Comic fans may think that the big news that came out of Marvel's Friday press conference was the 'revelation' that Peter Parker was conceived out of wedlock (see 'The Return of the Romance Comic
'), but that juicy bit of superhero gossip paled into insignificance when Marvel President Bill Jemas dramatically reversed course and announced that he was ready to reprint Trouble #1
if the book sells out quickly.
Citing a meeting with retailers at the recent Wizard World Philadelphia convention as the catalyst for his conversion, Jemas said that although he will print the first edition of Trouble #1
to order, a 'second chance' edition with a cover by Frank Cho will be ready to go, and if the book sells out quickly, Marvel will reprint immediately and have the Cho-cover edition out in time to meet the initial demand.
Although easily recognizable as a second edition, it will not be a 'must-have' edition combined with another title.
The order cut-off date for the first edition of Trouble #1
is June 12, so retailers still have some time to digest the newly released information about the book's content, as well as the possibility that additional copies of the book may be available if initial orders sell out.
When asked by ICv2 whether Marvel would reprint titles in the future if the situation warranted, Jemas took a wait and see attitude, 'We'll learn from our experiences. If this works, and retailers think it will, it's a possibility.' Over the past three years numerous retailers have take advantage of ICv2's Talk Back section to urge Marvel to change its 'No Overprinting' policy. Few have argued that Marvel should overprint every title, but when Marvel had a big hit like Origin, many retailers felt that both they and Marvel missed out on a major sales opportunity. Reactions to Marvel's previous attempt to cope with situations where demand far outstripped supply -- the Mighty Marvel Must-Haves -- was mixed at best. In addition to severe problems with timing (the Must-Haves typically arrived after the initial buzz had subsided) the fact that until recently the Must-Haves typically reprinted two unrelated comic titles confused consumers as much or more than it spurred sales. What Marvel is doing with Trouble #1 should maintain the 'collectibility' of the first edition, while satisfying additional customers in a more timely fashion.
Marvel also announced another major change in marketing strategy that was the result of feedback from retailers, who complained that while Marvel's media-savvy marketing was effective, it was often too far out in front of the release of the comic book in question. For Trouble #1, Marvel has a number of commitments for high profile reviews in venues such as Entertainment Weekly and The Washington Post, which will break within days of the book's actual release to comic shops.
Jemas defended Marvel's flamboyant, 'made-you-look' marketing by maintaining that there is real substance behind the editorial ploys that have managed to win Marvel lots of free media exposure in the form of articles and reviews. By taking the Rawhide Kid out of the closet, or revealing that the first Captain America was a black man, or creating a romance comic about the out-of-wedlock conception of Spider-Man, Marvel has managed to garner tons of publicity at little or no cost (unless you count the damage inflicted on the psyches of a certain percentage of fandom). Now Marvel is prepared to time its marketing machinations to coincide better with the release of the comic involved. And Marvel's decision to reprint actually allows it to be more flexible in the timing of their marketing on these major projects since the 'premature' marketing pushes on previous titles were the result of trying to influence comic book retailers to preorder mass quantities of the books in question. Unfortunately the effects of the marketing often dissipated by the time the books hit retail, which led to retailer complaints and the current change to marketing pushes that coincide with a comic book's release.