Marvel’s Senior VP of Sales David Gabriel has been telling retailers via Diamond about Marvel’s 2016 plans. But he seems to have more to say about DC Comics, pundits and the state of reporting today. Here are selected examples of what he said, each one translated for us mere mortals.
David Gabriel: But for us, the real indicator of success is to look at the sellouts and reprints for the books. Many of them selling out on issues 2, 3, and 4. To us, that’s a testament to the sell-through in stores and to customers, and not just for sell-in to retailers
Translation: Forget about the variant covers, we know there are so many, ordered in bulk by retailers trying to get the rare ones – but they still sell out in store as well as from Diamond.
David Gabriel: As we approach Civil War II, we’re in a period of selling issue #5, #6 and #7s to fans. With no reboot or relaunch in sight for us, our objective is to create the strongest content we can and keep fans coming back.
Translation: Not even we could do another relaunch quite so soon. Wait, did I call that a relaunch? More that later. Anyway, we’re doing what DC aren’t. Now, anyway. Only Marvel could call having issues 5,6 and 7 a commitment to ongoing series.
David Gabriel: I’m proud to say that we’ve never had such a diverse lineup in maybe the history of Marvel. Not just in our characters but also in our genres.
Translation: I’m not checking.
You also expended a lot of marketing energy making sure customers came back for issue #2’s on the line as well. Can you go over what marketing and programs you had in place? How were they received?
Translation: You wont have a hope of avoiding this one.
David Gabriel: Our event /crossover strategy in 2016 is designed to keep sales healthy on third arcs and beyond. As Civil War II gets closer we’re going to begin announcing tie-ins and special Civil War series.
Translation: You really really won’t.
David Gabriel: This year, as opposed to the way we were able to run Secret Wars, the bulk of tie ins will take place inside their respective series, giving them all a bit of a lift before the summer ramps up.
Translation: No jumping off points this time!
David Gabriel: And we’re taking a tip from our past when it comes to stories like Apocalypse Wars and Avengers: Standoff, which are structured differently than traditional crossovers.
Translation: It’s the Bob Harras model but we can’t call it that. Remember X-Tinction Agenda? Operation Galactic Storm? X-Cutioner’s Song? That.
David Gabriel: What some folks don’t realize, or pretend not to, is that without Secret Wars or All-New All-Different Marvel driving sales, numbers on core titles would have been on their steady decline and we might have had to take drastic measures that were not necessarily creator or story driven.
Translation: Stop complaining Twitter! Or we’d have given you something to really complain about/ Remember X-Cutioner’s Song? That.
David Gabriel: We’re still very much an industry that is set by the rule of FOC. And publishers print copies based on the orders we receive. If we have healthy backorders on a title, we’ll go to a second print. Unfortunately, that’s not always a desirable outcome for retailers or for fans. So what I would suggest to retailers is that we’re doing everything we can to promote these books to their customers, so they should be doing everything they can to get accurate orders in by Final Order Cutoff.
Translation: Retailers? Order more.
David Gabriel: Well we’ve never really done a reboot or relaunch, just more of a refresh, but the internet pundits will decide to call it whatever they want, and we’re okay with that.
Translation: They’ll call it a relaunch, because that’s what it is.
Translation: Ha ha DC Rebirth ha ha! We’re happy with internet pundits on that story.
David Gabriel: We learned a lot from Marvel NOW!, All-New Marvel NOW! and Secret Wars.
Translation: And look forward to doing it all again sometime soon!
David Gabriel: Our variant strategy has been working well for the past 4 or 5 years. We’ll make changes accordingly when something doesn’t work, but our philosophy hasn’t changed. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and you know it’s working when other publishers across the industry are emulating your programs.
Translation: And when we emulate theirs. Retailer exclusive covers? IDW.
David Gabriel: Marvel got into the collections game a bit later than some other publishers so to look at the January numbers and see that 9 of the top 10 collections were Marvel is an incredibly gratifying experience.
Translation: We emulated other publishers on that one. Also Ike’s idea of keeping trade paperbacks out of print rather than taking up warehouse space is on the out. He hasn’t noticed, he has other problems to deal with right now.
David Gabriel: We understand that the some press would rather overlook these successes and focus on the negative month after month.
Translation: If I don’t name anyone specifically, no one can check.
Translation: And now we have heard of Angouleme.
David Gabriel: We also can’t underestimate the importance of digital sales here.
Translation: We just won’t tell anyone what they are.
David Gabriel: We are working closely with Marvel TV and Disney to have our television and cinematic talent to mobilize fans on May 7th for their free Marvel comics. Also look for a teaser campaign to crop up in the next few weeks and we’ll have some exciting announcements as we hit the convention circuit.
Translation: If they don’t end up on Bleeding Cool first.
David Gabriel: We had a lot of fun with the Build Your Own figures we’ve done since Invincible Iron Man #1. With Civil War II we’ll be supplying a Build Your Own Captain Marvel based on Kris Anka’s new costume design.
Translation: No one do anything creepy with it, okay?
David Gabriel: There will also be some new Star Wars announcements in the next few weeks that fans will be very excited about.
Translation: Just wait till we tell you about R2D2’s left foot.
David Gabriel: I can’t overstate the impact Civil War II will have on the Marvel Universe. Retailers should definitely be thinking Secret Wars sales when they start ordering! Keep an eye on the upcoming “Last Days of Magic” story in Doctor Strange. When the Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy films hit, fans couldn’t get enough of the comics. This series is the perfect gateway to the character before his upcoming movie. Be on the lookout for dead characters returning to life in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man. The first issue of Captain America: Steve Rogers is sure to turn lots of heads in May.
Translation: Order more comics.
David Gabriel: Lastly, don’t underestimate the trouble brewing in the Marvel Universe over the Terrigen Mists.
Translation: Bleeding Cool was right.