Direct Market Described As Easy Money

Slide from Newsstand Rarity Discussion & Estimates; discussion below.

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This slide is part of my post entitled
Newsstand Rarity Discussion & Estimates where I have collected quotes and graphics related to the discussion of relative newsstand rarity over the years, compared to direct edition copies. In this slide, I am discussing a quote by Jim Shooter about how he lost his battles to help support the newsstand:

“The Direct Market was easy money, quick money, sure money to the brass — not that any of them had ever set foot in a comics shop or even opened a comic book. To them it was about moving the units and collecting the cash. Might as well have been widgets we were selling. But, they knew the Direct Market was shooting fish in a barrel. Why jeopardize that? Circulation V.P. Ed Shukin, both Kalish and Denise’s boss, kept his head low and his mouth shut. He knew which way the wind was blowing upstairs. So, Denise and I lost and Kalish won. I was gone from Marvel not too long afterwards, so, it was my problem no longer. Kalish passed away in 1991, but ultimately Marvel arrived where she wanted it. And that’s where we are now.”

— Jim Shooter, Comic Book Distribution Part III

What is particularly interesting to me about this quote, is that it provides insight into how the “brass” at Marvel felt about Direct Edition sales, as compared to newsstand sales. In the context of another quote from another slide about how publishers were “awash in profits” on account of direct edition sales, it would definitely make sense that the sales-focused executives would choose the more profitable distribution channel to support. But in doing so, newsstand sales suffered to the point where the pendulum had swung so far, that Marvel was completely dependent on direct market sales. Shooter mentions how Marvel ultimately arrived at that point of total direct edition dominance; it is interesting too to see that 1991 year mentioned, in the context of some of the other slides — for example there is that quote that a mere 14% of Marvel’s sales were newsstand by the time Jemas arrived at Marvel in 1999; and Rozanski’s 1990 estimate of 15% newsstand sales.

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