Monday, June 23, 2008

Isn't Mark Waid The BMOC At Boom! Studios?

Heidi MacDonald reported the following bit from the State of the Industry panel at Heroes Con:

Waid declared that he would trade all the existing comics readers for a junior high school full of readers

Then Mark waded on to the blog over at The Beat and said:

“Wouldn’t that involve actually creating and marketing comics for junior high school readers instead of their parents?”

Yes, it would. As a creator, all I can do is create them for that readership, which I do. Pointedly. Whether I can actually physically get comics TO them or not. Marketing is beyond my control. But some of us have at least the first part of it covered. I wish more of the super-hero industry would follow suit, frankly, but that’s not my call.

Isn't he more than a creator at Boom! and in a position where he should have some control over trying to market their product? I mean, at least some influence?

It is possible that he was trying to speak more to his recent experiences creating work-for-hire over at DC, but he was on that panel as someone leading a comic book company. I'd like to see what he proposes to do to market Boom! Studios product to junior high schoolers.


  1. Let's just say...TO BE CONTINUED!

    Chip Mosher
    Marketing and Sales Director
    BOOM! Studios

  2. Oh, now I'm waiting with baited breath over here. ;)

    By the way, no disrespect in saying he'd have some control. I know that's your gig over there, but the role he took on at Boom! would, one surmises, give him more input into the process than being a work-for-hire writer elsewhere.

    Seriously, though...can't wait to see the follow-up on the TO BE CONTINUED.

  3. Haha, BMOC - Shades of Stan Lee and Flash Thompson! It's been a long time since I have seen that acronym. Thank you, I shall endeavour tp use it in a conversation today. Uh, that's really all I've got.

  4. Well, as depressing as it is to see Waid react the way he does towards his audience, I can't say I really blame him. But I've never really been sure what the hell Mark Waid wants from readers.

    Boom! seems to be trying to reach out of the usual superhero paradigm, which it deserves credit for.

    Now if the second issue of Salvador would come out...

  5. two things...
    I totally agree with Waid, I would much rather have a groupd of fans with nothing but disposable income and with out all the expectations and built in biases. I know where he is coming from, a young audience that talks about things in preson as opposed to over the internet would be a better thing for comics in general. I reach out to the local middle schools all the time, making sure they get some leftover FCBD materials, that they get unwanted trades from my collection for their shelves, that they know I'm out there, every time I get a book mark in a shipment at least fifty percent of them go to libraries in local middle school libraries, we have a precense at their battle of the book events, etc. Got to get a new audience before us bald headed fat guys all die. ;)
    Number two...
    I am not sure what Waid means, to a certain extent Marketing is out of everyone's control, you throw it on the wall and see if it sticks. Love Guru had an impressive marketing campaign that meant squat as far as asses in seats this weekend. Minx from DC is marketed directly at teenage girls, but they don't seem to know it exists. Marketing is what it is and sometimes no matter how in charge you are, you can't influence it. I would love to have commercials on during the comic book television shows, Chuck, Supernatural, and other niche shows as well as during the comic book cartoon shows, but guess what, it costs more to advertise during those hours, so I don't advertise on tv because it is outside my budget to do it when it would be most effective. That's how I view his statement, but Chip might (probably does) know something I don't.

    Oh and Chip write more comics and spend less time on useless comic boards. Sorry Kevin, had to yell at my boy there.

    -Lee Newman
    Broken Frontier Staff
    District Manager, Ultimate Comics

  6. Well I think Mark Waid can F**k right off. After all the money I've spent on stuff he's written over the years and now he says he'd rather trade me and my fellow fans in for a bunch of punk kids??? Gee thanks Mark. Thanks a smegging bunch.

  7. I think you are missing his point. In fact, you are making his point for him. A new group of fans with out the sense of entitlement would be a good thing.
    Maybe if comic fans didn't act like babies all the time, creators and editors wouldn't feel this way.

  8. Not one to speak for Mark, but I think the point is the comic audience is getting older and older and we as an industry are just servicing the existing, aging fan base.

