Zoom Suit Chases Collectibility

I’ve been so overwhelmed and under-impressed by the flood of hucksterism coming out about Zoom Suit that I’m not at all interested in the comic itself. Their latest press release provides a clue as to why: they’re chasing collectors, a group I’ve never considered myself part of.1

Zoom Suit #1 cover
Zoom Suit #1

Numerous sellouts across the nation have led the team behind the Zoom Suit comic book to offer the complete first issue online, free of charge. The online version has been reformatted to fit computer screens and hi-tech devices.

“I don’t want to do a second printing, but I do want fellow comic fans to be able to find and read Zoom Suit,” said Zoom Suit creator John Taddeo. “This solution seems like a win-win because fans that want to read it can now do so for free, while collectors won’t see their market diluted with second prints.”

If you’re using phrases like “market dilution” in deciding how to release your comic series, then I’m not part of your audience. You’re talking to retailers and speculators, trying to get them to buy into your hype.

The web version of Zoom Suit #1 is available for download at www.superverse.com. This will be the only comic in the series available online.

Zoom Suit #1 was released April 26, 2006. Since the release the comic is sold out at all but the most heavily stocked outlets. Copies have sprung up on eBay.com at above cover price, and Zoom Suit variant editions have sold from 2 to 50 times the regular $2.95 cover price. Meanwhile, comic Shops have reordered over 5,000 copies of Zoom Suit #2.

I wonder about making promises like “only one ever online” at this early date, but since the comic release list says that it’s only a four-issue miniseries, I guess that’s a safe bet. The reason variant editions have been priced above cover is because they were released in ratios like 1-in-10 and 1-in-50. Retailers price them higher to cover the cost of all the “standard” issues they have to order to get them. It’s not a measure of demand but of supply.

“I’ve read every comic book I’ve ever owned, so I’m a reader first and foremost. However, collecting is also a fun aspect of the hobby and I want to recognize that aspect,” said Taddeo. “It’s fun when you’re in on the ground floor and your comics rise in value. Collecting is an important part of our hobby.”

Well, THAT’s the answer. Comics to me isn’t a “hobby” — it’s an entertainment medium. It’s not an investment, because selling it as such is a great way to create disappointed, burned-out customers who quickly learn they can’t trust you. I seem to remember Taddeo being involved in Valiant in some way. Looks like he didn’t learn the lesson when they went out of business.

I don’t believe that you can target both readers and collectors at the same time, because their interests are opposed. The collector dream is a book that’s untouched and rare; readers want to dive into books and easily find good entertainment. Some retailers, by the way, love this book, because they get extra-big discounts and instant collectibles, but I have yet to see a reader praise it.

1 I have a ton of comics, yes, but it’s more of an archive than a collection. They’re there to be read and even learned from, not to turn a profit on.

10 Responses to “Zoom Suit Chases Collectibility”

  1. Ken Robinson Says:

    Taddeo seems to have really misread the current market. I can’t see that sort of mentality getting very far, but good luck to him anyway, I guess.

    I’m curious, though. Since when does the word “collect” mean to only get something for the monetary value it has/will hopefully have? People can collect comics (or anything for that matter) for whatever reasons they want. Getting something, then getting more of it is all that’s required to make something a collection. It’s semantics, sure, but, Johanna, your archive is a collection. One you hold onto read rather than try to make money from, but that’s still a collection. Saying you collect something says nothing about the reasons why you collect it or the value of the collection.

    Sorry about getting kind of off-topic like that, but that misuse of the word bugs me. Maybe the “collector’s market” should be renamed the “investor’s market”. It seems a better fit.

  2. Nat Gertler Says:

    Zoom Suit did well at something that it’s hard for an indy to do – getting the first issue on the shelves and seen. It’s hard to get customers if they can’t get your book. Taddeo manged to get press, managed to get on shelves (offering a series of incentives on the book that made it a lot less risky for retailers to carry in quantity than most books), providing a system that got press release with a given retailer’s info circulated to their local media. There is something to be said for the level of support he’s given the book. If it fails, it’s not because it wasn’t given a shot.
    As for whether he’s misreading the market – take a look at the top selling comics of 2005, and as you look at the top of the list realize that almost all of these had some form of multiple cover going on (variant mixes, chase editions, director’s cut, second printing, whatever.)

