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Sleepwalker




Hey all. Sorry this turned into a rather meandering way to get my thoughts/questions out there.

Back in the 3rd grade, I got hooked on Marvel. The Marvel Universe Series 2 Trading Cards suckered me in, and Fantastic Four 358 finally sucked me in.

I was the standard 90's comic fan (an I think I've posted a question or 2 about the 90's in the past). I snatched up as many comics as I could with my allowance, loved the special covers..and had to have every collector's edition available. The die-cut FF4 and Batman 500. The foil editions of Punisher's Suicide run. The holgrams on Fatal Attractions. The all white FF Torch cover. The 2099 Fall of the Hammer connecting covers...even the Superman World;s Collide "Color Form" cover (that was an odd one). But then, apparently something happened apparently in the industry, and I don't get what happened...

Anyway, I was thinking through the early 90's and today's Marvel...and I'm trying to figure out the differences in the climate. Part if it might be that for a kid, the Mrvelverse just seems huge in general...but...

1)Are there more comics being sold today then there were then? Did the variants end up killing sales?
2) Are more books being published today than back then?
3) Are there less characters getting attention today than back then? It seems there are...if we look at it...
A) The X-verse has managed to increase # of books
B) The Spider-verse has decreased quite a it in monthly output
C) The Hulkverse has increased in #
D) The Avengers-verse have swelled (with Thor and Iron Man almost being their own categories)
E)The New Warriors-verse is gone
F) The Midnight Sonsverse is gone
G) The cosmicverse has shrunk
H) FF4 has decreased
I) And "other" today seems to be Daredevil, H4H, Thunderbolts and Black Panther (I guess he's Avengers). As opposed to Sleepwalker, Darkhawk, Deathlok, Secret Defenders, Silver Sable, etc.

..so, is it that Marvel now puts out the same # of books, but they are pretty much all the same people in each one? Or are there actually less books?

4) Are writers making a ton more now? Or are they selling so few books that they have to charge $4 a pop?
5) Is it basically now standard that can only create a consistent long term on-going series if you connect the character to an existing "house" (Avengers, X-Men, etc)?




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creeper




Here's my answers to your questions they be not be 100% correct, but I'll tell what I know.

1) I would say about the comics sell less issues now, and yes variants and gimmick covers did kill sales (along with poor storylines)

2)not sure, it seems like there is more publishers out now.
3) hmmm Marvel seems to be over using a lot of characters these days:
4 DeadPool books, 4 Avengers books, 3 Iron Man books, Captain America has 1 book, but quite a few limited series out, Thor has a few series out too. I would say that Marvel puts out more books now but they overuse a lot of characters. Here's one of the main problems with Marvel when they have a movie about to be released such as: Thor and Captain America next year they start releasing more series so they can try and capture that $$$ from moviegoers. But all they do is oversaturate the market with needless comics. I understand they wanna make some new fans and some $$$ of the movies but do we really need: Iron Man, Iron Man Legacy, Iron Man 2.0, and other assorted series for Iron Man? Same goes with Cap and Thor.

4) I'm not sure about writers making more $$ but wasn't that the reason that Marvel raised their prices?
5) could be but Hawkeye and Mocking Bird failed, not sure how well Black Widow is doing. War Machine tanked as well.

What they need to do is streamline the Marvel comic line and refocus some of the series that are not X-Men or Avegers.


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creeper




I have much love for some of Marvel's 90's comcis like: Sleepwalker, Terror Inc, Midnight Sons line, Hellstorm and DarkHawk.
But these days it doesn't seem like they try very hard making new characters.


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mjyoung





    Quote:
    Hey all. Sorry this turned into a rather meandering way to get my thoughts/questions out there.



    Quote:
    Back in the 3rd grade, I got hooked on Marvel. The Marvel Universe Series 2 Trading Cards suckered me in, and Fantastic Four 358 finally sucked me in.



    Quote:
    I was the standard 90's comic fan (an I think I've posted a question or 2 about the 90's in the past). I snatched up as many comics as I could with my allowance, loved the special covers..and had to have every collector's edition available. The die-cut FF4 and Batman 500. The foil editions of Punisher's Suicide run. The holgrams on Fatal Attractions. The all white FF Torch cover. The 2099 Fall of the Hammer connecting covers...even the Superman World;s Collide "Color Form" cover (that was an odd one). But then, apparently something happened apparently in the industry, and I don't get what happened...



    Quote:
    Anyway, I was thinking through the early 90's and today's Marvel...and I'm trying to figure out the differences in the climate. Part if it might be that for a kid, the Mrvelverse just seems huge in general...but...


Assuming we are just talking about Marvel's direct market sales. Some of this stuff is going to be be hard to find since some of it isn't public, there was also Marvel's use of Heroes's World as a distributer, etc.

For most of my examples I'll compare Uncanny X-Men 301 (June 1993) and UXM 529 (December 2010).

1)Are there more comics being sold today then there were then? Did the variants end up killing sales?

