How Valiant Comics Lost a Dedicated Fan…

BOD_001_COVER-A_GILL

CREDIT: Valiant

That specter of death on the cover of Book of Death #1 from Valiant may as well be looming over my fan status.  The marketing stunt Valiant is launching in relation to this book is causing me to pull back and NOT buy every Valiant comic for the first time since their relaunch.

Valiant fandom is a funny thing, it falls into a few categories:

Hard-Core Fans: These folks buy everything Valiant puts out.  And I mean everything.  They collect all the comics and more, they collect all (or many/most) of the myriad variant covers Valiant puts out every month as well.

Dedicated Fans: I put myself in this category.  I buy all the Valiant comics, but I don’t buy all the variant covers.  I have been known to occasionally double or triple dip and get multiple covers to the same book, but not all the time, and not as much lately since I’ve been pulling back on variant covers in general.

Casual Fans: They “buy what they like”.  They get a handful of books and go on and off books.  They may read monthly comics or they may just pick up the stories in collected edition form.

It’s funny, because for most other companies “buying every comic they publish” would make you a hard-core fan.  Not so for Valiant.  I see them at cons and when I see how the really hard-core fans collect, I realize that me just buying 1 copy of each comic makes me a mid-tier fan at best.

So, what was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back”?

BoD-Geomancer

CREDIT: Valiant

BOOK OF DEATH: LEGENDS OF THE GEOMANCER #1 (of 4)
A special BOOK OF DEATH retailer incentive! The true history and lineage of the Geomancers – revealed here in an all-new series of never-before-seen stories from New York Times best-selling writer Fred Van Lente (IVAR, TIMEWALKER) and artist Juan Jose Ryp (Ghosted) that won’t be collected for the trade paperback!
ATTENTION FANS:
• SPECIAL ALL-NEW LIMITED SERIES!
• QUANTITIES WILL BE LIMITED!
• NOT AVAILABLE DIGITALLY!
• WON’T BE COLLECTED FOR THE TRADE!
• ASK YOUR LOCAL RETAILER HOW TO ORDER!

If you order from DCBS like I do, it will cost you $20 to get this comics that is “all-new” and won’t be collected anywhere else (or so they say now).  This is issue 1 of a 4 issue series.  I love Valiant, but I am NOT going to pay $20 for a 24 page comic.  And it’s just the 1st issue of 4.  I’m not going to pay potentially $80 for the entire series.  There are a LOT of other comics I’d rather buy for $20 to $80.

EDIT: Some people have been confused.  The normal Book of Death series is not $20.  It is the Legends of the Geomancer mini-series that is a Retailer Incentive book and will cost whatever your retailer decides they need to charge for it.  DCBS is charging $20.
I am also told that #1 is 1:25 and #s 2-4 are 1:10 so will likely be more like $10 each.  So ~$50 to read this mini-series.

I’m curious on the blow-back this may have with fans of all categories. Maybe no impact for casual fans, because most won’t even notice what they’re missing.  Maybe other dedicated fans will just shrug their shoulders and say “Oh well, I guess I just won’t get this one, but I’ll still get all the others”.  Hard core fans?  Some may see this as yet another badge to show that they are the ultimate Valiant collector, superior to lesser fans.  Others may begrudgingly buy it and be a little bitter about Valiant reaching into their wallet.

If you’re not a completist like I am it may not bother you at all. For me, once I cross the line of “I’m not getting them all” it’s a short trip to “I’m not getting any”.  This has happened to me before when Publishers pushed me away from collecting everything by making some elite items unobtainable by normal means.  When I cannot collect everything without digging down deep and paying a lot of extra $$, for me personally it gets me thinking that maybe I can just do without a lot more than just the special thing they are making super-collectible.

