotten, folks. Battered into insensibility. Jaded, decadent unable to feel or laugh. Less Than Hulk Zero.

cat hat Who killed Thor: The Mighty Avenger?

Who killed Thor: The Mighty Avenger?

YOU did.

Comments

  1. Boils down to the classic, “Fans vote with their dollars.”

    It really is too bad.

    VF / NM

  2. This is the marketplace Marvel and DC have created over the last six years. This is the type of material they have trained the audiences to look for.

    Is anybody REALLY surprised that they now have to live in it, just because yet ANOTHER “fan-favorite” marginal seller got the axe?

    Here’s a novel idea: Stop trying to drown your audience with books they supposedly HAVE to buy, and start growing more books that people might actually WANT to buy again.

    It worked pretty well from 2001 through 2006, before short-term greed became, once again, the driving force of your business models.

  3. No, I didn’t.

  4. Here’s the thing. It’s great to make kids comics. I want them. I’ll buy them. But you have to get them where I can buy them. You have to get them where kids and people that buy things for kids can buy them. You have to get them on the grocery store magazine rack. The drug store magazine rack. You have to get them in Wal-Mart. Comic book shops are the next to last place I would ever look for a kid’s comic. (After a head shop but before an adult video store.) That new Lightning Thief graphic novel was on the best sellers list. It’s at Wal-Mart. I can buy that. Oh if only there was a way to get comics in grocery stores and Wal-Mart. It would be fantastic. Maybe they could even have their own merchandise stand. Maybe it could spin around like those little picture book display racks they have at Wal-Mart and grocery stores. Would that be possible? Could we possibly come up with a spinning rack on which comics could be sold in grocery stores and Wal-Marts? No? Bummer.

  5. JOE.DISTORT says:

    i may be going out on a limb, but i feel that folks who read the beat and its ilk arent really the ones killing it…who knows though. maybe im overgeneralizing.

    but more importantly: that gif is awesome.

  6. Comic books?

    You mean they still make those things?

  7. Matt Halteman says:

    I HATE that gif. What’s funny about a little kitten being smacked? It makes me uncomfortable to look at it. I know this makes me sound quite namby-pamby and I’m just fine with that.

  8. Kate Fitzsimons says:

    Or, alternately, Marvel unknowingly killed it by having so many Thor comics all out at once that no one but the most dedicated could remember (or figure out) which one was which.

    I have to admit, this was me. I’d be at the comic store and go “Oh hey, one of the Thor comics is supposed to be good. Which one was that again?”

    I actually think their cutbacks on the number of titles going at once featuring the same hero is a good idea, even if I’m sad to see this one go… Now that I know which one it is.

  9. Oh no! I really liked Chris Samnee’s art on this book. The stories were really fun too. Langridge played the silliness of contemporary gods on earth with a straight face that I felt worked really well. Thor and crew having a boys night out and getting in a bar fight with Captain Britain! I can almost always get behind hitting British people. (errrrr…jk) I’ll look out for their future work for sure.

  10. What Shannon said.

    A book like that will never sell in the DM because it’s not in continuity. Trying to find alternate markets only throws DM owners into a tizzy. And the snake continues to swallow its tail and the same arguments happen over and over again. It’s the new Sisyphus.

    Of course, you know this also feeds into the theory that fans on the internets are just 10 people using a bunch of different usernames.

    Me, I was waiting for the trade.

  11. JMann says:

    The book was not killed, it was drowned by all the other Thor one-shots, minis and tie-ins floosing the marketplace.

  12. The flood of “important event” comics certainly had an impact on TMA’s sales, but I think the primary culprit was Marvel’s glut of Thor titles. With four, five, or more distinct Thor titles, all with different takes and settings, all diluting the renewed interest in Thor, it’s no wonder that gems like TMA have such lousy sales.

    How was it that “Spider-Girl” limped along for most of the past decade, yet TMA gets yanked off stage after less than a year of publication? Surely something like this could have done well in the book market, especially among younger readers.

