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Thread: Comics Are For People #6 (Pricey DVD Adventures!)

  1. MattGrant Guest

    Comics Are For People #6 (Pricey DVD Adventures!)

    Alright, I'm covering a bit of ground this week and trying to tie it all together here... recovering from what turned out to be a bit of a rant last week. Let's just jump into this:

    The Dark Knight Returns

    This time on DVD and Blu-Ray disc! What? You thought I was talking about the Frank Miller thing?

    So, I thought this was cool from a CAFP perspective. I happened to be at (ashamed to say) Walmart on Tuesday and of course, I had to get my DVD copy of Dark Knight. Walmart, which I would expect happens to move a lot of DVDs and such nationwide (which would include Sam's Club as well), tends to have interesting "exclusive" DVD packages, and DK was no exception.

    While they had the standard 1 and 2 disc versions (was I the only one not impressed by the "special features"? I dunno, I guess iMax scenes on DVD doesn't seem like it will quite do them justice), they also had a package deal. What this included was the 1 disc version of the DVD with a Two Face replica coin (made out of metal, not the cheeseball plastic I expected) and.... AND... A COMIC BOOK!

    Cool, no?

    Well, last week, I had mentioned that a certain pair of large comic book publishers didn't seem to be cross marketing their big screen successes into new comic book readers. IE - They may have introductory comics (like "Adventures" series'), but even then, they're not in places where new readers will discover them. So, I find it to be a pretty cool thing that, through one of the hugest distributors of video media, comics are being put into the hands of prospective new readers.

    The catch? Well, it's a bit of a double edged sword. The comics included in the special issues are two very old (and thankfully properly credited to include Mr. Finger and Mr. Robinson) Joker and Two-Face stories. Appropriate, yes, but a good sell on what to expect from modern comics? No. While I, as a comic fan, appreciate seeing these classic stories reprinted, they're not a good representation of what a Batman comic is like today. It sort of gives the impression that Dark Knight is based on something that doesn't exist anymore.

    But I think the inclusion of a comic is a FANTASTIC idea. The opportunity to catch new readers with something like this is pretty big. Think about it. How better to target a demographic for a free "starter" comic than by aligning and including it with something that this person is actually purchasing? What I would like to see, though, is, yeah reprints (financial considerations), but something very modern and engaging story/art wise. Something that clearly says "You've been missing out." That will really get folks jazzed by comics.

    The problem is, what incentive do movie studios (and speaking broader than just Big Two flicks here) have to include comics in their DVD packages? If they are included its more to give shoppers a "bonus feature" and increase the value of the DVD than it really is an attempt to turn movie fans into comic fans. Perhaps publishers and authors can start a movement to have this sort of inclusion as part of a licensing agreement? Anyone know about these types of dealings, how possible that is? Could be a start!

    Where I really see this being beneficial is with the indie comic book flicks. You know... the ones that most folks don't necessarily associate with comics: Wanted, 30 Days of Night, I Am Legend.. to name some recent ones... and the upcoming Hack/Slash. Plenty of books get a lot of milage from their film adaptations, but its harder for folks to access (or even know about) the comic book versions of these films. Why not include two chapters or so, and then say "Hey, you can get the trades (or more consumer friendly term) of these at XYZ bookstore in the 'Graphic Novel' section!"

    So there are my thoughts on that.

    Adventures!

    Last week I talked about the manga model for promoting an moving the comics format in an effective way. The key part of that model (or at least the model as my non-marketing-non-industry expert sideline perspective had me form) was ShonenJump being cheap and available on just about every news rack. I just really think that this is a fantastic idea, and that publishers other than manga publishers should (excuse the pun) jump on this. Over time you'll probably see me beat this idea to death, but hey.... that's what I'm here for.

