Comic Book Resources’ review of 2006 has been made fun of by several bloggers for its participants lauding of Civil War as “the one project that had the biggest impact on the comics industry” — which is arguably true, if for all the wrong reasons — but I found this particular exchange much more interesting:
If we’re all agreed that sales are up and things look bright for the industry, how can we ride this success? The last time business was this good was the 1990s and we all know what happened there. What’s the key to keeping things going without killing the golden goose?
Tom Brevoort, Marvel : The answer is incredibly simple, yet incredibly difficult: we need to behave responsibly. And that means sometimes leaving money on the table in the short term for the long term good. As we move further and further back into the realm of variant covers and gimmick interiors and all that, we need to be careful that the readers who simply want to be entertained by the stories are being serviced — and that the readers who like these special editions don’t feel like we’re going this route so often that we’re taking advantage of them.
Axel Alonso, Marvel : I totally agree. Besides being willing to walk away from short-term money, we need to continue to diversify our publishing plan, and cater to the different types of readers who are out there: the old-school fans and the new readers.
David Gabriel, Marvel : We need to reach out to new readers, but also help retailers open new stores to reach those new readers. The industry is thriving right now, but if we don’t reach beyond our own self-imposed walls, we will have the problems of the past. However, I think all publishers have been acutely aware of this, and Tom is correct. We all just need to act responsibly. Sometimes that means saying no to another variant cover on just any old book and other times it simply means partnering with our retailers and listening and responding to their needs and concerns.
Either these three are crying for help and trying to send a subtle message to someone — Joe Quesada? Dan Buckley? — or they’re talking out of both sides of their mouths as Marvel is arguably the most “irresponsible” publisher in the industry when it comes to “killing the golden goose”. (Or second worst, depending on how much value you put on DC’s attempts to offer a wider variety of content.)
A scarier thought here, suggested by the “leaving money on the table” comment, is what bad ideas they’ve possibly not acted on [yet]. I mean, Civil War; making fun of retailers’ concerns about delayed titles; the eMusic inserts damaging irreplaceable inventory; 70/30 ad:edit ratios; Speedball/Penance… in light of this stuff, what could possibly have been so bad that they turned it down? And how long before Wall Street points out that they’re leaving money on the table and they’re forced to snatch it up?