I've complained about Marvel Previews having "Classified" solicitations in the past. For those who don't ever pick up a copy, it's when Marvel tells diddly squat about an upcoming comic instead of providing information that may actually inspire readers to buy the comics. In keeping with my New Year's resolution of 2009, I'm actually writing to Marvel instead of just complaining about it online. Here's the message that I'm sending Joe Quesada via MySpace.

Mr. Q.,

I'm sure that you don't personally write the solicitations for Marvel Previews but I have a complaint. I searched and searched Marvel.com for a way to contact somebody who would be responsible but came up empty. Thus, I'm bringing my comments straight to you through the only place I know: MySpace.

It's not an exaggeration (X-Aggeration?) to say that I hate it when a solicitation is "Classified." I think the reason Marvel does this is to avoid spoilers. If I wanted to avoid spoilers, I wouldn't be reading Marvel Previews. I expect Previews to preview what is coming up. Shocking, I know. I won't pre-order a comic that is solicited "Classified."

There IS a very small chance that I'll pre-order a "Classified" comic based on the creative team alone. It's happened but it's rare. However, the Siege one-shots in the current Marvel Previews don't even have the creative teams. Heck, they don't even have titles. (See page 13 of issue 78 if you don't know what I'm referring to.) That's six titles I'm not going to order and therefore probably won't buy at all.

Please cut out the "Classified" garbage. I really believe that you're only hurting yourself in the long run. Towards the future...

Jeff Alan Polier

PS. Whoever wrote up the issue also spelled "Spider-Man" as "Spiderman" on the same page. That's awfully sloppy work for a Marvel publication!




What do the rest of you think about "Classified" solicitations?

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Comment by Cavaliere (moderator emeritus) on February 10, 2010 at 10:25pm
Marvel's sent out a press release about the "classified" Siege titles (found here courtesy of our intrepid Newsboy).

As expected, I have no interest in the Loki or Secret Warriors books. The Spider-Man book sounds as interesting as the Captain America and Young Avengers books. Will I order them, though? I'll have to think about it. The whole "classified" garbage still pushes the wrong buttons. Also, none of the creative teams excite me. They are names that I recognize but have no real appreciation for (or, for that matter, against).

Still no word as to what Fallen is about, though.
Comment by Cavaliere (moderator emeritus) on February 5, 2010 at 11:02pm
Yep. If it is a title that I'm already reading then I don't read the solicitation beyond the creative team. For example, I check that Matt Fraction is still writing Uncanny X-Men--and he is. If it were someone else then I'd likely go ahead and read the blurb and see if I want to take a chance on the new writer. There aren't any must-buy artists for me but there are a couple that I'd probably cancel a title over no matter who was writing it. (I haven't seen either artist draw a book in a long time, thankfully.)
Comment by Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) on February 5, 2010 at 5:16pm
I have to agree with, Jeff, myself. I too order through Previews. If I want to be surprised, and don't want anything spoiled for me, then I don't read anything about it, and I allow it to come naturally. It is actually quite easy avoid spoilers if you want to avoid them. On the other hand if I do want to know what the comic is about then seeing a big "CLASSIFIED" stamped on it is just a big turnoff. Whoever has done it just saved me 4 bucks and I can buy it for a buck later at some show if I want to.
Comment by Eric L. Sofer on February 5, 2010 at 7:19am
Per Dagwan: "Here's what happens: Marvel Classifies something. People wonder about it and wait. We place orders. The information is Declassified. A couple (sometimes literally) of customers request the title. We adjust our orders to a final number. Then more people ask for it- or drop it- and we either get stuck scrambling to get extra copies, or get stuck with a pile of unsellable crap. It's lose/lose for the retailers. It's win/win for Marvel though. If we over-order, we can't send it back. If we under-order, Marvel does another printing and misses no sales"

Okay, I admit I'm a fogey,and I'm cranky, and "you kids get off of my lawn" and all that. Personal opinions aside - does it make sense to try to get retailers to follow the logical course of under-ordering every single Marvel comic? If a retailer orders too high, he's GOT to eat those books. Oh, maybe he could donate them or something else to write them off... but they're a money hole. If he under-orders, then once his copies sell out, he can either tell his buyers, "Just wait! Marvel's printing more and I'll order yours! After all, you know Marvel!" or he can tell them, "I'm sorry you missed it. I can let you know next time when it's coming out and you can reserve a copy with me - hey, let me tell you about my pull service!"

