Beau Smith, VP of Sales and Marketing for IDW Publishing, heard about the ratings change on Avengers #71 (see 'Avengers #71 Delayed, Returnable') and saw some of the retailer comments on it (see 'Ilan Strasser of Fat Moose Comics on Avengers #71' and 'Michael Tierney of The Comic Book Store on Avengers #71,' and shared his views:


Ya know, I've read about the scene in Avengers #71 and while I haven't seen it, I've read the script page.  I've also read what the retail community is saying about it.  I'd say they've been very dead on with their thoughts.  I've got thoughts on it as well.  Granted, I'm not a retailer, but I am a reader.  Better yet when I read Avengers, I pay for it and have ever since Marvel hit harder times and cut everyone off the comp list.


I've been on the sales and marketing end of comics for almost 20 years working for four different publishers.  The same goes for the creative end.  I've been writing comics for about the same amount of time.


What I don't really understand is why Marvel would want put this scene into a 'known and marketed mainstream' book?  Now being a writer and knowing writers as well as editors, I can figure on their end it was something they thought would be funny, hip or edgy.  In reality it was pure Jr. High - stuff me and my buddies used to giggle and make up when we were at the age where thinking about Mr. Fantastic and Sue Storm in the sack was funny, Beavis and Butt-Head stuff.


Who knows?  On the marketing end, Marvel may have thought that getting the news out there on something so 'racy' would get folks interested in a side show kinda' manner.  Enough to where even a casual reader would buy it just to see it.  I call it tabloid marketing.  Hell, they could have even gone as far as wanting it forever written in Comic Book Price Guides as 'Avengers Sex Issue.'  There's a grassy knoll for ya.


The only police force we have out there is the retailer.  As publishers we gotta try and help them out as much as possible by letting them know what we're putting out and who it's for.  I've always been a firm believer in targeting your consumer.  A mystery grab bag style for marketing is not the way to do it.  If this were football you'd be focusing on that intended receiver.  Hail Mary passes are for the desperate.


Let me say that I also know that most will say this is none of my business, that I'm just some guy that works for another, smaller publisher tossin' sour grapes on the road.  But I'm not.  I pay for my Avengers and it's my right to decide if I wanna keep paying for it.


The opinions expressed in this Talk Back article are solely those of the writer, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff of