A few more voices have been heard from in the COWBOYS & ALIENS story. The fundamental question in whether you consider this a “scandal” or not is whether you think Platinum’s plan to reimburse retailers for ordering many copies of the book was somehow underhanded or not.
The always must-read Steven Grant, who has a project coming out someday from PL=latinum, gives much needed guidance. Normally we would just give you the link — becuase you should read Grant every week — but to keep the narratyive clear, here are the money quotes:
First, Platinum. I’ve worked with Platinum, they keep threatening that it will see the light of day. That little dance has been going on for years. I keep reading where people take Platinum to task for being around this long yet not publishing anything. (At least until COWBOYS AND ALIENS.) But this is a fallacious accusation because it was never in Platinum’s original game plan to become a comics publisher. It always positioned itself as a media company, with the intent of developing comics properties to market to Hollywood for media exploitation. I was never quite sure of the intended sequence, but as I originally understood it, the idea was to farm the ideas around as upcoming comics studios could snatch up before competitors saw them, at which point those properties would packaged for other comics companies to publish. Platinum tried to get a packaging deal going for years with various publishers; they now seem to have landed at Top Cow. The big flaw in Platinum’s strategy- which sounded okay at the time (and they’re far from the only publishers I’ve talked to in the last five years who’ve had that idea) – is that studios, while more interested in comics material than ever before, want to see published comics. Which puts Platinum in their current situation.
Grant says the plan is really not all that nefarious.
Who does it hurt? Given what little effort generally passes for marketing and promotion in comics, it borders on admirable that a company – and Platinum’s hardly wallowing in disposable income – is willing to risk bucks on what can only be called a loss leader. If the practice Lewis describes was widespread, there’s no way Platinum didn’t lose tons of money on the publication.
Similarly, Ryan Liebowitz, of the Golden Apple in LA, which presumably also ordered a ton of C&A comments over at A. David Lewis’s blog and gives it a retail perspective.
People have directed me to the furor this blog has stirred up, and I, for one, don’t get what the big deal is. Platinum’s Cowboys & Aliens marketing campaign is a very good idea I’d like to see replicated MORE in this industry. This strategy is to be applauded.
The idea that customers could receive a sizable discount for a new trade paperback is a commendable act. Furthermore, this is similar to what other publishers have been doing for years in our industry. Some publishers do co-op advertising and marketing, some do incentive books, some do overships, some seed the ground with giveaways at cons and trade shows, and of course, Free Comic Book Day follows these same strategies. The concept that a newly founded comic book publisher would spend co-op dollars to get their product into the hands of loyal readers though their local comic shop is a helpful campaign with a “win/win” outcome. I’ll sell more Platinum books going forward because of this.