Now, maybe Marvel IS looking for short orders - just enough to make it worth while to continue publishing a monthly title so that they can cash in on the TPBs for that book every six months. I don't know if anyone knows what Marvel Comics publishers are thinking (save that they really are a Mickey Mouse outfit now...)

But in an economy like this, in a market like this, where comics have gone up to four bucks apiece... I would think that any publisher would give the retailers EVERY SINGLE OPPORTUNITY to get product in buyers' hands.

{Fogey mode on} Except that I read this crap that they're publishing and realize why the product won't sell on its own.

x<]:o){
Comment by Alan M. on February 4, 2010 at 10:06pm
As for the issue just referred to as Fallen--well I have no bloody idea and neither does anybody else.

I'm led to believe it has to do with the character who died a very gruesome, Geoff Johns-ian death in Siege #2...
Comment by Cavaliere (moderator emeritus) on February 4, 2010 at 9:42pm
"Something tells me that people who hate it wouldn't be buying the issues anyway. "

Except that I might have. Two of the comics will feature Captain America and Young Avengers and I would be VERY likely to order those if I knew more about them. I might have ordered the "Spiderman" issue. It's true that I probably wouldn't order the Loki or Secret Warriors comics. As for the issue just referred to as Fallen--well I have no bloody idea and neither does anybody else.
Comment by The Baron on February 4, 2010 at 6:42pm
I'm going to sing the phrase "unsellable crap" to the tune of "Winnie the Pooh" for the rest of the evening.
Comment by Dagwan on February 4, 2010 at 6:27pm
Alan M is right, we retailers do have the chance to adjust orders after the CLASSIFIED info is released. Sometimes as much as 3 whole days.

That does not give our customers enough time to read the info (or even know it's been released) and get orders to us, so that we can adjust our orders.

Here's what happens: Marvel Classifies something. People wonder about it and wait. We place orders. The information is Declassified. A couple (sometimes literally) of customers request the title. We adjust our orders to a final number. Then more people ask for it- or drop it- and we either get stuck scrambling to get extra copies, or get stuck with a pile of unsellable crap. It's lose/lose for the retailers. It's win/win for Marvel though. If we over-order, we can't send it back. If we under-order, Marvel does another printing and misses no sales.

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

Check out the Secret Headquarters (my store) website! It's a pretty lame website, but I did it myself, so tough noogies

Listen to WOXY.com, it's the future of rock-n-roll!


Comment by Alan M. on February 4, 2010 at 3:50pm
@CK — That's why I said "From a marketing standpoint" and not "From a sales standpoint;" I don't have the data to say one way or the other whether the "classified" approach has been helpful or not (though I would guess it has improved sales, simply because if it didn't, they wouldn't keep doing it).

I'd think the metric for determining whether it works for selling your product to actual cash-paying customers would be in the order data. Marvel (and, Dags, correct me if I'm wrong) gives retailers a chance to adjust their orders once the classified data has been released, so if orders go significantly up once the data is released, it is working; if orders go down, it's not.

Unfortunately, I don't know as those numbers are available for public consumption. But if they are, I'm sure someone who likes to crunch numbers (like Chris Fluit) could give us a sense of the sales success of this approach.
Comment by Doc Beechler (mod-MD) on February 4, 2010 at 3:40pm
I know it's hard to believe...but the VAST majority of readers don't even look at Previews...so it's kind of a moot point.

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