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Wednesday, October 17, 2012 

Even Chris Claremont admits going exclusive with direct market hurt sales

The Outhousers website interviewed Chris Claremont about his past history of writing the X-Men, more than any other book he'd ever taken up at Marvel, and he also brought up the problem with the direction they took in marketing at the time:
You were walking through an airport, walking through a train station, you look at the news agent and you see an X-Men. You pick it up. You look at it. You give it to your kid. He likes it. She likes it. You like it. You say, “where can I find more books like this?” You go to your comic retailer. That became part of the source material. But the problem was, to sell to the newsstand, you had to print 300,000, 400,000 copies to sell your 150,000. Well, it became more cost efficient, and DC decided, and Marvel decided, as the decade wore on into the nineties, the hell with that, we don't need the newsstand. Comic book retailers will support us. So we'll go direct market only.

Which is fine, until the direct market collapsed, at which point we find ourselves in a declining spiral with no outreach to new readers, so, to me anyway, we're just selling to the same old same old, and everybody just wants echoes of what they've seen before. Variations of what they've seen before. There's no integration with popular culture, with the modern world, with fun and games, and no influx of new readers, no influx from the new readers of new writers and new visualizers in both art and story, so it gets to be a self-fulfilling and frustrating policy, to me anyway.
The problem sitting right under their very noses is that they wouldn't reformat to something like paperbacks, and avoid crossovers and variant covers, which would've given them a longer life in bookstores. Even he may not realize, or didn't seem to bring it up, but their obsession with mega-events is another something that made publication more costly, and drove away new readers who'd be more comfortable with something stand-alone. To think, all that money wasted on writing countless crossovers and drawing busloads of variant covers, all for nothing but cluttering up the bargain bins with tons of unsold copies for an overbaked event nobody wanted.

And they still don't seem to want to learn a lesson from that period in history.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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