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The Problem With Marvel’s Current Strategy

Brian Hibbs

David Brothers has a very excellent post about how the notion of the stable creative team has gone out the window at Marvel with their double shipping madness.

I think there’s some more pernicious impacts as well that David didn’t address.

One primary consideration is that every book, every where, (nearly) every time, suffers from what we generally refer to as “standard attrition” — that is to say that virtually every comic shows a slightly decreasing audience each and every month as readership walks away, or gets sidetracked. There are certainly ways to get bunches of new eyes looking at a book (crossovers used to do it… not so much any longer), and spike those numbers up again… but the general rule is a slow steady leak in all serialized entertainment.

What happens when you produce your comics twice a month is that the decreasing demand curve does nothing but accelerate because you’re giving readers more opportunities each month to “jump off”; and, in fact, you’re making it considerably easier TO jump off, because it is that much easier to get behind.

I can’t say for certain about any other store, but at mine, while I sell the most DOLLARS to every-Wednesday readers (thems tending to be the most voracious of consumers to begin with), there are way way way more readers (at least 3:1, maybe as much as 5:1) who get to come in once-a-month maybe?If you’re lucky 15-16 times a year, but many more can only can get in 4-5 times a year.

A corollary to this is that I rack the last 3 issues of any given series, and this is how I have operated for 23 years now. I’ll break this pattern for things that are hot and are continuing to sell well (I’m still practically selling sets of BATMAN #1-6 almost every week, for example), but that does NOT describe most Marvel comics today. What THIS means is that if issues are put out every 2 weeks, instead of every month, then any given issue is only going to be able to be displayed for 6 weeks, rather than 12. This, too, lowers sales.

Finally, people are talking about not being happy with what they’re being offered. Marvel hears this as “only wants to buy titles that ‘count'”, and, certainly, that’s PART of it… but the reason people don’t believe that books “count” is because there are so many of them — what’s going to happen when they double ship everything is that the audience will then decide that “X-MEN” “doesn’t count”, because they want to buy just UNCANNY and WOLVERINE &… People (most people that is… there are always exceptions!) simply aren’t buying a franchise, at the absolute outside, at two books a week. Most franchises can only max at a single book a week, and several can’t muster better than fortnightly.

If you overship of what people WANT to buy, then customers are going to pick and choose, and THEY are going to decide what “continuity” is right for THEM. You, the company, don’t get to decide that (though I get that you think that you do). What’s especially dangerous about this is that much of the mechanism that keeps Marvel going is the “Marvel Zombie” effect — sort of a specialized “gotta have them all” syndrome. But Marvel has, over the years, in a completely self-inflicted fashion, driven their most hardcore customers to have to focus on franchises, rather than the Marvel Universe as a whole, and then down to characters — we’ve gone from “Marvel Zombie” to “Avengers Zombie” to “Iron Man Zombie” (or whatever) almost out of necessity. To break these habits, to bring this buying inertia, is to harm the very loyalty to the brand that made it great.

Especially when you’re now asking $4 for (in some cases) 19 pages of content — well doesn’t anyone up there see that’s exactly the wrong time to be fragmenting brand loyalty?

Marvel’s Market Trajectory is dire now, and here’s my anecdote of how bad I think it is: umpty-years ago, when Marvel went exclusive with Heroes World Distribution, therefore setting off a set of dominoes which have almost everything to do with the market’s current state, I decided the only real protest I could make was to not carry Marvel comics on my racks. I would carry every preorder that people wanted to place, but I was unwilling to spend my own money on something that was clear was absolutely against my best interests. There was a …15, 16 month period, I guess?… where Marvel comics were officially “subs only” at Comix Experience (our sales actually increased during those quarters as well, which I found interesting — I attributed it to more rack space being given over to other books; expose = sales.)

Anyways, today in February of 2012, I’m selling fewer copies of AVENGERS and UNCANNY X-MEN, including both subs and rack sales than I was selling of AVENGERS and UNCANNY during the Year-Without-Racked-Marvels. That’s CRAZY. I had like 32 subs alone for UNCANNY back then — now I can barely sell 20 copies TOTAL of UNCANNY. Because UNCANNY is $4, and because it ships more-than-monthly, I’m grossing more dollars now than I was then… but it’s too a tiny audience, with little prospect for growth… because it is $4 and more than monthly.

