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Old January 21st, 2007   fallentaco is offline   #1
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Default The State of the Comic-Fan and do the Companies Care?

This has been on my mind for a while now, and i have some free time so i decided to post it.

Warning! Many may not agree with me on this, but really i don't care...Also, this is going to be a long post.

Not to long ago i posted a thread about Fans complaining about "miss-treatment" of comic characters. the response was less than stealer.
Well then i got to thinking. why do we as fans seem to complain as a whole, we who by the product's, we who make the comic book companies money, why are our complaints mostly unheard?

Granted we get some change, we save some titles, like Manhunter and Spider-girl. But for the most part, why do the companies not listen and comment on our complaints?

For example, Judd Winick, i don't want a bashing thread, but i think it deserves some comment. I personally do not care for much of Judd's work. I liked the Red hood arc in batman, but not much else. Green Arrow hasn't been great and Outsiders is reverting back to pre-OYL arcs. Many fans complain that Judd is on an epic quest to create a new diverse, politically correct DCU, and i do not have a problem with that. But people claim that Green Arrow has no plot, doesn't fit in continuity wise anywhere and is just a mess. Ollie being mayor has no significance, and blah blah blah. People claim his Shazam mini isn't good, that it doesn't make sense, etc. But he keeps writing the titles, and more fans stop reading, so why does DC not respond to fans outrage? Yes, many still buy the book, but how long ca that last? Sometime fans will hit their limit and stop buying the books. What will DC do then? Will they simply Cancel the title? Claiming not to know why the readers dropped the title?

This logic also applies to the Hawkwoman title, if Rumors hold true the title will be canceled soon. Fans have responded in a mixed way, saying its just boring, bad art, etc. Does DC not listen?
Companies like money, the need it, they want it, so shouldn't they listen to the fans, those who buy the titles? Art can be changed, new writer brought in, a prime example of this can be Nightwing. Fans hated the OYL arc, and DC responded with Marv, can't they do this more often?

Granted some fans respond in a negative way, Bashing creators, starting flame threads and more. That will go unnoticed, and probably should. But if there are multiple flame threads on many sites shouldn't that issue be addressed?

Consider the JLI, Terra 1 and 2, Cassandra Cain, the new Supergirl and more.
Fans are outraged by the "changes" that have happened to them, many complain, some don't buy the titles, etc. What will happen to those characters? Many adult DC readers grew up with them, the JLI and Terra, and when DC kills them they feel as though DC is killing their childhood.

This also affects Marvel, with Ultimates, Civil War and more. Fans response has been mixed.

Manhunter is another example. DC listened to fas and gave it a new 5 issue arc. Fans loved it, but then, before all 5 issues shipped they canceled it again. Granted i know that pre-issue sales are responsible for this,m but what about reorders and trade sales? What if they go up? Fans, myself included are wondering about this, and are hoping a second letter campaign will save the title. And it may.

Also, what about the lateness in most modern titles? All-Star Batman, All-Star superman, WILDcats, Ultimates, Moon Knight, Action Comics, Wonder Woman, Teen Titans, Green Lantern, Authority and more. I know many people who have dropped the titles due to the lateness. And maybe they should, are we really expected to buy a title that is called a monthly, or Bi-monthly that only ships every 4-5 months? sometimes once a year?

These issues are for the most part due to Companies wanting to let the Writers and artists give their ideal Vision. and that is a good thing, but there should be a limit. When we only get one issue a year, or when the scripts just don't come in due to other jobs the writers have, should the fans suffer?
I know there is always the issue of fill-in artists, but sometimes they are needed. Should there be a limit to the amount of time the Publishers and fans should have to wait?

Many fans are going the trade route, i my self may join that path soon. But what about the "Niche" titles that do not get formal, or even any trade format? For years fans have called for Titans Hunt, Ostrander's Suicide Squad, O'Neil's Question to be presented in trade format. Have they yet? No, should the Publishers realize that there is genuine demand for these titles? If they want to make money, which they do, shouldn't they respond to fan's demand? Isn't the comic business a supply and demand procedure?

