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Overthought Bubble #14: So You Want To Boycott Millionaires

Written by Gavin D. on Tuesday, February 02 2016 and posted in Columns

Overthought Bubble #14: So You Want To Boycott Millionaires

Perlmutter and Geppi's political and personal opinions have led many to consider a boycott, but will there be collateral damage?



With the recent donation from Marvel President Ike Perlmutter to Donald Trump's "charity" event (as well as other undesirable actions) and the comics community's acknowledgement of Diamond Distributor CEO Steve Geppi's racist and classist opinions, many have expressed their desire to avoid giving these men money. Some have even declared, through various social media accounts, that they will be boycotting Marvel and/or print comics.

It is an understandable decision to want to boycott these men, but a lot of people are also conflicted due to the potential damage innocent people who work for the companies could suffer as a result of lost revenue. Avoiding print comics has a direct effect on Diamond, but it could have an arguably larger and more immediate effect on local comic stores. Not buying Marvel comics has a direct effect on Marvel Comics' profit, but it could also hurt the creative teams involved as the company has a habit of quickly chopping low selling books.

I will not tell you whether or not to boycott Marvel and/or Diamond. This is a personal decision that you should make entirely according to your own convictions. However should you choose to boycott these companies, I can offer some suggestions for how you could do so while still continuing to support local comic shops and creators.

So you want to support your local comic store, but not Diamond Distributors...

Diamond Distributors is the primary distributor of comic books. Marvel, DC, Image, Valiant, BOOM!, Oni, Dark Horse, IDW, and more ship their comics through Diamond. The company profits through the "direct market." This means that your LCS (Local Comic Store) buys books from a distributor, usually Diamond, and is then stuck with those books whether the books sell or not. As a result of this market LCS's rely on "pull lists" to order the right number of books. The pull list is a list of books that any given customer may wish to subscribe to. These titles are entered into a program which automatically order the books every month until the title is taken off of the customer's pull list. Even if you don't have a pull list, comic shop owners track the number of copies of a title they sell each month and try to order the "right" amount to satisfy demand. Remember, your LCS owner is a small business owner, so to avoid sticking them with comics they might be ordering for you, be sure to let them know what you're planning so they can adjust their orders. 

Additionally, there are a plethora of other ways to support your LCS without buying comics that directly benefit Diamond. One way is collecting back issues. Back issues, or old comics, often sit in long bins waiting for some collector to dig them out. Depending on the demographic of your LCS, these collectors can be few and far between at times. Many collectors search for first appearances and character deaths, but there are some back issues that are just really good stories worth reading.

Now let's say you are that first appearance collector. A great way to help your LCS is to ask your LCS owner before going to eBay. You may end up paying around $25 to $1,000,000 (depending on the character) for it, but that money will help keep your LCS open.

So you want to support creators, but not Marvel...

Perhaps the easiest problem to solve this is finding other ways to give your dollars to creators while avoiding Marvel. When a series doesn't sell well, it gets cut regardless of quality. When a series is cut, a creative team loses income. Imagine your boss saying, "Hey, you did a great job this quarter, but sales weren't high enough so we're taking it out of your paycheck." That is essentially what's happening here.

But many creators who write for Marvel also write or draw elsewhere as well. For example, Jeff Lemire is also writing for Image and Valiant, and Cullen Bunn is writing for almost any company you can think of. Look for creator owned titles by searching creators' names on ComicVine. Creator owned titles are often better for creators as these titles can give creators a percentage of sales, full creative control, and the ability to sell the movie rights to whoever they chose, those those things are not necessarily a given. You can support these titles to continue rewarding creators whose work you enjoy without giving the bulk of the profits to Marvel.

In the case of artists, however, the conflict can be less easy to resolve for those who draw at Marvel. Many artists are not capable of creating multiple titles each month due to the detail of their craft. That being said, however, a lot of artists will sell their original artwork online. This serves as another way to provide a direct profit to the creator through your purchases.

In the end, it's a reality that some creators or other employees of a corporation could be hurt by a successful boycott, but you can do your best to mitigate that potential damage, and ultimately, need to do what feels right to you.

So you think you can't hurt Marvel...

There are many dissenting voices that say Marvel is too strong and a boycott would not affect Perlmutter or Marvel. I strongly disagree with this idea. If you take a look at single title sales you, will see that - with the exception of a series launch - 100,000 copies sold is a rarity for any Marvel title. In fact, the only comic on the market that has sold 100,000 consistently is Batman. The market is substantially smaller than films or music. If a few thousand people change their spending habits, it will have a substantial effect on this small market that is comic books.

Now you may say that if it is a small market then Marvel's corporate overlords won't notice the loss. That would be a fair point, but this small market is still worth at least 800 million dollars. With Marvel having a 38% market share. This leaves Marvel at 304 million dollars. Not even a multi-billion dollar company like Disney, is going to let a 304 million dollar annual income slip away, especially when that business serves as a farm for more lucrative film ideas.

Marvel's sales are already falling. If you wanted to boycott Marvel, now would be the time, but you don't have to forget about the other people involved. Look for ways to support comics and their creators in ways that allow you to stick to your principles at the same time.





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About the Author - Gavin D.


Gavin Dillinger exists in a constant state of restlessness as he runs between two jobs and spends every spare moment writing articles or scripts. He has also perfected the art of being simultaneously dead tired and jacked on coffee, and is the best-selling author of When is the Right Age to Tell Your Highway It's Adopted. Gavin graduated Cum Laude from MTSU and should probably get a real job. You can follow him on Twitter or see a random thought on tumblr once every three five months.


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