Marvel Cutting Titles – Good for Retailers?

Marvel Comics logo

I found these two articles, both posted today on The Beat, rather interesting in their juxtaposition.

First is a list of the many books that Marvel is cancelling, since their big Legacy (aka “please, old, habitual fans, come back to us so we can all pretend the world isn’t changing!”) initiative has tanked.

Generation X
Guardians of the Galaxy
Hawkeye
Iceman
Jean Grey
Luke Cage
Royals
Secret Warriors
The Unbelievable Gwenpool
U.S. Avengers
Uncanny Avengers

As is typical of these kinds of mass die-offs, my favorite Marvel book, Hawkeye, was included. But having fewer superhero comics to keep up with is sort of a blessing in disguise. There may also be more coming, with America, for example, not appearing in the latest solicits.

The problem is that many of these titles feature lead characters who are not your typical old white male.

Next is Brian Hibbs’ latest Tilting at Windmills column, an open letter to Marvel’s new Editor-in-Chief about what retailers need. It boils down to (but with much greater detail you should check out for what it’s really like to be a comic book shop owner these days): make fewer comics at lower prices without stupid variant gimmicks.

I’m not sure it’s possible to go back to the days of the blockbuster Marvel comic, where anything selling less than 50,000 is cancelled. As Brian points out,

Marvel Comics logo

there are now hundreds of hours of superhero-based entertainment out there in a moving, talking form — and depending on your own household, most of it is essentially “free”, being beamed into your house with little-to-no intervention. This, in my mind, is actually tamping down much of the enthusiasm for new superhero comic books, unless they’re done with exceptional craft, or are breaking new ground in some fashion. Which the majority of new superhero comics don’t and aren’t.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting to read a call for cancelling Marvel comics and then see so many of them gone. It’s a matter of being careful what you wish for, though — by trying to get back to days of fewer Marvel books “everyone” read, in a diversified, fragmented media market, you run the risk of being stuck with an audience of the old white men who are dying off. If you cancel Hawkeye and Jean Grey, I’m not suddenly going to start reading Spider-Man — I’m going to read more Giant Days, because I want to see women like me in comics, and I don’t particularly care if they have super-powers or not or if the logo says Marvel.

So, my reaction is, illogically, yes, Marvel, cancel titles — but not those ones!



5 comments

  • James Schee

    Huh less comics at cheaper prices would be nice. Though I don’t know if cheaper prices really mean more sales, Alternative Comics has a line printed on newsprint with prices under $2, but I don’t think I’ve seen or heard anything about them anywhere.

    I’d rather have better made comics at a reasonable price. I just got so behind on Marvel that I don’t even know where an entry point for it all is any more. I’m reading Waid’s Captain America, but the others are either manga level daunting volumes in (Ms. Marvel) or when I tried random issues was at a complete loss for what was going on because things get changed over so much with each new creative team. Who also seem to come on board and leave at a very fast pace these days.

    I’m probably just not the target audience anymore, and that’s fine. I’ve found other comics to read, and when I want my *Marvel fix* there’s usually a new movie coming out that does it better than the comics these days.

  • The thing is, while customers want lower prices, retailers may not. They make more from the same amount of shelf space if they sell a $5 comic instead of a $2 one.

    I agree with you, it’s very difficult to tell what’s going on with Marvel, and hard to find a good starting point. Regardless of labels that say “part 1”, they’re not really interested in the truly new reader, it seems. And yes, the movies are more satisfying with a lot less commitment. That’s the problem that’s been created from their success.

  • Jeff

    That’s too bad – the last two graphic novels I picked up were the latest Hawkeye (Masks) and Jessica Jones. These titles can be read without an overly excessive background, or one that’s right up to date.

    The DC and Marvel pulls are very thin on my list, with Dark Horse and Image much better represented with either stand alone series with a beginning middle and end or at the very least a much smaller set of crossover type titles. And yes, cutting these types of title is definitely not going to make me by another Marvel title but just go looking for another Paper Girls, Wolf, Deadly Class, Lazarus, Pretty Deadly, etc comic… there’s still a lot to choose from!

  • You’ve hit on a disconnect that’s been around for a while but become even more prevalent lately, imo. Particularly as traditional superhero publishers struggle, they want to emphasize cross-continuity and event tie-ins and universes, to try and drive more sales. But as readers age, they don’t have the time and attention for that kind of minutiae, so they prefer the stand-alone reads.

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