    So what I was thinking this go around was DC/Marvel Adventures. These are comics featuring mainstream Big Two characters in a bit less continuity heavy setting, geared toward a younger audience. GREAT idea. The prospect of a new, younger reader trying to jump on board with, say, the current issue of Batman is daunting at best (though how kids jump in the middle of some of these weird ass mangas is beyond me, so maybe I'm wrong). So we have these "lite" versions of the big characters, teams, etc. And both companies are pretty good at getting stuff out along side films and what not. The problem?

    You guessed it.

    You have to go to a comic book store to get them. The other idea I like to beat to death? You can't sell someone something new by selling it in a store that only sells just that product! They have no reason for being there! Get those comics out of the comic book stores an into places where kids happen upon them! Retailers, don't worry, this should ultimately bring you new customers.

    So, getting back on topic. I've noticed that Marvel has started doing something cool with their Adventures series. They're collecting them into digest sized trades selling for about 6-8 bucks. Cool. A little more bang for your buck, especially when you're buying something for your kid that you're not sure if they're going to totally dig. Plus, you get a fairly complete story, which is nice as opposed to, y'know, on sixth of a story arc (lucky if its not in the middle of it too). Okay. Cool. Plus, being a trade format, they're also available in bookstores, though I don't see as many-- I'm guessing because book chains look at trades as a $12.95 minimum sort of deal (they've already got 487 racks filled with better selling mangas at the Adventures price point). Cool idea.

    Let's take it a step further! Why not take these "Adventures" books and reprint them on a cheaper format. I'm thinking, basically, like an Archie Double Digest kind of thing. This way, you can make them longer for less money. Then lets take those and stick em in grocery stores and the like, right next to, hey... the Archie Double Digests and the Disney Adventures. Those two seem to be doing well enough to keep going, so it seems like a no brainer that something cool like Justice League or X-Men would do really well in that sort of placement. And this is just part of a grander model. This isn't really the money making portion. This would just reel the kids into comics, getting them ready to "graduate" into the larger world of comics available to them.

    Plus, superheroes at least, would get boosts in sales of these, as movies come out, interest will be generated, and the comics are RIGHT THERE in the grocery store. No special targeting required (as in my above item).

    Just a thought.

    Pricey

    One of the key points in the above item, too, is getting the comics to a price where it becomes practical for someone who is vaguely interested (or the parents of someone vaguely interested) to take a gamble on a comic. A big issue lately (mentioned again in this weeks Lying in the Gutters) is the steadily rising price of comics... nearing an average of $3.99 an issue!

    Well, gas prices have dropped, but if you haven't noticed, the economy still sucks. Four dollars is a lot to spend on 22 pages of comic. Any way you look at it. Sure, as Rich pointed out in LITG, the publishers responsibility is to shareholders and not the pockets of fans (ie - if they can sell a comic for four bucks, then they owe it to the shareholders to sell it for four bucks), but how does that fare for folks who aren't already buying comics? I mean, say a prospective reader does plunk down four bucks for a comic (y'know after jumping through all the hurdles in her way to even getting to that point), and it happens to suck, or maybe its good, but it doesn't really appeal to her. There may be plenty of comics out there that she would love, but based on this one experience, she's deemed the whole experience as a waste of money.

    Heck, I don't even know why I spend that much on comics... oh yeah, cause I love them, and I can't wait for the trades.

    I really feel that we need to start looking for away out of this trap. A lot of folks play the "wait for the trades" game, which in turn is quickly turning into the "wait to download it off of a torrent for free" game-- but if you can't sell a monthly, and it goes away, so do the trades, and so do the downloads. It all goes away.

    So, already we're seeing shifts. Manga seems to be doing well with their model. Webcomics, albeit very difficult to monetize, is another good solution that is rising in popularity. But I'd like to see a shift that also is very LCS friendly...

    ...and so my journey begins.

    Wrap Up

    Well that's all for this week folks. I always love hearing input and ideas for topics to touch on, so feel free to email me or PM me, or just post on this thread.

    Til next week...

    Give someone a comic!


