Asm 583 Standardcover
Last Friday’s “Tilting at Windmills” column by Brian Hibbs sums up the comics zeitgeist circa last Friday pretty well. A few bullet points:

• Just how bad the fubar over the SPIDER-OBAMA variant covers was — dozens of retailers didn’t realize that they needed to EXCEED, NOT MATCH, their SPIDER-MAN order benchmark and so, because of orders being too low, got NONE of the variant cover. Neither Diamond nor Marvel tried to correct the bad math.

• What if a Batman died and no one knew? FINAL CRISIS #6 may be a critical hit, but DC got very little mainstream publicity out of it as they had already used that card for the finale of BATMAN RIP.

• Perhaps most startlingly, Hibbs posted the NON-VARIANT cover of SPIDER-MAN #583, which we’ve put up for your perusal above, and while it isn’t exactly the end of civilization as we know it, it is just the kind of cheesy, shlocky thing you might expect to find on the cover of a comic book, especially since Peter Parker is wearing the same kind of nondescript turtleneck and blazer that he was wearing when the artist’s son was drawing the book back in 1984. Rather than a “civilian” picking this comic up and being shocked at the new CAFKA (Comics aren’t for kids anymore) paradigm, instead they’ll find it just the way comics looked when they were kids, and reassurance is THEIR reward.

1 COMMENT

  1. I’m sorry, but Mr. Hibbs gives the marvel mailer solicit info in his column, and it states right there: ” You can order the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #583 OBAMA VARIANT without restriction if your orders of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #583 regular cover by FOC are higher than your orders for AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #575 by FOC. ”

    So, I don’t understand how retailers read that and didn’t realize that they had to EXCEED, not MATCH TO their orders for #575. It plainly states that you need to have HIGHER orders than you did for 575.

    He then says many retailers missed the mailer because “it was the week before Christmas”. What does that mean? When I worked at my LCS, the marvel mailer was an email….do retailers not read their emails from Marvel just because it was the week before Christmas?

    Can any retailers out there shed some light on this? Yes, I understand that it was a botch job by Marvel, but it also appears that some retailers didn’t read the mailer correctly (if at all). Saying ‘well it was the week before Christmas’ is a lame excuse as to why they didn’t read the contents of the e-mail.

    He also mentions that ‘tying one cover to the other may not be legal.” And yet, retailers have been ordering ‘incentive’ covers for years from Marvel and DC.

    If it is illegal, then file a lawsuit on behalf of retailers (I believe it worked before). Marvel DOES need to change the way it handles changes in solicitations, I agree. BUT, you can’t blame Marvel for retailers who ‘misread the word “exceed”, and thought it mean “match to” ‘. That’s a problem with reading comprehension, not Marvel.

  2. Ok, Batman apparently died in RIP in a helicopter explosion. But in Final Crisis #2he gets whisked away via boom tube to be tortured by Darkseid and pals in issue two.

    How the heck did the helicopter crash transition into him being kidnapped? I am confused by this.

    Does anyone have an explanation for this?

  3. I like Hibbs, but listening to anyone complaining about a new Romita Sr. cover on Spidey is just grating. Yes, it’s not friendly to new readers. Yes, it’s cliched and dated in the speech balloon (not only the actual words inside, but the actual presence of such balloon, which is rare on a big-2 comic these days), the outfits, and the art style.

    But having said all of that…It’s Romita, and it’s a sweet cover. I might have liked a better color for the night sky, but sheesh. I can’t see a significant number of people not buying the issue solely for that cover. Moreover, I can’t see a significant number of potential new readers that would have decided never to buy ASM solely because of that cover. If you’re not a Spider-Man buyer, it’s for reasons other than that cover.

  4. Ron:

    The overwhelming majority of Marvel last-minute adjustments like this are “Match-To” — I want to say “all”, but that might not be strictly accurate. THIS one, was “exceed”. Retailers are human, mistakes get made.

    I won’t speak for all retailers on this, but MY “week before Christmas” is akin to being strapped to a chair with 20 televisions, each tuned to a different channel, blaring at full volume, while trying to juggle colored ping-pong balls, BUT you can only juggle the RED ones, while you have to put the GREEN ones in a basket behind your head.

    As for lawsuits, yeah I already did that once. Talking about your massive time sinks! I’m not rushing to take point on another one any time soon…

    -B

  5. So, Brian, if you were Marvel, how would you communicate an “exceed” situation next time? Bold letters? Different color font? Repeated language in there about “exceed”? Just curious. I can see your point; I’ve seen similar situations in other businesses where, because the wording looks similar, people automatically thing that the information enclosed is similar.

    Still think that Romita cover is the bee’s knees, though.

  6. “# Dave G Says:
    01/19/09 at 2:39 pm

    Ok, Batman apparently died in RIP in a helicopter explosion. But in Final Crisis #2he gets whisked away via boom tube to be tortured by Darkseid and pals in issue two.

    How the heck did the helicopter crash transition into him being kidnapped? I am confused by this.

    Does anyone have an explanation for this?”

    Yes, in the two issues following RIP you see how he survives the crash and returns to the Batcave, but before he can do much he’s summoned by the JLA to investigate Orion’s murder. This leads to Final Crisis where we see him get captured.

