All right, our players are:
and Dolores Tinari
Kyle, Sal and Dolores, you have all just been hired by Marvel Comics in an effort to overhaul the place and make it better than it was. As such, you have each been allocated a group of titles to manage. The typical workload for an editor in this simulation will be three to four titles. For the sake of this simulation, we are assuming that these particular titles have been selected because, at the moment, they are between creative teams and at natural story breaks, which should give you maximum latitude to try what you’d like to with them–bearing in mind that there’s an entire industry out there beyond you that’ll have to be dealt with to some degree:
Kyle, you are handling the X-Men family of books, which at this moment includes X-MEN and WOLVERINE. A major X-Event has just concluded which is what took up that third slot on your predecessor’s workload, so you should probably be looking to launch at least one title to fill in that gap.
Sal, you are editing the Marvel Heroes titles, which at the moment includes THOR, IRON MAN and CAPTAIN AMERICA. You don’t need to be launching any new books right this second, but you could add a fourth title if you were so inclined–realizing that the more books you’re managing, the more difficult it will be to get everything accomplished that you need to every month.
Dolores, you are editing the Spider-Man line of books, which right this second includes AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN. As with the X-Men family, you have an open production slot given that some prior Spidey title came to the end of its natural life cycle–we’ll say that was SILK for the sake of argument. As with Kyle, you’ll likely want to be coming up with something new to fill that gap.
We’ll be posting new sales figures every other move, so you’ve got two weeks/moves to make any adjustments and to implement them, depending on how involved they are (some complications may require more time to deal with.)
So what are the other two players doing?
David, you have been hired by DC Comics to head up the Superman line of titles for that company. At present, the line-up of titles under your control includes SUPERMAN, ACTION COMICS and LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES. As with your Marvel counterparts, for this simulation your ideal workload is between three and four releases a month.
Erik, you have been hired by Image Comics to oversee the production of a portion of their line of titles. It will be your responsibility to recruit creators to launch new titles and to make sure that existing titles come out as they should. At the moment, your area of Image had been putting out three books: THE WALKING DEAD, which Robert Kirkman just surprisingly brought to an end, stunning people, and two other titles by lesser-known creators that have run their course. Of all of the players, right now you are the one with a completely open production slate. And for the purposes of this simulation, your ideal workload will also be between three to four releases every month.
As DC and Image editors, David and Erik, you will have different goals and different business objectives than the other players. Those goals will be e-mailed to you directly and known only to you and me, because people not working for those companies don’t know precisely what guides the decisions of their editors and creative staff. But what is absolutely clear is that you are competitors with the other players and with each other.
Here is the State of the State for the industry at the moment:
Last month’s sales rankings were:
MARVEL Event – 110,000
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN – 100,000
WALKING DEAD – unannounced final issue
WOLVERINE – 80,000
THOR – 50,000
SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN – 40,000
IRON MAN – 30,000
MARVEL Limited Series – 27,000
Image Title 2
CAPTAIN AMERICA – 25,000
Image Title 3
As you can see, these sales rankings only include accurate sales information for the Marvel titles, but the relative position of the titles from other publishers can give you a clue as to how well they performed–at least within the Diamond-reported Direct Market. The DC and Image editors will individually be provided with the current sales figures for the titles they edit.
Marvel’s total aggregate sales at the moment are 557,000, which factors down to just under 62,000 copies per title. Over this next ten-week period, Marvel’s EIC would like you to raise that number by twenty percent, to 668,400. Also, five moves from now is the close of a fiscal quarter for Marvel, so any books that miss shipping by that turn won’t count in terms of the revenue generated for that period.
Additionally, the division of market share at the moment for the various companies involved in this simulation was:
MARVEL – 40%
DC – 30%
IMAGE – 10%
The goal of all of the players over the course of the next ten weeks is to increase your sales, put out crowd-pleasing, well-produced comic books, meet your financial obligations to your respective companies and get the books out on time.
As the editor, you can try anything you can think of more-or-less, provided that such actions get approved by the brain trusts of your respective organizations (played by me.)