    It's odd going to SDCC on and off for the past 20 years and I swear I see the same group of people.

    So I think the overarching point is the need industry-wide to attract more younger readers.

    Lee - thanks for the vote of confidence in my writing. I really appreciated your support of LEFT ON MISSION. I am working on something new... but it's a little slow going with the day job and all that.


    Chip Mosher
    Marketing and Sales Director
    BOOM! Studios

  9. Maybe comic writers shouldn't act like readers will lap up anything they write without criticizing bad stories, especially after paying for that story.

    You give a new audience Ultimates 3 and they're still going to say it's shit. And then the comic writers will get all hissy and say "Well, I tried, blah blah blah video games something seomthing"

    If Marvel had any sense, they would push their digest format alot more with stories that weren't with niche characters like Runaways. But it seems dead now.

    They keep touting that crap status quo in ASM BND yet they won't convert that three times a month schedule or their Ultimate Spider-Man lot to fill digest formats quickly and put them on the shelf at Target and Wal-Mart.

  10. Chip,

    Unlike Lee, I'm fine with you spending time on useless comic boards. ;)

    Thanks for stepping in to attempt to clarify what the spirit of Waid's statement was. I saw Steve's comment when I was out and planned to respond as soon as I got in.

    I don't think Waid's statement is any sort of indictment on the existing individual fans. It certainly isn't something to take as a personal slight. Given that, no matter how small the installed fanbase is, the existing fans are a larger number than any single junior high school full of kids, it should be clear that his statement is all future growth and renewal...not about the current batch sucking. ;)

  11. I actually think it is a little bit of both. Come on, sometimes we all see a fan that would just like to tell to "shut up". You know it is true. I would imagine that if I were a creator I would feel like that more often then not.

    Having said that, I think the sentiment he was striving toward was growth, not replacement, but he's a smart guy. I am betting he chose those words deliberately.

  12. When Waid says stuff like the Internet's celebrating that he's leaving LOSH, it's hard to tell when he's speaking in general terms and when he's just settling scores.

  13. I'd say both sides could probably meet in the middle.

    I'm not 100% sure the comment was meant to be insulting, but I can certainly see where a long-time old-guard comic fan would be insulted, especially after staying with comics through the Dark Ages of the 90's.

    The problem is, Waid isn't going to REACH those middle-schoolers. We, the old-guard addicted comics fans are willing to pay $3 a month for what have become (to generalize superhero comics, I know there are exceptions to the rule) horribly decompressed writing-for-the-trades floppies.

    Why should they, when they can get a lot more bang for the buck (and, one might argue, more entertainment value) with a manga volume, or a computer/console game, a DVD (and ironically, the superhero movies, even flops like Elektra, reach more individuals than the comics do), or even a comic trade/graphic novel?

    Understand, I'm mostly speaking of Marvel and DC (as I've never read a BOOM! comic), but the direct market is pretty much responsible (as well as Diamond) for the state of the industry today.

    An individual comic is too expensive for what it is, but we remaining few completists/addicts/what-have-you will keep buying them. If you want middle-schoolers to start, you're going to have to work on the pricing and distribution.

    First off, kill Diamond. Get comics out to more than the specialty stores, even if it's only the "Johnny DC" and "Marvel Adventure" types of titles. Price them significantly lower.

    Second, and this is a matter of taste, can we PLEASE kill off decompressed storytelling? Can we try bringing back the "done in one" idea for at least some books? I mean, writing for the trade is nice and all, but more and more I'm walking away with a $3 book that takes me all of 5 minutes to read, compared to a book from the 80's that took much longer, cost much less, and STAYED with me longer (these talking heads blur in the memory so quickly).

    THEN maybe you can draw in some new blood that will stay with the books.

    But as the modern comic exists today, you're not going to get those middle-schoolers to buy the books in the numbers the addicted (and I count myself among them) do. They aren't attached to the characters (or if they are, they can get their "fix" through cartoons, movies, etc) the same way, because the idea of just picking up comics as impulse purchases at newsstands or toy stores or spinner racks (all of which I did in my tween years) is no longer possible in most places in the US.