The best-selling Marvel book was under 65k — unless something drastic changes in management of the line, the regular ongoing monthlies are just going to keep dropping from there simply because Marvel asks far too much from readers.

 

-B

46 Responses to “ The Problem With Marvel’s Current Strategy ”

  1. I totally agree with this… Retailers and Fans should complain in LARGE amount about this. We don’t want to stop buying Marvel, we want Marvel to stop screwing us. Sadly readers don’t complain, they simply stop buying titles.

  2. [nods head] I’ve been reading for 30 years and I’m down to just one Marvel title for the very reasons you outlined above.

  3. Joining the chorus of agreement. I’d like to read more Marvel, but I dropped the relaunched Captain America when I noticed that it was $3.99 for 19 pages, tried Uncanny X-Force recently but was put off by the lack of Jerome Opena, and love what they are doing with Amazing Spider-Man but am worried about the reduced content while keeping the high price.
    I jumped on Winter Soldier (only after double-checking the price) and would recommend Daredevil to anyone who will listen, but wish Marvel was generally more reader friendly and less cut-throat about squeezing what little resources their remaining readers have left.

  4. A-freaking-men. Another aspect to consider is that as a fan AND a retailer, if you aren’t excited about an upcoming change, you’re less likely to tell your customers about that title. There is so much good reading out there, if Marvel wants to mess up a good thing (like Daredevil, or Ultimate Spider-Man, or Uncanny X-Force), there are plenty of other consistently good titles to recommend to readers that aren’t coming from the Mouse of Ideas. Marvel clearly cares more about the guaranteed short term burst in sales than for the long term health of the market. The only feedback they listen to is measured in dollars.

  5. Hmm…interesting. I’m only buying Daredevil, so I guess I’ve decided my continuity is Daredevil written by Mark Waid? I know I *really* like Hickman’s work from when he was doing Nightly News and Pax Romana, but it feels overwhelming to me to try reading his Fantastic Four work without a roadmap on what to buy. So, I would be buying those books if they followed a traditional one book per month release schedule.

    I think there’s even more than standard attrition, although I do think everything you said is exactly right. I think DC’s recent success has taken sales away from Marvel.

    I seem to remember reading years ago Marvel’s top brass badly wanted to sell their books bi-weekly because they thought twice a month equaled twice as much money. (I seem to recall this being before Quesada and them.)

  6. Not to do a “me too” but, me too, just with all comics. Not just Marvel.

    I grew up reading comics from like 1st grade on, then got out of it in high school (mid 90s). I got back into it about 12 years ago back when I was working too much and needed a hobby. I was pretty hardcore for a while, spending around $300 or so a month (I still worked a lot, so could afford it, money was not an issue). I am down to spending about $30 a month or so in the comic store, and not because of cost, just because it became too much of a PITA.

    Now, I only buy a few monthly books. Only then for books where I feel like I am just buying to support the creator. Then I buy trades/hardcovers for books that really kick butt.

    But, I am still spending. I just buy digital now when things are on sale and get whole runs of things I want to read. No more cluttering things up around the house. No more having to go to the store every week. No more trying to figure out what I bought and what I did not get because the store can never get my pull right. No more trying to remember what happened last month as I can easily pull up the old issue on the iPad instead of trying to find where I filed the last issue.

    Frankly, I never realized how much my “hobby” was causing me stress in tracking everything until I just gave up. Perhaps you can say I got too into it with how much I was spending and stuff. You might be right. But I got into it like a good consumer, buying everything by creators I liked, following series, making sure my runs did not have holes in them, all the nerd stuff we are supposed to do.

    One of the things that really burned me was when Marvel changed their collection model. It used to be I could follow a book monthly, after six issues there would be a trade, then six more issues and a oversized hardcover. It was clockwork. I would buy the monthly books then get the oversized hardcovers when they came out. Then marvel changed it to something like six issues, deluxe hardcover (just a trade with a hardcover), six more issues, then another deluxe hardcover, then some time later trades of those. Then, one day they might come out with a oversized hardcover. Or perhaps they might just wait years and do a omnibus, perhaps. Sorry man, tracking all that was too much of a pain for me, so I just stopped buying. And when I broke down and bought trades and then a hardcover was announced, I honestly felt tricked and ripped off. There was a lot of collections I never bought as I was holding off to see if they would do a hardcover, then when they never did I just did not care anymore.

