We all knew that the Star Wars comics franchise would go to Marvel eventually, but no one seems enthused about the idea. Maybe that’s because, as Graeme McMillan points out, every time Disney pulls one of its licenses and give it back to Marvel, it shrinks. Case in point: the Disney kids line that BOOM! was publishing—Muppets, Darkwing Duck, Mickey, Mouse, etc—this went from a thriving, good-selling line with a strong trade program to….nothing. Also noted: DH’s periodical sales were below Marvel’s sales threshold for three out of their five Star Wars titles. Also, Marvel’s bookstore program has yet to take hold:
For readers outside of the comic book speciality market, moving Star Wars to Marvel may mean reduced availability. Not only has Marvel recently pulled its single issue comic books from the bookstore market, but the publisher’s bookstore presence in terms of collected editions and graphic novels remains surprisingly small despite a switch to distribution by Hachette in 2010 to grow its market share; according to Bookscan figures for 2012, Marvel was only the eighth most successful comic book publisher in bookstores, with its entire collective sales for the year less than the sales of The Walking Dead Omnibus Volume 1 during the twelve month period. By comparison, Dark Horse was the sixth most successful comic book publisher for the period.
The changeover doesn’t take place until 2015, so expect announcements on new teams at San Diego or NYCC. That Gillen/McKelvie “Young Stormtroopers” book or Fraction/JR JR “General Grievous Commands” book may get people excited then. But I’d be more surprised if Marvel did anything too major with the franchise, especially given the new movie and and greatly expanded universe that is on the way in 2015.
Another way this is a notable move is how it bucks the general trend towards licensing which is a prominent feature of Ike’s Way, the method for maximizing profits employed by Marvel owner and Disney gadfly Ike Perlmutter. As we recently reported, all of Disney’s in-house comics magazines were shut down last fall and will be produced in Italy. ToyBiz, the toy company owned by Perlmutter and Avi Arad, saved Marvel Comics from bankruptcy but all the toy business was eventually licensed out when it became profitable.
Marvel isn’t doing any interviews about Star Wars at present, but we look forward to seeing all this get hashed out eventually.
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.