EDITORIAL SIMULATION Move 3

DISCLAIMER: All individuals, sales figures, situations and occurrences involved in this editorial simulation are completely fabricated as part of the game, and do not in any way reflect the actual real-world opinions, viewpoints or situations involving any of the creators or titles named. THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION!

We’ve had a bit of an unexpected result this past week, as only four of our five players posted moves. Erik Merk, the Image player, didn’t show up–or if he did, his move didn’t post through properly in the comments as it needed to. Hopefully, everything is all right with Erik (in these days, that’s a genuine concern) and he was just the victim of some technological snafu. Erik, if you’re reading this, please contact me and let me know that you plan to continue. In the meantime, we’re going to take the perspective that the Image editor was away on a vacation this week, and so everything simply continued to roll along without him.

Otherwise, here we go:

MARVEL OFFICES

KYLE’S OFFICE

Al seems to be on board with writing X-MEN and Paco Medina and his crew are happy and even enthusiastic to be given such an important series to work on. That all said, the ideas Al threw at you heavily involve a character, the High Evolutionary, who is under the auspices of the MARVEL HEROES office, so you’re going to need to coordinate with Sal as to whether Al will be able to use the character when he wants to, in the way that he’d like to, and for as long as he’d like to, and that doing so won’t derail any of the plans cooking in the HEROES are.

Ram V is up for working on WOLVERINE. As he’s worked in concert with Al Ewing before, he’s feeling extremely comfortable in the seat and in coordinating with the main X-MEN title.

The EIC and all of the other players who would need to budget and approve a new series, running P & L (Profit and Loss) reports and checking to see that such a new title seems likely to be able to make its margin and add to Marvel’s bottom line, are fine with your plan to launch both X-FACTOR and X-FORCE. The decision you need to make now is who goes where? You’ve got both Tini and Vita on deck as writers and Jamal and Luciano as artists, so you’ll need to pair them off on the assignments (or bring in additional or alternate people as you see fit.)

KURT’S OFFICE

Sara Pichelli taking the lead position on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN seems to make everybody happy. Everybody except the VP of Ops, who tells you that Sara’s always been a bit too slow to handle a monthly book, so you’ll need to have your back-up and triage options prepared well in advance; you’re likely to need them.

In his characteristic style, when you lay out your strategy for Peter on SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, he says, “Oh, so it’s MARVEL TEAM-UP then.” But he’s open to trying to give you what you want here–he prides himself on being a working writer who can deliver the goods on pretty much anything. He indicates that he’ll probably start with a Spider-Man/Guardians of the Galaxy team-up, because that will be unexpected and he’s got a new liking for the Guardians based on the two films. When you tell him about speaking with the artists about who they might like to draw, he gives some degree of ascent but thereafter doesn’t really follow through with it. Peter is unlikely to call up an artist to shoot the breeze.

Tom Grummett will take on alternating duties with Phil Jimenez on SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN.

On MILES MORALES, Kyle has responded positively to the work of Jamal Campbell and indicates that he’d be up for doing the book with him. Unfortunately, Jamal is set to be one of the artists on either X-FACTOR or X-FORCE for Kyle, so you guys and the EIC are going to need to decide where it would be best to deploy him and what you want to put in front of him–either a specific title that you want him to work on or else a choice of options for him to decide on. Either way, Kyle’s involvement in teh project feels to you like it hinges on Jamal drawing the series.

SAL’S OFFICE

On IRON MAN, Dylan Burnett is ready to come on and do the series with Jason. In terms of the coloring situation, though, the EIC tells you that he thinks that, while Laura’s colors would certainly help to elevate Dylan’s work, there are probably better uses of her time and energy throughout the line, to say nothing of not weighing down the title further with her heavier rate against the margin. He feels that the Talent Management group should be able to come up with some viable options for colorists who can make Dylan look good here.

Separately, the VP of Ops tells you that the division of expenses on Marvel titles doesn’t work the way you’re laying it out. You can’t “borrow” from one title to pay against another–each book needs to maintain its margin on its own, regardless of how much savings there may be on another title in the same office. It’s Darwinian. There are times when a particular initiative may be important enough to the organization for one reason or another when the need to hold the line on margin will be waived in the service of this other objective–but those instances tend to be few and far-between. Too many of them, and suddenly you’re not making margin for the whole line, and people start losing jobs.

