005: Will Marvel Cut Off Nose To Spite Fantastic Face?
This podcast is audio-only. In episode 5 of The Escapist's Comics and Cosplay podcast, we talk about the place of comics in modern popular culture, especially in light of Marvel's rumored (and if true, completely crazy insane) plan to put Fantastic Four on hiatus as a F-U to Fox, and offer up some crazy insane suggestions for how the comics industry can increase readership. WARNING: None of us are business experts.
I was gonna say since I was really deeply listening into this conversation. I think at this point Fantastic Four is such a small part of Marvel Comics overall revenue stream that I don't think they much care about the money. Marvel is making so much money from all other sources that it can't be a big deal to cancel what is essentially a series kept alive with little more then a long history of simply still being there.
That's simply to say that as much as the 90's may have been a weird dark and awkward age for comics, the lingering effect is that Fantastic Four just has not been branded well for the Gen X/Y's let alone the millennial. I'm sure the conversation at Marvel went along the lines of weighing the potential gain in sales from the movie vs the headache that would result from them trying to maneuver around the movies. As much as those who visit the escapist might know that Fantastic Four is not a 'Marvel' movie, it still is branded with the Marvel logo and features that same Marvel intro that all the other movies do. So for them not having brand control is a lot bigger a risk for them, and they problem want to establish to as many people as possible that this is not Marvel, and we are not responsible for what is likely going to be an awful movie carrying our name.
To be honest, looking at this from a business perspective it actually makes a great deal of sense, and if I were in Marvel's shoes I would do the same.
Seriously, how many fans does Marvel have to lose over this one? Someone might read something like Spider-man and nothing else by marvel, but Fantastic Four? Is anyone sitting there thinking "Oh no! my favorite comic! I'm never reading anything by Marvel ever again!"
Marvel is distancing themselves from this project as much as possible, and it is so there is no mistake that this is not a a Marvel Venture. Even if the two studios didn't completely hate each other, this would still be a smart move.
When you started talking about comics in a digital medium, I started thinking.... What about creating Comic Book Audio Books? Instead of just having the ability to flip through the few pages, add an audio track to it, I think many people would like the story if they could look away for a minute to cook dinner, the same way people "watch TV" while they cook dinner.
Here's the logic: Comics make shit money.
Simple as that. Most of the money come from other merchandise. So cancelling FF doesn't actually cost Marvel that much money... Hell, it might even SAVE them money.
There's something you missed entirely in this podcast. Webcomics. I reguarly read webcomics like Order of the Stick and Unsounded. You can find them free online and they are run by merchandise and adverts. It seems to be ignored when that is where comics have gone and the big people like Marvel and DC have ignored it.
I would also suggest getting better microphones, because the audio quality of Marla and Stew.
If they really wanted to be spiteful then why not Xmen or Spiderman? Fact is they are getting rid of FF due to lack of money its comics are making. An not because of the new movie coming out.
I blame Rob Liefeld. It's all his fault.
The first thing that jumped out at me was the:
"poor Marvel. They really got taken advantage of by Fox and Sony."
Sentiment within the podcast. Fair enough. Marvel was in a desperate place, and those guys pounced. But Marvel were still the ones that agreed to the terms of the deal, so them being pissy about it now that they're no longer in dire straits doesn't garner them any sympathy, IMO. It's like you falling on hard times, and someone buying your car for less than it's worth. Later, feeling that you're owed more money because you were "cheated," you harbor resentment, and demand that your car be returned. Sucks, but tough shit. Marvel signed on the line. Fox & Sony don't owe them anything.
That said, Marvel's goal is to have the movie rights returned to them. Is that worth more, or less, than revenue from the F4 comics? Marvel continues to make comics, comics promote the movies (even indirectly), and that makes the movies even slightly more successful, which helps Fox. Even if it's only a little. Marvel wants to make F4 poison so that Fox returns it. If they go through with this then it's clear that they think the return of the movie rights is worth losing any revenue from the comics. As stated, there isn't a big turnaround of the movies then causing increased interest in the comics, so the publishing the comics do more to help the movie (Fox), than the movies do to help the comics (marvel).
History is written by the victor, so if Marvel goes through with this, and it results in F4 movie rights being returned, we'll all be talking about what a bold, gutsy, move it was.