    Another thing that pushed me to stop was Deadpool. Sort of a dumb book, but my kid really dug him so I would buy the collections. A combination of Marvels weird collection methods and the way too many titles of Deadpool they were doing just made me stop. I was done, it was too hard to follow.

    Final thing I will mention as I am well into tldr territory here already, was the cross overs that Marvel and DC were doing. Tracking what to buy was too much of a pain, so I started to ignore whole events and not buy anything at all that was related to them. Then I would wait to see what everyone else said about them, and would buy collections in cases that it seemed like it was worth it. Lots of “events” I skipped everything on. No siege, no secret invasion.. or hell, much of anything for the last few years there. I don’t even remember what the last one was called off the top of my head, the one by Fraction. Shame, as I like Fraction as a writer, but I really don’t care about those events Marvel does all the time.

    Now, I still enjoy following the blogs and the industry, and I still enjoy reading. But, I just wait to see what things seem good, then buy them digital and read on the iPad. Just bought all of Morrison’s JLA the other day on a 99 cent sale, as well as some big BPRD bundle from Dark Horse. No crap around the house to track, I am spending less money, stuff is easier to find when I want it no matter where I am..

    Like I said, I still buy a good collection, but its only for stuff I really care to have in print. I doubt I am typical at all here, but I think there is something to be said when the industry is shedding hardcore people. I hope comics will still be around in 12 more years, I hope stores like yours will be able to be around selling books, but frankly I dunno. On a pure consumer level, I am kept happy with digital and Amazon for decent sales on hardcovers I really enjoy. I feel bad for the comic shops, as I don’t see them staying around much longer, and they did nothing wrong. The publishers just screwed them really.

    tldt: I used to spend around $300 a month, now I spend less and have more enjoyable experience on digital. Was pushed this way because of the stupid still you described.

  7. I agree that Marvel’s analysis – that people only want to buy the books that “count” – is missing the point. It seems to me that the more likely reading is that the audience just doesn’t want to buy that many Marvel comics a month, period. They buy the books that “count” not because they WANT to, but because they feel they HAVE to.

    Look at FEAR ITSELF. The core miniseries had (relatively) high sales, but the spin-offs and tie-ins did nothing. If there was genuine interest in the concept, then you’d figure the tie-ins would benefit too. But they didn’t. So why did people buy FEAR ITSELF? Most likely, because they bought into the idea that they needed to.

    If this theory is correct, an interesting measure should be what happens to the lower-tier X-Men titles. Any vaguely attentive reader must be now have figured out that UNCANNY X-MEN and WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN are the books that “count”; that X-MEN LEGACY at least does stories that matter for some well-liked characters who aren’t being used anywhere else; and that X-MEN and ASTONISHING X-MEN have no creative function at all. If you only want to buy the X-books that matter, it doesn’t take a genius to work out which ones to drop. Will that happen?

    And if it does, will Marvel respond by recognising that the market will only bear so many X-Men comics a month, or by starting to force story lines to cross over into all the X-Men titles so that you have to buy them all or none at all?

  8. I’m so glad this stuff is getting talked about lately. My problem in recent months has not been bad comics — those are easy to drop, ignore, and never think about again.

    My problem has been there’s a whole spectrum in between liking and not liking a book. Some books, I like the writing but not the art. Others, vice versa. Sometimes I like the creative team but I’m less interested in the characters or concept. Other times I like all those things, but there’s some other aspect to it, like crossovers, that puts me off.

    It was easy to follow, for example, the X-Men through highs and lows back when that meant buying one book — or three, with spinoffs — for a buck or less per issue, once a month (aside from those one or two summers when they went bi-weekly for a few months).

    Now — there are still three X-Books I like pretty well (Uncanny, Wolverine &, X-Force), but they’re all $3.99, and they all seem fairly prone to double-shipping lately. I know Marvel’s attitude seems to be, “Hey, it’s more of those comics you like! How can that be bad?” — but if it’s as much as $24 in a month to follow those three titles, then yeah, that’s kind of bad. I’m probably dropping two of them, meaning that even when the remaining book double-ships, I’ll only be buying two X-books a month, rather than the three I might have been buying if they’d just come out monthly with reasonably consistent art. Now extend that logic across the whole line, and for more readers than just me, and it gets to be a problem.