Literally anything you can come up with is potentially fair game. The more creative you are, the more fun this will potentially be. And just a reminder: all moves should be posted in the comments section of this post and must be posted by Friday at midnight to count towards this turn.
So what are you waiting for? You’ve only got 30 days to get the next issue on the stands!
22 thoughts on “EDITORIAL SIMULATION BEGINS”
Good luck everyone! If I could I’d take 3 Dark Horse titles and pull market shares from Marvel, DC, & Image. Superheroes still account for most US comic book sales. But Dark Horse has either struggled with them or taken breaks from trying.
There’s a huge talent pool currently untapped. And I’d get some of the best from it to knock the other 3 companies down a bit.
Dark Horse has several potentually strong company properties. But the future of superheroes is creator owned. Think of some of the best independents since the 80s. I’d help find and launch the next Hellboy, Invincible, Halo Jones, Nexus, etc. .
Okay, I’ll go first (hope this is in the right direction, never edited a comic book before)!!
My first move is to put together some great writer/artist teams, and here they are (remaining staff can stay in place on their current books):
Superman – Writer – Christopher Priest/Artist – Ray-Anthony Height
Action Comics – Writer – Gail Simone/Artist – Jose Garcia Lopez
Legion of Superheroes – Writer – Felicia Henderson/Artist – Alex Ross
The Superman comic, to lead the on-going story, I’d like to see Christopher Priest and Ray-Anthony Height collaborate using Kal-El Superman and Val Zod to tell a story, I’m open to all Superman villains, as well as (and in favor of) pitches using current events as the backdrop.
In Action Comics, I’d give a lot of leeway to Gail Simone, but I’d like her focus to be a Lois Lane getting the people and supporting cast members takes on the tensions going on (BLM, LGBTQ+, good police/bad police, politics, any and all of it). Lois is in the streets, she’s talking to the other heroes (Gail’s choosing, so long as it does not affect continuity problems with other titles), covering the unrest, the action, arguments, tensions, etc, but also sprinkling in humor. Gail gets to write in as much action as she’d like, but I would prefer Lois/Clark interactions more than Lois/Superman interactions (if/when they occur). These are the conversations that are most likely occurring now, among the people, and Gail’s got a great voice in her writing. Jose Garcia Lopez is a tremendous artist, and I believe their collaboration would be spectacular.
In Legion of Superheroes, I’d like to see Felicia Henderson give an outlook of where we (humanity) end up, with the current events shaping possible futures/outcomes (and their possible disasters/solutions). I’d like to see a perspective of what our past has been, where we are now, and countered to what the future looks like with worst possible outcome and then attempts to change to create better outcomes (and what those would look like). Her story should span large time periods, and give Alex Ross plenty of different genre/styles to work through. I’d like to treat this book as the beacon, the “look at this!” comic…think iconic art behind powerful messages with a lot of different voices. Alex Ross may need more time, but hopefully can be done pretty routinely, and without a skip week.
With the seasoned professionals I’ve chosen, I believe they each have a story to tell worth reading, and now is a good time to push their stories to the forefront of the DC lines.
Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez is pretty much retired from monthly comics. And Akex Ross is unlikely to commit to doing interior art every month, as well.
The choices for story directions & subject matter are good.
True, but “pretty much” isn’t completely, and I’m hoping a last solid run on Action Comics (an iconic line) with a writer who admires his work would help entice Mr. Garcia-Lopez. Alex Ross, I’ll admit, is the “reach for the stars” shot (go big, or go home, right?), but I feel this story would be too big to pass up, and with his work on Peace on Earth, and War on Crime, as well as Kingdom Come and Marvels, it’s hard to not take that chance.
I didn’t read rules on picking teams. I guess someone coukd have Alan Moore listed to write all 3 of their books. But the reality is he probably, 99.99% ,wouldn’t, except maybe for Image.
George Perez announced he was done with monthlies, actually, done with interiors, for health reasons. This game is fictional, so maybe a contestant could still pick George has an artist for one of their books.
I guess it depends on how realistic Tom wants to make this simulation.
