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An aside for Steve Wacker

Brian Hibbs

While I was writing my last post, I had missed some of the talkback in David Brother’s original post, including Very Special Guest Steve Wacker from Marvel.

David’s second post addresses most everything, but I want to drill down to one statement that Steve made which I think is germane here:

“We’ll keep making comics and the sales will tell us whether or not people like ‘em. That’s the foundation we’re built on.”

That’s a very fair point, and the one that I really want to get across as well — for in January 2012, Marvel’s single best-selling comic (UNCANNY #5) sold (according to ICv2) a mere 63,477 copies.

Of course it’s more than that, as Diamond’s reports under-report by some amount (at LEAST missing the sales in the UK), and probably there’s a little bit of movement over in the digital world, etc. – but those are truly and fundamentally depressing numbers.

When the FIFTH issue of AQUAMAN (Aquaman, fer cryin’ out loud!) out sells every single Marvel comic, then there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark.

I desperately want and need a strong and competitive Marvel comics, but nearly every recent strategy they’ve employed has had the opposite impact that they were trying for.

I’m of the opinion that not one of Marvel’s “Prime Franchises” should ever have an issue that’s below, say, 50k — and those should be the third spin-off titles, the main books should be WELL over 100k, because there are MORE THAN ENOUGH people in the market to support those sales. AMAZING SPIDEY is easily as good of a book as it has ever been… so why is it selling at what would have been almost Cancellation level when I started in this business?

I’m fairly certain the reason is tied to the twice-monthly shipping, and $4 cover price, steps that, again, were completely and totally self-decided.

I’m with Steve — Sales totals are, really, all that matter; so look at those charts and see that the audience IS speaking, and they are saying “Stop, please.”



110 Responses to “ An aside for Steve Wacker ”

  1. Ben,

    I honestly had no idea all of the “Savage Critics” had some organized disdain of me. Especially about something I was ultimate correct about. Thanks for clarifying. (Would have been classier for one of them to speak up, but I’m a different breed….)

    As to your other stuff, it’s pretty much wrong across the board filled with a metric ton of obfuscation and error. I never claimed or do I think sales are “through the roof”. The whole industry is struggling right now, but right now at least we’re on top….which was in direct opposition the the post I was responding to. My apologies for correcting an untruth, I guess.

    I’m filled with much more self-doubt and internal questioning than many of you here seem to be, so I’m not as quick to believe oddball theories about things I don’t know much about (I was the same way before I worked in comics which the internet can attest to). And I’m certainly not one to pass judgment when I’m really at best guessing at truths, so really I have trouble wrapping my head around guys like you or some of the angrier “savage critics ” like Graeme and Jeff.

    Ultimately I guess that’s where the impasse lies. You are flat out sure about stuff I know not to be true and you’re really in no mood to even question what you believe when there’s a guy from Marvel who needs to be shown what’s what because Aquaman is selling well!

    I know you think you’re speaking truth to power or somesuch, so you have that. We’re different people, for sure. (Which will make you happy to hear!)

    Anyway, I’ll bow out. i had no idea so many people had such hard feelings against me here. Glad you spoke for them!

    Thanks again, Brian.


  2. Stephen,

    “Marc, you’ve proven that you’re snottier than me. Congrats.”

    Don’t feel bad. It’s hard to be snotty when you’re outsold by AQUAMAN.

  3. Mr. Wacker, I’m pretty sure virtually no one here or on 4th Letter had ANY hard feelings against you until you unnecessarily picked a fight with one of the more thoughtful comics bloggers out there about a low-key and well-reasoned post; then proceeded to dismiss and ignore the concerns of a prominent retailer, based on his ground-level experience of sales and reactions of his customers; all the while treating dedicated readers like no-nothing idiots while lobbing ad-hominem attacks suggesting that they are “angry” or irrationally biased against Marvel.

    I am truly fascinated as to why you entered this argument, unbidden in its first phase on 4th Letter!; why you persist in wasting time arguing with people whose opinions you clearly appear to find valueless or utterly ungrounded; and why you seem to perceive that virtually everyone else in this discussion is “angry.”

