Kind of interesting to read the various reactions around the Internet, from the retailing perspective, on Captain America... and find myself agreeing with none of them.
Joe Riley's angry tirade against Marvel seems unfair and a bit pissy that Marvel didn't anticipate the retailers' every move and counter it. Yes, Marvel could have given the info about the overprint a little earlier so that everyone could have gotten onboard with a direct ship delivery next week instead of having to wait another week until March 21st. Yeah, I'm a little annoyed about that turn of events, too. But you know who I'm most annoyed at? Me, for not going with my instinct and trying to put in an order on Wednesday. Instead, reality slapped me in the face at 2 PM on Thursday when I realized that even if they weren't available, I should call in to Diamond and see what future plans would be. Retailing isn't supposed to be easy, it's supposed to be work, and you're supposed to use your head and try to think about what's coming. Frustrating when it doesn't work, and certainly Marvel could have made things easier, but this is not something for which editorial heads should roll.
Customers are coming into your store, excited about a comic book. Many of them are not regular customers, but new people, full of potential to buy comics from your store. If they're leaving frustrated, it's at least partly your fault, because they *can* get their comic, they might just have to wait a week or two for it. If they've ever tried to buy a hot videogame or videogame system on release day (and the odds are good that they have) they're going to understand that. Unless you gripe at them about Marvel's short-sightedness and how they're trying to screw your business, in which case they might just decide you're right and comics aren't worth it.
Of course, Garner Loudermilk's defense of Marvel is arrogant, insulting and factually wrong. First of all, he considers DC's over-printing of Superman a mistake, lamenting that "now the book is barely worth a little over cover." He further spews "If Marvel has learned from DC's mistake then I for one am glad of this. If they over-printed the book then there is no chance of the book rising in value."
Garner, as someone who watched the entire industry nearly collapse thanks to assholes speculating on comics like commodities, allow me to offer a hearty "go fuck yourself." Rising in value? Bullshit. A secondary market where the book rises in value benefits Ebay, and those who view comics as stocks and bonds with four-color covers. It doesn't help Marvel (should they not print a trade, too, just in case?), it doesn't help retailers in the long run, it doesn't help the fanbase, it doesn't help the industry. Your knowledge of the comics industry is about 12 years late, so maybe you ought to clam up and do some research before you go shooting your mouth off.
Garner also offers this gem: "Where it went wrong is store owners failing to capitalize on it. Don't blame the industry, blame yourself. You knew it was selling, you read three months ago in Previews when it said someone was going to die. If you failed to order up on it and are losing out on sales, it's your fault."
In point of fact, no one read three months ago in Previews that someone was going to die. You know what we read? "CIVIL WAR - CLASSIFIED - More information to come." Except it didn't. Again... get your facts straight before you start making accusations. What the hell does a marketing associate for a toy company know about comics retail, anyway? Then he goes on to blame the fans for not pre-ordering:
"But if the customers didn't have it on their subscription list at their local comic shop then again that is their fault, not Marvel's."
Yeah, fanboys, why didn't you know that Captain America was going to die and that CNN and every news organization was going to pick it up and it was going to sell out? Why didn't you plan to buy a comic you don't regularly pick up three months ago because Marvel said it was going to be big? They've never lied about that kind of thing before, and really, shouldn't everyone be buying their comics three months ahead of time instead of coming in to the shop to browse and buy what they're interested in then?
Again, what Garner knows about comics retailing could clearly fill a thimble. But he's got a Grand Canyon sized bowl full of disdain for retailers and comic fans.
But I think I might start calling Chris Butcher before I place any of my comics orders in the future... he has some sort of crystal ball that always allows him to get things exactly right. And if some of us were caught unawares by the level of the demand, we must be idiots. Because anyone who didn't *know* that it was going to be a giant media event and thus quadruple their regular orders so they could sell out the next day rather than the day of is clearly not doing their job properly. As we all know, there are no variables to ordering comics retail, and if you don't guess everything 100% correctly all of the time, you are not doing your job properly.