Why do I doubt these sales figures?
NEW YORK After years of seeing Hollywood translate its ideas into mainstream movies, the comics industry has taken a lesson from the film business.Maybe so, but gentlemen at the NYT, wake up please: this crossover business is something that both Marvel and DC have been doing for two decades already, and it's really nothing new that they go by such ultra-hype. In fact, they've probably been taking their cue from the movie "tent pole" idea as far back the Golden Age for all I know. What's so new about this news? And what I highlighted in bold there, well...that seems to be a notable problem with some of the lesser crossovers that were already put out!
Marvel and DC Comics, the two biggest publishers in comics, have both built the 2005 schedule around widely promoted special projects, mirroring the "tent pole" model used by the big studios.
"House of M" from Marvel Entertainment and "Infinite Crisis" from DC Comics were marketed as epic events, featuring top-name creators and huge casts of characters. The core story for "House of M," for example, was told in an eight-part mini-series, but related characters and crossover stories popped up throughout the entire Marvel line.
"'House of M' is probably the biggest event that Marvel has done in five years - it was the anchor for our summer," said John Dokes, the director of marketing and business development for Marvel.
For both publishers, the risks of pursuing blockbuster projects lay with the good will of their fans. By tying many of their monthly stories together and involving franchise names like Superman or the X-Men, they ran the risk that fans would not be interested enough to invest into a long multipart story.Well I don't know about the fans, but, what about the rest of the public that isn't reading comics, huh? Another clue to the questionable wish of the publishers to draw in newcomers!
While Marvel does not release figures for their press runs, estimated sales of the first issue of "House of M," based on retailer orders through Diamond Comic Distributors, were well over 200,000 copies for the debut in June. The first installment of DC's "Infinite Crisis," in October, also cleared 200,000 copies. Both figures exceeded average estimated sales for the top sellers in those same months last year by over 40,000 copies.So let me get this straight. Marvel doesn't release sales figures? I remember that several months ago, when the NYT wrote about the Constantine movie, DC supposedly gave them sales figures, yet, they didn't print any actual results in their article!
Adan Jimenez, manager of Midtown Comics in New York, said that while comic books related to "House of M" and "Infinite Crisis" were selling very well, "DC seems to be outmaneuvering Marvel." DC is a subsidiary of Time Warner.
So I have to question even this press statement. And the part about DC outmanuvering Marvel is also unclear, because it doesn't tell exactly how they're doing it. In artistic quality? In sales? Both? Neither? I just cannot tell!
Nor is the next paragraph all that clear:
"Their main event has been going on since January, and things that happen in one book reverberate in all their other books," he said, noting that the long lead time and extended plot connections in the DC books are creating a greater sense of cohesiveness.No kidding. There's really very little cohesion, certainly in the Batbooks for all I know, and when it came to their connections with Identity Crisis, there were quite a few slapdash mistakes being made in continuity. And lest I forget that in the Flash last year, that part about the Top supposedly hypnotising the rest of the Rogues into becoming honest, well...that certainly didn't make much sense.
But the above most certainly does tell something, and it's why people are actually getting tired of such non-events by now: because they take up the bulk of the year and in reading material. Is this mega-wide event the only, the sole thing that the entire readership, coast-to-coast, wall-to-wall, truly wants to read about, and have popping up in virtually every book they read all year et al? I remember that, when the Beyonder turned up in the Avengers #260 in 1986, at the time the awful Secret Wars II was being put out, that all but spoiled a good issue, in which Roger Stern developed second Capt. Marvel Monica Rambeau's personality very well. If House of M, which obviously stands for Marvel, and Identity/Infinite Crisis are going to take up the bulk of all my favorite books for an entire year, that's almost making that interruption in the book of Earth's Mightiest Heroes seem like a mere noise interrupting a TV screening of Wheel of Fortune.
In the last five years or so, Marvel has avoided large-scale crossovers and big events, instead focusing on developing characters and franchises in relatively self-contained stories and series. DC, on the other hand, has been drawing plot elements in their various superhero lines closer and closer together.They forgot to mention: a lot of this was editorially mandated, in which the editors said that one storyline could not be mentioned in another book, stuff like that. Such biases, not to mention the forcing of padded out story arcs, are what have been damaging Marvel books for the past 3 years. And just what development comes from a story like "Sins Past" in which a nice young girl named Gwen Stacy had her character's history soiled by political correctness? Gimme a break, guys.
Executives at DC likewise emphasized the more organic nature of developing a comic-book blockbuster. Paul Levitz, the company's president and publisher, said: "When I think of the summer blockbuster in the movie business, it's usually a stand-alone creative event. In our world, what separates out a project like 'Infinite Crisis' is it's the rare moment where we mix together the different strengths and enthusiasms" of the company's creators and characters.I think the best way to "top this" as Levitz puts it, would be to not try topping it at all. It's exactly that kind of thinking that's seriously undermined comics for quite a few years now, and I think the time has come to knock it off.
"Infinite Crisis," written by Geoff Johns with art by Phil Jimenez, came together under the guidance of Dan DiDio, a vice president at DC. The story built on elements from five mini-series introduced during the summer to lead in to the event, and drew on plot points seeded throughout the entire DC superhero line.
"Because comics are done collaboratively, a lot of the best stuff is 'can you top this?"' Levitz said. "You've got three or four top practitioners of the art sitting around saying, 'Wouldn't it be cool if?' That's how the best of this stuff builds."