Friday, December 21, 2012

Open Letter to Marvel: An Alternative to the Point One System

I understand why Marvel does the point one thing. Especially with the limited economy, comic companies really want to fight for readers’  dollars and draw them in at logical jumping on points. In an ideal world every issue would be a good jumping on point as it’s potentially someone’s first but the serialized nature of today’s superhero books doesn’t always allow that. Still, the point one idea has some inherent flaws:

  1.  Only people who are familiar with Marvel’s current business practices are likely to understand that the point one’s are intended as jumping on points. People new to comics, new to Marvel comics, and lapsed Marvel readers considering returning to the fold might not make the connection. Most people who know about the point one system are probably people who already read a number of Marvel titles.
  2. Point ones impede searching for back issues because you have to do a lot of research to figure where the point ones land for each title.
  3. Point ones can cause frustration if a reader combing the back issues things they have consecutive issues but then when they sit down to read them only to learn that there’s an issue in between, one which starts the next storyline no less.
  4. If a reader runs into the above problem often enough they may start waiting for the trade for titles in general (and if enough do that it may reduce the likelihood of a trades and increase the risk of titles’ cancellation).
  5. Point ones aren’t attention grabbing; from a distance they look like regular issues with regular covers, further reducing the likelihood of newer readers trating the issue as a jumping on point.

Here’s what I propose instead: keep the regular issue numbering and create a colourful logo clearly stating that a given issue is a jumping on point.  Here are some advantages to this approach:

  1. It clearly lets everyone know, including brand new readers that this is a good point to start with a particular title. The term “Jumping on point” is intuitive to a layman in a way that point one is not.
  2. While readers might still need to do research if they’re looking specifically for key jumping on points, if they’re just trying to collect back issues to a certain point in time, no research is needed/
  3. If a reader is missing an issue, they are aware of it and can more easily hunt down the missing issue because they’re aware of the missing issue’s existence.
  4. While some readers will wait for the trade regardless, numbering confusion due to point ones is less likely to be a factor.
  5. If you make a Jumping On Point logo colourful enough, you can really catch the eye of a prospective new reader. Even with standard issues, the best covers have some element that grabs the eye’s attention. Such a logo can tell new readers, “Come on in, stranger, and welcome!”

In conclusion, if you really want to grab new readers by way of specific jumping on points, be as intuitive as possible. Point ones aren’t intuitive and can turn readers off. A Jumping On Point logo keeps things intuitive while also being attention grabbing.

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