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Thursday, 9 June 2016

It Started As A Comment...Editors seemingly not understanding about losing customers?

 Ja D is responsible!  Apparently my response was too long so....

Ja D: " Thank you for your response Terry. Some fans really are effed up. As a follow up question:
What are your thoughts on editors seemingly not understanding about losing customers? Some of these guys appear very surprised when people don't like what is currently being made."

My response:

Hi.  Well, the problem is that the editors don't care. So long as a book sells that's it.  They get paid.  If it's a hit they can say "Editor of successful series----" if it fails the book "Just didn't hit the right spot with fans" which is a subtle way of saying "I'm only the editor.  These creators!"

Look at Tom Brevoort who used to be one of Marvel's "young guns" years ago (though people kept saying he was just "brown-nosing" we ignored that because these were still "just names" to us. Now we KNOW he was and is a "Yes Man" who enjoys excesses of comics and when Liefeld speaks out about what was proven editorial stupidity and where the editor had no idea what he wanted (other than a whole new change of a book several times) -at DC- you get Brevoort and other Marvel staffers jumping in to attack Liefeld when it has nothing to do with them.  Because, as with the police and medical people:you cover each others back.

In Marvel Comics The Untold Story by Sean Howe, Brevoort is quoted on p. 366: "Once you're on the ride (of making LOTS of money on a successful book-TH), you can't get off until it's over....If the owner of the company is saying, 'we need you to exceed your budget this year', that's your job.  You have one of two options: either you accomplish that or you don't and face the consequences."
Now to you and I that sounds mad.  You MUST exceed your budget or sensible businessman says that.  You exceed your budget then that equals no profit -or a much smaller one.  That sounds far more like the excesses of banking and stock exchange and if editors do not say "Boss, we do not need to take more of your money: the book is successful if people buy it and fails if they don't. We need to go for quality books fans will love and buy" If you just sit back and think "More partying and big lunches" you are...well, an editor.

The thing is in both the UK and US comics began failing badly when one thing happened: fans got into comic jobs as editors.  Big splash comic that then gets cancelled and live off that for 40 years! Look how that helped Fleetway and IPC (and let's forget the lie that it was "Robert Maxwell killed the company" because things were on the skids before he got there.

If you have good, professional editors they know how to sell a comic. If you are a writer and suddenly you are editor -Roy Thomas is a good example- all those mates who are writers get a chance to write those "cool ideas" they had and some are good (two creators in the same apartment and at the same time one creates Swamp Thing and the other Man-Thing -who created what first and WHY does no one point out they basically ripped off the 1940s character The Heap?).But good,long time pro artists are bumped out so "pals" can get in.  Thomas admits he did the dirty on Don Heck. I LOVE Thomas as a writer but editor...

Look at the mess: all those writers -Wolfman, Claremont as well as the artists who jumped from Marvel to DC vowing "I will never work for Marvel again!" and give all sorts of reasons but its basically foot stomping and "they never let me do what I wanted!" and artists-writers sneaking books straight past editors to printers. WHY the problem.....?

All those rebels went back to Marvel.  Then back to DC.  It's almost sickening watching them interviewed at conventions or on documentaries as they start snorting and grinning like loons name calling like spoilt little brats in a playground...well, they do that against Marvel.  Marvel gives them work and they turn and do the same but at DC now. It gets confusing.

So what you get are the pro fanzines like Wizard that keep promoting the greatness of Marvel or DC and these cool new ideas.  Ditto bloggers and they all have that vested interest because they only really know Marvel or DC and if you get the freebies and event invites you don't want to risk that. So an editor will look at the boss and produce a copy of Wizard that says how cool this or that book is -"See? It's great but the fans are slow to catch on!"  Boss: "Nice glossy mag.  Okay."  That's it.

At events, those who in Q&A sessions who query the crap get short shrift -the editor will either say "Hey -you are in the MINORITY, dude! What do you say guys?" and all the dopes in the audience who don't want to look "like a dumb-ass minority" all cheer.  Seen this so many times. Oh, and the chance to respond? No.

The one thing I found out over the years -very quickly- was that editors are "Yes Men" because even if they know a book they edit is crap and is losing sales hand-over-fist, so long as they are quiet and don't rock the boat they are safe.  Pay cheque keeps coming in...and expenses. They cover each others backs.

Reminds me of that 1980s Marvel UK editor I allegedly held out a window.  He was completely incompetent when it came to comics, art and how to put them together but he was a palof the Senior Editor. "I've edited six comics and they all fold from poor sales by the seventh or eighth issue. Still no idea why!" After 30 minutes with him I knew why.

Why does a company with a great and long tradition like D. C. Thomson turn into a second rate Independent comic publisher? Editors. But the management HAS to also take the blame.  On BBC 2 (TV) Money Programme in the 1980s a boss at Thomson stated "in ten years time comics will be a thing of the past" -he was totally wrong except he and his fellows cancelled great projects like the comic album format Star Blazer and so on. And if the bosses say that kind of thing what kind of editor do you expect? And then you have the "Yes Men" creators who doff their hats and say "The bosses know right and we must NOT question them!" They helped kill UK weekly comics....but parade around conventions as "UK comic super stars" (if only they had the talent).