Oh, and thank you for other part of your comment. I’ve been a fan of the other writers and artists for a while and would love to see what they can do!
I agree it’s important reflect a little of what is going on. I do see some resentment in my local shop when stories get too politically real world. The constant struggle between art and business…
But I also agree that it’s important the characters allow the readers to identify, to see themselves. If your readers are diverse, the characters should be, too. I think that’s good business.
I really enjoyed the simulations that have been done in the past, so I’m looking forward to watching this unfold in the weeks ahead!
This is fantastic.
So, for my first move, I’ll give a basic overview of my long-term plan and setup of the books.
Amazing Spider-Man – Mark Russell Writer; Tom Grummett Artist
Spectacular Spider-Man – Peter David Writer; Phil Jimenez & Sara Pichelli Artists
Miles Morales: Spider-Man – Kyle Baker Writer/Artist
As in times past, in order to differentiate between Amazing and Spectacular, Amazing will focus on Peter Parker and Spider-Man, while Spectacular tends to focus more on his supporting cast. The romance between Peter and Mary Jane will be a strong through-line between both books, with plans to lead to an eventual proposal by Peter (which MJ will turn down, leading into the next big story). I’ll sit down with both writers to decide what Peter’s current occupation is (photographer, teacher, scientist, or something new), so that Peter David has a strong supporting cast to pull from, while Mark has a base of operations that Spider-Man is working at. No direct crossovers for at least a little while (the “next big story” I referred to above).
Amazing, being the flagship title, is where we get the classic villains (although leaving Doc Ock alone for at least a couple of years, as he has been in the spotlight quite a bit in the last decade). With a fairly fresh-faced writer, hopefully we can see some new twists on some old faces. Grummett has only done a couple of Spider-Man stories, but I feel his clean art style works well for the kind of tales that will be seen here.
As mentioned, Spectacular will focus more on the supporting cast. Spider-Man will show up, but not be the POV character. Would love to see some new villains here, along with some updated looks for some one or two-shot villains we’ve seen in the past. I want to give as much freedom as I can to the writer here, as long as he doesn’t directly contradict what’s going on in Amazing. With Jimenez’s facial expressions and excellent design sense, we should get some cool-looking characters and real emotional punch to Peter’s writing. Unfortunately, Jimenez has had some issues with getting his books out on time, so he will be alternating arcs with Sara Pichelli.
In both of these books, where appropriate, I’d also like to see some guest stars from other Spider-heroes (2099, Ghost-Spider, Madame Web, Venom, and so on), and gauge reader reaction to them.
Miles Morales: Spider-Man will be a one to two year “season,” depending on Kyle Baker’s ideas. The current real-world events will be referenced and discussed here, with the conflict between Jefferson Davis’ work as a (former? let’s maybe get him this job back) policeman and Miles’ protesting for BLM being an overarching story. After that story has completed, this third slot will be one that will continue the “season” arcs for other Spider-related heroes, based on the reader reactions to the guest stars mentioned above and any incoming pitches I receive.
I would like to do some “outside the box” advertising for Miles Morales, specifically in black entertainment magazines and/or TV, to draw extra attention to the book and to Kyle Baker. Hopefully, we can get some free advertising via interviews with the writer/artist.
I haven’t read Spiderman in over a decade, but that team on Amazing Spiderman would bring me back! Kyle Baker was fantastic on Plastic Man and the Shadow many years ago. I dig his work a lot. I really like what you are doing here!
BIG fan of Kyle Baker’s work ( https://comicartistevolution.tumblr.com/tagged/kyle_baker/chrono ) and I’d love to see him be a regular fixture of the comics scene, and on such an important title!
1. It’s been awhile since he’s produced a monthly title (particularly writing and drawing), do you have any contingency plans if he runs late?
2. Kyle’s cartoonist sensibilities are a departure from typical “superhero art” — how do you think the readership will respond to such a distinct, atypical style?
Good questions. Kyle Baker is one of those rare virtuosos. He’s as great an artist as they come, as well as an excellent writer.
But dont underestimate the wear & tear of the monthly grind. You’ll need a back up, another artist or team of artists in rotation.