  7. Marvel could have communicated this much better. The general press release for the Obama issue was plastered all over the Internet, yet nothing about the issue was communicated to comicbook websites in December?

    Marvel SHOULD have announced the PR the INSTANT they sent the notice to retailers. Doing so would have driven demand, allowing retailers to either link purchase of the regular cover with the Obama cover, and, possibly, even bringing more customers into stores during the last week of holiday shopping.

    With something this big, Marvel should pay to have a phone bank call each Diamond account and speak directly with a store owner or manager. That’s how a retailer knows Marvel isn’t hyping a title, that they’re putting good money behind something. Considering that the issue does not require any spoilers, Marvel should have done a much better job.

    And, if they’re going to promote this as much as they did, they should have overprinted. Take the regular issue orders, and duplicate them. Got copies stuck in the warehouse? Send them out as Free Comic Book Day copies.

    The second printing that was rushed out should be fully returnable. Marvel should have created promotional materials to help stores pre-sell and reserve copies for the second printing.

    Marvel should have done a much better job of publicizing this comicbook.

  8. I love the fact that DC got ZERO attention for Final Crisis #6 and the “actual death” of Batman. Shame on everyone involved with that ridiculous shell game, and I’m overjoyed that the Obama Spider-Man issue blew it completely off the radar. Ah…sweet, sweet schadenfreude.

  9. Man, I totally missed the “cougars” line the first time I read it.

    I guess we need to revise Heidi’s original statement and say that, combined with the mild double-entendre “Action is his reward”, it’s a really subtle “Comics aren’t for kids anymore” statement.

  10. Thanks for the response, Brian. Oh, Torsten, I think juding by the reception at the comic stores, the media presence on tv and in the news, and the fact that spider-man 583 is going to a third printing (for a cougar story, yet with a few page back up featuring Obama….) well, I would say they did just fine publicizing it. :)

    As for the DC situation, it was interesting to note the lack of news on that front, but as you said in your column, Brian, it appears that they used that newsbite on Batman RIP.

    Did Marvel take advantage of the ‘big day’ to promote their own comic? Of course they did…but that’s business. You have to take the spotlight away from the other guy to promote and sell your own comics.

  11. comics aren’t for kids anymore…they’re for thirty-something year old males that live with their aunt and don’t know how to dress, and probably won’t get laid in this issue anyway.

  12. ““Action is his reward”, it’s a really subtle “Comics aren’t for kids anymore” statement. ”

    Damn – gives a whole new meaning to Superman’s line in Infinite Crisis “it’s all about the Action!”

    God-damn alien perverts!

  13. I don’t remember exactly where, but I’m certain I saw Dan Didio quoted as stating that of course Batman wasn’t really dead. Everytime they “kill off” a character and the mainstream media runs with it, everyone groans because we know it’s just a gimmick. Now we’re groaning because it’s not being exploited in that manner?

  14. Torsten Adair said:

    “The second printing that was rushed out should be fully returnable.”

    Marvel doesn’t do returns. Oh, they used to, but not anymore.

    Additionally, Marvel ALWAYS has the biggest list of corrections/additions/changes in Diamond Dateline every week. I am told their weekly emails are full of semi-important information about upcoming books, most of which usually becomes background noise, making it so much easier for really important information to get overlooked.

    And the real problem with the Obama cover situation is that the general public only found out about it the week before the comic was due to arrive, making it nigh impossible for retailers to react in time to the massive interest. My LCS started getting phone calls on Friday afternoon when it was already too late to get more copies. Then the LCS were told that the reprint would not be available until 4 weeks later. This was changed, but undoubtedly some retailers had already told some customers that the wait would be a month.

  15. “I guess we need to revise Heidi’s original statement and say that, combined with the mild double-entendre “Action is his reward”, it’s a really subtle “Comics aren’t for kids anymore” statement. ”

    More of an unsubtle “Peter Parker is a player” statement. Which, really, you have to laugh at.

    That, and the unintentional revelation that, yes, Marvel comics are still written primarily by old, unhip, white-as-cotton men.

  16. “That, and the unintentional revelation that, yes, Marvel comics are still written primarily by old, unhip, white-as-cotton men.”

    Don’t worry … the variant cover with the metrosexual black man should dispell that myth.

  17. Not to be argumentative about this, but Marvel did not promote this correctly. They hyped a product most stores did not have enough copies of. How many misread the EXCEEDS notice? How many stores didn’t even see the notice? Did any comics websites notice this issue before it hit the minstream press? How many stores sold out in a few short hours, on one of the most frigid days in recent memory? How many NEW customers, eager for a cool collectible, how many PAYING customers were turned away, never to return to pick up the second printing?

    And how difficult would it have been to include a poster in the middle of the book? Easy to produce, and it encourages people to reduce the grade of the comicbook, artificially increasing rarity. AND Marvel could reprint or sell the poster if the market demands.

    Good intentions, bad execution, and another parking lot appears in Hell.

  18. “the variant cover with the metrosexual black man should dispell that myth.”

    Oddly Harry Osburn seems to be drawn as a black man inside.

  19. Is funny that the majority of the post is about Marvel and not DC.
    DC is doing it all wrong.
    Beat a dead horse i know ,
    but anyway what a a bunch of incompetent people.

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