Since I’m not getting this, I will instead go “All Out” on the Book of Death event. I will just skip the DCBS “all Valiant bundle” for the very first time.  That is 8 comics Valiant will not be selling me from July to September.  Moving forward, I may never go back to getting all the Valiant books.  What this means is I won’t buy every book automatically just because I’m getting the “Valiant bundle”.  I know I’m not getting Book of Death, beyond that, every book will need to stand on it’s own merits, which is probably as it should have been all along, but doing a blind “I’ll get them all at a 50% discount” (the DCBS bundle) was very compelling up to this point.

Is it just me?  I asked some people what they thought:

I’m only in on a few Valiants right now,  I stopped a bit earlier and hearing great reviews on Rai got me back in.  I was thinking maybe I should get “all in with” Book of Death but I may just stick with the few titles I’m reading.

Like many shops, mine barely pulls Valiant. There’s no way they would order enough to get this book. I know, I talked to them about it.

I save enough money on my DCBS order overall that I will be getting the exclusive books anyway, despite my reservations.  There are plenty of people that will neither have the access or the money, so I’m lucky in that respect. And I’ve spent that kind of money on regular variants without new story.

The comic shops are stuck in the middle: They potentially get stuck with piles of unsold comics and/or they have pissed off fans who either don’t get a comic that they want or feel like they were ripped off paying a high price for it.

EDIT: I am told that the Book of Death comics are “fully returnable” so if a comic shop orders 25 to get the Geomancer book they can return the unsold copies.  That said there is always a cost.  Labor.  Possible return shipping fees.  Something.  Many shops will not want to bother with this and would rather just skip dealing with it.
I talked to my Local Shop AFTER Atom! Freeman had a chance to personally call them with his Book of Death sales pitch.  They told me they already support Valiant.  There are already Valiant comics on the rack for people to buy (I know this is true, I see them when I go in there) so people are not missing out on Valiant because there are no books to buy.  If they wanted to get enough of the Geomancer books so customers who wanted it would get copies they would have to order several hundred more copies of Book of Death than they can sell that they know they would have to return.  They didn’t think just having 100s of extra comics on the rack was going to translate into 100s of extra sales.  They have copies for people to buy now that do not sell.  They’ll up their orders a bit, still not have enough Geomancer books for people who want it, and will sell it for somewhere around $12-$15 (or whatever the ‘market price’ settles down to when the book comes out) and it will sell on a first come first served basis.  This seems fair.  Since I don’t go to the shop on Wednesday and also won’t pay even $12 for this comic, it means I’m not going to get a copy.

I’m not a fan of “manufactured collectibles” in comics, and this may have unintended side-effects for Valiant.  Instead of building their fan base, this could help tear it down.  Maybe I’m wrong.  I hope I am because I really like the guys at Valiant.  But I’m not letting them reach into my wallet on this one.

EDIT: There has been a LOT of blow-back on this already.  I have been told by some that I am an ‘entitled fanboy that just thinks he should be able to get any comic he wants’.  I do think I should be able to buy any story a publisher puts out and making this story manufactured from the get-go to be read by only a handful of fans is an ill-conceived idea on the part of Valiant.
Turning fans into part of the sales force to badger their shops into buying 25-packs of Book of Death so they can get a copy of the Geomancer book for themselves is a really bad idea.  But that is just my opinion.

So, I used to just get the Valiant bundle from DCBS and order everything they put out.  My May Valiant order is as follows:
IMPERIUM #6 CVR A EATON
IVAR TIMEWALKER #7 CVR B LIEBER
NINJAK #5 CVR B JOHNSON
UNITY #20 CVR A BERNARD KANO
X-O MANOWAR #38 CVR C CAFU

I still like these series and will continue to read them.  I’m skipping Book of Death just on general principles.   It may be a great story, but I am not going to support something with a marketing campaign as divisive as the one dreamed up for this series.  If this is a successful campaign I would fully expect to see other Publishers replicating it (it may be replicated even if it fails for Valiant).  I was not crazy about the first issue of Bloodshot Reborn, so I’m dropping that title.   I’m not ordering any more issues of the Dead Drop mini-series until I read the 1st issue.

