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

January 26, 2005

Steven Grant on Marketing New Titles

imageIn today's installment of his Master of the Obvious column, Steven Grant writes a long essay on the way the mainstream American comic book publishers launch titles that's well worth a read. I think he's hit the nail on the head as far as the futility involved -- you can simply look at a new titles list and have about a 95 percent chance of knowing which ones'll tank -- but I feel he may have spared us or only lightly touched on a few additional reasons why this happens.

imageWe may both be whistling in the dark; worse, anything we suggest may be beside the point. No matter what other factors might come into play, the emphasis right now is maximizing hits, not creating solid performers, so it may be that's where the attention will go. It's possible that the market has been conditioned to work that way at this point, and no shift in emphasis can change that. Still, if I had to pick one overlooked factor, I've always felt the mainstream comics companies release too many books aimed at a similar audience, which can rob an individual title of its clear market identity above and beyond their concept. Movie studios don't release five different movies as their adult audience alternative during the youth movie summer months, or back six different independent movie releases with quirky urban appeal, they generally settle on one or two. The recent history of the comics market says that other than manga, success comes when backing and packaging individual titles, and now that the mainstream companies are no longer able to sell everything they make at a guaranteed profit, they may want to shift their thinking in that direction.

Cover art from DC's Bloodhound and a cover from Birds of Prey, the Goofus and Gallant of Grant's essay
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink

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