  13. The problem lies clearly in the format and particularly in marketing, or lack of it. New, out-of-continuity or retro-continuity accessible stories by quirky and fun creative teams have a dismal track record these days. People who order – stores and customers – Marvel product are fed up with the volume of material Marvel dumps on the direct market each month. It leaves not only retailers confused but particularly readers who don’t know what to order when faced with a Marvel Previews with over a hundred new offerings. People clearly pick and choose but they FOCUS on the core titles and the event books.

    Not only that, but something I’m hearing from more and more creators is the lack of promotional support their books get these days. An ad in previews and an article on Newsarama or CBR just doesn’t cut it anymore. You are competing one on one with a zillion other similarly marketed projects.

    What kind of marketing was done to tell retailers that this is a book that should be “pushed” to new readers? We lament it’s passing because it was different and unique, but for most retailers it’s one of a half dozen or more Thor related books that are solicited per month in anticipation of the Thor movie… so that Marvel can turn out a number of collected editions for the book market. I see the first collection is due to ship in December 2010. I suspect it was probably under-ordered.

    Therefore the good thing about the collected edition is about to be released… so lament it now but PUSH THE HECK OUT OF IT. If you haven’t ordered it, order it! Schools, libraries, families and in particular KIDS want book format comics to take home and read, they do not gravitate towards monthly comics nor do they generally shop at direct market outlets.

    Retailers need to be warned that here is something SPECIAL that needs to be recommended to customers – particularly new customers and younger readers who want an entry into the character.

  14. I can understand cancelling a comic because the sales are low, but how about giving any comic with a big movie coming out the following year a bit of leeway? As this sounds like the type of thing that would do great in trades in bookstores after the Thor movie came out.

  15. Ralf Haring says:

    I didn’t buy this series. I heard no positive or negative word of mouth about it. I have never heard of Roger Langridge. I have heard of Chris Samnee (final Queen & Country arc) but I would not go out of my way to specifically pick up his work.

    I don’t think it’s surprising that middle-of-the-road work by relatively unknown creators on one-of-dozens of books featuring the same property didn’t sell well. It’s utterly expected. Marvel did not give anyone a reason to buy this book.

  16. Well said, Heidi. I’m one of those all-ages book buyers who tends to steer clear of Events (after 25 years of reading, there’s little to surprise or shock me, so I go for storytelling that delights and inspires me instead), and I’ve never been under the illusion there were all that many like me. This is one more sad proof.

  17. AwesomeDude says:

    I had no idea this book existed until a couple weeks ago when Comics Alliance did that round up of the 6 or 7 Thor books on the stands.

    There were alot of books. And this was the one that sounded interesting, but I just heard about it too late.

    Poor marketing.
    And frankly I’ve stopped looking for Marvel books to buy because I refuse to pay 3.99 for 22 pages of story. I don’t know if this book was 3.99 or not, but I may have had blinders on from the start.

    Major bummer. I can’t wait to buy the trade though, it looks like fun.

  18. AwesomeDude says:

    Further- if this really was a Kids book, why pretend that kids go into comic shops and buy single issues?

    After Earth One was so damn successful why not try the same formula with the kids books, starting with this one.

  19. @Shannon Smith: “Here’s the thing. It’s great to make kids comics. I want them. I’ll buy them. But you have to get them where I can buy them. You have to get them where kids and people that buy things for kids can buy them.”

    I handed out comic books (all age books, Archie Digests) along with candy at Halloween this year. At least until I ran out of books. (http://www.theblabbingbaboon.com/?m=20101101) Nearly EVERY kid who got one asked me the same thing (and a few of their parents as well) “Wow! This is great! Where can I find (buy) these at.”

    When you answer, Comic Shop, they inadvertently have no idea what one is or even where one is at. If I could have answered Walgreens, Walmart, Rite Aid, WaWa (local convenient store in this area) etc.. they’d know exactly where to buy more.

  20. Well said Shannon!

    Also, Roger Langridge has been a consistently good storyteller since his “Knnuckles the Maelvolent Nun” days. He’s also done stirling work on the Megazine and other stuff I saw before leaving the shores of ol’ Blighty for good in 1993. Hie’s a Kiwi, but don’t hold that against him. He’s been nominated for Two eisners and a Reuben as far as i can remember, there could be an Ignatz nom in there too.