I know Tom has said before in other posts on tgis site that the industry may be moving away from monthlies. And I agree that you can’t rush greatness, and people want greatness.
But in our culture of instant gratification, most things availabke with a click, there’s still merit to books coming out regularly.
My solution would be a back up feature.
1. Well, since this has a planned ending, I would do what I can to have as many completed issues in the can as possible before starting publishing. Hopefully that will give enough cushion so that even if he ends up a little late, things can still get out on time, or reasonably close to it.
2. I don’t think the book will be for everyone, but I think his artwork is powerful, and there are some current artists who are definitely influenced by him (see Riley Rossum as a prominent example) who are getting mainstream work, and so this is a good time to showcase him.
I think the solution is to do a Marvel comics presents type anthology or Mavel team-up with Miles Morales as the main feature and rotating backup stories with Spider people and/or team up stories.
I’m curious how real-world this will get…
AVAILABILITY: In the real world, some talent is under exclusive contract. Some talent just doesn’t have any interest in working for a particular company at a given time. Some talent isn’t interested in anything other than creator-owned work. What if more than one editor wants the same talent for this particular period?
AFFORDABILITY: I think different talent gets different page rates? My impression is that only certain well-selling titles may be able to afford them? Can every book afford superstar creatives? Don’t know — something I’m curious about.
ANALYZING SALES TRENDS: How can an editor identify the root cause(s) for good or bad sales? I’ve heard it mentioned that sales decay can happen at a fairly predictable rate. Is it all just throwing things against the wall and hoping something will work?
MONTHLY GRIND: While a writer can remain on a title for an extended period of time, it seems commonplace that not every artist can always maintain a monthly schedule. Should editors be assigning backup artists to their titles?
CREATIVE VISION: How much latitude does the talent have? Will a company’s upper brass veto or redirect the writer’s vision because it conflicts with the company’s greater plans for a character?
TROLL ARMY: Will fandom — or greater news media — reaction play a part in this? Given the prominence (so far) of BLM and representation, I wonder if any particular title could garner a Fox News hit piece and/or online troll brigading — and if so, does that even affect sales positively or negatively. Will an editor’s (virtual) Twitter account get dogpiled?
Apart from that, my heart goes out to the X-Editor: they have to launch a new title to take the place of a just-ended top-selling X-Event — with the expectation to increase sales by 20%??? Yikes!
👍 id want to read the answers to those questions.
okay… here we go!
FOR MY FIRST MOVE…
I would like to position these three series’ Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor to explore themes centralized around the concept of life. These books will all be slow build leading to a Marvel Heroes event that puts our world in catastrophic danger and failure will result in a post-apocalyptic Earth. Taking into account the current state of Earth and its population in the real world, countries haven’t been so separate and divided, at this point this is the perfect time for an extraterrestrial army to imperialize Earth. These books will eventually be tied to a Marvel Event that could destroy everything… That is… World War Kree!
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Ryan Ottley
Inker: Mike Getty
Colorist: Lauren Martin
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
(explores the concept of death)
During the global pandemic and stay-at-home orders, Tony has been working vigorously, without sleep, on his newest project. No, not a cure, he left that to Reed Richards. Tony has come to the realization that not all danger could be put to rest by heroes and he has come to terms with that. What Tony is now thinking about is, what happens when he gets old? What happens when Tony Stark dies and the world still needs Iron Man? He’s been there before but there was no plan… This time, Tony will have a contingency plan. He is going to create a new team, the Iron Avengers!
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Sanford Green
Colorist: Matt Wilson
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
(explores the concept of living)
This iteration of Captain America will be a very different version of Cap than we’ve seen before. This time, Steve Rogers will be in a street-level book working with the Heroes for Hire (Powerman and Iron Fist) after recent events all that went on during the global pandemic. He is dealing with an America trying to restore balance while battling a new crisis in the rise of vampires across America led by Morbius, who took advantage through the pandemic and created an army of vampires. In this book, Captain America is torn because the media is watching his every move, the government is looking at him to help restore faith in America, and his anti-aging life-force is deteriorating and he doesn’t know why or how he could survive without it.