So my Question is, why do the Companies not respond to the fans questions, concerns and demands?
 
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Old January 21st, 2007   Lady Obie is offline   #2
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There is a way for fans to complain and make their voices heard. Snail mails have a powerful impact and we can include complaints in those as long as we're respectful of DC's employees including the letters recipients

But ultimately the strongest voice we all have is our $$$

It's always important we only buy what we like and skip what we don't i.e. I used to buy big events almost slavishly until about 5-10 years ago when I realized they not only weren't giving me what I wanted in comics they were also giving me a lot of things I didn't want in comics

So I literally put my money where my mouth is and I invite every other comic fan to join me
 
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Old January 21st, 2007   Marky is offline   #3
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The companies care, it's thier business too. They put out books that they think the fans will like, if they sell they continue, if they don't sell so well they may not. The idea that DC/Marvel etc don't "care" about fans is a bit absurd IMO.

If you are an EIC at a company you will not be able to please all the people all the time, you just can't do it. These companies are there to make money sure, but at the same time all the hard work that goes into writing, drawing, publishing, hiring etc is done in the hope that the fans will enjoy the product.

In short yes, the companies do care about fans, it's fans who read the books they publish, it's thier business to. However at the same time you can't run a business by responding to all the whiney internet talkback, it's then that you go down the path of Hollywood changing movies based on test screenings. Also, as Lady Obie says above, if you dont like something don't buy it.
 
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Old January 22nd, 2007   E2Brutus is offline   #4
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Despite the fact that comic companies did away with the letters pages because of message boards, not all comic fans post. 52 sells over 100,000 copies every week; do we have 100,000 people posting here on Wednesday? I don't think so (the most ever online was 883 or something).

Yes we, the Comic Fan Elite--aka the uber-geek--complain about a great many things. But despite all the fans complaining about the Manhunter cancellation, the sales are still below the cutoff. Even though "everyone" is up in arms about the JLI being killed off or books being late, those books still sell. Judd's books sell. Clearly someone likes them, moreso than the folks that say he's a hack (not putting words in your mouth, fallentaco, just making a point).

As much as we'd like to think that we here on the ComicBloc (or at Newsarama or even the DCMBs) are the True Voice of Fandom, we're just a section of the total comic-buying public. A rather small one at that.

Just buy the books you like, don't buy the ones you don't. Dan Didio recently dropped by the Bloc for the first time (I won't go into how that all went over)--if our opinion meant as much as we think, reading the boards would be a major part of his day.

This isn't to say that we have no voice at all in how things go. A lot of creators do frequent the boards, and I'm sure they take what we say into consideration. If not, how likely do you think it would be that Jericho comes back from the dead or Hawk & Dove get a revival of sorts? Heck, if it weren't for fan outcry I'm sure Hal Jordan would still be dead.

If you're unhappy, here's what you do: stop buying the book. If you're really cheesed, send the editor a letter telling him why. For instance, a few letters to Mike Carlin telling him that we like Hawkgirl, just not the current direction, could mean the difference between cancellation & revamp/relaunch. It worked for Manhunter once. It worked for Spider-Girl two or three times. Editors don't have the time to come to us, we have to go to them. Let your freak flag fly, my brethren & sistren!
 
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Old January 22nd, 2007   J-Liv is offline   #5
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Despite the fact that comic companies did away with the letters pages because of message boards, not all comic fans post. 52 sells over 100,000 copies every week; do we have 100,000 people posting here on Wednesday? I don't think so (the most ever online was 883 or something).

Yes we, the Comic Fan Elite--aka the uber-geek--complain about a great many things. But despite all the fans complaining about the Manhunter cancellation, the sales are still below the cutoff. Even though "everyone" is up in arms about the JLI being killed off or books being late, those books still sell. Judd's books sell. Clearly someone likes them, moreso than the folks that say he's a hack (not putting words in your mouth, fallentaco, just making a point).