  21. wayne beamer says:

    Your best blog post this year, especially your answer to that rhetorical question those of us who fell in love with TTMA asked after hearing the news.

    BTW, I’ve bought all 5 issues and was waiting for a collection to give to my 7-year-old comic book reading granddaughter starving for age-appropriate comics she can’t find at her gaming/DM-centric funnybook store in Dubuque, Iowa. There’s plenty more kids looking for comics but this industry can’t find them. I don’t get it. One. Iota.

  22. wayne beamer says:

    BTW, the kittens don’t take the sting out of this news either.

  23. In response to Shannon’s comment re: comics in Wal-Mart, around 2004 / 2005 Marvel did have a line of oversized comics specifically produced for Target (I believe the content was repurposed from Ultimate Spider-Man and similar.)

    Not sure what became of that Target line, and what the level of success was. Perhaps the oversized format — though beautiful in production value — was not well received(?)

    Remember also Marvel’s digest-sized compilations, which were also very nicely packaged in full-color, for the mass market.

    That being said, again, neither of the above were in standard comic format, nor successful (I believe) in prompting the “leap” for new readers to actually seek out comic book specialty stores for more product.

    VF / NM

  24. Sphinx Magoo says:

    Not me, sister! I bought all the issues (except for the one with Captain Britain, which was sold out at my LCS)! I saw Roger Landridge’s name on the cover and said “Ooo. The guy who does those excellent Muppet Show comics. Lemme check this out!” I showed them to my oldest daughter, she loved them and asked for more!

    Don’t point the finger at me, copper! I’m clean!

    That said. I nominate Thor the Mighty Avenger as a lead title for a new all-digital initiative that puts good comics on the web/iApp for people to buy. New stories, new format, possible trade collection.

    This book is just too dang good to lose.

  25. Wal-Mart still has the occasional magazine sized collection. I don’t know if it is a series or what. At one point there seemed to be a Spider-Man series and an X-Men series but the keep starting the numbering over every few months. I think there is an Iron Man-centric one now. Not sure what the strategy is there other than to have the most recent movie star on the cover but there has not been much consistency with it. They have also gotten those magazines on the Scholastic Book Fair a few times. I’ve bought them for my daughter. She likes them. They are nice. Kind of expenseive. I think if you had one out ever month with a consistent look it could catch on. Kids like the consistency of a series or at least for the format to look the same from book to book. Harry Potter, Naruto etc. etc. I’m mean, it’s not rocket surgery. Just look at the stuff that sells well and learn from it. Dang.

  26. The Beat says:

    One of the most eye-opening revelations at the ICv@ digital conference was most all of the distributors — graphic.ly, iVerse, etc — find their books skew younger than print sales. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm

  27. Okay, I’m spoiled. My local comics shop (Forbidden Planet) shelves just about every Marvel and DC comic published. I knew Roger Langridge from his excellent work on The Muppet Show comic, so when I saw it on the shelf, I picked it up. (Marvel also linked the series to the Marvel Adventures titles, so it showed up on the “next issue” page of those comics.)

    I’m a Marvel bottom feeder. Aside from the Fantastic Four, I haven’t bought any of the big titles from Marvel. It’s been the weekly mini-series, Marvel Adventures, Super Hero Squad… the stuff that’s fun and enticing and accessible, and which usually charts below 20K on the sales charts.

    Marvel’s problem? They will not publish an original graphic novel. They always want to monetize the comic book first. This Thor title would have been better as a digest-sized Marvel Age book. Draw two pages on a landscaped 11×17 board and push the product out there as a 96-page book for $7.99. Make a deal with Scholastic and feature it in the book club. (Heck, “license” it to Disney Publishing, and let them market the book like they’re marketing the Tron prequel!)

    Since the sales are at the bottom of the charts, release the digital copy the same day as the paper copy. Make it accessible.