    Seriously, I’m basically looking for any excuse to cut a book from my pull list these days, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. This is not the time to raise prices, lower page counts, add extra issues with fill-in artists, interrupt the story with crossovers, etc.

    (Of course, all of this discussion will just be written off as “people complaining on the internet”, but oh well.)

  9. Absolutely spot on re how we’ve gone from “Marvel Zombie” to “Avengers Zombie” to “Iron Man Zombie”.

    It’s ironic how the most coherent shared universe once upon a time is now so splintered. I don’t see the Spider-Man running around in Fantastic Four and the one running around in his own books as the same person, or the Wolverine in the Avengers books and the one in Aaron’s books and Uncanny X-Force as the same man.

    Even more ironic is how DC’s trying so hard to create that old Marvel shared universe feel (and, in the most part, succeeding).

  10. [...] episodes of a popular television production. Is that still a boon?” Retailer Brian Hibbs also offers commentary. [The Comics [...]

  11. I guess the biggest issue for me is not knowing how many times a year a book will double (or triple/quadruple) ship. It’s something I’d really like to know, since I try to keep to a budget. I seem to remember that info being printed in the book’s statement of ownership way back when, though maybe I’m wrong. Reading a Marvel employee going at it on that 4th Letter comments section, you would think that information is widely available, but I’ve yet to see a publishing schedule put forward for anything other than Amazing Spider-Man.

  12. @Floyd: ‘Absolutely spot on re how we’ve gone from “Marvel Zombie” to “Avengers Zombie” to “Iron Man Zombie”.’

    And given the sales on IRON MAN LEGACY and IRON MAN 2.0, we don’t even have that…!

  13. Geez, the Steve Wacker comments on that post…

  14. Careful, Brian- Steven Wacker may come yell at you for agreeing! :)

    Marvel is taking what it can from the 100,000 (or less) of us left while it can. Raise the cover prices! Less pages! More books! Double ship! It’s so very short sighted, and it’s a shame that seemingly no one in power can see it for what it is.

  15. Careful, Brian- Steven Wacker may come yell at you for agreeing! :)

    Marvel is taking what it can from the 100,000 (or less) of us left while it can. Raise the cover prices! More books! Double ship! It’s so very short sighted, and it’s a shame that seemingly no one in power can see it for what it is.

  16. [...] at The Savage Critics, retailer Brian Hibbs of Comix Experience in San Francisco has discussed the recent double-shipping [...]

  17. How long til Steve Wacker turns up to tell Brian he’s hand-wringing and pearl clutching and making much ado about nothing, etc, etc, etc?

    No wait, that would require Wacker reading the article, and we all know THAT’s not gonna happen…

  18. sounds to me like you should just stop ordering the marvel books. Why risk your own money on books where you may not get back the return? Have the solicitations out and put up content from DC and other companies. people who want marvel will subscribe anyway.

  19. I hope somebody in Marvel management comes across this post, Brian. I’ve always preferred Marvel to DC, I identify more with the Marvel universe, and I think Marvel puts out better books than DC. But for the first time in my life, I’m now buying more DC titles than Marvel.

    I’m down to just ASM, DD, and the two Fantastic Fours. It’s not any kind of over-arching decision, it’s that I’ve been driven away title by title. I’m dropping the new Defenders title–it’s fun, but not enough for $3.99. I followed Cap for years, but now there are too many titles and they’re $3.99 and it’s just not worth it. Hulk has looked intriguing lately but again there are multiple titles and it’s too much trouble to figure out which one to follow.

    It’s not that I couldn’t afford more, but between the pricing and the product flood, it just doesn’t seem like a good value. Even if I’m not as much of a fan of DC, I can honestly say that every DC title I’m buying right now feels worth it in a way that simply is not true of Marvel.

  20. What Marvel is doing is chasing people to DC and other publishers. The right way to raise prices would be along the lines of Dark Horse, $3.50 is acceptable whereas $3.99 is a dollar leap. Another user stated that he’s looking for titles to cancel and I’m with him there; however, one factor I take into account is if its a $3.99 vs a $2.99 title. I’ve dropped books that once upon a time I would never do. Also, with the subscription costs, it makes sense to subscribe to Marvel’s 3.99 comics because its the same cost as their 2.99 and Amazing will be under 1.50 with their deal.

