By Beau Smith
Disney buys Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion. Who would’ve ever thought this would happen? Yes, I know that this is now counted as old news, but sometimes it’s best to look at things after some of the dust has settled.
At this point Disney has acquired the rights to about 5,000 Marvel characters. Now keep in mind, my math skills have never been what you’d call “head of the class”, but the way I figure it, that would work out to Disney paying about $800.00 per character. Not a bad deal at all. It would be an incredible, miracle deal if every one of those characters turned into a movie and did box office numbers that Iron Man did. The odds of that happening are next to none, but it’s fun to daydream both as a reader and Marvel/Disney executives.
Needless to say, the day the news broke not only was the comic book world aflame with this topic, but so were the national and international media. Let’s face facts, this was the biggest comic book business/media deal of 2009.
Usually nothing is a secret in the world of comic books, but it was refreshing that this news came as a surprise for most folks. It made much more of an impact. The question is, what kind of impact is it going to make for both Disney and Marvel in the long run?
Take into account the thoughts and opinions I’m going to give on this matter are MINE. They are based on my 20 plus years as a marketing VP in comic books and my equal years as a writer.
Common business sense tells me that this is a grand slam home run for both Marvel and Disney. Disney gains a huge amount of instant content in a realm that they have been desperately lacking: males ages 12 to 55. Disney has always wanted a way to capture more young and teen males. But now they not only will grab that demographic, but they stand the chance of getting the baby boomer males as well. Baby boomer males account for the major part of Marvel Comics’ core consumer base. Disney now has the chance to not only sell product to the kids, but their dads as well. Disney already has “The Princess” market with young girls and teens with the purse strings untied freely by their mothers, now they have the chance to tap into the entire family entertainment dollars.
Whereas Disney has the important means of worldwide transportation to reach a truly global audience, with the acquisition of the Marvel characters, Disney will now have the extra fueled content to travel to male consumers they did not have promised passage to before.
Marvel gains the global distribution and door opening power of Disney. They double their prestige and 70 years of publishing in this marriage of creativity and business. The doors that will be open to them from a retail standpoint are massive. The fees that licensing Disney collects are big and they have just gotten bigger with the acquisition of Marvel.
Marvel will be able to enjoy a long-term recognition factor through the outlets of Disney’s reach and presence the amusement parks, films and toys. Yes, Marvel has and is currently in these avenues, but the big Disney picture places Marvel in a hugely expanded role that will bring in revenues like they have never seen as well as solid security.
Who are Disney and Marvel’s biggest enemies in this new relationship?
Marvel and Disney can do what no rival will be capable of: they can screw up the works for both parties. Disney must work with Marvel the way the way they worked with Pixar after they acquired them. They have to leave Marvel alone creatively to do what they bought them for. Disney has never really had the best track record when it comes to publishing comic books. In the past they have always published comics like they were a necessary evil or an afterthought. It seemed that Disney never really understood how to publish comic books. They never understood the comic book consumer. Marvel has been publishing comic books for 70 years and, since coming out of bankruptcy in 1998, Marvel has solidified their place as the king of market share in the direct market. If Disney leaves Marvel alone on the creative side, then Marvel will take Disney to heights they have never seen in comic book publishing. In turn, that will only increase Disney’s canvas in most all demographics.
The advantage that I see for Disney/Marvel over Time/Warner/DC Comics is that Disney truly understands global entertainment and the importance of creative content. Who’s to say that one day won’t see Disney acquire DC Comics? In a Wal-Mart world, it is possible.
Are we going to see changes in Marvel comics right away? No. Marvel has standing deals with other film studios, television, toys and other avenues. Those changes will take time, and should take time if they are going to be done correctly and with profits. Will the Marvel Comics offices leave New York for California? Not any time soon, but I would think that might happen in the future. Will jobs of employees change? Yes, I think they will. Some will change, but they will be positions and people that aren’t known to the general comic book reading public. General readers don’t always understand that the true power people aren’t the ones that are the direct market faces that they see at the conventions and on the comic book news sites. The real changes, the big changes won’t kick in for another five years, or at least changes that most will be aware of or see direct effects from.
The marriage of Disney of Marvel Entertainment is a double win. My hopes are that in the long haul the comic book readers are the biggest winners.
Sing along with me…
Who’s the leader of the club
That’s made for you and me
(Okay, don’t ask me to sing that again.)
