A post from my decade-old Marvel blog concerning trying to please the demanding and mercurial fan audience.
Spent the past weekend at Wizard World Philadelphia, where Marvel met a great crowd of enthusiastic readers. Got to spend a little time with friends and family, ate some Philly cheese steaks, and had a great breakfast in a hole-in-the-wall cafe. We also made a batch of well-received announcements about upcoming Marvel plans and projects.
Upon returning home, I scanned the assorted comics news sources and blogs, to get a sense of the overall reaction. And I ran across a particular sentiment in a couple of places, one that I thought was worth talking about here.
It was specifically about the future of YOUNG AVENGERS, and how we currently don’t have the “second season” scheduled. At WizWorld, I was asked about the aborted WORLD WAR HULK: YOUNG AVENGERS book, and I answered that, when we took a good, hard look at it, especially after getting feedback from fans that they were feeling that there were too many tie-ins these days, that the story and the book weren’t really necessary to the WORLD WAR HULK story, and so we decided to shelve it.
And the reaction I read online was that some people were pretty unhappy with this.
I know the heart wants what it wants, but (and I know I’m starting to sound like a Matt Idelson editorial page here) it seems that sometimes the fans don’t leave us anyplace to go except Candyland. If we solicit a YOUNG AVENGERS book because you demand it, and then it ships late, we get cursed for not having enough issues in the can when we moved forward. If we wait until we can be sure of having the book come out regularly, fans are upset.
And the same sort of thing is true of the creative team. A couple of months back (on the heels of the schedule-changes on WONDER WOMAN), I saw a number of polls asking if Marvel should have a writer other than Allan Heinberg write the series, so it can start coming out now. Which all sounds well and good–unless you go back further and look at the response to CIVIL WAR: YOUNG AVENGERS & RUNAWAYS, which Allan didn’t write. I thought Zeb Wells did a credible job, stepping into the large shoes of Allan and Brian Vaughan. But the reader response was lukewarm–the characters didn’t feel “right” to people.
This is why they pay us to be editors. I need to be smart enough, and savvy enough, and lucky enough to read between the lines of all of this assorted, contradictory feedback, and try to figure out what the right move is. Mark Gruenwald used to have an aphorism: “Give the fans what they want, not what they say they want”, and this is precisely the sort of situation it was designed to cover. Because readers sometimes think they want something, only to find they’ve started to lose interest when you do their bidding and follow their lead.
What this means is that I’m not going to put out a YOUNG AVENGERS book until I have the right creative team to do it–whether that team is Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung, or other creators in whom I’ve got confidence. And maybe that’s the right choice, and maybe it’s the wrong one–we’ll never know completely until we can peer into alternate universes.
But the best way to keep you reading is with a quality product that you’re interested in–no matter what you guys might be saying individually at any moment in time.