    I’m beyond seeking an answer to the issues that sparked this discussion and, like you, am merely trying to “wrap my head around” your continued involvement in this discussion.

  4. There’s a lot of things that have been said here, but the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around is that anyone thinks Aquaman is a good read.

  5. Sorry Steve, I think I’ve painted an incorrect picture of this site, by using my version of that thing called ‘humour’ (I think mine got set to a different frequency than everyone else!).
    These guys don’t hate you. I didn’t mean to imply they did, and the reason I like reading this site is that despite the name, though they are critics, I don’t think they are savage – they usually back up everything they say with reason, and in Brian’s case, numbers!
    Heck, Jeff and Graeme often talk you up on the podcasts. Jeff’s answer to the question “Who do you think is ‘doing it right’ in comics” was “Steve Wacker”!

    I don’t think I’m talking truth to power, or sticking it to the man, I was just telling you what I think. I’ve got the day off work, the girlfriend’s at work, I read the two comics I got yesterday (JL and ASM), it’s been pouring outside – good to see the rain we got all Summer has no intention of going away for Autumn – so a conversation here seemed more diverting than anything else.

    I have plenty of self-doubts too.
    It’s why I wanted to try and explain my thinking behind agreeing with those who are being critical of Marvel’s current moves.
    I didn’t want you to think I was just “a hater” or yet another “angry Internet fan”, and why I’m writing this now rather than giving up because you seem to think that’s what I am, and are totally uninterested in my reasoning behind the criticisms. It’s why I wanted to make clear that I do like Marvel books, especially yours.
    It’s also why I’m feeling bad that you wrote all these guys off, who love comics, because of something I said.

    I dunno, maybe I am just too quick to believe oddball theories, maybe I am in no mood to question my beliefs because Aquaman is selling well, but on the other hand, lots of news/commentary sites are saying these things about Marvel, and they’ve got charts and graphs and stories about Ike… And on the other side is people from Marvel, who deny there’s any probs – fair play, it’s where you work – but are using the same stories that have been used for years, regardless of whatever the issue raised is, despite those not seemingly lining up with what ever is going on.
    At this point, it seems to me I’d be making the wrong decision to just believe what you tell me, rather than people who are showing numbers and using solid reasoning.
    Yes, you’re at Marvel, and know all sorts of stuff that I don’t, but people at Marvel told us Marvel would never drop page counts, were dedicated to added value for higher priced books, and so on. It’s broken trust with me, I guess, so when you’re telling me you’re number one, and I’m seeing evidence otherwise, it makes me skeptical.

    Sorry I’ve given you a bad impression of a very good site, and I wish you didn’t think I’m just an angry dickhead with an axe to grind, so I hope I’ve cleared that up a little, and not just made it worse.

    All the best,

  6. Quick clarification:
    Where I say “You’re telling me you’re number one”, I should have added in “so there’s no problems whatsoever”, before saying I was skeptical.

  7. I’m impressesed: seeing the Savage Critic commenters bend over backwards to not accidentally offend one person. So many people, without an ongoing private plan, working so hard to one unspoken purpose.

  8. @Zory: Agreed. Ben Lipman, Chris Hero, etc. — please don’t bother explaining yourselves or apologizing. Many people in this thread have been accused of irrationality, anger, unfounded accusations, circular reasoning and faulty logic… yet the person most consistently guilty of same is the one receiving all of the apologies.

  9. Well, that’s fun, I haven’t had a triple digit comment thread in some time!

    If I knew how to no longer allow commenting, I’d do it now, but I don’t see the tool for that…

    As for “of all places”, I was referring very specifically (if not explicitly stated so) to the Class Action suit against Marvel — I don’t imagine that Marvel representatives will engage me directly on some specific topics, given the history; If I’m wrong about that assumption, then let me apologize for it.

    Anyway, that’s it, folks, shows over; you don’t have to go home, but ya’ can’t stay here…


  10. fyi, for locking comments