Marvel Editor in Chief Axel Alonso stopped by publisher whorehouse Comic Book Resources today for his weekly standing feaured interview that in no way constitutes an inappropriate relationship between publisher and media outlet. Amidst the usual talk of how excited Marvel's latest super-mega-crossover event makes him, Alonso answered a pre-approved question about Marvel's ridiculous numbering system, where all the issue numbers have decimal points, some of which aren't even real numbers:
Getting into Original Sin itself -- some of the numbering for the tie-ins, like the story that Waid and Kieron Gillen are doing with Hulk and Iron Man running through #3.1-#3.4 of Original Sin -- I could see people viewing that as difficult to follow. Do you see that at all, or does it seem fairly straightforward in your mind?
Alonso: I only bought into this program when I understood the advantages it presented for positioning in the catalog, for the clarity it would provide to retailers. There are lessons you learn about the way retailers order, and how they look at projects in the catalog, and where you need to position them. What we've come up with is the best strategy for retailers to understand exactly what they're ordering, but fans to understand exactly what they're buying. This numbering strategy won't be confusing to fans when they go to the store.
When [Marvel SVP, Sales and Marketing] David Gabriel unveiled his numbering strategy for the "Original Sin" tie-ins, I was skeptical and so was Tom [Brevoort], who edits the series. But David adequately addressed our questions and concerns, and we now understand the logic of the plan. The "OS 3.1" etcetera numbering keeps it easier for the retailer to order from Diamond. But when fans go to the store, what they'll see on the stands is "Hulk vs. Iron Man" #1.
Wha? How is that not confusing? Of course, it's CBR, so they just let this slide. What can you expect from a website that doesn't even bother to ensure that images sent to them by publishers don't contain brutal rape scenes with erect barbarian penises before blindly posting them to their front page like obedient lapdogs.
They did press an issue later in the interview, however, or at least pretend to so that Alonso could take a bunch of shots at rival DC Comics:
This week, DC Comics released partial solicitations for September 2014, with no creative teams, as of yet, listed. It certainly sparked discussion online -- what was your reaction when you saw that?
Alonso: I think it's dangerous to tell retailers and fans, "Hey, check out this cool lenticular cover! Who's writing and drawing it, you ask? Nevermind, check out this cool lenticular cover!" If I were the writer or artist of that issue, I'd wonder why my involvement is being concealed. And if I were a retailer or a fan, I'd be skeptical that I'm being asked to literally buy a book for its cover. I'd assume the enhanced cover is camouflage for a fill-in issue.
At Marvel, the important thing is story and the talent that bring you that story; covers are a selling tool that should wrap around a good story -- they are not what we are selling. The fact that it's Stan Lee and Jack Kirby doing "Fantastic Four," Frank Miller doing "Daredevil," hell, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo doing "Batman" is extremely relevant. It's the creative teams that mine the gold of our characters. That's the driving philosophy behind Marvel NOW!: Find the best creators to tell the best story. "Elektra" #1 has cool variant covers by Paolo Rivera, Bill Sienkiewicz and Skottie Young, but they're meant to shine a spotlight on the story by Haden Blackman and Mike Del Mundo.
That said, this September, amidst the sea of lenticular covers, [Laughs] you'll find a comic book that tells a huge Marvel story. We'll be unveiling details about it this weekend at C2E2, and the draw, as always, is the story and the exciting team that will bring it to you. I am very excited about this series.
Thank god, I was beginning to get worried Axel wasn't excited about enough stuff in this interview. CBR pressed on:
In this instance, it could be that the creative teams have not been completely determined yet.
Alonso: I find that really hard to believe. For one or two titles, maybe, but for the whole line? From a production standpoint alone, each of those issues should be in outline form, at the very least, just in order to hit deadline. No, it's a strategic move to put up big numbers in the month of September, and don't think anyone benefits from it in the long-term.
It hasn't been this exact circumstance with Marvel, but Marvel has obviously employed different cover gimmicks, also.
Alonso: We use enhanced covers to create theater and drive sales for new series, but they are always used to support content -- to support the story that's being told. They are not used to camouflage content. The acetate covers on "Origin II" announce that the book is special, but the book is special because it's a big story, brought to you by two top creators.
And look, this is not part of the ongoing discussion of the tactical use of variants. Used in moderation, variants help publishers launch books and they put money in retailers' pockets. That's not what we're talking about here; we're talking about selling covers, not comics.
So basically, it's different when they do it. Possibly because Axel is more excited about it than Dan Didio. My favorite part of the interview, however, is the fact that, though blogger extraordinaire Albert Ching is conducting the interview, it's Alonso himself that gets the byline on the article.
Conflict of what now?