    Now… does anyone have the Publishers Statement of Ownership for this title?

  28. Chris Hero says:

    @Kate: Yes, I was in the same boat.

    I don’t like going to the comic store, so I try to keep a list of stuff I want to buy and get it all over with at once. On my list was “Thor by Roger Landridge.” When I went to the comic store, the dude had no idea what I was looking for due to the glut of Thor books.

    Oh well. I want more “Fred the Clown,” but I also want Mr. Landridge to earn that huge Marvel paycheck. I hope he gets some more work from them because he’s probably the best white guy creator out there. It’s gotta be between him an Huizenga, right?

  29. Chris Hero says:

    Reading The Beat’s and Torsten’s comments… yeah, a same day digital version would be pimp. I’d be down for that. It would be easier than keeping my sparse notes and putting the comic shop dude on the spot, that’s for sure.

  30. TheTaken says:

    Sometimes when you are the largest (maybe 2nd largest) publisher of comic books you just print a book because you KNOW its good – regardless of sales. Cmon.

    Ever heard of ‘friday night lights’? Nobody believed in the show except Dish Network. So they payed to keep it going and it was only shown on Dish. A few years later its on NBC primetime and selling DVD’s and netflix streaming. Because they had FAITH.

  31. Andrew Farago says:

    Aw, man…

    This was my favorite Marvel book, hands-down. Roger’s a great writer, and Chris Samnee’s one of the best new artists I’ve seen in ages. I’m sure they’ll find more work soon, but it’s a shame that a book like this can’t rack up a good two-to-ten year run in the current comics market.

  32. (sobbing)

    OKAY, OKAY it was me I’m sorry I’m sorry but I didn’t mean to I was aiming at X-MEN LEGACY and it just GOT IN THE WAY (sobbing helplessly)

    And I woulda gotten away with it too!

  33. Brett says:

    The problem with selling this book is sandwiching it between all those other Thor one-shots and mini-series.

    Shannon…

    I live in NJ and comics are sold at 3 local supermarkets, the drug store in my area and in one of the Borders mega stores at the mall. The racks are literally overstuffed with recent comics which look like no one is buying because they’re usually falling all over the floor, at least at the Borders they are.

    Also, Port Authority gets plenty of traffic and I know for a fact they sell comics at some of the newsstands. Granted, they don’t sell 20 different Batman comics but there are a few.

    So as far as I can see, comics ‘ARE’ where kids and new readers can get at them but it doesn’t appear as though they’re intrested in what’s currently on the stands.

  34. poor kitten. And poor TTMA. Really does not make sense. A book this highly lauded, this highly regarded gets a stay of the ax.

  35. Synsidar says:

    I bought THOR: THE MIGHTY AVENGER #4 because of the critical acclaim the series had received. I read the issue pretty quickly, decided that it was aimed primarily at kids — and that was that. I didn’t consider buying another issue, not because there was anything wrong with TMA, but because I didn’t want to read a kids book. IMO, there’s a distinction between writing on multiple levels and writing an all-ages story.

    Acclaimed though the series was, I’ve never felt an obligation to buy something because of critical acclaim. I have to be interested in seeing or reading it for some other reason first.

    SRS

  36. J. K. Simon says:

    I think the cancellation of Thor: TMA has much less to do with event-based marketing or an inability to recognize quality on the part of the readership as it does with the glut of Thor titles currently being released by Marvel. Thor, while an interesting character, simply can’t support anywhere near that many concurrent titles. With that many Thor books on the market simultaneously, the series (other than the the ‘main’ ongoing) that survive will do so on the basis on random happenstance as opposed to merit.

    The comics readership didn’t kill this book, the Marvel PTB drowned it via oversaturation.

  37. It looked like a kids book. I ordered it like a kids book. It sold like a kids book. Funny enough, I didn’t even know it was an ongoing title until it was canceled.

