CB Cebulski made his debut as Marvel’s front man at a Diamond retailer event, standing before a packed room. The headlines probably came towards the very end of the panel when a retailer addressed the elephant in the room: the 99¢ sales on digital collections the week of release that Amazon and Comixology have been running. This is something many retailers have been privately complaining about.
Cebulski admitted that the matter was something he expected to hear about, but said in response that “I don’t mean to pass the buck, but it isn’t something we did. We sell [Amazon/Comixology] the comics at the same price [we sell them to you]. Just like you offer discounts, they do the same.”
That said, CB admitted these sales were a concern. “It is undercutting all of you. It’s not fair. We are aware of it and are addressing it. It’s not a Marvel issue. It’s an Amazon policy that we are trying to get to the bottom of. I don’t want to pass the buck.”
As a follow up, a retailer stated that no one would want to order the $24.99 Marvel Knights reprints if they were going to appear that week on Amazon as a 99¢ Digital edition.
“The price is not being set by Marvel,” Cebulski reiterated.
Other than Cebulski, writer Jason Aaron and Marvel’s marketing director, Peter Charpentier, appeared on the panel, which was subtitled “selling comics, making memories.”
Cebulski kicked things off by confessing that he was nervous at the size of the crowd. He mentioned that “I put myself through college working at a comics shop at the Magic Dragon,” attempting to develop rapport with the retailers in the crowd. Cebulski continued by saying that David Gabriel, who usually handles these presentations, is currently in London but sent his best.
CB then explained his perspective on the comics industry by discussing his background as a comics retailer and fan. “When I think of a comics shop, I don’t think of them as just a place to buy comics. I think of them as a place where memories are made.” Cebulski recalled his early experiences at comics shops buying comics. At one point, he traded a copy of Wolverine #181 for a full run of Area 88. He still has that run in his basement. He still hangs out with friends at JHU and recalls his mother putting a coffee cup on top of a vintage comic “and leaving a coffee ring. Memories like that scar!” he said to laughter from the room.
Cebulski announced a new initiative where he plans to go to three American comics shops (one in the east, one in the midwest, and one in west) to spend a couple of days at each, working as a staff member. “The best way for me and my team to support you is to [understand you] from the ground level. What’s [your shop] like? What’s the peak time of day? What works on the shelves what doesn’t?”
He then ran through a list of recently announced #1s, stating that some key releases may have extended billing options. (Applause!) “Keep an eye on the Marvel mailer for more info,” said Charpentier. “A lot of marketing initiatives are coming,” including Marvel Universe Magazine, a promotional preview magazine. “In-store content is one part of a much larger marketing program including nationwide TV spots, coordinated social media on all platforms, and geotargeting to get casual fans to come to shops.”
Stay tuned for more from the Marvel panel!
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.