The comic book direct market is a deeply flawed system that pushes all the risk from publishers like Marvel onto independent retailers, who must pay up front for the comics they hope to sell, usually without the ability to return unsold copies if the book flops.
It allows publishers to tout increased sales and profits without actually getting more people to read comics, using tactics like incentive variants and even free overshipping to push more units to stores, where it doesn’t really matter for a publisher’s bottom line if anybody ever actually reads them. It encourages creators to pressure fans into preordering books months in advance, lest they be blamed for the books’ cancellations.
It also discourages publishers from putting any serious effort into increasing readership and building good will for their brand in the long term by delivering quality products on a consistent basis, since they can simply reboot or relaunch a title, or kick off a super-mega-crossover event, to temporarily drive sales back up and appease the corporate overlords.
It’s a broken system that inhibits growth and innovation, and has turned comics into a niche market where most books are lucky to sell 30,000 copies on a monthly basis. And it’s long past time for someone to fix it.
But that someone isn’t going to be Marvel Comics. Instead, the publisher has released a cute comic strip featuring The Runaways in order to teach readers how to preemptively give them money sight-unseen for a product they hope they’ll enjoy later, but for which there are no repercussions to Marvel if they don’t (especially as the book is probably an unadvertised six issue mini-series).
Check it out below:
Be sure to prop up the failing comic book industry by preordering Runaways, and any other products you don’t mind shelling out $4–$5 a piece for in advance on the off chance you’ll like them when they come out, by Monday!
The book hits stores on September 13th, at which point, hey, it’s not Marvel’s problem anymore. The retailer already paid for it.
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