  38. @Brett
    I live in Pennsylvania (suburbs of Philadelphia) and comics are NOT sold in local supermarkets or drug stores. Some are sold in Borders (maybe 10-15 different titles). Comics are only sold at Comic Shops and the kids I gave comics to at Halloween (had over 50 kids show up) are interested and would buy them:
    • If they could find them
    • If they were affordable

  39. Given the title, I thought this was going to be about getting to the bottom of Quesada saying that the cancelling wasn’t his call. Instead, it’s saying that, if it sold much better, they’d not have cancelled it? Really?

  40. Brett says:

    @Richard,

    Maybe not in your neighborhood they don’t but there’s 3 supermarkets in mine that do and one local drug store. In fact, two of the supermarkets use comic spinner racks and the other supermarket just puts the comics in the kids section of the magazine aisle.

    What can I say? In my area, kids have easy access to comics and there’s tons of kids in my neighborhood.

  41. “while an interesting character, simply can’t support anywhere near that many concurrent titles”

    -with the current levels of comics readership. The current comics readership is too small to support the market. This is how things are, this is the reality. We have proven largely unwilling to support anything too outside an ever aging target demographic. Book publishers can publish half a dozen sexy vampire books a month, because they target them at a huge spectrum of age groups.

    The problem with TTMA has nothing to do with any of the other Thor books out there. The problem is Marvel thought by putting this book out new readers would find it even if they didn’t bother to put the book where any of those new readers are.

    @Brett – I’ve seen a spinner rack in the B&N in Union Square, and some of the larger Hudson News stands in the Port Authority and other travel centers do have a shelf or two of comics. Half a dozen places in one of the busiest cities in the world. But I absolutely cannot tell you where in Allegany County NY you can go to find a spinner rack. The grocery stores in Angelica, Belmont, and Fillmore NY all stopped carrying comics back around 1996. If you live in Allegany county you have to travel over to the next county, Cattaraugus, in order to find a comic book, and then only in a DM shop (Grand Slam Cards and comics – I love the place but its dank, certainly no Rocketship).

    Hell, I cannot even tell you where to go to find a non-DM shop with comics within 20 blocks of my office here in Soho.

    I have never seen a spinner rack at a grocery store in Brooklyn, Queens, Jersey City, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, or Montpelier.

    I agree with Shannon, and have held the same opinion for some time, that this industry needs to replace those missing racks someway and somehow. Because they are gone. Whatever little pockets may still exist, the grocery store spinner rack has disappeared from the isles.

  42. The Beat says:

    Those spinner racks have been replaced by the tablets and smart phones in your backpacks and pockets.

  43. Who killed Thor: The Mighty Avenger?
    YOU did.

    Well, yeah. Even though they clownishly half-ass it whenever they try to gain new readers, Marvel does try it occasionally.

    But they sell to the direct market fanboys and direct market fanboys are pretty limited in taste. Nothing surprising here.

  44. Abhay says:

    This all happened before.

    Diminishing return mega-crossovers, followed by a spate of lame mini-crossovers, alongside an unholy glut of material; a ton of movie-related tie-ins that no reasonable person could wade through, leading to slightly higher-quality books that fans get invested in being canceled; books lost in the shuffle while the popular characters get diluted with 5000 spin-offs, etc.

    I’m pretty sure I just accurately described Marvel in the 90’s. This is basically the comics I grew up with. Heck, they’re even bringing back poly-bagging for that FF Death issue!

    None of this was any fun before and I don’t know why anyone would think it’d be fun a second time. At least, I don’t remember it being much fun, being a fan in the 90’s. But hopefully the fans have a better time now than I did then.

  45. Brett says:

    I think Shannon’s point is that in many places, comics aren’t sold in the same avenues as before and that’s the reason why more kids aren’t into them.

    Just playing devil’s advocate here, kids are into playing their video games; whether it’s on the wii (sp?), XBox or whatever other gaming system they use.

    Supermarkets and drug stores don’t carry the kids latest video games either. Most times, they have to seek out a specialty shop for them. Thing is, when kids want something, they find a way to get it.

    As hard as this is to accept, there isn’t anything currently published that’s drawing them into the few shops that do have them available.

    Come to think of it, publisher’s can’t even maintain their regular readers and their regular readers buy anything.