As much as we'd like to think that we here on the ComicBloc (or at Newsarama or even the DCMBs) are the True Voice of Fandom, we're just a section of the total comic-buying public. A rather small one at that.

Just buy the books you like, don't buy the ones you don't. Dan Didio recently dropped by the Bloc for the first time (I won't go into how that all went over)--if our opinion meant as much as we think, reading the boards would be a major part of his day.

This isn't to say that we have no voice at all in how things go. A lot of creators do frequent the boards, and I'm sure they take what we say into consideration. If not, how likely do you think it would be that Jericho comes back from the dead or Hawk & Dove get a revival of sorts? Heck, if it weren't for fan outcry I'm sure Hal Jordan would still be dead.

If you're unhappy, here's what you do: stop buying the book. If you're really cheesed, send the editor a letter telling him why. For instance, a few letters to Mike Carlin telling him that we like Hawkgirl, just not the current direction, could mean the difference between cancellation & revamp/relaunch. It worked for Manhunter once. It worked for Spider-Girl two or three times. Editors don't have the time to come to us, we have to go to them. Let your freak flag fly, my brethren & sistren!
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Honestly, this sums it up nicely.

I would go one step further, and say that, if you care about the book in question enough yourself (ie: it's a book that you've always loved, but you hate the current direction), you should ALWAYS accompany dropping a book with a letter to the editor/publisher.

If the sales drop off on a book, this tells DC/Marvel that something isn't working, but it doesn't tell them WHAT isn't working. Is it the writer? The artist? A revamp that didn't take? Maybe the book is salvagable, maybe it isn't. But if enough fans write in with similar complaints and reasons as to why the book was dropped, it at least gives the publisher a means to direct the book if they should wish to try and bring sales back up. If they can't figure out what isn't working, it becomes very costly to keep trying new directions until something sticks, and alienates fans who get sick of constant revamps (that's right Flash editorial, I'm talking to you).

As long as you are respectful about it, you're helping DC/Marvel help you. You get a book you want, and they get all your money. It's win/win all around.

-J
 
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Old January 22nd, 2007   TitansFan is offline   #6
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Are you using comic sites as your data comparison? As much as we'd like to think it, and although we tend to be very vocal amongst ourselves, comicbloc makes up a mere fraction of comic readers. And let's remember that Didio admitted himself that the one time he posted here was the first time he'd ever visited any online forum. Screaming does no good if no one's around to hear it.
 
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Old January 22nd, 2007   Matches is offline   #7
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As much as we'd like to think that we here on the ComicBloc (or at Newsarama or even the DCMBs) are the True Voice of Fandom, we're just a section of the total comic-buying public. A rather small one at that.
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Quoted for truth. Quite often when someone says "the fans want X", what they really mean (and I'm not talking about you, fallentaco, just speaking in general) is "Me and some friends of mine on a message board want X." You brought up Titans Hunt - I've been around the internet a long time, and I've never seen anything resembling a massive fan outcry for a TH tpb. I see it brought up not-infrequently in the Titans forum on this board, but generally it's the same 4-5 people saying it over and over again. It's easy to get the impression for message boards that particular opinions are more prevalent than they really are.

Also, as for the idea of "listening" to the fans in general, a creative enterprise simply cannot operate by opinion poll. The truth is, as sophisticated as we like to think we are, fans don't *know* what they want. They *think* they know what they want, but in reality they don't know what they want until someone creates it and shows it to them. MANHUNTER gets rave reviews here and elsewhere. Was there anyone, anywhere calling for a new female Manhunter before Marc Andreyko gave us one? If there was, I missed it.

The instant creators surrender the creative instinct to the public is the instant they lose all credibility as creators. There's a very fine line between responding to the audience and pandering. Publishers do respond to sales, because they have to in order to stay in business. But past that, they have* to do whatever they think is best creatively. The beauty of comics is that nothing is really permanent - if an idea doesn't work, it can almost always (and will almost always) be undone.
 