    ______________________________________________________
    Matt Grant is a graphic designer and self-publishing comics and webcomics creator. His comic MastorisM can be read at www.MastorisM.com and updates Tuesdays and Thursdays. A long time comics fanatic and advocate for the medium, Matt eats, sleeps, and breathes comics. Well its more like rolls them up in a tube and breathes through them... but you get the drift.

    Matt would love nothing more than to hear from fans, retailers, creators, and publishers that have anything relevant to contribute to his column. He believes that, only by working together, we can bring the comics medium to a wider deserving audience. Please feel free to email him at matt@projectfanboy.com, private message him here, or harass him on the street! Matt does not claim to be an industry expert in any way shape or form, but rather an opinionated pundit on the sidelines.



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    Matt, I have to tell ya, I really like the vision and direction you have, both for your CAFP and for the comic industy itself.

    I also LOVE that each cloumn ends with you're tag line of "...give someone a comic". Beats "Excelsior" anyday!

    In regards to your thoughts on the big two getting their ADVENTURES lines out there beyond the comic shops, at least in trade form, you can find them at Bookstores like Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, etc. I know Marvel has collected many of their al ages works in smaller, manga-style trades
    So it's a start, anyway.

    Hey, speakin' o' all ages comics, didja read my intervioew with Landry Walker about SUPERGIRL: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade? We discuss the merits of all-ages books, in some questions that, I admit, I thought of you when I wrote.

    Great column, man. Very thought invoking.
    Last edited by SebastianPiccione; Friday, December 12, 2008 at 12:43 AM.
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

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  3. StevenForbes Guest

    Hey, Matt. Nice column.

    Just a couple of things.

    I Am Legend is a novel, not a comic. Sure, Steve Niles did a serialized graphic novel version of it in '91 for Eclipse Comics (I have a copy of it, and remember enjoying it a lot), but this was not the original '54 novel. I think you're always better off going with things people won't immediately identify with comics, if you're going to talk comic movies: A History of Violence, The Road to Perdition, Men in Black.

    Basically, a little research never hurts before you post something up. (Don't feel bad. I once wrote something up about the Martian Manhunter for an e-newsletter, and got back a LOT of responses correcting me on the fact that Mars is further away from the sun than the Earth, not closer to it.)

    The other thing, the thing that provoked my thinking, is a question: where do you see comics in 10 years? Do you see companies like Marvel/DC doing it the same way still, but at almost $6 a pop? Do you see a shift from physical collectibility to something to be downloaded? Do you see them no longer publishing single issues and moving toward events, as they seem to have done? Do you think we'll get a higher page count (story content) with the higher price point? Or will things move more and more to the web, with the thought that paying $.99 for 22 pages (maybe a little less) is better than paying $6 and having it be crap? And then possibly publish a trade after that?

    And any thoughts about the domino effect that going almost exclusively to the web would have on everyone else, from artists to publishers to retailers to readers?

    Lots of questions, I know. Basically, it's a column unto itself.



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    Quote Originally Posted by StevenForbes View Post
    I Am Legend is a novel, not a comic.

    Well, technically it's a novella, collected with several of Matheson's short stories.

    Sorry, we English teachers live for those kinds of factoids.
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

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  5. StevenForbes Guest

    I knew you were going to say that.

    And the difference between "novel" and "novella" is murky at best. Some novellas are longer than novels, of course meaning that some novels could be considered novellas.

    I read something on this a few months ago.

    It all depends on your point of view. To-MAY-to, to-MAH-to.




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    Yes, it is very murky, which is why I shine out, like a mighty light house, to guide you through the rocky shores of Novella.

    Besides, my definition comes complete with several quizzes, a mid-term, a final, and you need to match my answer in order to move on to 10th grade!

    Hell hath no fury like a teacher of a required course!! :cool:
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5



  7. MattGrant Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenForbes View Post
    Hey, Matt. Nice column.

    Just a couple of things.