    I’ve long been an Avengers and X-Men fan and Brian’s point is spot on. I have dropped all X-Men titles except Wolverine and X-Factor. X-Factor is a 2.99 title and Wolverine is on its way out right now. I got Wolverine for the writing and art, now the artists have left and I require a combination of both. Look at Marvel’s best titles, Daredevil or Punisher. Both have great writing and great art. Look at the X-Men titles, rotating artists and the writers just phoning it in. Not the same. Then take Batman at DC where you have a writer hitting a home run and and artist right there with him. Sad day when a Marvel Zombie is getting more DC titles.

  21. Seriously, about Wacker’s comments. Between this and Tom Spurgeon’s post, it seems like everyone understood the premise of Brothers’ post but Wacker. He kept ranting about solicitations. Super weird and defensive. Like, it’s not us not understanding the inner workings of comics. We understand exactly what your publisher is doing, and why. We just don’t like it. Deal with it.

    Someone could earn a hell of a lot of god will over at Marvel just by getting the whole line down to $3.50 for 20 pages, 12 issues a year, plus a $3.99 28-page annual, and $2.99 .1-issues only when the story justifies it, likely once every two years or so (branding them .5-issues makes much more sense, but I digress). These are modest suggestions, that are still price-gouging, and won’t put the company out of business, but it’ll never happen.

  22. $3.50 is problematic these days because of Apple’s (kind of silly) rules for in-app purchases on iOS…they all have to end in .99, basically.

    So if the print comic is $3.50, digital either has to be more $3.99 (which is ridiculous) or $2.99 (which makes retailers mad). Or else you have to jump through hoops like buying a bundle of two issues for $6.99.

    But they really need to do something about those prices. If the idea is that bigger-name creative teams cost more…well, if something like Waid/Martin is a $2.99 team, then let’s put $2.99 teams on everything, huh?

  23. I’ll throw in another ‘me, too’ to the chorus.

    This actually affected my buying last week. I’ve got a pull list, but if I’m interested in a title, I’ll pick it up off the rack for a while before adding it to the weekly list.

    For the first time in over a decade, I been browsing the X-books. I’ve been picking up Uncanny, Wolverine and the X-Men and Uncanny X-Force off the rack for the last couple of months and generally enjoying them.

    Last week (or maybe the previous week), yet ANOTHER issue of Uncanny X-Men came out and I decided that because of the price and the twice monthly shipping…it just didn’t balance the enjoyment I was getting out of it. I left it on the rack and am pretty much done with it.

    For me double shipping means that if a title is boderline, it’s history. I know it’s fairly counter intuitive–I mean, if I like a book, I should enjoy it twice as much. But if I’m iffy on a book, doubling my spending means I’m going to make that decision much faster.

    Surprisingly, I’m enjoying Wolverine and the X-Men immensely…though I fear for the fun I’m having if the rumored shift in creative focus at Marvel takes place.

  24. 1. This probably isn’t a guy you’d naturally think to credit but it seems clear that ever since Bill Jemas got the ol’ heave ho, Marvel really hasn’t shown much interest in anything outside of whatever Quesada and his “architects” are hot for at the moment. I don’t know if there’s a connection, but post-Jemas Marvel has appeared to focus on squeezing any short term money of readers that it can and not much else.

    2. In addition to double shipping, don’t forget about the tremendous increase in re-launches and re-numbering at Marvel in the last 5 years. There are titles at Marvel that have been relaunched with a new #1, returned to their original numbering for a sales spike and then relaunched again with a new #1, all in just a handful of years.

    Mike

  25. I’m just going to chime in as a lone voice in the wilderness here.

    I don’t buy a ton of comics: on a typical weekly trip to the shop, I’ll walk out with somewhere between three and seven issues, and maybe a bound collection every once in a while. But I do go every week because there’s always SOMETHING new for me that week, and I enjoy saying hello to the weirdoes who work there.

    Perhaps because of this relatively low volume (though my girlfriend thinks this is PLENTY), I kinda like that the stories I’m picking up move more quickly (in real-time,if not on the actual page) and new installments are available more frequently.

    I’m also apparently alone in that I don’t mind the rotating artists thing. I’ve only been paying attention for the past few years, so there are LOADS of terrific artists I don’t know about. Having a guy like Daniel Acuna pop up in Avengers, for instance, turned me onto him in a big way. I’m able to suspend disbelief to such an extent that this doesn’t screw with my enjoyment of the story at all, really. I get that certain comics really require artistic consistency, but for most of the stuff I’m reading, the smorgasbord effect is just fine.

