There was an article on ComicBookResources Robot 6 the other day lamenting the fact that there are too many comics out there to read and that the “Completist Age” is over. Perhaps drawing on the same inspiration, I had come to the same conclusions myself over the last few years. All the renumbered series, deaths and resurrections, and endless events had soured me on even trying to buy all the comics from Marvel & DC any more.
For my own part, I found solace in Indie comics. Since I love comics as a storytelling form, my pulling away from feeling the need to buy all the Marvel/DC books opened up VAST tracts of unexplored territory where I can read something really new & different every time I pull a sampling of comics off my “to read” stack. Interested people can always see what I’m buying over on the ComicSpectrum web-site, I document the full list of what I’m buying every month. In May (for stuff shipping in July) I had order 36 Marvel comics. My June order was 21, and it looks like it’s going to be 19 in July. What’s going on??
Let’s talk about over-mining comics franchises and how they specifically have affected my recent comics buying from Marvel as a case study in “unintended consequences”. Marketing philosophy seems to dictate that if fans like 4 of somethings they’ll REALLY love 12 of that same thing! Increasing output works to a certain point. Personally I think that the breaking point is a combination of any particular fan noticing (a) they are not enjoying all the items being pushed at them equally and (b) realizing they are actually being ‘mined’ for cash by the marketing department of said publisher. These are exaggerated by any particular fan’s comics buying budget when they realize they cannot afford (in money and/or time) to get ALL of the comics being blasted out at them.
Everyone will have their own unique breaking points and their own specific set of factors that cause them to snap, let’s look at a few of mine related to Marvel’s Avenger’s franchise:
The Marvel solicits for September went up earlier this week. As always, I looked at them and jotted down what I was planning to get. This is generally a combination of “what do I normally get” with “what is new and looks cool to me”. I’ve been getting and enjoying a lot of Marvel’s Avengers books (not all of them, but most of them). Here is what I would have been getting in September:
AVENGERS #34.1 ($4.99)
AVENGERS #35 ($4.99)
AVENGERS WORLD #12 & 13 ($7.98)
MIGHTY AVENGERS #14 ($3.99)
NEW AVENGERS #24 ($4.99)
SECRET AVENGERS #8 ($3.99)
That’s 7 comics for a total retail cost of $30.93 for the 5 series I was currently reading. Note that I had not been getting Avengers Undercover and Uncanny Avengers, so I was getting 5 of 7 series with “Avengers” in the title. Look at that total again, for FIVE series — $30.93. Sure, some of those are “extra sized” issues, but ~$31 for 5 comic series? Too much. This put me into “straw that broke the camel’s back” mode and I started looking at this closer, which is NEVER a good thing for a comics Publisher.
Bottom line is that I realized I am enjoying Avengers and New Avengers (written by Jonathan Hickman) significantly more than I am enjoying World, Mighty, and Secret (Your Mileage May Vary). So I’m dropping those books, and guess what? My DCBS order was still editable for my June order, so I went in and dropped the titles effective with the issues coming out in August. I ALSO decided I don’t need Avengers #34.1 which is by a different writer and seems like total fill-in material to me, something I can easily skip. So I have dropped the following:
AVENGERS #34.1 ($4.99)
AVENGERS WORLD #11, 12 & 13 ($11.97)
MIGHTY AVENGERS #13 & 14 ($7.98)
SECRET AVENGERS #7 & 8 ($7.98)
That’s $32.92 (at retail) that I’ll no longer be spending on Avengers franchised books. IN return, Marvel is getting an extra buck a piece from me for Avengers #25, and New Avengers #24, plus the double ship on New Avengers in August (an extra $5.99), that’s a net loss of $26.93. Sounds like a failed marketing action where I’m concerned, but as long as these double ships and bumped prices earn them those lost $$ from other fans (on a month after month basis) it can still be a “win” in the long run.
This same logic caused me to drop the relaunched Superior Spider-Man and the Amazing Spider-Man “point” issues over in that franchise.
How about you? How much is TOO much?
Bob Bretall: firstname.lastname@example.org
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