Sunday, October 23, 2011

What Should Marvel Do?

In the wake of the DC 52 it seems Marvel has been left eating dust and even worse losing the spotlight in terms of headlines and fan interest. Although I think the DC 52 relaunch has been a huge success I still believe with a little better planning it could have rewritten the way the industry works and strengthend the retail community to the point where it would have turned around the slide of the industry. Okay I know that sounds like a job for Superman but imagine if they would have rolled out the books over a 6 month period and allowed retailers to get some wins under their belt and some cash in hand to support these books. The returnable aspect may helped on a certain level but let's face it nothing instill confidence like watching books fly off the shelves and light up the register.

I believe DC put everything down on the one month total relaunch for a couple of reasons. One they wanted to create something so big that it was as they say "too big to fail." Meaning it was such a gigantic "event", "shift" that everybody had to get on board on some level. It forced the hand of a retail community that was standing on the ledge, pushed there by countless crossover and promises. DC had to cut through that mindset and force them into action. On a certain level the bet paid off. It got retailers excited and it moved product that had not been moving for years. I myself have purchased more DC product in the last month than I have in the last 5 years. Call me a lapsed fan if you must but it no doubt worked on me as it did on thousands of others. It shows that if you create something worth reading comic fans will show up. They want comics to be good and even great. Despite the few churping heads on message boards and comment sections the fans want a win as much as the companies and retailers do.

The second reason DC went all in on a single month of relaunches is that they didn't want opinion/excitement to shift if it launched soft and they didn't want Marvel to make any moves to take the spotlight off them. It feels like they didn't have that much confidence in the launch and they figured let's stack the deck on the buzz interest side. It worked but mainly because Marvel made a crucial mistake. They didn't react on any level. They didn't counter program. They let DC dominate the headlines and the minds of comic fans for 6 months straight leading up to the launch and now for at least another 6 months post launch. It doesn't take a marketing expert or an understanding of brand management to see that was an epic fail.

This brings me around to the question.

What should Marvel do?

After sitting with the idea for a while I thought of a few ways Marvel could retake the advantage in the industry and set themselves up to not only control the next decade of publishing but also have a hand in comic based Transmedia. Sure it would take some serious movement and a couple of gambles but when you take it on the chin for almost a year straight from your direct is the time for bold moves and game changing thought.

"Thank you for buying my comic."
Movie Universe: Marvel owns the movie space compared to DC so they must leverage this. Not only because it's how the world experiences their characters it's more importantly how a legion of young people/new readers do. I would do a relaunch of #1s based completely off the Movie versions of the characters and that continuity. Sure they have done an Ultimate line which is really close but I'm talking photo covers and tie ins with all the movies and marketing that goes with it. Play the largest audience possible and stop the confusion that normal people have when they see the movie and come into a comic store and can't find the comic that is exactly what they just saw. Signings with the actors on photo covers alone would generate a whole new level of interest in the printed books. With the new Ipads and the new Iphones having a dedicated chip for video you should have Robert Downey Jr and the other Avenger actors do video intros in character for the digital books. Bridge the media gap in consumers minds. It's seriously long overdue.


Every Toy Should Come With A Comic. I've worked with toys for years. I was also responsible for creating and selling into Walmart and Target the Marvel Authentics Die-Cast toy line. Each Die Cast car was packaged with a comic. Marvel should demand that every toy comes with an actual comic or has a code to download one for free or a coupon to get one from a comic store for free...or all of the above. Kids love comics when they are introduced to them. I know the costs. It will be an extra nickle if that.  Energize your young fan base by leveraging your toy licensing. Associate physical play objects with your publishing end. It's worked for Star Wars on every level. Using the toy aisle to expose kids to your published and larger media is a no brainer that needs to be fixed.

Great for collectors...but what about the kids?

They watch the movies but where are the comics???

Create the Marvel version of Image. Marvel seems to have gone away from having talent create new characters. They obviously want to completely control the catalog and not have to negotiate with creators down the line if they make a movie or use the characters in a video game. I'm sure they have an army of lawyers telling them to do this but...let's think out of the box. If Marvel wanted to dominate comic book media outside of comics they should start partnering with creators on creator owned projects. For a % of the IP they could offer their partnership in the publishing arena and also help them set it up as a movie through Marvel Studios. Five years down the line Marvel ends up with a hand in whatever becomes the next Walking Dead. The creator get's the muscle in and out of the comic publishing world. It's a win, win and turns Marvel into a true house of "new" ideas.

For The Win!


Ben Jones said...

I agree on some points but after reading a good chunk of DC 52 its steam will not last long especially as creative teams change, and really the stories are weak sauce at this point, but still better than marvel. The movie side might and i mean MIGHT work but do people want a whole nother universe within marvel to explore the same characters with just a different cannon and style?

Marvel still has its Icon imprint I believe and should offer creators the chance to create something new and bold. Because Marvel is such a machine for distribution and marketing they could push tittles farther into the public than Image can currently. Granted they are not going to do this without having a hand in the money and ownership of the character, but they do not need to have the whole pie. You have to incentive creators to come to them even if they are getting cut a little on ownership. Before Image came into being Marvel had all kinds of creators coming up with bold ideas that created a huge fan base for marvel that they are still living off of. If marvel would have gave more incentive for their creations then Image may have not ever been formed in the first place. The few friends that I have at Marvel and DC dont want to create stuff for marvel when they have no control, ownership or say on the property once it hits the page for the most part. How many new characters have we seen in marvel lately?

Let the creators do what they do and create, and let the other company have Jim Lee and associates create everything. You have a more diversified universe with a lot more going on than it is now, which I believe will bring in profits from a new market of youngsters.

d.c. you later said...

im sorry ben jone but the new 52 that dc has put out is not "weak sauce" as you put it what about the court of owls storyline or the animal man & swamp thing title even less know character frankenstien,i,vampire and even new characters batwing,grifter new to dc anyways the story in their book are really good are you even reading them i even left out green lanter,red lanterns,new guardians,rsd hood, teen titans,earth 2 and i could go on and on the stories are getting better as time oh yeah firestorm too its great pick up some of these books read more than one book before you make a decision with the new writer will be new storys yes there will be some failure but how will you ever learn what works its going to just get better from here so i gotta say that you will eat crow in the long run cause dc is gonna be running things from now on