    Meh. Marketing is one thing, but the books, both their price and their content, need to change, I think, before appealing to the younger crowd for longer than an eyeblink or two.

    As for the entitlement? Trading in? Why not reach for BOTH groups? That would probably have been a more tactful idea. Because I can certainly see where Steve is upset. I mean, I am in his shoes, in a way. I've been buying books since about 1979 or so off and on. I lived through the Dark Ages (heh, when Image walked the earth), and I wouldn't appreciate being told I wasn't welcome, either.

    I'm not sure that is what Mr Waid meant, but I can see the discomfort it could cause.

    And thefourthman? It takes two to tango? While the comics fan can definitely be an annoying creature, the comic WRITER can be just as annoying in turn (witness Mr Meltzer's "defense" of Identity Crisis, Mr Quesada's "It's magic" catchall, Millar and Bendis ignoring continuity as it pleases them). These actions don't occur in a vacuum (and, at the end of the day, the creators and editors need ME a lot more than I need THEM).

    I'm not saying I am entitled, because I'm not, but it doesn't mean I should be taken for granted (and then insulted), either.

    Chip, thank you for the clarifications. As I said, while I don't read the comment as a direct insult, I can see where some might be offended. I wish your company the very best of luck -- I'll take a look for your books on my next journey to my local NEC.

    Take it and run.

  14. You know, I hate Dimaond as much as anyone else, possibly more, but the fact is that Diamond sells what Marvel and DC produce.

    The fans complain about wanting done in one, but the done in one books don't sell... Brave and Bold, Jonah Hex, Detective, The Marvel Adventures books, they are all middling sellers at best.

    What sells is the big event books
    that "everyone" hates. Yeah what ever, you vote with your wallet everytime you buy one.

    Runaways is the most decompressed book in the world and late since Whedon took over, still sells better then it ever did when Vaughan wrote it. The fans complain about principles and then do every thing but stick to them.

    As for the writers, 20 years ago there wouldn't have been the kind of uproar that there is now about Meltzer, Bendis, Millar, Quesada whoever. How much do we forget that people resisted the wedding, that there have always been continuity problems and there have always been people who thought comics were getting too dark.

    It's just that there didn't use to be a world wide web for every last one of those people to visciously and persistantly attack the creators. Even Shooter didn't put up with as much hate as Didio does, and we all wonder why they get defensive. How about constructive critism once in a while.

    Oh and for the record. Manga sales were down last year, so down that Tokyopop is pretty much destroying themselves and only doing liscensed product (in other words super cheap already proven material). Yes for the folks who cried fad every year for the past five, it seems we may not have been calling wolf.

    The problem with kids buying comics is not the price, trust me these kids are at the mall every week buying the latest greatest video game for their five hundred dollar system, it is the stigma that the comic fan is a twenty to thirty year old angry fat male. That's it. That's why people don't read comics.

    So yeah, if Minx was marketed at the right audience, meaning advertising in teen girl mags, it might have a shot, but instead we will see dwindling numbers each year until the experiment is gone.

    Young kids love comics, they buy Tiny Titans, Super Friends, Scooby Doo, Sonic, and Marvel Adventures by the droves.

    Problem is really two fold... shops stopped catering to the kid with pocket change to spend on a book (yes with gas and inflation where it is comics do in fact cost the equivalent of pocket change, unfortunately we are all poorer) and started catering to the guy that buys 50-100 dollars worth of books every week. That is of course merely good business sense, in one way. Short term, you get more money, long term you get a dying audience. This is just bad business, but do I want all the bad shops to go out business, not really... they drive business to us.

    Especially given my second point, which is that there are no transitional books... you go from all ages friendly to Identity Crisis or Robin and Wonder Girl sleeping with each other or silloheuttes of Mary Jane on top of Peter Parker in bed. Marvel and DC have two levels, kid friendly and adult theme. Sure they aren't explicit but for the ten year old who has out grown Super Friends, Justice League is usually a little too dark. There was a middle ground JLU, but it is gone. So yeah, we lose the kids, because there is nothing for them. And when there is, it isn't marketed at them... it is marketed at the current reader. Seems like everyone has a hand in this.

