Retailers reading over their invoices for comics and graphic novels shipping next week will be shocked to discover that Marvel Comics is shipping about 34 titles next week, to only about 17 titles from DC Comics. It’s a rare thing for Marvel to ship that many titles in a week (this week, for example, they only shipped about 17 or so), but to double the output of their closest competitor? That’s very rare indeed… Until you stop to consider that one of DC’s titles shipping next week is the next installment in their summer crossover Final Crisis.
So the question is, would Marvel release 34 superhero books on the same day just to try and bleed fans’ wallets dry on the week where DC tries to make a big push with their flagship book? Well, considering nearly every one of Marvel’s top sellers is dropping this week, I’m going to go ahead and guess here: Oh yeah, that’s exactly what they’re doing. Either that or it’s the sort of hideous oversight that betrays gross incompetence. But it was probably deliberate.
In addition to numerous Marvel comics scheduled to arrive in the month of June that were seemingly pushed from their original on-sale date to this week (including both Bendis Avengers books, both X-Men books, Brubaker’s Captain America & Daredevil, Millar’s Fantastic Four & Marvel 1985, and Ellis’ last Thunderbolts) this week also includes three of Marvel’s largest lateness-plagued titles: Hulk #4, Ultimates 3 #4, and even the final issue of Joss Whedon’s Runaways all drop next Wednesday. Plus another 20 comics. The complete list is below the cut at the end of this post.
About a month ago a bunch of retail ire was raised regarding these seeming ‘flood weeks’ of new product and assurances were made that this situation was being looked at, but it appears that no one is going to be happy with the solution. Retailers heavily invested in the superhero market are particularly vulnerable here, as their invoice for this week’s product is likely to be 2-4 times higher than last week’s invoice, and it is unlikely that their incomes will also be twice-to-four-times what they normally are; this is the sort of cash-flow crunch that can put a retailer right out of business.
In the end, it’s going to be comic book retailers that bear the fiscal brunt of these sort of shipping shenanigans. Most comics retailers have to pay for their books up front with increasingly smaller numbers of retailers getting 7, 14, 21, or 30 day payment terms. Marvel (and DC) are already paid, as will be Diamond comics. Customers can choose to buy their comics over the next week or two or three, however long it takes them to catch their budget up to their purchases. It’s comics retailers who end up sitting on these books the longest, waiting the longest to make the return on their investments, and as many retailers are chronically underfunded to begin with, this is a very serious issue.
This weekend is comic retailer Rory Root’s memorial in San Francisco and unfortunately many of the brighter and better-spoken retailers in the industry will be away from their computers, mourning a friend. I wish I could be there, but I can’t… but I do imagine that when everyone makes it back to their computers later this week the discussion on this subject will be quite lively.
Until then, please go ahead and have your say in the comments. I’m certainly not unbiased when it comes to Marvel, and maybe I’m completely off base here. But when I looked at my invoice and saw that, by quantity, I’m getting more 3 times as many Marvel comics next week as this week, I figured it was worth a post here…
Full list of Marvel and DC floppies shipping next week under the cut.