Today I discovered that Marvel seems to completely understand something that DC doesn't seem to grasp at all.
It has to do with marketing their products.
On the desk in front of me is the "Marvel Reading Chronology 2009", a free publication send in quantity to retailers which presents "Marvel's stock of in-print collected editions inventory organized in a fun new way!"
This publication is, perhaps, the single greatest marketing tool I've ever received from a publisher. One of the things I do for Big Monkey is produce guides, both to specific publications and to topics. For example:
While I have done guides for eras, topics, and creators, I hadn't done any yet for particular characters. I was dreading the quantity of research needed to identify all the appropriate TPs, GNs, and HBs for all of Marvel's characters. I'm not exactly an expert on the history of the Hulk, ya know... .
Marvel, wisely realizing that customers are interested in boning up on particular characters and that it's a easy avenue of approach for retailers, has compiled these lists quite thoroughly in this new publications, which is colorfully but elegantly arranged, and includes pictures of the all the covers, what each volume contains, and who its creators were.
It's so obvious.
To Marvel. But, not to DC.
I spoke with my DC rep today to convince them to do something similar. I got some palaver about checklists of the titles involved in crossovers being listed on the DC website. That's nice, I said, but you don't seem to understand. I couldn't even get an understanding that retailers need a visual aid to sell Showcase and Archive Volumes (which are simply impractical to stock in full-- there are way too many, and, while they are wonderful and unique offerings, they do not exactly fly off the shelves). Yes, DC thanked me for having given them that idea in a previous conversation, and they were planning on making a checklist of those, too.
Yes, that's nice, I said. But you don't seem to understand.
I want a publication, something that... that combines words with pictures of what the words are taking about. I need a piece of writing with attendant images, a sort of... graphic literature. Can't DC produce some form of graphic literature that I can use to promote my sales of your products...? Surely, DC, you have some grasp of the power of combining pictures and words into a unified whole for the presentation of an idea or story?
I've stated before that Marvel's approach to comic books is more rooted in the visual than DC's approach, and that DC's is more rooted in the verbal than Marvel's. Ordinarily, I'm fine with that. Ordinarily, I like that.
But, oh, the comic book irony...! Unfortunately, it seems to mean that Marvel understands the need to create for retailers easy visual references to their products.... and DC does not understand it.