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Slice of Melon: Part 2- Competing with Vertigo

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Slice of Melon: Part 2- Competing with Vertigo

Postby MoneyMelon » Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:01 am

Welcome to my second edition of "Slice of Melon"

I want to touch on something that I always thought was a huge flaw with Marvel. And that's the fact that they really have nothing to compete with DC's Vertigo line.

I know Marvel launched their Icon line, and I think that's a great start. But I think it needs to be carried a step further. "Icon" sounds a little too selective to me. Like you're only letting top tier guys do books like that. I want to open it up a bit more.

I don't have a name for this line yet, but it would basically absord the Icon line. And I'd get the ball rolling with "big name" writers but then I'd open the door for any other good ideas, sort of like how Vertigo does things.

To start, the line would include the following books by the following writers:
1. Criminal by Ed Brubaker
2. Powers by Brian Michael Bendis
3. Kick Ass by Mark Millar

I'd also like Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison and Brian K Vaughan to have a crack at it. But I wouldn't put them all out at the same time. I'd hold some back for a while so I'm not flooding the market with tons of books all at once. That never works.

This is one area of Marvel where there would be absolutely no interference by editors. Creators are given complete 100% freedom with their books.

There would also be a higher tolerance for low sales. Plus there will be things to jog interest with readers like free preview give-aways in the comic shops, previews online, discounted first issues, cheap $9.99 trades, etc.

This line is separate from the MAX line. I'll get into that more next time.
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Postby Keb » Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:44 pm

Explain more. I don't think you're getting at how it's going to compete with Vertigo.

Vertigo is a mature readers imprint that deals with non-superhero materials. Lately, they've been publishing creator-owned works but not all books coming from that line are creator-owned. You'll find more of that stuff at Vertigo now, but it's not really creator-owned. Wildstorm is more the line for creator-owned works.

the Icon imprint is for creator-owned works published through Marvel for their exclusive writers, hence Powers, Criminal, Kick-Ass, Kabuki and such coming from that imprint. If you're gonna use Icon, then it's going to be creator-owned work, which I believe we don't see much from Marvel because they have a different policy (why wouldn't Kirkman and Ellis be publishing their stuff through Icon if they have exclusive contracts?).

There's nothing wrong with Icon or the fact that Marvel wants to avoid trying to compete with Vertigo. You get major literary works coming out of Vertigo (I believe) and Marvel is very smart not to compete with that. Marvel, as I see it, competes with DC and the imprints are pretty much capoot because they're a different kind of comic (maybe they compete with Wildstorm, but Wildstorm is a different thing altogether). Aim your competition at the superheroes, because that's what Marvel is doing.

Vertigo doesn't have the high sales, it's the superhero lines that get those sales. And for the specific reason of the superhero genre being the dominant genre in comics.

If you're going to change your policy as to publishing non-superhero stuff that attempts to poke at the literary cannon, then you've got to change your policies. Marvel hasn't put out anything truly striking outside of the comics medium since...uhhh...I can't even think of one.
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Postby nietoperz » Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:30 pm

Also, we have no idea if Kick Ass is actually going to be any good. Remember, Quesada appears to be in love with Millar to the extent that he would publish the man's shopping list in Prestige format if he had it handy.
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Postby MoneyMelon » Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:25 pm

nietoperz wrote:Also, we have no idea if Kick Ass is actually going to be any good. Remember, Quesada appears to be in love with Millar to the extent that he would publish the man's shopping list in Prestige format if he had it handy.

Yeah, I'm really not a big fan of Millar either. Some of his stuff has been pretty decent (The Ultimates Volume One, The Authority) and some of it I really hated (Wolverine, Civil War, The Ultimates Volume Two).

But I understand that there's a lot of people out there that do love his stuff and it does sell. I'm definitely willing to give him a shot. From that point, it's up to him to keep people interested in his work.

Part of this job, I think, is trial and error.

The one guy I really want to produce for me would be Garth Ennis. I think he's a little soured over how The Boys got dropped by DC and I notice he's doing more Marvel work now. He's also mentioned he wants to do another series with Steve Dilllon called "City Lights" or something like that. I'd try to steer him toward Marvel for that project.

Plus it seems like Neil Gaiman has a good relationship with Marvel. I'd give him the green light for whatever he wants to do.
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Postby MoneyMelon » Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:37 pm

Keb wrote:Explain more. I don't think you're getting at how it's going to compete with Vertigo.

Vertigo is a mature readers imprint that deals with non-superhero materials. Lately, they've been publishing creator-owned works but not all books coming from that line are creator-owned. You'll find more of that stuff at Vertigo now, but it's not really creator-owned. Wildstorm is more the line for creator-owned works.

I'd take it on a case by case basis. The goal is basically to do a mature readers line independant of the Marvel Universe. The one difference is that I'd still allow some superhero stuff, as long as it makes sense. Like Powers, for example. Some of it, of course, will be creator owned. Some will not.

It basically comes down to this........Do you have a good idea? What will it take for you to do this story with Marvel?

I handle contracts professionally right now for a living. I understand that different people negotiate different ways. It's about trying to find that middle ground that benefits everybody.