And this is the problem: fan bloggers in the US and UK (the UK does not count apparently) as well as comic press writers and video bloggers -they all speak out but despite being in the majority their voices are drowned out by the minority sycophants.  It's a classic tactic.

At one point Marvel was cancelling titles that came in below 125,000 (Howe pp. 341-342).  Then a comic sold a million. Half a million. Brevoort, again (Howe p. 342):

"It was like cocaine culture without the drug use...Everyone was getting more and more hopped up on this explosion of sales.  You'd launch a book, and editors would be lamenting the fact that, 'Oh it only sold half a million copies.'  Five years later, they'd be thanking their lucky stars."

Yeah "without the drug use"!

Now print runs are 125-50,000 copies depending on the book. My first week in comics an publisher told me: "You NEVER give sales figures.  Always give print runs because those are higher!" At Fleetway in the 1980s, Managing Editor Gil Page told me the same thing: "We say 2000 AD has a 60,000 print run. No way we sell that many but the print run is the higher figure."

Certain creators and editors have "legendary status" simply because they have hangers-on or people who, if the truth were known, would not be such celebrities themselves.  Its all what I've heard six well known comic creators call the "UK comics Mafia".  They helped kill off comics but you'd think we were seeing twenty titles a week selling 125,000 copies if you listened to their delusional rantings. And even better, those who have to go write or draw for US companies to earn a living also join in the lie.

Speak out?  No. Cowardice.

But fans have to be reminded that Disney has the Marvel Universe and merchandise and movies (not based on the comics) bring in far, far more excessive profits than the entire comic line. So, okay, Marvel literally takes the story from the original Civil War series (because the film is "Civil War") -people are pointing this out everywhere but who cares?  It's the movies not the comics people want (and I doubt they go on comic blogs).

There has been a very strong rumour for a long time that Disney bosses are just waiting for the right reason to scrap Marvel comics.  Why do they need something draining off money?  I wrote a year before it happened that the Fantastic Four was being scrapped as a comic. Screams ans howls of derision. How'd that work out? They are killing off mutants to make Inhumans the NEW mutants? "Jerk!" What happened?

So the editors really do not care if they are losing fans who followed Marvel from Fantastic Four #1 or the 1970s or 1980s.  "Fuck them!"  It's about self promotion and scraping in earnings to keep the pay cheque coming in. End of story.

Good example.  Wolverine. Wolverine became BIG and Wolverine appeared in all the Marvel comics or covers to get the sales. "That worked. Jeez -IT WORKED!!!! The dumb...." Movies and Spider-Man...same thing.  Guardians of the Galaxy -Rocket Raccoon or Groot on every cover.  Screw what the comic contents were those "dumb mother-humpers will buy anything with Rocket raccoon or Groot on it!" Deadpool....nuff said. Just look back at the comics and you'll see this all yourself.

The "fan" as I wrote many times before, is the "piggy bank" for DC or Disney. No one cares about creativity, continuity or quality. If I explained all of this to a group of Marvel editors I('d expect one to raise a hand hesitantly and ask: "So...are you saying if we put Rocket Raccoon on covers they'll sell?" Lost cause.  As is DC.  Reboot after reboot after reboot.  All the old fans are gone or going.

The movies and TV shows are hits.  That's it. Series DVDs probably sell more than the comic title they are based loosely on.

We are in an age where I can mention Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to people in their 30s at events and get blank looks. "Oh that old guy that was in Big Bang Theory!" You point out Lee has had cameo in the Marvel movies and..."Really?"  Jack Kirby.  Jack Kirby for **** sake! "What's he drawing?" -"He's dead now" blank looks "oh."  You point out the movies and even the T-shirts they are wearing created, co-created or drawn by Kirby and you get a disinterested "Oh. Right".

That is the audience today. Some at comic events have never read a comic.  They are there because of the TV, movies or cosplay (when it was really "hip").

So the true comic fans leave and the companies just re-mash old series and story-lines and the flock go buy -even when they say they "hate" what Marvel or DC are doing they buy "because".

I can see WHY blogger wouldn't allow this as a "comment"!  But the short response is that the editors do not care.  Why should they so long as they get pay-cheques. Lose a job at Marvel? Their mate at DC will get them in there.  Lose a job at DC -same thing.  If Disney sold off the comic line but kept the movie rights only, someone would need to move in and kick out the wasters and get back some of the old pros that are still around to write and edit -hey, Sal Buscema is still having to tidy up to make printable, the work of some of the "hot" names -and John Byrne....there's a long list.  If I had the money I'd buy the Marvel comic line!!

But the day is coming that a croaky old voice will be heard in an office: "Dead in the water you say? I'll be there shortly" and Marvel comics will be a thing of memory or special movie tie-in books.

I need to breath!

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