Will Valiant win me back full-on at some point?  Time will tell.  For now, they are losing me as an “all-in reader”.

Bob Bretall: bob@comicspectrum.com
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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15 Responses to How Valiant Comics Lost a Dedicated Fan…

  1. I buy everything Valiant puts out in trade, but I must have missed that ‘never to be collected’ line. That is pretty rude on their part to alienate some fans by doing something like this. If it is a ploy to sell more books, it will not get me to do so. Very strange.

  2. James says:

    I would have bought Book of Death, Legend of the Geomancer, and the Bloodshot issue for a total of 9 books. Instead I won’t buy any that support this kind of tactic. I’ve also dropped Rai and Ninjak because I don’t want to be supporting a company that would pull this kind of tactic that is obviously anti-fan. I have emailed and tweeted Dinesh and Valiant to contact my LCS. They have completely dropped the ball, so I have dropped their books.

  3. Michael W. Everett says:

    As SOON as I read the news release containing the information about the Legends of the Geomancer series content and how it would not be included in any TPB’s AND that basically it wouldn’t be reprinted… I was suddenly very angry and betrayed. I am one of those fans who purchases one copy of each comic that Valiant has released since the company’s inception in 2012 and I do NOT buy any variant covers or anything of that sort. I am a completist of sorts but what I seek to complete is as much of the story as possible. Mainly, Valiant is currently running neck in neck with Image as my two favorite comic publishers currently. I am a disabled veteran who is on a very fixed income and my main source of entertainment is my monthly comics order. Even so, I still have a VERY small amount of money each month to devote to my comics order. There have been plenty of instances where I was torn between buying one comic or another but I have consistently ALWAYS purchased one copy of every book that Valiant had produced and never regretted it. Now comes the news of Book of Death which honestly sounds VERY interesting and I cannot wait to read it. Book of Death; Legends of the Geomancer ALSO sounds really, REALLY great and I can’t wait to read the series and learn how it impacts the entire Valiant universe. However, I am honestly not even remotely confident that I will ever have the chance to read Legends of the Geomancer if the decision makers at Valiant have anything to say about it. As I said… I feel betrayed.

    • Michael W. Everett says:

      Just as a side note, I have been seeking a way of my actually managing to get the Legends of Geomancer comics whether it be locally or through a site online and this is the result. Locally, I have no chance. There are several LCS within an hour of where I live. Even though I cannot drive I could have set up a ride if necessary. However, Valiant comics are not super popular where I live and in the LCS with the best monthly sales I was told that they were only getting one copy of Legends of the Geomancer and that it was going to be $20.00 AND that it was already spoken for. Online, at the site where I have been ordering my monthly comic book order for years now I managed to get a different answer. I COULD actually preorder the Legends of Geomancer comic book no problem. All I had to do was pay for the book(s) and also shipping in advance and I would be guaranteed to get the comics. Even better was the fact that the first issue was discounted by $6.00!!! However… the price for the first issue AFTER the discount is $34.00. And… that is the end of my research as of now.

  4. I’ve got my order in, looking forward to this series!

  5. Die-Hard Fan says:

    Hi, I agree this promotion is having unintended side-effects for Valiant. Personally I think they did not foresee the pricing. Not only is the book returnable, It is also discounted. A saving that the dealers could have passed on to the readers. As you say, DCBS sets their own price, and they got greedy even though Valiant already had set them up for a sure profit with the normal variants plus the discount. And the returnability as a last safety, hopefully not needed.

    In my case it was DCBS that lost a dedicated customer (ok, not only because of this, but their damage control in this instance broke the camel’s back for me).

    As a fellow completist I understand the short trip you talk about. I hope you do end up finding the books one day for the sake of your collection and your reading enjoyment.

