ICv2 continues its annual check ins with the heavy hitters of comics with a four part yakfest with Marvel publisher Dan Buckley (with added kibitzing by David Gabriel). Of all the heavy hitters, Buckley has perhaps the least “cult of personality” and the talk puts Marvel’s various forms of outreach in a relatively solid perspective. For instance, Buckley points out that much of Civil War’s success was due to a logline that was easily explainable; the same may not be true of the Skull-based “Secret Invasion”:

We’re not getting into the details of Secret Invasion yet, but we are working very hard with the creators and the editors to make sure that we can distill a simple message that can go out to the mass market. Now, can I guarantee it will be as simple and clean a metaphor as Civil War? Probably not, because I really do think we caught lightning in a bottle with that. As far as the tactical execution and thought process behind Civil War and how we marketed it, I think we also did very good blocking and tackling communication and marketing around it.

There’s also the matter of comics encroachment into once-friendly and now alien retail environments like the chain retailers:

The incremental distribution piece that we’ve worked out this year that’s very product-specific was with Wal-Mart–we did some Spider-Man magazines. It’s also available to everyone else, but Wal-Mart really jumped on it and did very well with it. We have our second Spider-Man magazine out there now–Spider-Man and FF, I think. We’ll probably do about three or four of those a year to help us intercept the Wal-Mart consumer. I tread very warily into the Wal-Mart world, because I want to make sure we get stuff that they feel comfortable with and that can’t harm anything else. They’re taking very specific SKUs that are a good fit for them for a younger demographic read. We’ve been working on Wal-Mart since I got here, and we said no to them a lot and they said no to us a lot, but we found a happy medium with the Spider-Man magazine.

More: Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


  1. If Marvel and DC get in bed with Walmart, it could/would kill the direct market. If the Direct Market goes away, the Indy publishers will have a HUGE uphill battle at that point.

    I don’t mean to sound all doom and gloom, but I am just looking at the “Walmart” track record. :(

  2. That magazine was perfect for the mass market! A good value with good content, which appeals to fans and the general consumer.
    hmmm. WalMart selling single issues? Very doubtful. And they haven’t killed off the hobby stores, have they? or any other specialty retailer. Clothing stores still exist, toy stores still operate, they just have to adapt, and offer better service and items you won’t find at WallyWorld.
    And MAYBE, that kid who bought a copy of Spiderman #254 at the supermarket will eventually walk into your store and become a regular customer, because he wants MORE.

  3. Torsten…

    Walmart has killed Mom and Pop shops (which is what LCSs are). Tell me this, when was the last time you bought an CD at a music store? Oh wait, there aren’t any anymore. :)