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

August 4, 2008

Slug Appropriate Bob Dylan Quote Here

imageI don't have much to say about the Watchmen movie trailer or the massive surge in sales for the graphic novels engendered by interest in the movie. My non-comics reading friends tell me the movie looks like it might be cool, but only when I ask them. It's a hell of a plot to try and explain to people and not sound completely nuts, if you haven't tried yet. I also have to say I'm very much not looking forward to incremental moves in the film's marketing campaign being covered as actual comics industry news. Still, it's probably worth noting that this should put the nail in the coffin of some odd, lingering conventional wisdom that movie-related success of varying kinds can't have a significant impact on related trade sales. It's not 100 percent guaranteed, and exactly how it works isn't always clear -- is there, for example, a severe decline on perennials following a movie's release as some retailers claim is true? -- but it seems to me there have been enough units moved related to films going back ten years across multiple publishers and now in various ways (trailers, theater release, DVD) for it to be a recognized factor for comics publishing sales success the same way it is for other forms of print publishing.

I would also like to express the sincere hope that DC and Time Warner won't push the "best graphic novel ever" avenue for promoting the film and the trade. They don't need it. I'm not sure such a claim does anything other than give those suspicious of hype something to push back against and, eventually, give people that don't like the resulting movie or the book a reason not to explore the medium for something they might like better. Besides, it's rude and unnecessarily confrontational. Plenty of smart, passionate readers of comics, many that believe Watchmen is a laudable, exemplary work, simply don't think it's the best graphic novel ever -- or necessarily even in the top 100. I think Watchmen's a great book and I'm not even sure it was a top five comic during the period it was serialized.* Heck, someone could easily make a compelling argument there was a better Alan Moore work in 1986 ("Pictopia," with Don Simpson). It was ridiculous enough when Time Warner pushed their Death of Superman DVD by claiming the comic of same was the best-selling of all time when a) they don't release figures and b) a lot of European albums likely bury the best guess at a number. Making this sort of boast based on an unquantifiable standard for the sake of a promotional scheme that probably won't work anyway except to build resentment, that just seems stupid.

* off the top of my head: Hernandez, Hernandez, Spiegelman, Taniguchi/Sekikawa, Mattotti/Kramsky, Al-Ali, Watterson, Barry, Groening, Tezuka, Oliphant and Crumb were all in the midst of laudable work during this period
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink

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