Comic Store In Your Future – Lenticular Autumn Days

Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics, writes weekly for Bleeding Cool. Find previous columns here.

I have written before about Marvel's lenticular covers. I felt it was wrong how Marvel was forcing stores to order more product than they could sell. Marvel has announced changes to ordering their lenticular covers starting next year. Starting next year their lenticular covers will be a simple order as many as stores want. A bit too little too late though. Marvel's lenticular rollout has been pretty much poisoned by themselves.

That said when Marvel's Legacy one shot came out it sold very well for us. Especially for a Marvel book. Something I never would have thought I would say years ago. The Marvel brand used to be so much more bankable.

The Marvel Legacy one shot did have a lenticular cover, but Marvel dropped its requirements it had originally announced for ordering them. The number was tied into how much of an issue of Secret Empire store's had ordered. It was changed to order as many as we would like. Which was great.

After the one shot sold so well I had a good feeling about next week's Legacy homage lenticular covers. Was told by a few customers that at least one of the other stores in the area wasn't even ordering the lenticular covers. I thought that would make them even more in demand. Week one of Marvel's lenticular covers coming out in October came and we did get people we hadn't seen before due to one store not ordering the lenticular covers but only a small increase. Not nearly the increase that Marvel required for us to order the lenticular covers.

What went wrong?

One, the quality of the lenticular covers were not as good as previous lenticular covers done by DC. The one shot had a simple fade from color to black and white lenticular cover. Marvel used thinner cover stock than DC. DC had done lenticular covers years before hand and even with Action Comics right before Marvel did theirs. I, along with what I am assuming most retailers thought was that Marvel's lenticular covers would be at least as good as DC's. How could Marvel screw up something that DC had been doing for years, right? Easily was the answer.

What did any of the issues have to do with the previous week's Legacy one shot? I haven't read them all, but I didn't see anything about Wolverine's return or anything from the Legacy one shot. Amazing Spider-man had nothing to do with Norman who was in Legacy. I have not read all of the lenticular Legacy issues but I didn't hear or read anything about any of the issues touching on the events of the one shot either. Wolverine being back is big news. but not even a page in an X title showing his now broken adamantium statue that he was stuck in. to at least tease his return a bit more? How did Wolverine get out of it anyway?

For homage covers often times the homage was an odd choice. All New Wolverine's homage cover to the Fantastic Four cover featuring the original Hulk vs Thing while it is a cool image (the Hulk vs Thing fight is one of the first comics I read so I am biased) it is from before most current comic readers were even born and Hulk and Thing had nothing to do with the issue.

The artwork for the new covers. Marvel said artists don't move the sales needle. Not when an artist from decades ago looks far better than a current cover artist. That may not be true for all the covers for the homage covers but it is true of most of them.

The titles. The renumbering caused confusion. Just like when Venom jumped from single issue numbers to issue 150. Where are the previous issues? Are you missing them? No, Marvel just jumped ahead.

Again the titles. Had multiple people come in wanting the newest issue of Defenders and a lot thought we sold out of it or didn't get it. While others were thinking that we didn't know how to alphabetize comics. The Defenders had the Avengers logo on it and looked like it was an Avengers title where the Defenders should be. People do for whatever reason move titles around where they shouldn't go. Sadly it happens a lot more than I would like.

The Defenders have been around before. Couldn't a cover from a past Defenders issues be used instead of a Avengers cover featuring Captain America?

The Falcon was tied into a past Iron Man cover. Again why?  Falcon had a limited series years ago. Use one of those covers for a blast from the past.

One person did ask why did the Spirits of Vengeance cover fade to the X Men? Um, because that's what Marvel wanted?

Make no mistake, for a moment there I thought Marvel's old self was back after the Legacy one shot sold so well. Marvel didn't return. I have a lot of Marvel material, but only a slight increase in demand. Marvel's high thresholds made the lenticular cover unprofitable for us. That is on me. As I have stated before I can only lose as much money as I am willing to gamble. I slashed our future Marvel orders.

That said, Marvel blamed a previous drop in sales in DC's return ability program. Marvel claimed it tied up comic stores' cash flow. If they thought that was bad wait till the fallout from stores buying Marvel product that they had to order high on and were then stuck with due to low demand.

Marvel in the past has been good at getting comic stores to order a lot of their product thanks to variants and other gimmicks. That no longer is working. Marvel needs to try getting people into reading their comics. Something else they were good at years ago.

lenticular covers

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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