The other day, we approvingly noted how much international press this week’s Spider-Man/Barack Obama team-up comic had gotten. Tons of press, appearances on everything from Drudge to CNN to Rachel Maddow, it’s all good, right?
Well, you’d think so, except that Marvel’s ordering policies on the book have retailers complaining that they won’t have enough to meet all the interest drummed up by the publicity. For a short version, here’s someone named “Williams” in a Comics Should Be Good! comment thread:
Oh what the heck I’ll tell you myself: Ordering an amount of Amazing Spiderman #583 equal to or greater than total pre-orders for Amazing Spiderman #575 qualified retailers to order the Obama cover of #583. Sales for Amazing Spiderman #583 would have been down from #575 (an anniversary issue to boot) so this created a situation where dealers were FORCED to buy unsalable product so that they could then spend more mioney to get quantities of the Obama cover. This, in turn, makes the regular cover version less salable than it would have been. This is is a waste of paper and money not to mention usurious behavior on someone’s (either Marvel or Diamond Distribution) part. Comic companies and distributors should not be in the business of manipulating the collectibles market. Remember: these are “dated periodicals.”
Brian Cronin stepped in to chide Williams for being a Debbie Downer, but other retailers shared some of his ire. The announcement of the Obama story went out in a fairly little noticed Marvel retailer mailing, and many were simply caught short or didn’t want to order extra copies of the “non variant” cover edition, fearing they’d be stuck.
With the flood of attention, however, Marvel must have realized that this could be another blockbuster issue and quickly announced a second printing, according to a Diamond alert:
To meet expected demand for this momentous issue, Marvel has now announced it’s heading back to press to offer the Amazing Spider-Man #583 Obama Second Printing Variant (NOV088096D), featuring a re-colored version of the original Obama variant cover drawn by Phil Jimenez.
This variant carries an FOC date of today, January 12, and is expected to ship on January 21. No order qualifiers apply, allowing retailers to order as many copies of this variant as they wish while supplies last.
This isn’t the first time that Marvel has had a hot ticket comic available in limited supplies due to retailers. Remember CAP #25? And it is undoubtedly true that many retailers like to complain about a thing, even as they are selling that thing in hotcake-like quantities. At the end of the day, the entire kerfuffle seems to have pointed up all the torsions in the direct sales market pipeline: Marvel’s usual method of an “ordering incentive” backfires when the item unexpectedly catches the eye of the “civilian” world, and retailers, already pressed to pay attention to countless “Trust us, it’ll be big!” promises, fail to note something that really can be big.
While it’s tempting to chalk the whole thing up to a lack of product confidence or trust at many levels, hopefully Obama won’t be caught receiving any special attention from an intern by his second day in office, he’ll remain popular, the second printing will arrive and many copies will be sold at cover price.
Ebay speculators are already more hopeful. We’ll see how that works out.