Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Trading Up: The Evolution Of A Brochure Pt. 2

PLANET GRIFFIN returns to broadcast depth to take yet another look at the industry that is... Checking out the news with coffee in hand, I came across DC's recent announcement of releasing a series of Superhero OGN's in 2010--- what makes the announcement so special is Joe Quesada's reaction to it! Now, the PLANET has already spoken on this subject before, and let it be known now: I've got incredible respect for Joe, so I can see where he's coming from in terms of MARVEL business, (you'll see what I mean in a moment)... The following is Joe Q's recent interview over at CBR...

"People take the things I say and misread them and put words in my mouth. What I've said is that the graphic novel is not the best financial model with which to sell comic books. (Of course, this is true--- if your only strength is comics) I don't know if they've announced page counts on these OGNs or not, but let's say for the sake of argument that the page counts is the equivalent of five comic books. If they were to take Geoff Johns' five issues of "Batman" and sell them monthly, they would probably end up making a lot more money than putting it out as a hardcover. (Start doing better quality softcovers for cheaper, rather than cheaper quality hardcovers that charge exorbitant prices. Two words: Marvel Essentials) Personally, we've never seen that model work for us financially. That's all I'm saying. I'm not saying people shouldn't do OGNs. I'm just saying for us, at Marvel, (which is why DC will pull ahead in the near future--- remember that you heard that here--- here's a hint : A cartoon corporation versus A book/movie/music amalgamation) the math has never worked. If some people feel it works for them, then go with God."

"I'm just saying, I was asked a question about OGNs, and even from the financial standpoint of a commercial artist, if I'm looking for a way to maximize my time versus how much money I make versus how much exposure I get – an OGN doesn't make sense. (You can practically hear Doug Tenapel and Kyle Baker laughing out of their chairs--- as well as Japan, France, Spain, and the underground lair of Alan Moore---) Artistically, I may decide it's what I want to do in my heart of hearts. And that's okay. Go do an OGN. But if I'm looking at it from a pragmatic standpoint and from a career management standpoint – let's say it'll take me a year to do about six issues. I could do a year's worth of work and put it out as one graphic novel, and I'll be on the stands in perpetuity (if it's good), but promoted for really only one month. So my year's worth of work will give me one month of marketing around my name. And that'll boost my career for that month. The book will come out and sell to fewer people because I've had to put something like a $40 price point on it. (Note that the price point mentioned is almost becoming standard with most mainstream hardcovers right now) I can't put it out as serialized issues because nobody's going to care at that point. (We don't now, because most of us ARE waiting for the trade) Maybe after hardcover, I can put out a softcover for a little less money and make it affordable, but I'm still not capitalizing on it as I should. (That comment will come back to haunt him) But to me that's working backwards from a career management standpoint. I could take that year of my life and be on the stands for six months, being marketed for six months. Then I put out my trade paperback and get

marketed again. And then I can put out a deluxe hardcover to repurpose it again and so on and so forth. (One word: Watchmen) I think there's more bang for your buck if you go monthly at this point. (Tell that to Diamond's benchmark policy) And that's it. It doesn't mean people shouldn't do it. It just means that pragmatically, that's what makes more sense to me.

Pragmatic (adj): 1. of or relating to practical affairs 2. : concerned with the practical consequences of actions or beliefs.

And let's not forget, what if the OGN isn't all that good? Now you've spent a year of your life for even less bang as your book will come and go and be lost amongst the plethora of mediocre-to-horrible OGNs that have faded into the ether. We always look at the best case scenario, the occasional OGN written by someone like Neil Gaiman that sold boatloads, but we seem to overlook how he is the exception and by far not the rule. (Budding writers/creators, take strong note of that. Besides, didn't I say 'if your only strength is comics...?' ) If we could all sell books like Neil, the comics industry would be in a much different place."

Like I said, from that perspective, I can see where he's coming from... Which is not where WE are... That different place to come. Back to work.


Brian Miller said...

Ha, I love your running commentary on his comments. So true!

Its funny because I'm much more likely to buy a graphic novel that collects a series of comics into one work than buying each individual comic. Still, the quality has to be there for me to want it in the first place.

I'm glad my heroes are guys like Doug Tennapel, guys who just do it.

RodBuddah said...

The point of MARVEL Business is to remain status quo (in listening to Joe's words)--- the comic format should learn to stay in it's place--- as a brochure! In these economic times, people would rather buy the ENTIRE story in one shot then buy installments; especially knowing how the 'Brick and Mortar' stores like to jack up the price on that issue you missed! (unless you're lucky to get a 'variant issue'... I'm trying to pay variant bills! I don't have the time to hang out waiting for the UPS truck on new comic day!)
Manga sells the OGN/Book format at a standard rate of 1.5 to 2 million WEEKLY, at a standard price of 10 bucks (380 pages ARE standard!!!) Meanwhile, we're sweating out the next issue of SPIDERMAN at 24 pages (maybe 26 if Marvel allows the artist the additional room) for $4 bucks a MONTH?! --- Good Lord Joe!!! What are you talking about?!?!!

Career management means nothing if you're not prepared to take charge of it yourself... That's the everyday mantra of an Independent Artist... I'm not saying we shouldn't do brochures, but if they are some of us out here who KNOW what have will do well in that OGN market, then please stand aside and let us go with God.

-This message is brought to by those who're waiting to buy the trade.