  46. Dave Elliott says:

    Remember the scene in the first Austin Powers movie where Austin is trying to turn his car around in a space that is too small?

    That’s what makes me think of the comic industry right now. A glut of books enough to choke a whale (remember when Perelman forced Marvel to crank out that s##t just before he floated the company? Deja vu ) and they realize all of a sudden that digital is the way forward. Execs want to sell the comics straight to the mainstream, BUT they haven’t read them. They’re not aimed at the mainstream. TTMA probably is, especially once the film is closer to release.

    It’s all messed up right now because every publisher pretty much has to serialize the graphic novel before collecting it as a trade before they can get it out of the Direct Sales Market into B&N or Borders or Amazon. That means it has to survive the DSM first and to stand a chance, has to try and appeal to that market first.

    So how do you provide accessible books? You do more books like TTMA, but don’t sell them like orphans and don’t put them up against ten other titles featuring the same character.

    The industry needs to focus less on mass producing hot dogs and aim for more gourmet level quality product. As many people here have already stated, push the good books like you believe in them. Sometimes you have to publish books a little longer to get the right traction.

  47. Sorry to see Thor:TMA go. It was my favorite Marvel title–and one that should have had appeal to ALL, not just children.

    Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee are all-star creators, in my book.

    And I’ll take issue with Synsidar that there aren’t “multiple levels” to the writing. Some might have seen it as a all-ages adventure title, but at its heart Thor:TMA was a romance book. It’s right there, if you look for it….

  48. Alan Waid says:

    What the hell is with that gif of a kitten being smacked? Are you into animal cruelty or something?

  49. The kitten gif is painful … but it’s being swatted by another cat. Not a human.

    On the other hand, I am totally baffled by Chris Hero’s comment. “I hope he gets some more work from them because he’s probably the best white guy creator out there.” Please explain?

    THOR — I never followed him much when I purchased comics. I remember buying THOR #337, the “Ballad of Beta Ray Bill,” and purchasing the book regularly for about a year or so. After a while, it seemed like Walt Simonson’s storyline was running out of steam and I stopped buying it. That was the only time I purchase TJOR on a consistant basis.

    I heard that THOR was cancelled. Recently, it seemed like there were SCADS of THOR comics. Now it’s canceled again? I can’t keep the Marvel line-up straight any longer. Is it worth trying?

  50. The fact that several people have mentioned so many different ways they see comics in their area is a problem. Allegedly, Marvel (and DC etc.) is still in the business of publishing periodicals. If they want to make money publishing periodicals they should probably make an attempt at some consistency in their distribution. If I fan find Redneck-Hot=Rod-Kitting-with Archie-Weekly in every drug/convenience/grocery/newstand/Wal-Mart in America then for the love of Forbush I dang well oughta be able to buy a Spider-Man comic!

    At some point Marvel needs to look at it’s self in the mirror and say, “Dangit, we’re Marvel Comics. We have hit movies. We have TV shows. We have the full and terrible power of Disney. If Rachel freaking Ray can get her magazine on the check out counter then what the hell is wrong with us?!?”

  51. I wonder what Marvel (or DC) does when they see the sales of a particular title start to decline like that.

    Do they just let is die a natural death?

    Do they give it an extra marketing push and promote it twice as much?

    What’s interesting is, from my point of view, that this title got a lot of buzz online from several comic book reviewers, and let it didn’t encourage more people to buy it.

    Or maybe the reader just got confused when he entered the comic book store and saw a dozen Thor titles to choose from?

    And now that MIGHTY AVENGERS is showing on the Disney channel, should Marvel start doing 10-second/30-second ads promoting their titles during the show?

  52. “Those spinner racks have been replaced by the tablets and smart phones in your backpacks and pockets.”

    Except spinner racks don’t have a $50-$500 entry fee or incomplete, hodge-podge release schedules and pricing, do they?