    Oh, and it’s not really investing. Investing means that you’re vesting someone/something with your money, so that the money can be used by them in an attempt to increase value. Nobody gets vested iwith your money in comics; it’s speculation rather than investment. But I agree, the confusion of collecting with speculation is misleading.

    –Nat (collecting dust)

  3. Michael Denton Says:

    Johanna, I agree with Ken. Your archive is a collection – and I proudly call myself a comic collector, although I have no delusions about my collection being worth anything monetarily – and I’d be reluctant to sell them if they ever did. It’s this last part that I believe makes me solidly a collector – rather than speculator or investor – it doesn’t matter how much they’re worth, they’re mine and I don’t want to give them up. There is something inherently rewarding to me just to have it (especialy having a particularly rare or unusual book or a particular run of a book (for me, Morrison’s complete Doom Patrol run)) that defines “collector” and makes it a hobby (the searching for those missing issues, discovering titles you didn’t know or care about before). Even if you don’t feel that strongly about it, or go about it that way, you do still collect.

  4. Ken Robinson Says:

    Nat, when I said Taddeo was misreading things, I was referring to the no reprints stance he’s taking (presumably also meaning no trades), not anything to do with variant covers. Sorry about not being more specific.

    Good point also about the “investor’s” idea. “Speculator’s market” works better, you’re right.

  5. Joe Willy Says:

    “Hi tech?” What kind of press releases uses the word “hi tech?” It makes them sound like old fuddy duddies…

  6. Nat Gertler Says:

    I wouldn’t presume the “no second printing” statement means no trades. Second printings of any color comic are tough for the smaller publisher, and on Zoom Suit #1 it’s particularly true, since they used special printing tech which was done overseas. It can take months of lead time to get it done affordably, and by that point most of the demand is apt to have evaporated. The level of orders needed to justify a second print on a book like this is much higher than it would be for a standard black-and-white indy comic.

  7. Johnny B Says:

    I think of mine as more of an accumulation, rather than a collection…

  8. Johanna Says:

    Ken, good point, and another example of how comics put its own spin on a perfectly good word.

    Michael, point taken, but I’ve been broken of that impulse as well. Since marrying, I haven’t had to search for anything rare I’ve been looking for, which is both a plus and a minus.

    Nat, I’d forgotten about the special printing effects, and that’s a good reminder about lead times.

    Johnny, heh, good word.

  9. Johanna Says:

    The retailer at Macguffin has some additional thoughts about collecting versus speculating. Here’s his summation (but there’s more at the link):

    there remains a distinction between an comic’s value as entertainment to be consumed and the same comic’s value as part of a collection of similar items. That there is a role for both values in this industry goes without question, but as with books, dvds or any other item that can be valued in both ways, the primary focus of the industry (assuming it is interested in growing its sales) should be on the casual consumer rather than the collector.

  10. Michael Denton Says:

    Johanna, I’m glad you posted that link. I think he’s right about where the market should be aimed at – collectors shouldn’t be a primary focus if the industry wants to thrive (or just survive), although they shouldn’t be neglected either. I have no ethical qualms about completely shutting out speculators, however. ;)

    It’s interesting – my LCS, Heroes, is a good example of what comic stores should be (overall). However, even they feel compelled, whether because of market conditions (staying competitive) or because people will buy it, to mark up variant covers. I never would have believed it when I saw a customer in front of me on NCD buy a $100 variant cover on a recent Avengers (I believe) issue. When I half-jokingly told the clerk, “you’re going to hell for that,” he good-naturedly replied that a store must cater to all tastes, from me who has no interest in such chicanery to the guy who found it a legitimate buy (for what motive I don’t know since I didn’t ask). I’m not sure what point I was trying to make, but there you go. :)




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