Marvel’s Senior VP of Sales David Gabriel doesn’t do that many in-depth interviews, so a four-part mega-chat currently running in the retailers-only Diamond Daily is definitely worth reading. Diamond graciously made the text available to The Beat and there’s much of interest, which we’ll do our best to summarize.
In response to Gabriel’s recent announcement at the Diamond Retailer Summit that Marvel would be doing smaller events, lasting only a few months as opposed to yearlong mega-events, Gabriel says it was a widespread feeling. “Everybody is in absolute agreement that the longer these stories play out, the less likely people are to be interested in them,” but denies this means “event fatigue”:
I really think there is no event fatigue. When we hear that here in the office, we all sit back and say there isn’t event fatigue; there’s extended, prolonged story fatigue. That’s what nobody wants.
But still, the fans are still going crazy over stuff like bannering books and sticking crossover labels on things. We also love that, as fanboys. We all love seeing stuff like the Utopia banner on a bunch of books. I’ll even give a shout-out to Blackest Night’s bannering. But I think we realized towards the latter part of Secret Invasion that sometimes [the story] is too long. It’s just too long.
We’re going to try to get in and out now, hopefully within four issues. The editorial idea is that everything is going to be big and fast.
Later in the interview, Gabriel explains that more self-contained events will be easier for retailers and readers alike to find, and also easier for Marvel to market.
Some more excerpts:
On “The Heroic Age,” a new initiative debuting in 2010 which will be a “new way of branding at the Marvel characters.”
This is all a result of Siege. If you remember the first pages of the Marvel books from the 70s, Marvel always had these lines at the top of the page, month after month, giving a synopsis of what the comic was all about. We have something already written up that explains what the Heroic Age is, and we should be ready to roll that out sometime in January.
On One Shots that draw people into ongoing series which are harder to jump into:
But when you do a one-shot, we’ve found people are more apt to try something like that. We’ve rolled those out very successfully with a lot of the X-Men books. Messiah CompleX had one, and Utopia had one recently. [A special] just makes a better starting point for a big series like that, when the event playing out doesn’t have its own dedicated limited series.
On other ways to get new readers into ongoing continuity, specifically the new event “Siege”:
Origins of Siege will feature an eight-page, all-new prologue by Brian Bendis that sets the stage for Siege. There’s going to be a first preview of Siege #1 in there. And we’re also bringing back, for the older fans – in the late 70s/early 80s there was a series of posters that Marvel and Coca-Cola did on the origins of different characters – and we’re bringing those back.
These will each be on one page and tell the origin stories of the major players in Siege. These are poster-style pages, so they’re going to be heavier on art than text. Anyone that hasn’t read a comic in years and doesn’t know who the major players are will really be able to get into this thing with Origins of Siege’s origin pages and the prologue.
On Marvel Women, a year long program launching in March which will feature, among other things, one-shots for female characters who don’t have their own books, new Young Guns and Write Stuff talent promotions featuring female artists and writers, respectively, and a series of variant covers by Jelena Djurdjevic, wife of Marvel mainstay Marko.
[L]ater on in the year, we’re going to do an omnibus with full runs from things like Night Nurse, Hellcat, and some other things you really wouldn’t collect anywhere else. Because this a big omnibus celebrating the Marvel women, we can get the full runs into that and make an event out of its release.
We’re also looking into doing something similar to what we did for the 70th Anniversary Parties, with that maybe taking place in August. And then there will be some kind of a fifth week event in June, taking all the super-heroines in the Marvel Universe and putting them into one story.
Marvel will also launch a new all-ages title aimed specifically at young girl readers.
On the Deadpool Corps, a March fifth week events introducing Lady Deadpool, Kid Deadpool, Headpool and Dogpool:
I think nearly every single issue of Deadpool since we relaunched it last year has sold out. The “Suicide Kings” stuff all sold out. We went back to press on three or four of those books. Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth is all sold out, and we went back to press with the first two of those. I imagine Deadpool #900 will sell out by the time this interview goes up.
On DoomWar, a new event featuring both Black Panthers, Deadpool, several X-Men, and the Fantastic Four:
That is going to be a six-issue limited series. Think an event rolled out similarly to Captain America: Reborn. It’s going to be that kind of series. It won’t be a huge crossover. It won’t have a Siege-like prologue and epilogue. It will be self-contained within the six issues.
One thing summit retailers were concerned about was Marvel’s tendency to ship all the books based on a character in a single week – sometimes four or more books. Gabriel acknowledged that this happened, but logistics make any solution other than trying harder problematic:
So the first response might be, “Well, just push [a book] to the next month.” But then, instead of just having four Avengers titles come out in a week, for instance, you might end up with nine. There’s a point where you can’t keep pushing things off into other months.
It’d leave a lot of retailers with no books certain weeks. So we really do our best to make sure things like that don’t happen. I think if you look at the September shipping schedule, as a recent example, you’ll see we didn’t have the issues we had in June.
On collections in 2010:
There are a couple of things I know of right now. I know we’ve been toying with some smaller-sized hardcovers, what we’ve been calling graphic novel-sized hardcovers. (That’s just what we call them in the office.)
We’re also going to be putting out hardcover comic collections with motion comics, so there you’ll see a motion comics DVD packaged with the hardcover.
That’s something we’re looking to do mid-year 2010. The motion comic DVD for Spider-Woman, for example, will be packaged with a special hardcover edition collecting the comics. Same goes for Astonishing X-Men.
On collection release schedules — Premiere hardcovers are typically released followed by a paperback three or four months later. However that schedule will change.
There’s a gap there because the idea is we want to sell out of the Premiere hardcovers first, making those the collectibles for readers that have to get a story right away and can’t wait on. Then those that wanted to wait could get the collection in paperback a few months later.
Now, however, they’re going to have to wait a little longer, as we’re going to push back the release of trade paperbacks out to about four to five months after the Premiere hardcovers’ releases. That should really give retailers that are selling those Premiere hardcovers an extra couple of months to sell them.