    I Am Legend is a novel, not a comic. Sure, Steve Niles did a serialized graphic novel version of it in '91 for Eclipse Comics (I have a copy of it, and remember enjoying it a lot), but this was not the original '54 novel. I think you're always better off going with things people won't immediately identify with comics, if you're going to talk comic movies: A History of Violence, The Road to Perdition, Men in Black.

    Basically, a little research never hurts before you post something up. (Don't feel bad. I once wrote something up about the Martian Manhunter for an e-newsletter, and got back a LOT of responses correcting me on the fact that Mars is further away from the sun than the Earth, not closer to it.)

    The other thing, the thing that provoked my thinking, is a question: where do you see comics in 10 years? Do you see companies like Marvel/DC doing it the same way still, but at almost $6 a pop? Do you see a shift from physical collectibility to something to be downloaded? Do you see them no longer publishing single issues and moving toward events, as they seem to have done? Do you think we'll get a higher page count (story content) with the higher price point? Or will things move more and more to the web, with the thought that paying $.99 for 22 pages (maybe a little less) is better than paying $6 and having it be crap? And then possibly publish a trade after that?

    And any thoughts about the domino effect that going almost exclusively to the web would have on everyone else, from artists to publishers to retailers to readers?

    Lots of questions, I know. Basically, it's a column unto itself.
    AH! I had only been familiar with the Eclipse version , and not intimately familiar enough (obviously) to know that it was an adaptation. Thanks, that'll make me sound less like an idiot in the future.

    You included some excellent examples too. I think my brain took a crap when I was writing that... a lot of other things came to mind after that.

    A lot of great column ideas there. Some of which I have in the queue in my brain, and some that i just stuck in there now (thank you!).



  8. MattGrant Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by SebastianPiccione View Post
    Matt, I have to tell ya, I really like the vision and direction you have, both for your CAFP and for the comic industy itself.

    I also LOVE that each cloumn ends with you're tag line of "...give someone a comic". Beats "Excelsior" anyday!

    In regards to your thoughts on the big two getting their ADVENTURES lines out there beyond the comic shops, at least in trade form, you can find them at Bookstores like Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, etc. I know Marvel has collected many of their al ages works in smaller, manga-style trades
    So it's a start, anyway.

    Hey, speakin' o' all ages comics, didja read my intervioew with Landry Walker about SUPERGIRL: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade? We discuss the merits of all-ages books, in some questions that, I admit, I thought of you when I wrote.

    Great column, man. Very thought invoking.
    I read that interview, yep! Very cool. I had actually been curious about that comic since it was announced, so it was really cool to read your interview.

    I buy my kids those little Marvel trades. But I'll notice that in (some of the more complete) LCS's that there's actually a lot of those published but when i got to your Border's or B&N there's only one or two offerings. Which is not really the books store's fault, I think the idea is the "graphic novels" appeal to one demographic, and the mangas appeal to another, and those "Adventures" books kinda fall out of both categories.

    That was a similar problem with DC/Vertigo's Minx line. I was excited about that, I thought it was a brilliant idea. But they wanted to get them placed in the young adults section (how cool would that be) but I guess bookstores weren't really into that idea, and didn't really know where to to put them.

    hrm.



  9. StevenForbes Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by MattGrant View Post
    AH! I had only been familiar with the Eclipse version , and not intimately familiar enough (obviously) to know that it was an adaptation. Thanks, that'll make me sound less like an idiot in the future.

    You included some excellent examples too. I think my brain took a crap when I was writing that... a lot of other things came to mind after that.

    A lot of great column ideas there. Some of which I have in the queue in my brain, and some that i just stuck in there now (thank you!).
    You're welcome. Always happy to help.

    And I'm something of an old movie buff. The first adaptation of it was The Last Man on Earth, starring Vincent Price. Then came The Omega Man with Charlton Heston.

    Anyway, I look forward to seeing your views on the future of comics.



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    I thought Omega Man predated Last Man on Earth?
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

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