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Thursday, June 14, 2007
Stepping In It Again
And so the cycle continues...this time it was when one of the more astute retailers out there expressed concerns about Marvel's marketing decisions, in this particular case, the wisdom of redrawing the cover of a comic aimed at and marketed to children so that it now contains a rotting corpse. But not so badly rotting as to not still be kinda sexy! And, predictably, the peanut gallery responded in the predictable way. Which is to go out of their way to miss Chris's point and complain of people trying to spoil their fun.
I'm not offended by the cover. I think it's stupid and crass, but in the grand scheme of things, it's no big deal. That Marvel keeps pulling stuff like this should, maybe, give people pause. And I think beyond the tackiness of sexy corpses, that's the real issue. When I see some of the stuff Marvel releases into the marketplace, the impression I'm given of them as a company is that they're not serious; they're not really interested in being a media corporation. A real business wouldn't blend so easily the lines between their children's properties, their general audience properties, and their mature reader's properties. The impression I'm given is that Marvel is run by a bunch of aging frat boys, cashing in for a quick buck by pandering to the lowest common denominators amongst super-hero fans.
And it's not just in Marvel's marketing that this impression plays out. There's an overall lack of editorial oversight on display at Marvel. I'm hardly one to wax nostalgic for Jim Shooter's reign, as the bulk of Marvel's output at the time was mediocre in terms of art and story...and that's being needlessly generous to it, but it's hard to imagine that past Marvel editors would have adopted the laissez-faire attitude towards retailer relations, late books and over-indulged creators that the current editorial regime has fostered. It's hard to imagine even as draconian a personality as Shooter dismissing out of hand reader's concerns about marketing decisions, as Joe Quesada regularly does.
Take this, the latest example of head-scratching decisions on Marvel's part:
Sure, people were joking that Marvel was going to use "a Skrull did it" as their catch-all explanation for doing away with bad characterization, inane storylines, and failed efforts, but no one actually imagined that anyone at Marvel thought that would actually be a reasonable idea. This isn't a clever idea. It's not even an original idea. It's not even internally consistent with titles Marvel has published now or in the past...but it's "cool." At least to the men in their thirties and forties who run Marvel and act like it's their chance to finally play with the toys, instead of be responsible creators and businesspeople.