viernes, 14 de diciembre de 2012

Comic Book Sales 101, or how to follow sales for Dummies Part 3


we finally reach this part, but what exactly is a gimmick?
a Gimmick is basically a move which is initiated with the sole purpose to increase the sales of a comic by doing something that is generally outside of the control of the actual story.
To put it in perspective, the Story itself only has the objective to be told by the writer, the gimmick are mostly out of control of the writer and on some occasions, have nothing to do with the actual story and sometimes bring stories of their own, but of course it doesnt mean that it is only limited to them or hell it could even be completely irrelevant to them.
This can be another story that trying to connect to the current story, a change in a character of the story, within or without the control of the writer, or a character that comes in and doesnt belong in the story. and thats only approaching from the story point of view when we can actually have a gimmick by its format, by the art itself, etc.
We will start with the most common one


This one started in the 86 with Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC made an entire massive storyline that spread all over a year

The Story Itself was only 12 issues long and handled by the best creative team that DC had at the time, the promotion couldnt be higher, characters died, characters changed, worlds live worlds died and DC was never the same again, and it still lives up to expectations even up to this day

But again that is only the Story of CoIE, but the story was so big that its effects were felt and pour out in other storylines and comics that had mostly nothing to with that in some cases.

CoIE created the concept of Event and Tie-in, an Event is suppose to not only serve as an stand alone story but also to have an effect in its universe, which at the same time brought the idea of a shared universe of its own, If i read a book that has an storyof its own, but something in another book is going to affect it, then I might need to check that other comic too, and as an inverse reaction, if something happen to a character in the Main Event, it might make the reader interested enough to grab that other comic, specially if such comic have a sign that indicates that its tieing into that same story.

So thats the reason why an event ends up being so popular in sales, because whatever one likes it of not it might affect it, its a story that serves the purpose of targeting everyone who reads a comic from that company, the problem lies with the fact that its simple impossible to target everybody, the idea that you have something that will please everyone is just an illusion, which is in turn the reason why there is such things like Horror comics devoted for horror fans and the concept of the mainstream, the point of the event is to increase that sense of mainstream, but ofcourse it suffers the problem of being highly exploitable.

Here we have as an example INFINITE CRISIS
This is a nice example of the power of Branding, the name immediately reassembles an Echo to the other game changing event of Crisis on Infinite Earths, in fact the whole term "Crisis" is practically property of DC as it inspires a sense of continuity with the other events even though there is virtually none on most cases
But there is no doubt that what Crisis in Infinite Earths did, Infinite Crisis just did it bigger

The story itself is hardly contained in the 7 issues of the event, starting first in the One-shot Countdown to Infinite Crisis which at the same time build 4 different events, O.M.A.C. Project, Villains United, Rann/Thanagar War and Day of Vengence
  • in turn, O.M.A.C. Project was a direct continuation of Countdown to IC, which eventually ties into Superman and Wonderwoman, and tells the story of Maxwell Lord's Plan to dominate the world
  • Villains United tells the beginnings of the group later to be known as secret Six
  • Rann/Thanagar War was an Space Opera with all the intergalactic properties of DC
  • and finally Day of Vengence deals with the magic properties of DC
we have a Mainstream comic with Omac, a dark Edgy book with VU, a space comic with R/T W and finally a fantasy book with DoV and all under the flag of Infinite Crisis, so its obvious that DC's plan was to attract everyone into the same boat, and the result is that it worked, the sales of IC were very high which in turn increased the sales of all the comics that were tie- into it cause it not only was serving a much bigger audience but the event itself had so many moments that changed many other comics that it was almost impossible to ignore and it also tried to attract new readers, me included.

but for all its successes and failures i think Infinite Crisis was a pretty good story, but also a very incomplete one, there were many events that were planned but didnt happen, this was going to be the death of Nightwing and the return of Barry Allen but those never happen, changes from the sole planiation time to the deliver that never happen and if you are careful you can notice them in the story, But overall it was a good event.

which lead to a much bigger problem
Immediately after IC, DC jumped all its properties 1 year into the future, and fill in it made 52
A comic so perfect, so incredibly good in quality and deliver that it has to be in the top 100 comics ever made, a masterpiece crafted by 4 of the best writers in the entire industry. Mark Waid, Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns and Greg Rucka.

You just have no right to call yourself a DC Fan if you haven't read 52, it is just that good, and a mark of everything that is good in Comics and it is of course no coincidence that when DC relaunched itself it name itself "THE NEW 52", another evidence of the power of brands, that even a single 2-digit number can have a certain appeal.