    Are there easy solutions? No. But yelling at creators all the time, causing this current atmosphere of having to defend themselves 24-7 isn't helping anything.

    All I want is for all of us to act like grown ups every once in a while instead of a bunch of spoiled brats.

  15. I've read a lot of Mark Waid stuff over the years and there are things I really enjoyed. My comments were more light hearted sarcastic than the boo-hoo waa that you imply 4thman.

    Tell me to shut up all you want but his comments could be read as somewhat inflammatory!

    Still I think someone could easily do a series that old and new fans could enjoy, look at something like Invincible that came out and felt old and fresh at the same time, something like that could definitely work if it got the push to the right places.

    Unfortunately I don't think you'll get much expansion unless there was something like say a Harry Potter comic? That would sell shed loads and you'd get the kids in then, but beyond that novelty would it bring the kids in?

    The manga was one of the big hopes but as has been pointed out it's sales are starting to decline

    Damn kids, don't know they are born! :)

    Hey 4thman if you don't already you should send some FCBD materials down to the Children's Wards at local hospitals, I'm sure they would appreciate them while they are recovering.
    (see and you all thought I was one of the cold hearted old guard! Not true lads not true!)

    See that's more like it, this is why Mark Waid's comments grated so much with me, I'd rather he came out and said hey guys lets try and do something about this I'd love to get more people into comics etc... but I guess Mark Waid isn't wired that way he'd rather express himself in a different way!

    Still 4thman I think that we as comic book buyers have a right to voice our opinions, hell look at Kevin's blog here, he certainly takes the creators to task when they try to deliver us sub-par stories, and why the hell not? Why shouldn't we make Grant Morrison defend his Final Crisis story? Or decry the fact that a good writer like Chuck Dixon was ousted?

    Granted give my 10 year old self Civil War or Planet Hulk and he'd love them to bits. In part I do too, but now I'm older I want more satisfying stories too with proper endings.

    You rail against the stigma of people been upwards of 30 and still reading comics but hell that's me and I still love to read them. People go aww you still read comics? in that tone we've all heard before that makes it sound like you should have stopped many years ago. But dammit I like them. So I will defend them, voice my opinions against the lesser stories and when snippy creators like Waid appear to mouth off and dismiss me as a second class consumer just because I'll be in the grave before "Junior Q Mallrat" then forgive me if I get a little bit irked about it.

  16. It's cool, I understand the frustration on both sides, but I wish we could have a love in or something. In fact, I think these panels that Didio is doing on Sundays at the cons is a step in the right direction, get anyone and everyone in the room and just talk about why we love comics. If we did more of that instead of yelling back and forth at each other... it would be a better thing for everyone. I really hope that Didio is looking for that inspiration that drive to make everyone love them again.

    In the end, I guess I don't want anyone to shut up, and like Waid I truly don't want to lose any readers, I just want us to at least try to get along. There was a time that we were in awe of comic writers, now it seems like we all think we could do it better.

  17. Hey I'm all for a this is why comics are great! I love discovering new stuff

    In some ways I've always said that when they make the movies they should reflect the best that's on offer from these worlds, in the past that didn't quite happen, but now with people been more true to the source material you'd hope it could entice some people in.

    I didn't know Dido did those events, hmm though given current events people seem to want him out he might not get the chance to do more.

    At one point a friend and I thought Richard Branson might have had a decent shot at getting out there with Virgin comics as at that time he also had Virgin Megastores. We thought this would have been a great opportunity, unfortunately not long after he sold the Megastores.

    In some ways yes people may think hey I could do better than that, but in other ways I think we could say hang on a minute we've had better stories from you people, look at this run by writer X on title X etc... and sometimes I think that's where another part of the frustration comes from, it's the whole I know you can do better!


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