    I understand all the concerns listed above, and they may reflect the reality for the majority of readers. But for a guy like me, the “more of something I like” formula isn’t just some corporate horseshit, it’s actually kinda true.

  26. God Bless you, RF!

    -B

  27. If nothing else, I do think that 20 pages every 30 days is a lousy, lousy pace for serialized storytelling, so in that sense, more frequent publication is an upside.

    It doesn’t outweigh the downsides to the industry, though, not when taken in combination with $3.99 cover prices and increasingly inconsistent art.

  28. Hibbs is right, and I think it’s important to recognize that this isn’t something that’s “happening to” Marvel.

    Rather, distinguishing between books that “count” and books that “don’t count” towards the larger “tapestry” of the Marvel Universe is something that Marvel has actively TRAINED its audience to do for the last couple of years. And ever since, to nobody’s surprise, there’s been a slow but steady erosion of the books that “don’t count,” helped by price increases and reduced page counts. Until, as we’re seeing now, those “extra” books are no longer viable.

    I don’t think you solve that problem by suddenly telling your readers that, “Hey, everything counts, and here’s even more of that.” That’s like printing money to fight an inflation.

    The only way Marvel get out of this spiral is by diversifying their line and re-emphasizing strong individual titles by attractive creative teams that succeed on their own merits, rather than just being cogs in the big Marvel Universe wheel. Watering down recent successes like DAREDEVIL or X-FORCE with extra issues and crossovers is the exact opposite of what they need to be doing.

  29. It is funny the shorthand Marvel’s convinced me of: .1 issues = skippable.

    Not only will it be a story break but it will most likely not feature the desired existing creative team in its entirety. At least all of the .1 issues I’ve read have worked out that way.

    I hear the fans really enjoy the .1 issues though, as Marvel would have it. Guess it’s just me.

  30. “The only way Marvel get out of this spiral is by diversifying their line and re-emphasizing strong individual titles by attractive creative teams that succeed on their own merits, rather than just being cogs in the big Marvel Universe wheel. Watering down recent successes like DAREDEVIL or X-FORCE with extra issues and crossovers is the exact opposite of what they need to be doing.”

    Reminds me of what they did in the Quesada/Jemas years. Did everything work? No. But there was a consistent emphasis on strong new creative teams with distinctive stories. The sense you got from Marvel’s press back then was that what “counted” was what you enjoyed from this diverse line of books. Somewhere around 2004 (Disassembled), Marvel lost the guts to go this route and instead returned to the 90s crossovers Quesada derided when he first came in as EIC.

  31. what if you go the other way with it…..do you think you’d keep more readers by publishing every 6 weeks or bi-monthly? (assuming quality is kept at a high level) is that too long of a gap for serialized fiction?

  32. It’s harder at less-than-monthly, because the audience Tends To Forget… but certainly the BONEs of the world can’t publish on a schedule that’s faster than “this is what it takes me to draw it”

    People will break all kinds of “rules” for superlative work… but most work is anything but.

    What’s very very very helpful on serialized fiction is a PREDICTABLE SCHEDULE — one of the biggest unsung impacts on New52 is, I think, “Batman is a third week book, Morrison’s Action is a first week book” and so on. People might not INDIVIDUALLY remember those dates, but it is EXTREMELY reassuring for customers when I can rattle off shipping schedules without looking them up.

    I actually think Marvel could make 24-times a year work on ONE or TWO books, IF it was announced that way up front, and IF they kept a consistent schedule (ie, “first and third week”), but the “you don’t know if you’re going to find 1 ‘X-Men’ comic, or 8 of them until you walk in to the store, doesn’t work for anyone at all.”

    -B

  33. “The only way Marvel get out of this spiral is by diversifying their line and re-emphasizing strong individual titles by attractive creative teams that succeed on their own merits, rather than just being cogs in the big Marvel Universe wheel. Watering down recent successes like DAREDEVIL or X-FORCE with extra issues and crossovers is the exact opposite of what they need to be doing.”