Keb wrote:the Icon imprint is for creator-owned works published through Marvel for their exclusive writers, hence Powers, Criminal, Kick-Ass, Kabuki and such coming from that imprint. If you're gonna use Icon, then it's going to be creator-owned work, which I believe we don't see much from Marvel because they have a different policy (why wouldn't Kirkman and Ellis be publishing their stuff through Icon if they have exclusive contracts?).

The invitiation for them to bring their stuff to Marvel would be wide open. And I'd make them competitive offers to do so. At that point, the ball is in their court and its up to them.


Keb wrote:There's nothing wrong with Icon or the fact that Marvel wants to avoid trying to compete with Vertigo. You get major literary works coming out of Vertigo (I believe) and Marvel is very smart not to compete with that. Marvel, as I see it, competes with DC and the imprints are pretty much capoot because they're a different kind of comic (maybe they compete with Wildstorm, but Wildstorm is a different thing altogether). Aim your competition at the superheroes, because that's what Marvel is doing.

I'm not exactly doing away with Icon. I'm just expanding it, really. Superheroes will always be Marvel's bread and butter, but I don't see any reason why a major publisher can't expand beyond that.

Keb wrote:Vertigo doesn't have the high sales, it's the superhero lines that get those sales. And for the specific reason of the superhero genre being the dominant genre in comics.

This is true, but it does sell well in trades and I think publishing works like Preacher or Sandman really raises the pretige of a publisher. I think it's also a good way to establish relationships with creators and discover talent. Look how many "big name" writers out there were really discovered with the work they did for Vertigo.

It's an investment and investments imply risk, but I think it's a risk worth taking and it's an investment I believe in.

Keb wrote:If you're going to change your policy as to publishing non-superhero stuff that attempts to poke at the literary cannon, then you've got to change your policies. Marvel hasn't put out anything truly striking outside of the comics medium since...uhhh...I can't even think of one.

That's what I aim to change.
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Postby nietoperz » Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:47 pm

MoneyMelon wrote:Plus it seems like Neil Gaiman has a good relationship with Marvel. I'd give him the green light for whatever he wants to do.


Now that's something we can all get behind! :D
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Postby Shady » Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:06 pm

nietoperz wrote:Now that's something we can all get behind! :D


if he can ever win the rights to miracleman it would be a coup for marvel to publish it

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Postby Daniel » Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:15 pm

Shady wrote:if he can ever win the rights to miracleman it would be a coup for marvel to publish it
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I don't think that would happen, as much as I want it to happen. :([/img]
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Postby Keb » Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:59 pm

Well, Neil Gaiman's stuff, all the profit that Marvel makes on it is sent to the CBLDF (or at a large portion, I believe) which in turn goes to fund his battle to the rights for MiracleMan. It's a no-brainer, get him on more stuff and you're more likely to see MiracleMan re-published.

While I think your approach so far has been pretty solid, Keith, I'd re-think this one. Vertigo's been around for what 15-odd years? Wouldn't Marvel have already tried to compete with them? I think your best strategy would be to approach it from an angle that doesn't imply imitation, try something new, because Vertigo is nothing new, so throwing a MarVertigo imprint isn't something consumers are going to look at with enthusiasm.

I think a few reasons why Vertigo was success was the time of which the imprint came out and the financial and intellectual backing it had. Marvel doesn't have that and I think it's a bit late.
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Re: Slice of Melon: Part 2- Competing with Vertigo

Postby misac » Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:22 pm

MoneyMelon wrote:I'd take it on a case by case basis. The goal is basically to do a mature readers line independant of the Marvel Universe. The one difference is that I'd still allow some superhero stuff, as long as it makes sense. Like Powers, for example. Some of it, of course, will be creator owned. Some will not.


If you're doing creator owned and non-creator owned work I think it'd be better to combine this line with the Max line. You don't want to have to many different imprints.
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Postby Starlord » Sat Jan 26, 2008 12:49 am

Question for you Mr. EIC. Would you take any of the Marvel A,B, or even C list characters and move them over to this more mature group of books (like DC did with Animal Man and Doom Patrol - as a couple of examples)
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Postby MoneyMelon » Sat Jan 26, 2008 3:26 am

starlord wrote:Question for you Mr. EIC. Would you take any of the Marvel A,B, or even C list characters and move them over to this more mature group of books (like DC did with Animal Man and Doom Patrol - as a couple of examples)

Dr. Strange by Neil Gaiman and Jae Lee

Blade, Ghost Rider and Black Widow become part of the MAX line
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Postby misac » Thu Jan 31, 2008 3:37 pm

MoneyMelon wrote:Dr. Strange by Neil Gaiman and Jae Lee

Blade, Ghost Rider and Black Widow become part of the MAX line


:smt055


I think there should be SHEILD would make a fine MAX title. And a WWII Nick Fury and western characters too.
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Postby MoneyMelon » Thu Jan 31, 2008 3:44 pm

misac wrote::smt055


I think there should be SHEILD would make a fine MAX title. And a WWII Nick Fury and western characters too.

I plan on having a Nick Fury book.

Some other B-listers I'd like to focus on are Shang Chi: Master of Kung Fu and Black Cat.
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Postby misac » Thu Jan 31, 2008 4:03 pm

MoneyMelon wrote:I plan on having a Nick Fury book.

Some other B-listers I'd like to focus on are Shang Chi: Master of Kung Fu and Black Cat.


Another kung fu would be great. There's so many great things that could be done it makes my head spin.
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