Writer: Kelly Sue Deconnick
Artist: Mark Bagley
Inker: Mark Farmer
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
(explores the concept of change and new life)
Thor Odinson and Jane Foster are having an unexpected baby! They have both held Mjolnir to take on many challenges as Thor, but pregnancy and parent planning may be their greatest challenge yet! I would like the team to really explore what being an expecting-working parent is like. Also, in this book, we need to establish tensions between Thor and Namor and their homes of Asgard and Atlantis.
I’m Kyle Ross, and I’m the new editor in the X-Office at Marvel Comics. We’re just coming off our big Spring event and it looks like I’ll be getting my feet wet by lining up talent and setting the new direction for the books coming out of the event.
We’ve got 2 of the top 5 books on the sales chart that we’ll be relaunching, and we’re going to compliment them by launching a new title that we hope will sell well. Our goal is to increase our sales by at least 20% in the next couple of months, while making our books, and Marvel as a whole, better than ever before. I hope my plans will help us achieve these goals.
First, I will be reaching out to creators to solicit pitches and try to bring them on board our books.
For X-Men, I want creators with a good reputation and fan following, who, ideally, have not had a significant run on the X-books before, so that we can generate some excitement around new ideas and a new direction. I will be reaching out to writer Al Ewing (Immortal Hulk, New Avengers, Ultimates) to hear his ideas for the main X-title. I would love to pair him with artist Jorge Jiménez (Justice League, Batman) and color artist Tomeu Morey.
For Wolverine, I will reach out to writer Gene Luen Yang. His comic book work on New Super-Man and Superman Smashes the Klan suggest that he’d be able to take the character in a new direction, from a new perspective. I would like him collaborate with Dan Mora and Tamra Bonvillain as an art team. Mora has shown through his work on books like Klaus and Once and Future that he can blend the kind of dynamic action we expect from Wolverine with the heartfelt moments that I expect Yang will deliver in his plots.
For our new title, I would like to pair writers Tini Howard and Leah Williams on a new X-Factor book, focused on socially relevant stories reflecting real world events – protests, defunding prejudicial systems, tearing down problematic monuments, etc. – through the lens of the X-Men and the Marvel universe. I would like to set this up with alternating stories in the style of the recent New Mutants series, which alternated between issues written by Jonathan Hickman and issues by Ed Brisson. For artists on this, I’d love to bring Jamal Campbell (Naomi, Far Sector) and Luciano Vecchio (Ironheart, New Warriors) on board to alternate with our writers. Campbell usually colors his own work, and Vecchio has in the past as well, but has also been well colored by Matt Milla, if preferred or necessary to make deadlines.
For all titles, I’d like to retain VC’s Joe Caramagna and Clayton Cowles for lettering.
Sound good? Let’s go make some comics!
Great art choices. An X-Men team book drawn by the amazing Jorge Jimenez would be explosive, the way it used to be, whenever a new X artist started.
And Dan Mira would be perfect for a solo Wolverine series, as long as he wears that cowl. Mora could make it look as cool as the best versions we’ve seen in the past. Byrne, Art Adams, Silvestri, Jim Lee.
Japan’s style would work well on the New Mutants. Fresh, dynamic, exerting the team should be.
The trick is stories that will sustain such great art. Stories and scripting take longer to invest in than then instant reaction art gets. The visuals are the hook. But you’d better have the stories to keep people interested.
Marvel’s weak spot is usually writing. Getting mired in events that are ultimately meaningless. And then resetting things like bowling pins, as if everthing before, whatever attachment we had, was a waste. Better make sure we care about the characters. Beyond how well they’re drawn. Tough balance. But very rewarding. And keeps readers coming back. Creating good reception, word of mouth, media response, increasing sales…
From an Image Comics Perspective, having to create essentially lines out of scratch given Walking Dead is no longer a constant prop up in my line means a new approach. First I need something that is outside of the Superhero, but will get some name recognition. So my first area is to get some good attention. J. Michael Stracyzinski recently stated that he has a Science Fiction Concept book worked out in his behind the scenes and is looking for the right avenue to bring it to light.