    Books that stay relatively self-contained are the only books I’m really interested in from Marvel right now. Waid’s Daredevil and Hickman’s SHIELD were my two favorite books from Marvel last year. Hickman’s FF and Brubaker’s Captain America have been mostly left alone to dabble amongst themselves without involving dozens of other books. I think the closest I come to a title burdened by the other books’ continuity is David’s X-Factor.

    I consider the early 00s Marvel a real golden time when I bought large swathes of their output. A multitude of strong creative teams were left alone to tell stories in their own series with little regard to what the others were doing.

  34. I just cannot help but agree.

    Around six years ago, I would buy pretty much every Spider-Man book there was : Amazing, Spectacular, Ultimate, Millar’s Spider-Man, and all the mini-series.

    Now : Amazing. Thats it. No Venom, no Avenging Spider-Man, no Scarlet Spider.
    I dropped FF when it went to 3.99, and haven’t been enticed to come back.

    By contrast, whereas previously the only DC books were Batman, JLA, Detective and Action Comics, now I’m reading those three, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, JLA, JLI, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Batman and Robin and I, Vampire. It was partly the relaunch, but also the knowledge that all (or almost all) of the books would be $2.99 for the foreseeable future and would come out on predictable days.

    I’ve never been a real X-men fan (although I did read Whedon’s Astonishing) but the franchise sounds likes its an absolute mess.

  35. i wonder if the less than monthly schedule would require more active creator engagement on a social media level….constant reminders of the time frame and letting people know you’re not late, but on a longer schedule. As long as you stick to a schedule though, is what is the main thing. Makes sense, i hate anticipating a book, and then seeing its not out that week.

  36. In May, Marvel has 21 titles double shipping (13 being $3.99 books with the exception of Hulk.1). Not including A vs X #3 and #4. It also has 2 weekly, 5 issue mini’s – it’s a 5 week month. They are Hulk Smash and Exiled the New Mutants/Journey into Mystery x-over. Amazing Spidey ships 3 times plus an annual that month (all $3.99). Marvel Zombies is $3.99…and they raised both issues of X-Factor to $3.99!!!

    Agree with the when does the X-Book come out comment. 6 last week and 1 this week!? Ast X isn’t even a real X-book! They could easily give us X-fans something to read every week if they would spread it out a bit!

  37. Was it the start of the nineties or earlier when they used to do 2 X-Men a month in yankee summer?

    Then again, probably only one or two comics to double up, not 8.

    This and the Avengers vs X-Men and team split boringness again has made me lose interest completely after it was a little interesting again for a while. Guardians of the Galaxy etc is done.

    So interest in current Marvel comics = zero.

  38. Blue Tyson – I think Uncanny X-men was bi-weekly in the late 80’s, though I don’t remember if it was just for the summer.

  39. I don’t know about X-Men, but Amazing Spider-Man went bi-weekly for a couple of summers in the late 80s.

    Mike

  40. Both Amazing Spider-Man and Uncanny X-men went bi-weekly, along with G.I. Joe, in 1988.

  41. I have to agree with the majority here.I really hate what Marvel is doing with books being $3.99,19-20 pages and nobody has mentioned the flimsly covers. Like with FF # 603 , very thin paper for a cover.I used to love Iron Man when Fraction started and Captain America when Brubaker started, but now at $3.99 and fewer pages, I haven’t bought them.I just hope that for the sake of the industry as a whole, and the comic shops, that Marvel will eventually listen and change their business policies.

  42. so i used to be a marvel zombie.i have dozens of long boxes filled with marvel comics. then came the days of 3.99 comics. then i was down to just X-factor. and now even x-factor is 3.99 twice monthly. so thats it. after twenty years i dont have any marvel comics in my pull list anymore. Marvel can make all the excuses they want but its their policies that drove me away.

  43. Andrew, from what I understand the $3.99 price for X-Factor was an error on Diamond’s part. You might want to keep an eye out for the appropriate issues after all.

  44. [...] found this analysis by Brian Hibbs of what Marvel’s doing wrong with its double-shipping strategy fascinating. Sure, [...]

  45. [...] found this analysis by Brian Hibbs of what Marvel’s doing wrong with its double-shipping strategy fascinating. Sure, [...]

  46. I suspected this to be full of anger, and ignorance and to lose interest in reading it after a few paragraphs. But this is very well written and makes some solid points without being aggressive about it.
    Thank you very much for taking time to voice your opinion. I enjoyed reading it ^_^

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