Your conversations with Donny have gone fine so far as you indicate, yet there’s a nagging sense of something in the back of your mind–as though some of what you’ve been saying isn’t quite sticking. And indeed, Donny’s first script comes in for CAPTAIN AMERICA, and he’s got the Heroes for Hire in it, but he kills off Iron Fist unexpectedly on Page 19. When you call him up to ask him about this, he launches into a description of his sweeping three-year plan and how this moment is a crucial lynchpit to everything that’s going to happen coming up. “And at the end we can bring him back, ” says Donny, “Although we don’t have to, and probably really shouldn’t.” He also tells you that he’s talked to Sanford about his story plans, and the artist thinks they’re all Dope.

The Senior Staff at Marvel along with you have a meeting to talk through the question of Thor and Jane having a kid, and it’s a rambunctious meeting with story ideas bouncing in a lot of unexpected directions and people also speaking out strongly against the whole idea. One of those who’s opposed is Joe Quesada, in his role as creative director. He says that he thinks there’s no way that giving Thor and Jane a kid doesn’t age them and make them seem older (he realizes the irony of saying that about a centuries-old God). But ultimately, the Publisher is open to moving ahead with the story provided that the EIC is comfortable with the direction that you’re going in, so he’s going to need to be kept in the loop as you, Kelly Sue and Mark build this storyline out.

The EIC likes the idea of Donny and Ryan being the creative team on WORLD WAR KREE. Now you just need to get them both into the seats, work out when you can get the project done by, and then build a structure for other titles to tie in to what you’re doing and solicit tie-ins from the rest of the editorial staff.

DAVE’S DC OFFICE

In another part of this great land, the following is playing out:

As you were able to put together a competitive financial offer and the Image editorial office wasn’t answering calls this week, Christopher Priest has decided to go ahead and sign on to do SUPERMAN. In terms of the artist, people are excited by the notion of Brian Stelfreeze doing the book but they’re also aware that Brian hasn’t helmed a steady run on a title in a very long time–he’s been much more hit-and-run, with fill-ins and second chair artists often required. So people are up for you to put him on the book, but you’re going to need a back-up in place, If that’s Ray-Anthony, so be it.

Grant Morrison is up for another go-around on ACTION COMICS. As opposed to many creators, Grant feels that ACTION is really the primary Superman title, the one in which the character originated, the one with the longest history to it. So it’s his preferred Superman home, actually. He’s on board to do a year’s run, and then you’ll see what happens. In some ways, he’s looking at this as being structured similarly to ALL-STAR SUPERMAN, where he tells a complete, tightly-plotted story that touches on all of the key aspects of the Man of Steel’s world over the course of a year. Sana Takeda likewise is both available and excited to work with Grant and to do Superman.

John Romita Jr is a bit reluctant to take on LEGION OF SUPER HEROES with its bevy of characters, but he’s a good soldier and he’s willing to give it a try if DC thinks it’s an important initiative. With John in place, Felicia Henderson is willing to commit to her involvement as well.

You hear through the grapevine that Alex Ross is a bit flummoxed that he never heard back from you when he asked about which version of the Legion you’d be featuring. The folks you talk to say that Alex’s comment was, “Typical treatment from DC.”

ERIK’S IMAGE OFFICE

Joe Straczynski is a little bit frustrated to not have answers to his questions about ownership splits and how artist collaborators will be compensated on his big SF project. He understands that people take vacations, but he’s also hungry to get an artist or artists into place and to bring the story to life while it’s still bubbling in his brain.

Christopher Priest leaves you a message towards the end of the week regretfully begging off from the Black Creators initiative due to the fact that he is taking over SUPERMAN. He jokes that, given history, he’ll probably be available again to work on this in a month or two once DC realizes what they’ve done.

The other creators that you’ve begun speaking with on this initiative and on the proposed POST APOCALYPSE, CRIME NOIR and IMAGE VISIONS books are all still interested in hearing more, but with you out this week, nobody could move ahead with any of these plans.