Since the 90s, per issue sales have dropped. It wasn't any one issue that has led to the loss of comic readers and sales. The biggest problem with comics now compared to previous decades is the huge increase in relative price and the limitation of distribution. Prices have increased dramatically on a per issue basis (1.25 vs 3.99). This is most important in terms of relative price, where there are simply cheaper forms of entertainment out there ($1 for a Redbox movie). Another huge factor is that sales have gone done dramatically, so they are no longer able to take advantage of economies of scale. Comics would be cheaper if more people bought them. Distribution is also a key component, the number of comic shops are much less and monthly comics are mostly bough through the direct market there. Collections are also a much bigger part of comic sales today. Alternative methods of distribution are catching up, such as digital downloads and internet ordering, but each have their problems.

It's hard to see the current method of comics lasting much longer. Something will happen to comics that changes the overall system which will allow it to continue. In less than 5 years I'd wager more people will be reading their comics digitally for a much lower per issue price compared to the traditional method.

Per issue sales in the direct market, ASM #386/Feb 1993 sold 561,683 while ASM #574/Dec 2008 sold 105,948.

2) Are more books being published today than back then?

Overall marketwise it's hard to say. In the early 90s you probably had many more publishers around.

For Marvel it's 91 vs 73. I'd probably say overall it's pretty much the same.

3) Are there less characters getting attention today than back then? It seems there are...if we look at it...

Yeah. There are less solo ongoing characters that can hold a book today then did back in 1993. Most of the popular character are supporting more than one book. The particular character that is popular will depend on the cycle. Deadpool was regularly supporting 3 or 4 books a few months ago, but is down now to just 2. Movies play a big part now where a couple of months before a movie comes out the character will have alot of titles out (Thor, Cap). A bigger factor is that now miniseries are common place, where they were rarely used in the 90s.

A) The X-verse has managed to increase # of books

Probably the same excluding solo titles. In the 90s the main X-Books were UXM, X-Men, X-Factor, X-Force, Excalibur and Generation X. Today UXM, X-Men, X-Factor and X-Force are the same, but we still have a teenage mutant title in Generation Hope, and also the New Mutants. Then again while the 90s only had Cable, Wolverine, and sometimes Gambit as solo series, today we have two Wolverine titles, X-23, Daken, two Deadpool titles, etc.

B) The Spider-verse has decreased quite a it in monthly output

Yes for now. I think it just has to do with the character just having a downward cycle now in terms of popularity.

C) The Hulkverse has increased in #

Not dramatically in terms of ongoings since there just one more (Hulk and Incredible Hulk). But now the character is more popular in terms of having tie ins and miniseries to himself. That's more of an indication of how the market has changed than anything else.

D) The Avengers-verse have swelled (with Thor and Iron Man almost being their own categories)

Same. Has more to do with the general trend of heavily promoting these characters with their movies.


    Quote:
    4) Are writers making a ton more now? Or are they selling so few books that they have to charge $4 a pop?
    5) Is it basically now standard that can only create a consistent long term on-going series if you connect the character to an existing "house" (Avengers, X-Men, etc)?


Hard to really say once we include things like royalties. For straight salaries and one a per page basis it would have increased simply because of the overall rise in job earnings. But comics publishers today have to compete for getting the top talent in the industry, ultimately creating more competition inside and outside the industry. There's no way Marvel can compete with television producers over BKV or with movie producers over Mark Millar. Today writers are much more important to sales, so that's going to cause an increase in their income. In the 90s you could bring in a completely unknown writer for your most popular title (Lobdell with the X-Men), and not have it effect sales. Today that type of move wouldn't happen.



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mjyoung





    Quote:
    Here's my answers to your questions they be not be 100% correct, but I'll tell what I know.



    Quote:
    1) I would say about the comics sell less issues now, and yes variants and gimmick covers did kill sales (along with poor storylines)


How exactly did variants kill sales?

When variants were used they didn't increase regular cover sales, and AFAIK Marvel never sold them for a higher price. In most cases they were made in ratios of like 1:2 or 1:10, but sometimes they did the occasional 1:100. This rarity allowed the comic shop owner to sell that individual cover for much higher than cover price. This was all done without harming the individual reader, they could choose to continue buying the regular cover or opt to by the more expensive one.

A reader might find the gimmick covers to be annoying, but I don' think it was any major factor.

Ultimately, I think readers left in the 90s for various reasons, but not because of the covers. It was do to publishing choices (line wide events every summer, multiple titles per character, titles crossing over each month), distribution (no longer being sold in places like the grocery store), and other factors.


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Sleepwalker




Thanks man, that was super helpful


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Miss Muffet




Spiderman is not having a downward cycle of popularity. He's all over pop culture & not slowing down. His long delayed Broadway play is finally getting going -you see any other characters doign that or having multi $400 million dollar grossing movies? Now why that may not translate into comic booksales is a diff story - but it ain't due to popularity.


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mjyoung





    Quote:
    Spiderman is not having a downward cycle of popularity. He's all over pop culture & not slowing down. His long delayed Broadway play is finally getting going -you see any other characters doign that or having multi $400 million dollar grossing movies? Now why that may not translate into comic booksales is a diff story - but it ain't due to popularity.


In this case it's referring to comic book popularity. Mass Media popularity and comic book popularity are different. It's why Blade can have three movies, be in countless video games, and have a television series yet can't sustain a comic.

Spider-Man just isn't the most popular comic right now. It's probably due to the radical changes in his status quo, creative teams, stories, the alternatives like USM or other titles, readers just getting bored with the character, etc. I'm sure ASM will be one of the elite titles again, it's just not right now.


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