ICv2 presents their annual chat with Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley and he just sort of lays it out:

It’s another pretty good year.  The industry’s a little bit softer year over year, but considering the turmoil though that our economy’s gone through over the last three years experiencing softness the third year into it (single digit softness) is pretty good.  I think everyone, the publishers, retailers, and creators, have performed very admirably in tough circumstances.  Most of the softness is associated with the single issue sales.  Book sales continue to be strong in both the hobby market along with the book market. 
Digital comics appeared in force this year as a viable sales channel and promotional channel for our products.

So there you go. Interviewer Milton Griepp brings up one good point we haven’t seen showcased much, that in this recession the truism that comics do well in a bad economy wasn’t quite true, but Buckley counters that holding their own was still better than other segments — the “flat is the new up” theorem. There’s also this on the $3.99 price point:

I think it’s the appropriate price point for the entertainment value and quality that we offer in the books. The $3.99 price point was already the price point for limited series and one-shots before we moved some of our regular series up, and we still have several regular series that are at $2.99. If we want to continue to have the talent and the quality that we offer in those books, it’s a price point that we had to explore. What we offer from an entertainment standpoint is pretty solid and I think we should be proud of that.

Incredibly, neither the “D” word nor “Brand New Day” is mentioned once.

Speaking of which, over at CBR, Joe Quesada continues his panel-by-panel explanation of ONE MOMENT IN TIME:

Yeeeeeeah, NO. There is no “Spider-Kid.” He or she’s not out there. It’s not happening. [Laughter] But, the final word on that was said long before I became EIC. There’s a whole crazy history behind that “Spider-Baby” story from long before I was ever here at Marvel. What it basically boiled down to then is the same thing it boils down to now, sorry, ain’t gonna happen.

Part four has only 204 comments thus far. People must be running out of steam a bit.


  1. Yes, keep charging higher and higher prices to a shrinking pool of customers, that’s never been a mistake.

    I just don’t understand how simple economics is beyond these people? You can’t expect a 12 year old to walk into a comic store and spend $5 for a 5 minute read and what happens when the current (read old) generation of comic buyers die? That kid is going to start reading comics at 32?

    $4.99 is just a way to gouge a declining customer base and ensure that nobody will be reading comics in 20 years.

  2. I have $5 to spend and I buy Super Widget every month from Company M.

    Company M, wanting to squeeze more sales from its existing market, starts publishing a companion title, Super Widget Adventures.

    I still have only $5 to spend so I buy the one I like better.

    Company M blames the bad-economy scapegoat and claims a 50% drop in sales.

    To force more sales, Company M creates a lame crossover event that requires readers to buy both books to get a single story, along with several half-arsed one-shots along the way.

    I still only have $5. If I’m a habitual collector, maybe I’ll still buy the one I like. I might read the books I can’t afford in the store without buying — or do that the modern way by downloading the other issues just to keep current.

    Company M blames evil downloaders for hurting its business and decides it must make up for the gap in imagined missing sales by raising the price of all its books to $6, publishing a third Spectacular Super Widget, and restarting the long-running Super Widget to get a sales bump from a new #1 issue. And just wait till the suckers see next year’s bigger-than-ever crossover!

    I still only have $5. If I’m a Super Widget collector, the restart finally forces me out of that habit for good. Even if I could afford an extra buck, restarts make ideal jumping-off points.

    On the off-chance the marketing events haven’t made me lose interest in Super Widget altogether, maybe I’ll skim through downloads for a while until I finally move on to other, cheaper things.

    Company M blames me for being an immoral, spoiled, pirate thief who wants everything for free.

  3. I think the big publishers know that they ain’t going to get new readers buying monthly comic books in the direct market. The most they can do is recapture some old ones. That market was designed from the very beginning to cater to existing readers, not grab new ones. That said, they do put out free/cheap #1 issues here and there and participate in FBCD and the recent Halloween comics. They are there for stores to use to try and entice potential readers. While the publishers could spend a bunch of money trying to get new readers to go to DM stores they most likely think it’s an ineffectual use of money.

    Instead of using marketing money to bring potential new readers to where the comics are, they instead bring comics to where the potential new readers are. Which is cheaper and more effective use of money. That’s is/was the bookstore market and online/digital reader market.

  4. “D’oh! “Downloading!” Duh.”

    No, I’m pretty sure it’s “dildo.” It’s nice to see Buckley go a full interview without talking about dildos. Incredible indeed.

    Now I’m about to go download a digital dildo dictionary, dude!

  5. Y’know, my wife and I joke that any vague noun in a store’s name is just a euphemism for dildos, so I understand the impulse. “Bed, Bath & Dildos” … “Linens & Dildos” … etc.

  6. Perhaps the oddest thing Buckley did in the interview was to link the $3.99 price point to the talent. Major league sports teams link ticket prices to the players’ salaries, but everybody knows what the salaries are, the games can be viewed on TV, sports are widely popular, etc., so the ties aren’t big issues. However, I’m not aware of other forms of entertainment, whether they’re movie studios or book publishers, tying the ticket price or cover price to the costs of hiring the stars or paying the author.

    Robot 6 commenters on the Buckley quote re the $3.99 price damned Marvel for not producing material worth the price, but Buckley also set up individual writers to be damned for not working to produce material worth the higher price or, arguably, any price.


  7. Buckley: “I think it’s (3.99$) the appropriate price point for the entertainment value and quality that we offer in the books.”

    Me: No, it’s not.

  8. An appropriate journalistic response to Buckley’s comments on cover price and talent might be, “What are the differences between the page rates for a $2.99 comic versus a $3.99 comic?” He couldn’t reply that the information is confidential.


  9. $4 is too much for a 32 page comic with about 22 pages of content. A paperback costs what, $10 these days? Daily paper $2?
    A movie, maybe $12?
    An itunes “Digital CD download, $9? Comics are too expensive compared to other types of entertainment.

    Sorry, and also sorry also that this “elephant in the room” is never really addressed by the comic companies. It gets nicely addressed by claims of paying more for talent.

    I could go on and on with suggestions and Very Interesting Marketing Ideas but why bother, the comic execs have their own agenda(s).

    Okay, I can’t resist. Here’s one that is pretty generic, and NOT related to reducing the prices of $4 comics, but I haven’t seen it done:

    Leading up to FCBD, print a [email protected]$%load of one comic title, and insert it into the daily newspaper in any big US city. Guaranteed circulation, to their target demographic of older readers. Comic has a dated coupon good at participating local shops.
    This is no more revolutionary than the distribution method for the latest Sears catalog.

    Is there a reason why comic companies are not trying things like this, and reaching out to the general public anymore?

    Maybe they need to pay for top marketing talent.


  10. I’m pretty sure the “D” word is Daredevil, since Marvel has sent that once 127 great issue run into the toilet (and Shadowland completely feels like what could have been a great idea by the writer, turned into an editorially mandated Big Event craptacular by Marvel.)