Where better then a place where there is no question who owns what?
While it is Joe’s book and he would have definitive say in who is the artist for the series, my recommendation if the story arc permits is that Joe would essentially introduce the concept via a 64 page OGN with the first 8 pages as a free online teaser into the world. The path forward over the next year would be a total of 10 issues based on Joe’s breakout of story, but would preferably be at least in two arcs so if necessary two different artists could work on the monthly book with an climactic 64 -whatever is needed page count OGN to tell the end of the first arc (These OGNs give ability to do extra promotional pushes for the book and generate higher sales to the creators i this case, increasing their revenue). I, with Joe’s permission/consent, hire Alan Davis and the inker of his choice (likely Mark Farmer is first choice but he may be busy given his proposed work on Thor above) as the penciler for the OGNs along with alternate cover artist for the series issues, betting the combination of JMS and Alan Davis doing Sci-Fi creates a splash for Image and for the story itself and creates momentum for the ongoing. This would be much more in line with what Alan would be looking for workload wise at this point.
For the ongoing, I would suggest a primary team for the 10 issues, though Joe may have a team already in mind that gets brought to the table (likely the notable difference from image style editorial line vs the other folks here, my role is more to bring the concepts to publication, not necessarily help shape the content the way Marvel and DC folks need to): Tom Raney/Scott Hanna.
I would work with Joe to underwrite the artistic costs (including coloring/lettering) and leverage his contacts for guest issues or a maybe 2-3 issue set in the middle so he retains ownership as per all Image deals, but he is not out the money upfront to realize his vision.
For my next move to bring in new visions, I’m going to go big or go home. I’m reaching out to the Milestone team and other notable creators of color to bring voices and vision to Image by recognizing Black Creators by developing and releasing 2 ongoing books by all Black creative teams to start along with a third anthology book. These would be for non-superhero themed stories, so there is no conflict with the Milestone contracts in whatever state they are in.
The only caveat to the above is as an incentive, I would reach out to the Image Founders still at Image to do alternate Covers for Issue 1 of each of the new books (so for one book Todd Mcfarlane would do one, one Erik Larson, one Mark Silvestri) to showcase the support for this by the Image community.
I believe Christopher Priest would best serve as a spiritual mentor in shepherding these creators to their vision, while I do all the annoying behind the scenes efforts here to ensure these books get out on time and let the creators be creative. Similarly, I would ask Afua Richardson to serve as an artistic side mentor in chief on these books. The goal is to help find and mentor the creators who are capable of doing wonderful Comics work, but need either an opportunity or assistance in rounding out their skill-sets for a publication worthy comics creator.
Concept one would be to find a Post Apocalyptic based book not dissimilar to The Walking Dead, but needs to be something original (Not unlike how Walking Dead was an original take on Zombie movie tropes). Does not have to be Zombies, but something that sets up a longer themed story.
The second one would be intended as a Crime Noir feel representative of a different viewpoint then we see in most crime books.
The anthology (bringing back the Image Visions name/title) would be a place for creators who do not necessarily have an ongoing story, but have worked diligently on something shorter and need a means to see it made available to the masses.
The intent of the anthology would be to feature at least one “name famous” author to tell a story of their choosing, either with an art team of their choosing or I would develop a stable of connections that are available depending on the creative need to partner up (i.e. almost like real creator contact side of editing 🙂 ). For the first one of these I am going to swing for the fences: Ta-Nehisi Coates writing a short story, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze about whatever story they want to tell. Additional stories in the anthology by young unknown Black Creators discovered through the mentor program mentioned above would be published here as well to round out the anthology.
Lastly moving forward, I would reach back out to Robert Kirkman and find spots in the calendar for whatever he may choose to bring to the table. While Walking Dead may be gone, as evidenced by Negan Lives and other work, comics haven’t really left his blood. My expectation is to be able to get him to commit to a 2-3 Part story that is just something he may have never gone into before. It won’t be published in the first month, but part of Image is being able to have these things in the pipeline to share with the community, so when i need something else in 2-3 moves I have something ready to go.