Marvel President Bill Jemas reiterated his 'no overprints' policy today during Marvel's fortnightly news conference with the comic press. When asked by ICv2's Milton Griepp whether the fact that five out of the seven Marvel titles shipping from Diamond next week are still available for reorders indicates that Marvel is back in the reorder business, Jemas explained: 'We haven't made a big deal about it but we have always been printing about a point and a half over the order level, and in certain cases a little bit more than that if we were worried about a quality issue on the book, so I think that's probably all that we are talking about here.' Marvel indicated changes in the mechanics of how that small overprint was handled in April (see 'Marvel Finetunes No Overprint Policy'), so those changes and a possible reduction in last minute advance reorder activity now that retailers are more attuned to Marvel's no overprint policy presumably account for the increase in availability. Jemas went on to explain that Marvel is not about to change its policy, 'The short answer is there is no change in policy from our no overprints policy. DC has taken a hard and fast position that they are the house of reorders, and we've sort of taken the house of ideas positioning and we're just going to see how those positions play out in the marketplace.'
Jemas obviously believes that current market trends favor Marvel. He called the preliminary orders that Marvel has received from Diamond on books solicited in the May Previews for July shipping 'wonderful,' noting that Marvel held the top five comic positions, with nine out of the top ten titles, and 21 out of the top 25. Jemas noted that this was: '...Not a market share thing, we don't have evidence that any of the other publishers are dropping off the map. But we have a significant growth from last June to this June and that is good news for the good guys.' Marvel was worried about June and July numbers because last year's launch of the X-Men movie gave them a spike in their numbers that they thought would be hard to match, but this June's totals show a significant gain over last year.
Newsstand vs. Directs
When asked by ICv2 about the instances in which returnable newsstand books have actually been put on sale before specialty retailers have received their non-returnable direct copies (see 'Are Newsstand Copies of Marvels Out Before Directs?'), Jemas stated that he wasn't aware of the situation, 'That's not supposed to happen and we will take care of it. To the extent that it happens, it's a mistake.'
The Comics Code
Bob Greenberger, who has been working on implementing Marvel's in-house rating system, said that the company was on track to roll out the new system in time for all September in-store books. The graphics are all designed and the editors are currently hashing out how Marvel's existing titles will fit into the new system. Jemas noted that Marvel has received strong support on its code stance from its magazine distributor, Curtis: 'Curtis, our magazine distributor, really embraced the idea of dropping the comics code and having a proactive rating system and that's been confirmed by the retail accounts that we deal with Curtis on a joint basis. By and large retailers want the same kind of labeling system that they are very accustomed to for videos, records, and games applied to comic books. The only significant negative reaction has been from the people who for various personal, emotional or whatever reason, are attached to the old comics code. Beyond that everybody with a triple digit IQ has been very pleased with the move away from the comics code.'
First Look Books
Marvel announced that they are lowering the cost of the 'First Look' program, which gives retailers single copies of all Marvel titles a week in advance. Marvel will now match DC by charging retailers only $6 per week (in the U.S.) for this service instead of the $10 fee that the company has been demanding. The 'First Look' program will gain added relevance for most retailers when Marvel roles out its 'Mature' line in the fall. The early look at Marvel's more adult titles will help retailers decide how to rack and deal with the new line of comics. In response to the ICv2 question referenced above, Jemas said that there was no connection between lowering the cost of the 'first look' program and the increasing availability of advance reorders.
DC Won't Buy Diamond
When asked by Comicon Splash Page Correspondent Rick Veitch about a categorical remark that Jemas made in an interview with ICv2 that 'DC will not buy Diamond' (see 'ICv2 Q&A: Bill Jemas'), Jemas explained, 'That conglomerate--AOL/Time/Warner--owns spectacular, pre-existing distribution capacity and it is inconceivable to me that they would make an acquisition of yet one more distribution company. Wonders never cease, but I can't come up with a reason why that company would want to buy Diamond.'
Ultimate: Weapon X Trailer
Jemas was proud of the 'trailer' produced by Adam Kubert and Marvel's on-line whiz, John Roberts. Marvel plans to offer the trailer to fan sites on the Internet for free, but Jemas balked at paying for Internet exposure, and said that use of the trailer on TV in conjunction with Marvel shows presented seemingly insurmountable problems. However Marvel does plan to include such trailers along with 'dot comics' in future DVD and VHS releases of films featuring Marvel characters. The next comic book trailer Marvel is planning will support the weekly War Machine series, which is due in September.
Kid's ImprintWhen asked about Marvel's progress on a Kid's Imprint, Jemas said that the publisher was making progress in discussions with major entertainment companies but had no announcements at this time. He pointed out that although he wasn't exactly shuffling the kids comic line onto the back burner, Marvel's main responsibilities lie in taking full advantage of the two huge blockbuster movies based on Marvel characters that will appear next year (Spider-Man and X-Men II).