filmsfoodandfandom asked: Do comic book company execs care about enraging their fanbase? There's been a nasty rumor ever since OMD that Marvel intentionally tries to make their fans angry because "angry fans are more likely to buy issues than happy ones." I know that's nonsense. But I can't help but sarcastically think the same is true for DC. Do any DC execs or editors actually CARE about upsetting fans? Because at this point it seems like they couldn't give two shits about their fanbase.
This answer is a little complicated.
Okay, no, they don’t want to enrage the fanbase, I have never heard that. However, there is definitely a line of thinking that some people have, and it’s not just publishers, that the more people are talking about a book, good and bad, the better it sells.
It’s hard to argue with, in some ways. I don’t agree with it, but everything that has INFURIATED the internet fanbase lately has sold really well…the New52, like it or not, reinvigorated the entire industry…even other publishers came up and said that it gave retailers the resources to support other publishers. The AvX thing that everyone was pissed about is Marvel’s biggest hit in years. The Harley stuff that made people so mad is actually making Suicide Squad one of the only books trending UP in sales.
It’s the flip side of things like the One Million Moms’ failed boycotts, that only made sales of the targeted books stronger.
I don’t agree with this thinking, and even if I did, I think it’s a mistake to deliberately upset loyal readers, it’s uncalled for. But some people do believe it.
The thing that I do believe, and this upsets people every time I say it, but the vocal contingent on message boards and social networks sadly do not seem to reflect the readership at all. I’m not sure if they ever did. I know this is sometimes sad to hear, but it’s true, it’s absolutely true.
If it were true, the best-selling books at DC would be Batgirl and Secret Six and at Marvel, they would be X-23 and Young Avengers, and so on.
If it were true, the top ten books, with a few exceptions, would sell almost nothing.
I know it stings a bit. But the vocal internet community is an elite part of the readership. They are like gourmet readers, in my view. They have very good taste as a rule…but the books they love the most sell nothing and the books they hate are huge hits.
We have to address it, we have to quit kidding ourselves. Critical acclaim is lovely, but Tumblr buzz bears no relation to a book’s actual success, in general (I’m sure there are exceptions).
So, I think we have trained publishers not to take internet upset too seriously at this point. If we are outraged and disgusted by crossovers, and they continue to sell like hotcakes, eventually, publishers listen to numbers and not to bloggers.
I wish this weren’t the case…I don’t know if it’s the same for prose and film and music, but in comics, people will rave and rave about a book, it sells nothing, and then because they have raved about it so much, the poster or blogger feels that the company hates them personally because that book was so loved.
But no one bought it.
I don’t like talking about sales, I have never taken an assignment for sales. I don’t keep track of sales issue by issue like some writers do. I don’t find out what an issue actually sold til months after it has been out. To be honest, I am sad even to bring up this topic at all.
But realistically, if a book didn’t sell with a great creative team, the odds are not great of it EVER selling with the same or similar team. And there are people at each company who have to watch over that stuff. They have my sympathy, sometimes it means they cancel their own favorite books, or books by their good friends.
But eventually, books have to make enough money to continue publishing them.
I’m not sure if you are asking about the Steph thing. But if you are, I’m disappointed, too. When BQM told me he got Steph in Smallville, i was delighted, and I did my best to promote the book without giving away the secret. It makes me sad they took her out…best case scenario is they want her to make a debut somewhere else, worst case scenario is some arcane thing I don’t understand yet, I guess.
Anyway, hope that makes sense. If the only place you get comics intel is Tumblr and message boards, you are almost guaranteed to get a skewed version of what’s actually popular. That’s why I also talk to retailers as often as possible, to find out what people are actually buying, you know?
It sucks, but we (tumblrs and message boarders) are kind of the elite, and as such, our tastes are always going to differ some from the mainstream taste. It’s a good thing, and sometimes a sad thing.