  6. hugomarink says:

    Has Valiant said they will never reprint the Legends of the Geomancer series? If so, that is lame. And I don’t believe it. I think they will find some way to make these books available to fans at some point, whether it’s a “special” digital download a few months after publication or waiting a year or two to offer a reprint collection. I have ordered my copies from a retailer offering all copies of Book of Death along with The Legends of the Geomancer issues. It wasn’t cheap, but I’ve recently gone from a very casual Valiant fan to a fairly hard-core fan. I don’t buy all the variants, but I’m reading all their series now and have been buying some of the rarer variants on the back issue market. Valiant is publishing some of the best super-hero books on the market and I want to support them. I think fans who are feeling slighted by this marketing strategy should take heart and feel confident that Valiant will do right by them at some point. And, to make a final point, I sincerely hope that both Book of Death and Legends of the Geomancer are really good. I mean, exceptional. If Valiant is doing this with content that is not going to wow their fans then THAT may be what really turns people off.

    • Hugo, marketing says:
      • NOT AVAILABLE DIGITALLY!
      • WON’T BE COLLECTED FOR THE TRADE!

      I suspect they will collect it down the line in a big expensive hardcover collection for Book of Death.
      That is part of why I refuse to buy the Book of Death comics as they come out. If I’m going to have to buy some collection down the line to get the Geomancer story, I don’t want to buy the Book of Death story twice.

    • James says:

      I see two potential problems and no way that both could be avoided.

      1. The book is awesome and contains vital events to understanding the Valiant universe. In this situation, Valiant is shutting readers out of getting their hands on a key story. Readers would be less likely to follow other books from a company not interested in letting them in on this important book.

      2. The book is filler and fans feel ripped off for spending 5x cover price (or FAR more) for something irrelevant or just not very good. In my opinion, the quality must be “Best Comic Ever” territory to justify the price. Would most fans prefer to buy 1 issue of a mini or 2 volume 1 trades at $9.99?

  7. Paul says:

    No way I’m I ever going to over pay for a comic book ! God knows we all pay enough as it is ! but there are die hard Valiant fans who will and then judge others who’s don’t ! but that’s fandom for you ! never lost any sleep by not having every cover and box cutters ! but HATE the fact I will miss out on a story !

    • Paul, Not having every cover never bothered me. That was fun for the uber-fans who wanted to collect every cover but up until now I was still able to read every story.
      That’s what bothers me here. Making an entire 4 issue mini-series available only as a “Chase variant”. Fans should be able to read every story in some form or another, whether it be buying off the rack at a regular price, reading it digitally, or buying the trade.
      The marketing strategy:
      • NOT AVAILABLE DIGITALLY!
      • WON’T BE COLLECTED FOR THE TRADE!
      …frankly mystifies me.

      I suspect it will lead to people just pirating this comic and making it available online illegally, which is a shame.

  8. Paul says:

    This is lost on me and been keeping quiet about it on long as I don’t want no “die hard Facebook fans” giving me drama about it ! this is all about sells ! my LCS has moved into a market place as the rents for the shop went up so high ! now he has to cope with ordering things like Marvel are going all in on new number 1’s and DC are doing 22 number 1’s and still needs to pay for the comics himself so pressure is on NOT to over order on anything else !

    • Adam Moore says:

      I understand what you are saying about “die hard Facebook fans” as they seem to be name calling and even booting people out of the fan group who don’t play along and say it’s the best idea ever ! Everyone has a right to say how they feel, my LCS never ordered high on the first issue as there is still a cost in sending them back plus man power and time it takes even when a comic is fully returnable

  9. Walt says:

    I stuck with things right up to Day Of…but not being able to get the issue, I stewed on it a few hours, and contacted my comic shop that night and received confirmation Thursday that Valiant had been removed from my pulls.

    Going to be an adjustment, but plenty of other stuff the shop has that I’ll still be there every week, and spending about the same…just not on Valiant.

    • I went into my shop on Weds right when they opened & they didn’t have any copies of the Geomancer book for sales at any price.
      They had Book of Death on sale for $1.99 but I passed.
      I’m still getting Ninjak, Rai, Timewalker, and Unity; which is less than the “everything” I used to get.

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