Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

August 27, 2012

A Pair Of Dispatches From The Department Of Yuck

I want to mention here two kinds of ugly market outcomes that look like they're settling into place in the near future. One is that Marvel is apparently front-loading the launch of their Marvel Now initiative with a truckload of variant covers and related ploys aimed at maximizing sales on those issues. Two is that the "Wonder Woman and Superman are dating now" issue of Justice League that DC hyped last week -- curiously right when the 50th anniversary Spider-Man comic book came out -- may get a speculator's bump in some stores or through some on-line vehicles for purchasing comics.

I don't think either of these practices is awful by definition. I think offering one or two variant covers to match a big anniversary celebration, or even a line launch, is fine. It seems like it should be fine, anyway. Some of the covers involved here are pretty cute, too. I can see just wanting some of those covers rather than the cover provided. But let's not kid ourselves about these books being anything but a way to allow for a mini-surge in sales. Putting that much extra pressure on retailers and their customers to figure out how to order this stuff at the same time you're trying to work in partnership with those retailers to move a better class of product based in large part on content, that just seems loopy to me, a real self-hamstringing situation. It's like watching Marvel trash the hotel room because they know the room is on the retailers' credit card.

The speculation stuff, on the other hand, seems like it's always going to be somewhat inevitable with a book like, say, that issue of Captain America from a few years back where he gets "killed." Thinking that event comics are going to be worth something is a deeply-ingrained part of comics' public identity. It's going to be decades before that goes away. In general, though, the idea behind speculation seems like something more folks should stamp out whenever they see it. There should be culture-wide resistance to ripping people off that way, and I say ripping off because it almost always proves not to be the case that people get rich off of buying extra or expensive copies of these things. Constantly frustrating people that are interested in comics seems like a terrible idea at this point in the medium's history; it seems like a bad thing to do just for the doing of it.

In the end, watching these massively successful content-providers either hustling for an extra buck themselves or facilitating others to do so just doesn't seem like a good thing. I distrust it.
posted 1:35 am PST | Permalink

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