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Old January 22nd, 2007   J-Liv is offline   #8
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Quoted for truth. Quite often when someone says "the fans want X", what they really mean (and I'm not talking about you, fallentaco, just speaking in general) is "Me and some friends of mine on a message board want X." You brought up Titans Hunt - I've been around the internet a long time, and I've never seen anything resembling a massive fan outcry for a TH tpb. I see it brought up not-infrequently in the Titans forum on this board, but generally it's the same 4-5 people saying it over and over again. It's easy to get the impression for message boards that particular opinions are more prevalent than they really are.

Also, as for the idea of "listening" to the fans in general, a creative enterprise simply cannot operate by opinion poll. The truth is, as sophisticated as we like to think we are, fans don't *know* what they want. They *think* they know what they want, but in reality they don't know what they want until someone creates it and shows it to them. MANHUNTER gets rave reviews here and elsewhere. Was there anyone, anywhere calling for a new female Manhunter before Marc Andreyko gave us one? If there was, I missed it.

The instant creators surrender the creative instinct to the public is the instant they lose all credibility as creators. There's a very fine line between responding to the audience and pandering. Publishers do respond to sales, because they have to in order to stay in business. But past that, they have* to do whatever they think is best creatively. The beauty of comics is that nothing is really permanent - if an idea doesn't work, it can almost always (and will almost always) be undone.
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Very good points. Yes, comics is a buisness, but it's also art. Where does the line between artistic integrity and doing what's best for sales get drawn?

However, I like to believe that fans often do know what they want, but some ideas just don't occur to them. I think that if somebody had walked up to a fan on the street and asked them, "Would you read a book about a female in the role of Manhunter?", that fan could confidently state rather he/she has a desire to read that book. It has nothing to do with the fans knowing or not knowing what they want; it's a question of rather the idea occured to them.

For instance, I seriously doubt anybody sits around thinking of ways to kill off Bruce Wayne and have Alfred take up the role of Batman; I'd be shocked if the idea had occured to anybody, at least in a serious capacity (and I'd be worried if it did). But I'm fairly sure that most readers, when presented with the idea, would know if they do or do not like it.

But, that aside, comic creation is art. Like all art, sometimes it sticks and sometimes it doesn't. It's up to us as consumers to let the artist know if it sticks and why. And it's up to the artist to decide if he/she gives a damn. And frankly, everybody is going to draw that line in a different place.

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Old January 22nd, 2007   Matches is offline   #9
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However, I like to believe that fans often do know what they want, but some ideas just don't occur to them. I think that if somebody had walked up to a fan on the street and asked them, "Would you read a book about a female in the role of Manhunter?", that fan could confidently state rather he/she has a desire to read that book. It has nothing to do with the fans knowing or not knowing what they want; it's a question of rather the idea occured to them.
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Agreed in part. I think if Andreyko had just floated "new female Manhunter" out there, the reaction would've been more like:

"WHAT? Why not use of one the existing Manhunters? I want more of the one from POWER COMPANY?!?"

"Sigh - another writer with no respect for the character's history. They'd better not kill off Mark Shaw!"

"How PC to make this one a woman - what a cliche."

Some of the same people who probably would've reacted that way are probably enjoying the actual series - because it's not an abstract idea anymore. It's a book they can hold in their hands, read, examine, and judge. But if DC had only listened to "the fans" ahead of time, it probably never would've come to be.

What fans *really* want is "something good". But "good" means something different to everyone, and as you note, the Next Big Thing hasn't yet occurred to them.
 
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Old January 22nd, 2007   dragon.king is offline   #10
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I figure that companies are torn: they want to cater to their hardcore fanbase but they also want to expand that fanbase. And sometimes, this may call them to resort to moves which may anger traditional fanbases. Of course there are successes such as the Ultimate line, and line-wide events which really draw in readers.
 
