18 August 2006

COMMENT: Civil War, Indies and Marketing 101

The interesting discussion over on The Engine about the potential opportunity Marvel's Civil War flub has opened up for indies misses a key point: your average Civil War reader doesn't care about non-Marvel titles, and condescendingly referring to those titles as "spandex super fights" or "Muscular Mutant Man Monthly" suggests they're not your audience anyway, no matter what's on the shelves that week.

That point aside, though, there's some good information in there, not the least of which is that few comics creators know how to approach marketing, and even the bigger names feel a bit hamstrung by an industry that puts an inordinate amount of responsibility for marketing on individual creators. As Warren Ellis notes: "But think about it. DC puts out some 200 products every month, and I think their PR team is maybe three people deep. What does that lead to?"

Among other things, it leads to a marketing plan that leaves far too many titles to sink or swim on their own, while a select few get any significant promotional push, most being hedged bets that are pretty much guaranteed to have a decent level of sales simply based on their creative teams or proximity to a major event.

The opportunity for indies isn't in this extremely narrow window opened by Civil War's delay, which very few will be in any position to exploit, but in the long-term commitment to establishing themselves as reliable purveyors of high-quality comic books the Big Two can't, or simply don't, provide. Beyond superheroes and the relatively limited scope of Vertigo's offerings, there's a wide range of genres, settings and characterizations from which a savvy independent publisher can carve themselves a niche.

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