Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Start with some ground rules

Okay, as official EIC of Marvel for the next 2 weeks, I'm going to throw out some ground rules/suggestions...

The bottom line of this is that we're shooting to increase sales by 20%. In the 2 weeks we've got, I figure we've got mainly two approaches/attacks that we can work with more or less simulatenously:

1) good stories -- obviously this is going to be somewhat nebulous since we're not actually creating the comics, but I think that should still be a goal. Let's try to get good talent on books that are appropriate for them. Side point A -- That's GOOD talent, not necessarily NAME talent. Don't confine yourselves to whoever's on Wizard's top 10 lists. I'll throw out some more specific ideas later, but take a look beyond the typical Marvel and DC realm. See what's being done over at Dark Horse, Viper, Oni, etc.

2) good marketing -- comics are a 2-way street. We'll be putting out good stories (hopefully) but we also need to ENGAGE the readers. I've got some specific ideas I'll toss out later, but start thinking about how you can not only tell a good story, but what you can do to make the readers active in their involvement. Quick example: the scavenger hunt thing that they did for Agents of Atlas.

Let me put a little more thought into specific assignments and such, and I'll try to get back in a few hours. I know Mike and Philip tossed out a couple of requests, but I'll have to go back and review them.

More later.


Michael Heide said...

1) Good stories. I agree completely. We need good, reliable writers. Besides, we probably always have to check with Marvel's financial branch if our plans fit Marvel's budget, so the huge names (Millar, Whedon, etc) might as well be off-limits anyway. But we'll have to get back to Tom for that.

2) I agree on the marketing part. I think I already have a nice idea for the Fantastic Four, should I get that book.

Philip Schaeffer said...

I'm not sure the huge names are off-limits on the bigger books. I'd imagine that we could put whoever we wanted on Uncanny or Wolverine, though it doesn't mean we should.

Philip Schaeffer said...

I agree with your ground rules, though would like to be irritating and wonder aloud about how effective unconventional marketing is (Agents of Atlas is good, but the scavenger hunt didn't lead to record sales).

Here's a question about your editorial style: my huge pitch aside, are you going to encourage crossovers between two books the way Tom always advised last time, or do you find that forces the story into inorganic places? I have ideas brewing for either option, I just wanted to know your opinion.

Michael Heide said...

I think if we get the chance to hire big-name writers, we should put them on the lower-selling titles. They can profit the most by the writers' inbuilt fanbases, and the writers themselves would have more leeway on She-Hulk than they would have on Wolverine or the Spider-books.
Quick brainstorm: Could we get Brad Meltzer for She-Hulk? His novels do wonders with the legal thriller scenario, so think what he could do with Jennifer Walters?

Philip Schaeffer said...

Meltzer's not DC Exclusive, but he sure as hell acts like it.

(Although at a con I heard him talk about how he had the jogging She-Hulk poster in college...)

The bigger problem with your strategy, which makes a lot of sense, is that I think each book has its own budget, meaning that while they could afford Meltzer on Wolverine, they couldn't on She-Hulk. This creates a vicious circle that is quite lame, but that's how it seems to be.

And also if we're trying to be accurate to the current comics landscape, Meltzer's out of commission for two years writing his next novel.

How do you feel about stunt casting writers or co-writers ala Richard Donner or the still not come to pass Brian Singer Ultimate X-Men run? How about Sam Raimi and JMS on Spider-Man? Raimi doesn't have to really do anything, we'll just stick his name on it and sell more books.

Fantastic Four, by Jessica Alba: As an incentive to buy, she's hidden her phone number somewhere in the book!

She-Hulk, by Rosie O'Donnell: You wouldn't like Rosie when she's angry. You probably wouldn't like her when she's happy, either.

I'm more serious about Sam Raimi or someone of his ilk as a co-writer. Think about it. And again, this goes against Sean's editorial suggestion that we bring in some hip indie talent.

Michael Heide said...

> Fantastic Four, by Jessica Alba:
> As an incentive to buy, she's
> hidden her phone number somewhere
> in the book!

You know, this could tie into the Agents of Atlas-esque Scavenger Hunt. :)

And you're right, Meltzer is probably off-limits. As for the "could afford them on Wolverine, couldn't afford them on She-Hulk" theory, I guess that's another thing that we'll have to ask Tom about.