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Old January 22nd, 2007   sylpemberton is offline   #11
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Not to long ago i posted a thread about Fans complaining about "miss-treatment" of comic characters. the response was less than stealer.
Well then i got to thinking. why do we as fans seem to complain as a whole, we who by the product's, we who make the comic book companies money, why are our complaints mostly unheard?
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Biggest problem I have with your whole post comes out in the first paragraph. It's the line, "We as fans seem to complain as a whole". But the thing I see over and over again is a vocal minority who complain about the same things over and over again, and make it seem like there's a huge complaint about something. But in reality, scale it back, it's just a handful of people on a crusade to get something changed, and the commentary from those who don't care, or who like the change, doesn't get noticed near as much.

I've seen a lot of complaints about Didio's treatment of the JLI characters for instance. Bring up the JLI anywhere and there are vocal posters who will point out how Didio has it out for them, how they've been massacred etc. But end of the day? I like the fact that these characters still have some stories left in them. That after all of this time they are getting some focus, even if it's the last time we see them. I'm glad Ted Kord went out like a hero instead of being used for humour as a bumbling tool all the time. Since I don't mind what's been done? Yeah I rarely comment on it all.

Granted we get some change, we save some titles, like Manhunter and Spider-girl. But for the most part, why do the companies not listen and comment on our complaints?
ddf
Likely because it's not being read. All the discussion on boards such as this is not being seen by the powers that be at DC. Even if there is some creator interaction here, it's doubtful they see as many posts as you and i read in a day. I'd rather have these people writing and editing and the like rather than reading message boards all day long. The examples you used? Manhunter and Spidergirl? Both brought about by mail campaigns. Don't underestimate putting your words on paper and sending it to the companies.

For example, Judd Winick, i don't want a bashing thread, but i think it deserves some comment. I personally do not care for much of Judd's work. I liked the Red hood arc in batman, but not much else. Green Arrow hasn't been great and Outsiders is reverting back to pre-OYL arcs. Many fans complain that Judd is on an epic quest to create a new diverse, politically correct DCU, and i do not have a problem with that. But people claim that Green Arrow has no plot, doesn't fit in continuity wise anywhere and is just a mess. Ollie being mayor has no significance, and blah blah blah. People claim his Shazam mini isn't good, that it doesn't make sense, etc. But he keeps writing the titles, and more fans stop reading, so why does DC not respond to fans outrage? Yes, many still buy the book, but how long ca that last? Sometime fans will hit their limit and stop buying the books. What will DC do then? Will they simply Cancel the title? Claiming not to know why the readers dropped the title?
ddf
"But he keeps writing the title, and more fans stop reading". The thing is Judd's work is bringing in decent sales. Outsiders seems to have no problem hitting the top 100, nor does Green Arrow. Yeah perhaps sales could be higher under a different writer, but they aren't bad enough that it's an issue. When looking at books in trouble? DC is going to check the sales first and deal with those that are lowest. That's why Manhunter, Firestorm and Hawkgirl seem to be on the block - they are the lowest selling titles in the main line being put out right now. If Outsiders slipped to that level I can see DC looking that way.

As for Winnick's writing? I've enjoyed what I've read. In fact I picked up some of the Outsiders run because I enjoyed the stories he was writing. My problem with Winnick? He hasn't really written any books with characters I would follow. So mostly I don't read his stuff by default. But yeah - some of the Outsiders stuff was fun. Again, you are making claims that the fans don't like the writing Winnick does...but I for one do like some of his stuff that I have read, and without asking the tens of thousands who are buying, who's to say the majority don't? Is it the case that the majority don't? Or just the ones being very vocal on the message boards don't?

Granted some fans respond in a negative way, Bashing creators, starting flame threads and more. That will go unnoticed, and probably should. But if there are multiple flame threads on many sites shouldn't that issue be addressed?
ddf
You said a lot right there. I've seen time and time again that people who don't like a change just seem to "lose it" and become totally irrational, and hateful on the message boards. They get stuck in a "one track mind" mentality, and all they discuss is that one thing they hate. I for one tune it out. In fact, as I see it happening I tend to not even read posts by that member any longer. When it gets to the point that all you can do is hate, then why bother coming and telling us day in and day out?

