Marvel Undercuts Free Comic Book Day?

Marvel today sent out a press release announcing that they would have a free Iron Man/Hulk sampler comic available on April 23. The point is, of course, to promote the characters from their new movies and attempt to convert curious fans to reading comics. It includes “a sneak peak at all the major upcoming Iron Man and Hulk projects, from Invincible Iron Man to Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes to Hulk”, it’s promised to be all-ages suitable, and it also lists what’s available in terms of those characters’ collections.

Iron Man Hulk Sampler

In other words, it sounds like exactly the kind of project that would be perfect for Free Comic Book Day… only it’s coming out a week and a half early. (Marvel’s official FCBD book is an X-Men story.) Marvel even agrees you can give it out then:

Perfect for distribution at movie theatres, Free Comic Book Day, and other promotional functions, this special one-shot provides all the information anyone needs to dive right into any current Iron Man or Hulk series. The back cover of each sampler also offers an ad for Free Comic Book Day on May 3rd and a place for retailers to stamp their store’s information so fans know where to shop!

It has to be ordered by retailers by tomorrow. And it’s exactly the kind of marketing outreach that comic companies should be doing, if it lives up to all its promises. But I am very suspicious about this timing.

Did Marvel come up with this idea too late to make it officially part of FCBD? Did they not want to hassle with the official program for this book for some reason? Or are they just trying to steal the thunder? Maybe there’s a more charitable motive that I’m not thinking of now. Or maybe the two events have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

7 Responses to “Marvel Undercuts Free Comic Book Day?”

  1. Augie De Blieck Jr. Says:

    Nah, I think they just wanted to make sure the freebies got out to shops BEFORE the movie launched, so retailers should have them available at the shop in the days AHEAD of the movie getting released.

    Plus, they’re promoting FCBD in the comic, itself, AND comic shops.

    I think “stealing the thunder” is being a bit too cynical.

    I think the internet S.O.P. is “anything DC does that’s screwy can be attributed to editorial incompetence” and “anything Marvel does screwy is their attempt to screw the Direct Market.” Neither are always right.

    Now, if I wanted to get cynical, I’d guess this way: Given the lack of editorial man power at the major comic companies these days, I think it’s more likely that this was a last minute idea that had to be pushed out separately and quickly.

  2. Johanna Says:

    Very possibly, and that’s why I rely on those more sympathetic to the company to remind me of the more charitable interpretations. :)

    I do like your “DC stupid, Marvel evil” simplification, though. I think it makes a nice mantra.

  3. Chris Collins Says:

    I’d be interested in if the cost to the retailer is any different or if the terms of this sampler are different than FCBD? Any retailers want to tell us if this is a better/worst/same deal?

  4. thekamisama Says:

    Normally I would be suspect. Seeing how they are already a massive participant in FCBD makes me just chalk it up to bad timing and trying to time the books to two potential Hollywood blockbusters.

    So Marvel is doing a “Super Heroes” toy tie in comic? My son would probably go nuts if they ever did a crossover with the DC Super Friends (and maybe even the Rescue Heroes too!)

  5. Johanna Says:

    Chris, great question.

  6. Ed Brubaker Says:

    I think if you read the press release closely, you’ll see that the Iron Man/Hulk thing is a sampler thing, more like the recent Secret Invasion giveaway comic that Marvel sent a bunch of to retailers, which they apparently were really happy with – the retailers I mean. You probably didn’t see it, but it was like a primer, not really a comic story.

    The FCBD thing is an actual new comic book story.

    I’m sure retailers will be happy to have these Iron Man/Hulk freebies, since they appreciated the Secret Invasion one and praised Marvel for doing it.

  7. Johanna Says:

    That distinction wasn’t clear to me; thank you for the clarification.




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