Home News Business News Marvel's Dan Buckley looks at the hobby market

Marvel's Dan Buckley looks at the hobby market


ICv2 continues its sit down with Marvel publisher Dan Buckley, who says many things, but also points out one of the great dichotomies of comics — everyone says they want done-in-one jumping on point comics — but when publishers put them out, the sales don’t pick up at all:

And the other thing is that you run the constant battle of people saying ‘we need one-shots for people to jump on to,’ but the ordering trends don’t play to that a lot. The ordering trends play to ‘is this tied to an event.’ It was very evident with DC’s Brightest Day and Darkest Night orders. It was very evident during Civil War. So you hear that said a lot but most of the sales are very contradictory to those desires. Making books as easily entered into as possible is something we try to pay close attention to. I’m not going to deny that we don’t get lost in our own soup sometimes which is the nature of serialized story-telling. It’s hard to keep the revenue numbers without tying in books to leverage off the big books.

Event fatigue, burn-out, whatever you want to call it, it’s really the engine that is driving the comics periodical business these days.

Buckley also talks about the D-Word — what Disney has done to help Marvel — so far, it’s the areas where Marvel is weaker and Disney is stronger, unsurprisingly:

It’s been the knowledge-sharing and support that we’ll get with our licensed publishing initiatives.  We’ll get more people involved and reach out to more kids.  They do an unbelievable job with getting product out to kids under twelve years old who are outside of comics, while we’re doing all the comic stuff.  There are going to be stronger activity programs, sticker programs, chapter books, things along that line, both U.S. and international, which can only help us get more kids into the hard-core property set.
In the international space there’s been a lot to learn with them just through their  relationships.  We’re exploring what properties they have coming up in the future that we would be a good fit for publishing.  We’re trying to do that stuff in a really smart way.  One of the fun things that I think everyone is appreciating what we did with Tron and the variant covers of that. 

Buckley calls the direct sales market the “hobby” market — a term that some publishers use and others shun.  It’s a useful reality check to give a little perspective, whether you agree or disagree.

  1. I think releasing “done-in-one” comics has to be done in conjunction with some type of effort to drive new customers into a store, and to alert existing customers that certain titles are “done-in-one.”

    Keep in mind existing customers have been conditioned for decades to expect continued story arcs, and may not even be aware there are books out there that are done-in-one that they can sample.

    I sure didn’t know Marvel was trying done-in-one books out.

  2. “I sure didn’t know Marvel was trying done-in-one books out.”

    What do you think all of Marvel’s miscellaneous one-shots are? Those are the one-shots that seem to show up more or less randomly in the solicits, usually get little in the way of publicity push, have little to no impact on the main title of the character, and typically get low ICv2 shipping estimates. (And they typically elicit the following refrain from Paul O’Brien: “Random one-shot. Sales are about what you would expect for this sort of thing.”)

  3. In the most recent Marvel Sales Chart analysis posted here on The Beat, check out entries #67 (one of the few one-shots that *did* get publicity) and #84.

    There are also some anthology titles listed, those tend not to have continued stories. And I think that Deadpool Team-Up issues are all done-in-ones.

  4. R. Maheras really nailed it. The one thing that’s really holding on to existing customers is the same thing that’s making them impenetrable to new ones: deep continuity.

    What do you do? Create (and especially promote) some comics as bait to bring in new blood while making others for the existing base, or find some kind of middle ground that satisfies both? I think the latter is the winning strategy, but it’s also the most difficult. Other than Mignola’s Hellboy family of books, who’s come close to striking a balance between accessibility and deep story threads?

  5. That’s because we can read stand-alone done-in-one stories whenever we want and not feel like we’re missing out on something. Unfortunately for publishers, the “crossover event” books are getting to the point that a reader can avoid them and still not feel like they’re missing out on something. They’re just boring and contrived.

    And I think it’s already a losing battle anyway. New readers are likely not going to begin collecting comic books on a monthly basis. They’re going to come from digital downloads. So monthly comic sales are likely to never go up in any significant number but TPBs might. Not many people want to go through what it takes to be a comic book collector anymore. Can you blame them?

  6. Making books as easily entered into as possible is something we try to pay close attention to. I’m not going to deny that we don’t get lost in our own soup sometimes which is the nature of serialized story-telling. It’s hard to keep the revenue numbers without tying in books to leverage off the big books.

    Is he saying that serialized storytelling invariably results in getting “lost in our own soup?” That’s another instance of damning his own editorial process, IMO. Continuity errors are not all fatal, not even all serious. Some are innocent mistakes. The continuity mistakes that take a reader out of the story, because of mistakes in character continuity or basic aspects of the story material (setting, plot, etc.) are the damaging ones.

    Marvel’s “No Prizes” trivialized continuity errors. Serious continuity errors — and the plot retcon is nothing more than an intentional continuity error — aren’t funny or things to joke about. Errors of various kinds might have occurred early on because Lee & co. thought of each issue of a series as though it was potentially the last one. Why spend time and energy keeping track of details when the series was likely to end within a matter of months?

    Continuity errors could be avoided almost completely if an editorial system was designed to prevent them. Even without a system, I’d bet money that practically any continuity error that was supposedly justified by the story could have been avoided by creating new characters to set up situations as required.


  7. Mark Millar’s Ultimates 2 is a perfect example of how a series should function. Short 2- and 3-arc stories, peppered with single one-and-dones, with an overall story advanced for continuous readers, all leading to a concluding arc.

    The idea that you have to have one-and-dones OR 6-issue story arcs is limiting and archaic, not to mention flat-out boring. As good as Ennis’ MAX Punisher series was, the story layout over 6 issues dragged the series. Variety is the spice of life.

  8. The problem with miniseries is, unless it has incredible buzz, most will just wait for the trade. (One Month To Live is a good example. Strong story, good cameos, issued weekly, but it probably will not crack 15,000.)

    Done-In-Ones I prefer. I just picked up the Spanish Fantastic Four/Modok comic, and the Howard the Duck/Spider-Man crossover. Does Marvel have a series which follows the DIO model? How are sales on the JMS Brave and the Bold?

  9. “Does Marvel have a series which follows the DIO model?”

    I think Deadpool Team-Up fits that model. (At least the random issues that I’ve picked up seem to all be DIO’s.)

    Aside from the all-ages line (the one that used to be called Marvel Adventures), I’m not aware of any others.

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