The Story of 52 was meant to fill in the missing year of DC from the eyes of different C-List Characters on DC over an entire year on weakly bases on real time, but it became much more than that, focussing more on the characters and not on its actual objective, However 52 wasnt an Event.

which leads to a little problem, IF 52 wasnt answering the questions that its suppose to address then where into?
the book was popular on sales and getting high reviews so DC created 4 tie-ins in the miniseries World War 3
The tie-ins were a HUGE sales success, and even thought the focus of the story was to tie in to the World War 3 part of 52, it mostly dealt with filling in certain missing parts for other series which in turn had nothing to do with 52.

The point is this, as i said it before, the reason why 52 was selling so high was not because it was good, that definitely help but the main reason was cause it was tieing itself to Infinite Crisis, it was serving almost as a sequel, in addition to having an insanely great creative team, it was perceived as an event, even though it wasnt an event at all, but the reason why WW3 sold so high, was because of 52 and thats the only reason
DC put this into consideration for the next big event, one of the most hated, one of the worst comics ever made

This is everything that i have been talking about in the past 2 installment, the use and abuse of characters and brands
This is a comic which is design with the only purpose of Selling, using every single possible exploitable gimmick that it can do to sell itself, and doesnt care the story that is telling about. This is without any doubt One of the worst Comics ever made.
The story itself doesnt really matter but the comic itself had actually a purpose, which was to launch the next Big event of DC, which explains its method, starting with 51 and counting down to 0 which lead to the Event of Final Crisis

This is actually a pretty good idea, it work with Countdown to IC and the 4 miniseries that lead to IC, its even logical but it have a very little tiny whiny problem behind it
this book...


The problem was this: The book was build to be like a sequel to 52 and a build up for the new event, having a journey with all this characters and sequence of events that will ultimately lead to FC.
None of the characters in Countdown was involved in FC, and none of the events of Countdown leads to FC as the story begins with the death of Duela Dent and ends with the Fight between Darksied and Orion, but none of the events are connected on any plausible way.
However what is worst crime of Countdown is that the story itself didnt really had any impact at all, by itself it was just a hub for Other events to drop in, to serve kind of a main DC book so that when a character died in another book his funeral was celebrated on this book, it gives the illusion of Continuity and unity of a shared Universe, but from a story telling point of view it just becomes completely pointless as it has absolutely no relevance to the story.

the huge success of DC's 52 and WWIII lead to have Multiple Tie-ins, events that in no way had any connection with Countdown were being dragged on Countdown, and wore the brand of Countdown, Countdown to adventure, Countdown to mystery and so forth
Countdown was in a nutshell, the event of events. It tied into events which then tied into it which had its own tie-ins.

One of this events, Amazons Attack
A piece of crap so poorly planned and so poorly written that it actually generated an inverse effect
tie-ins, for example the Teen Titans tie-ins lose sales because of its connection.
but why?

I think the answer is a perfect closure for this entire segment

the reason why an event is so successful is cause it is design to open itself to bigger influx of readers, ergo a larger flux of buyers, it not only attracts the people who are fans of its main characters of the event but it attracts everyone who is a fan of the company, the concepts and every possible character that is on it cause that character might be given chance to shine or change forever.
and the tie-in connect those books to that flux, but as the event goes on the connection goes weaker and dilutes which ultimately ends up with not attracting anyone, and even repelling its current readers, readers who have no interest in those books.

which is what happen with TT and Amazons Attack, AA had practically nothing to do with Countdown, and by its turn TT had nothing to do with AA, so it didnt translate into sales
the weaker the connection, the less effective it is, because It is the same people who buys the event that follows the tie-ins, its the same flux, and by doing it like this it just fluds the market entirely.
and you can see this in some Marvel Events, when an event is released pretty much every single series ties-into it, only the ones that have more relevancy get a boost, and those who arent relevant get either a lower one or just lost the steam of its current readership
which lead to the term: Event Fatigue

The Events become so often and so meaningless that they lose what makes them special and in turn disrupt the story of its tie-ins
you can see this with what happen on Fear Itself.

An Event is an Special thing, its something that is happening completely out of the ordinary and affects everyone and everything, but you also need to understand that an event dont occur fast, it takes from 6 months to a year to complete and if we get a massive change every single year we will lose the sense of where are we right now, if the Status Quo just keeps changing over and over again, then is cause there is no status quo.

It is a tool to be used to tell good stories and not abused to just increase sales.


Next Week, Covers

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