Dara Hannon of Pyrimid Comics and Games in Sierra Vista, Arizona saw Ted May’s comments about Marvel’s May releases (see “Ted Mays of Gecko Books & Comics on Marvel Schedule”) and adds that customers also look for reliable publishing schedules:
I have to agree with Ted Mays that it is irresponsible business-wise to have uneven shipping weeks. Customers have limited amounts of money each week and they need to plan and budget for the month. However, it is impossible to budget when you can not predict what will happen from week to week. It is also incredibly frustrating to walk in and find $50 worth of comics waiting if you only have $30 budgeted for each week. However, this is the most minor thing Marvel is doing to decrease their profit margin.
Marvel, at this time, has a collection of excellent writers and artists. They could be making much more than they are but, if my store is any indication, they are losing readers at an alarming rate. This is not due to the quality of the writers and artists; this is directly due to the sloppy publishing practices of Marvel.
There have been too many series started and advertised and even solicited in Diamond only to be cancelled or delayed for an unspecified amount of time. I still have customers who ask me when the next Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine is coming out. It has been two years and there is no sign of the next issue. Supreme Power had three issues solicited in Diamond and referenced in Ultimate Power that have never been published. There are more examples, but I am not going to list each one. However, it does not take much of this before it is very difficult to get a customer to pick up a new series. I have heard repeatedly, “Why should I pick up this series when I’m not even sure I will see issue 2”. The worst part of this complaint is that I have no answer. I can not guarantee that this new series that shows so much promise will not have an interval of over two years between issues with no explanation. Therefore, I, as a retailer, become hesitant to put my reputation on the line and suggest a Marvel series until about the time a trade paperback is coming out.
To add insult to injury, there is no legitimate reason for this. There should be no delay in a monthly ongoing series since Marvel has shown itself capable of putting out 20 books in one week. However, they give priority to one-shots that were developed solely to tie into a current arc. This happened when halfway through Civil War, no less than five titles were added out of nowhere and, at the same time, those series not directly connected to Civil War came out sporadically. This sent out a blatant message that Marvel just wants money and is not interested in caring for their readers. However, it is not Marvel that hears these complaints. It is the retailer. I am the one the customers expect to have an answer for why there has not been an issue of their favorite title for two months even thought the next issue was solicited in Diamond five months ago.
These delays and the message that only the current arc is important is causing more of my customers to leave Marvel which is truly sad since there is no legitimate reason for it. Most of the Marvel series are of high quality. However, when a customer does not feel they can trust a publisher to come through with the issues in a timely manner, they are not going to give their money and support to that series and, honestly, I can not blame them. I can not say to a customer, “Trust me, you’ll enjoy this,” when even I am not sure issue 2 or issue 3 will come out. So, until Marvel realizes that is more important to keep their established obligations than it is to stock the shelves with new shiny things, I will be directing my customers to titles I know will be there next month and the month after that and the month after that.
The opinions expressed in this Talk Back article are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.