  53. “Except spinner racks don’t have a $50-$500 entry fee”

    They do to most stores. Let’s say the spinner rack takes up ten square feet of space on the sales floor. That square foot has an annual rent. It also requires man-hours to stock and maintain. Now, the company distributing the comics will usually offer the display for free, as long as the store pays for the merchandise to fill that display. (That’s why you see so much soda and beer advertising when you enter a deli or bar.)

    Now, if that square footage can generate greater profits selling something else, the store will probably replace that spinner rack. They’ll probably see the decline in magazine sales, cut back on titles, and shelve the comics with the magazines. And probably cut back on the comics as well, if they keep track of which titles are selling.

    Hodge-podge release schedules and pricing… well, yeah, but the entire industry has that problem. Used to be, you knew which Superman title came out which week. Every issue on the stands had the same price, unless it was an anniversary issue.

    Cell phones, tablets, computers, televisions… they all have the same cost. But there’s lots of “free” content for those platforms, and stuff which costs money. But a bookshelf has similar costs. That bookshelf costs money, and you can fill it with free content, or buy titles.

    How easy it is to fill, that’s the Million Dollar Question.

  54. “They do to most stores.”

    Not to the consumer, which is what Heidi and I were both talking about.

    I know spinner racks aren’t the solution; they’re a naive callback to a model that hasn’t worked in two decades, and more importantly, publishers are no longer publishing for the spinner rack, in the ways you indicated.

    Heidi’s grasp of what it is spinner racks are meant to represent–that anyone with a few bucks can get a comic just about anywhere stuff is sold–was pretty shaky, hence my comment.

    Or to put a finer point on it:

    1) We should remember for a moment that most people are not Savvy Internet People, so smartphones/tablets + high-speed Internet connections are not a given. Nor should they be, if you have any interest in reaching a wide audience.

    2) Even if those things are a given, they are a long way from cheap or free. There is a CONSIDERABLE price hurdle in place for consumers to get to the point where downloading digital comics is a casual transaction.

  55. Retail stores have little or no input on what magazines are on their racks. The regional distributors decide that. It’s bases in part on sales, part on returns and in part on which magazine sales reps bust their humps to get the rack space. My point is that as publishers of periodicals, Marvel and DC have been having their asses handed to them by sales reps that have done the work to get their magazines on the stands. I’ll go ahead and spell this out for ya, Marvel and DC gave up the world for the direct market. Oprah, Rachel Ray, Martha Stewart, People, Us and even Archie… they chose the world. I live in the world. I don’t live near enough to a direct market store to make regular visits. But here in the world, I can buy Archie at the drug store. I can’t buy Spider-Man anywhere.

  56. People might not be savvy, but kids are. I, a 41-year-old collector who learned to program on a Bell & Howell Apple ][ back in 1982, am savvy enough to go to Amazon or iTunes or BN.com and download files.

    How many people are savvy enough to handle streaming video from Netflix? Or record shows to Tivo? Or use an Android or Blackberry phone?

    How many ringtones are sold each year? How easy is it to download a ringtone to your phone?

    From July 2009 to February 2010, the iTunes store sold two billion songs. (Wikipedia has a longer timeline.) That’s 10 billion songs in seven years.

    Now imagine a comics shop online that is just as easy to use as iTunes. A store with deep selection of titles, robust database, easy-to-master interface, and a file format which provides an enjoyable reading experience. How many millions of comics will be sold then?

    People don’t have to be savvy… the websites have to be. iTunes and iPods proved this. Design the system so it’s easy to use, and people will use it.

  57. Carlton Donaghe says:

    I know this is an old thread, but I just saw it and wanted to correct a big misconception being perpetrated here:

    This Thor book didn’t sell because it was an all-ages/done-in-one book.

    It didn’t sell because it wasn’t really Thor.

    It was a Thor-like character that didn’t look much like Thor. Worse, he was wearing a little trucker’s cap.

    It didn’t sell, because the editors behind the book thought it would be a good idea to do a visual re-design on the character. It wasn’t a good idea.

    If they had done exactly the same stories, but actually used the real characters– you know, the Thor designed by Jack Kirby– it would have sold. It wasn’t Samnee’s art, it was the fact that he wasn’t drawing Thor at all.

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