Consider the JLI, Terra 1 and 2, Cassandra Cain, the new Supergirl and more. Fans are outraged by the "changes" that have happened to them, many complain, some don't buy the titles, etc. What will happen to those characters? Many adult DC readers grew up with them, the JLI and Terra, and when DC kills them they feel as though DC is killing their childhood.
ddf
Huge fan of the JLI here. I have everything ever published under the JLI banner while Giffen was working on the series. I was part of the "Booster Brigade" which tried to bring Booster back into his own comics back in the 80s. I was VP of the "Beetle Branch" as well. I love these characters, and I do tend to pick up things with them in it. For instance, one of the draws of 52 for me was Booster Gold's inclusion.

But as fun as the JLI was? It's not being published now. Most of these characters have been in limbo for years. I'm not outraged at all by the changes that have happened to them. Yes Ted is dead, but we've got a series about Blue Beetle that I've been loving, and Ted went out as a hero. Booster and Ralph are getting major exposure in 52, which can only be good for him in the long run. Fire has a regular role in Checkmate? How long has it been since we've seen her in a major role? I'm loving that these characters are being used again. Absolutely loving it.

As for the new Supergirl? I tuned out Peter David's pretty early on in life. Yet with this new one I keep finding reasons to check out her series. So if there's a lot of complaints out there I'm not aware of them...and I've been liking what I've seen...

Anyway just some of my thoughts on your post...I haven't tried to answer everything, but did want to bring up a few things that may change how you view things....
 
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Old January 22nd, 2007   Peter Bardyn is offline   #12
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It's not just comics fans, it's society in general.

Look at how many people complain about the decision of elected officials, when the reality of the situations are that those officials are making decisions with information the general public does not have. To criticise someone like President Bush is unfair because he's working with tons of information we don't have access to, and so could actually be a pretty good leader.
 
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Old January 22nd, 2007   superfriend is offline   #13
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I often get a chuckle when I see the disaffected, too-cool-for-school fan, when commenting on the rivalry between Marvel and DC, saying that they don't judge movies based on the production studio that puts them out so why should comics be different?

The reality is, there are some circles that do that.

This is the comic version. The internet fanbase for anything has the hardest core and are not typically representative of the larger customer base.

This is why you are prone to higher highs and lower lows.
 
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Old January 22nd, 2007   starks is offline   #14
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Honestly, this sums it up nicely.

I would go one step further, and say that, if you care about the book in question enough yourself (ie: it's a book that you've always loved, but you hate the current direction), you should ALWAYS accompany dropping a book with a letter to the editor/publisher.

If the sales drop off on a book, this tells DC/Marvel that something isn't working, but it doesn't tell them WHAT isn't working. Is it the writer? The artist? A revamp that didn't take? Maybe the book is salvagable, maybe it isn't. But if enough fans write in with similar complaints and reasons as to why the book was dropped, it at least gives the publisher a means to direct the book if they should wish to try and bring sales back up. If they can't figure out what isn't working, it becomes very costly to keep trying new directions until something sticks, and alienates fans who get sick of constant revamps (that's right Flash editorial, I'm talking to you).

As long as you are respectful about it, you're helping DC/Marvel help you. You get a book you want, and they get all your money. It's win/win all around.

-J
ddf
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I think a lot of people said what I was thinking. That the Internet community has an inflated view on itself, that they're more important than they actually are.

I like the idea of sending a letter after one drops a title and the reasons for the action. I think I'm going to put that practice to use.
 
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Old January 22nd, 2007   Marky is offline   #15
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But in reality, scale it back, it's just a handful of people on a crusade to get something changed, and the commentary from those who don't care, or who like the change, doesn't get noticed near as much.
ddf
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Really great post Syl. That one line stood out as a good one to explain the reality of the situation.
 
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