Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne notes a couple of problems with age-coding of Free Comic Book Day comics and shares Hasbro’s response to the hedge fund urging it to spin off Wizards of the Coast.

Free Comic Book Day took place today, so it was a bit of a hectic day here today; especially with a guest canceling at the last minute and staff showing up a few minutes late due to trains and red lights.  A couple of thoughts:

Due to the nudity, Barbaric (see "'Barbaric'") should have been a red color coded title.  Yeah, there were only a couple of panels of it, but those are two more than I want a kid or more importantly, that kid’s mom, seeing in the pile of books their child picked up from us.  Nudity is still problematical in graphic books targeted towards all age groups.

On the other hand, it would have helped if DC Comics had used the color code on their books.  The Super Pets book was obviously all ages and said so on the cover.  However, the FCBD logo used blue color coding, indicating it was for older kids.  Of course, DC has also referred to the event as "Diamond’s Free Comic Book Day," so not sure if they will remain part of the event in the future.

Back in 2020, I argued that Hasbro could consider selling off the Wizards of the Coast division of the company (see "Who Could Buy WotC").  After further reflection, primarily due to the profitability of the division within the overall company, I decided that would be a very unlikely move for the company to take (see "Another Reason Why Hasbro Won’t Sell WotC").  However, an activist group of investors with the same idea acquired enough stock in the company to start pushing the company to spin off the WotC division in February (see "Hedge Fund Urges Hasbro to Spin Off WotC").  The Hasbro board of directors is not happy with this idea, sending out a letter to stockholders, of which I am one, arguing against voting the activists’ slate of nominees to the board, which says in part:

"We believe this proxy fight is ill-timed, Alta Fox’s agenda will not create value for shareholders and its nominees offer no beneficial experience to Hasbro’s Board or the Company.  Chris Cocks, who became CEO only eight weeks ago, doubled the size of the Wizards business over a three-year period from 2018 to 2021 (two years faster than our initial target) in his role as its president and chief operating officer.  Chris’s track record and gameplan that led to the success at Wizards ideally position him to lead and execute the optimal strategy for creating long-term shareholder value by growing Hasbro’s world class portfolio of assets across multiple play and entertainment categories.  We firmly believe it is in your best interests, as a shareholder, to give him an opportunity to execute his gameplan and drive the performance of Hasbro as a whole."

Essentially, the activist group believes WotC can generate more value as an independent company with Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons than as part of Hasbro.  Will they succeed?  I doubt it, but doing so indicates other companies see WotC as a valuable property.

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The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of