It’s Always Sunny In Florida
Back in the mid 1980s, I broke into comics with a group of friends that are still my long time friends today, people like Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan, Flint Henry, Tim Truman, John K. Snyder III, Tom Lyle, Gary Kwapisz, Tim Harkins, John Ostrander and Tim Bradstreet. Of all those talented guys maybe the most talented is Graham Nolan. Where some of us are writers, artists, letterers, colorists, Graham is all of those. You probably know him best for all the years he served as the artist on Batman books including being the co-creator of one of Batman’s most vile villains, Bane. For a lot of years now, Graham has been the artist on the daily syndicated newspaper strip, Rex Morgan, M.D. Well, now he has come up with a wonderful all ages strip called Sunshine State.
It’s doesn’t just have funny animals, it’s got smart animals. The strip is funny, witty and a breath of fresh air to some of the stuff we see on the web today. Please take the time to check it out and let Graham know what you think. Tell him Beau sent you and maybe he’ll quit telling those terrible lies about the time he almost got us all put in jail at San Diego Comiccon.
Bid Often And A Lot
Most of you regular “Knuckleheads” know that I always attend the wonderful Mid-Ohio Comicon in Columbus every year as a guest and general troublemaker. This past year, my buddy and artist on my recent B’Wana Beast story for DC Comics, Gary Kwapisz, attended it with me. A good time was had by all if you remember from my Busted Knuckles report from a few months ago.
James and Bill Henry run Mid-Ohio Con and they do a fantastic job of it. One of the wonderful things they do is run a charity auction on Ebay to raise money for all that is good. Please check out the auction and bid on something really cool and collectable knowing that it’s all for a worthy cause. Maybe you’ll win the incredible B’Wana Beast drawing that Gary Kwapisz drew and we both signed. Check it all out.
Ted Adams-The Best Business Mind in Comics
Recently Tom Spurgeon of Comics Reporter sat down and did a very nice, in-depth and long overdue interview with Ted Adams, CEO and co-founder of IDW Publishing.
It is an important interview because it does not deal with the usual fluff that most comic book publishers tend to dish out. You can truly learn the real side of the publishing business with this interview instead of the routine, “Can Superman really beat Spider-Man?”
I’ve known and worked with Ted Adams for over 20 years, from Eclipse Comics, Todd McFarlane Productions to IDW Publishing. I knew the very first day he was hired, fresh out of college, at Eclipse Comics that this was a very special and smart person. I love being right and this interview will give you that same insight that I got many years ago. Do yourself a favor and read this nice long interview.
On Target-Human Target
A few months ago I suggested to you guys to check out the new FOX TV series Human Target when it premiered in January 2010. Well, that time is now. The pilot and a rerun of the pilot have already been shown and the series with Mark Valley (Keen Eddie & Boston Legal) is every bit as entertaining as I told you it would be.
If you are a fan of TV shows like Burn Notice (USA Network) or Leverage (TNT), then make sure you put this on your Must See list. It’s fun, action packed and witty. It will make you smile and entertain you. In an all too serious world where everyone thinks all entertainment is supposed to be gritty and depressing, check this out and enjoy some “blue skies” TV.
Busted Knuckles Babe of the Week: Stana Katic
Canada sure imports some really beautiful women. Stana Katic is one of them. You may know her from the very entertaining ABC TV series Castle with Nathan Fillion. She’s tall, limber and leggy. Her expressive eyes have a way of saying things that pages of dialogue can’t. She is destined for really big things. I’ve got a very good gut feeling that has rarely steered me wrong. Check out some of Stana’s past work in such stuff as The Spirit, Stiletto, Heroes and 24 as well as her future role in Company Man. I hope you enjoy the show Castle as much as I do.
Busted Knuckles Manly Cover of the Week: Vic Flint-Crime Buster #1
St. John Publishing
I am always looking for really obscure, fun comic books from the Golden Age through the present. My comic book collection is filled with such hard to find gems and continue to be what I track online and at conventions. This week’s Manly Cover is one of those very rare gems?Vic Flint-Crime Buster #1 from 1948. The cover screams of testosterone from a time when politically correct meant the only rights a bad guy got were the ones the hero rained down on his head.
Vic Flint was done by Michael O’Malley (A.K.A. Ernest Lynn) and Ralph Lane, their credits were on the first page of the comic and as you know, in 1948 that was very rare. Vic fought crime in five issues of his comic book. Most of these stories were reprints of his Sunday Newspaper adventures. Surprisingly, the stories were very tough guy/cool. They were well written and always had fun dialogue and a twist or two. They weren’t just hacked out. They read like a good novel or movie. I hope you enjoy this fine cover of crime busting. Remember, Good guys wear red socks.
For all of you that have had to deal with computer viruses, spyware and spam, I thought you might like to see “the program” I use to protect my computer.
It works really well.
Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!