Brian Stelfreeze leaves you a message asking you to call him back. While he doesn’t say specifically what it’s about in his message, Priest mentioned something during his message that makes you think that maybe DC is talking to Brian about doing SUPERMAN as well. If so, he may be unavailable for your IMAGE VISIONS roll-out unless you can convince him to do your project instead.

For the sake of maintaining parity, I’m assuming that there were three low-impact Image titles that could be scheduled for this release window.

SALES DEPARTMENT

Diamond sends you all the latest sales figures, rankings and market share for the industry. This all still pre-dates any creative changes that you have been making, since most of them are still in process. As usual, we will look at this through the lens of the Marvel offices, so the DC and Image numbers are concealed. It goes something like this:

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN – 93,000

X-MEN –89,000

WOLVERINE – 64,000

SUPERMAN

THOR – 38,000

SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN – 32,000

ACTION COMICS

LEGION

IRON MAN – 27,000

CAPTAIN AMERICA – 24,000

Image 2

Image 1

Image 3

MARVEL Limited Series – 14,000

In aggregate MARVEL sales: 381,000. Book average: 47,625

Market Share:

MARVEL – 37%

DC – 32%

IMAGE – 8%

Your move.

Tom B

5 thoughts on “EDITORIAL SIMULATION Move 3

  1. Good morning, everyone.

    Here’s a weekly update for what’s going on in the X-office.

    Obviously you all saw the sales numbers that show Marvel is down 30% overall since the last update, and 25% on the per book average. This can mostly be attributed to the loss of our event, with no immediate replacements launching to fill the gap. Our own X-office books – X-Men and Wolverine – are down 6.4% and 20%, respectively, so they are performing better than the rest of the company, but still down. We’ll need this relaunch to hit big in order to hit our goal of a 20% increase over the June 20 numbers.

    My first action for this week is to email Sal at the Marvel Heroes office (and CC the EIC) to get their permission for Al Ewing to use The High Evolutionary in his X-Men relaunch. I’ll spell out Al’s plans and why I think they’ll be great for sales and Marvel as a whole, and hopefully this won’t conflict with their own plans. I’m hoping it will only

    Once I have that locked in, I will be setting deadlines for all of my writers – Al, Ram, Leah, and Tini – to get their opening plots in this week and begin scripting so that we can get our artists moving.

    I understand that Kurt’s Spider-Office may have interest in Jamal Campbell, who has already signed on to work on one of my X-books – specifically I was planning to have him join writer Tini Howard on X-Force, while Leah and Luciano Vecchio run X-Factor.

    IF Kurt’s office doesn’t have an alternate plan and wants to court Jamal, I am willing to partner with Kurt and the EIC to reach out to Jamal and offer him the choice of which series he would like to work on.

    If Jamal chooses to go to Miles Morales, I may delay the launch of X-Force slightly so that we can recruit a new artist, dependent on how long that process takes. If possible, to strengthen the launch, I will try to get Greg Capullo to come back to X-Force for the first arc/launch story. If he is uninterested or above our available budget, other artists I have in mind include Marco Checchetto, Aneke, and Ken Lashley – also my choices to take over from Greg after the first arc, if we can get him.

    In other news, Leah says she is working on a playlist for X-Factor and I don’t know whether to be excited or scared.

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  2. While keeping my eyes on the sales, and that ticking clock (7 weeks is coming up quick), I’d first communicate to my EIC my gaff in not reaching out to Alex Ross, expressing the idea of possibly bringing him in for a 4 or 6 issue series later in the year, but if we do, that probably wouldn’t hit the timeline for this sales quarter, but could be a home-run for the next. I’d take the L on that part, but hope I’d make amends with possible Golden Goose for the next quarter.

    My next call would be to Alex Ross…first, to issue a “Mea Culpa” and apologize (profusely) for not getting back to him sooner, and also to let him know, at the time of the offer, I was unsure which version of Legion or which characters Felicia would choose to feature in her story. However, I’d also let Alex know that since he flat out could not do a monthly, what we’d like to do, budget permitting, is bring him in for a Legion special, maybe a four or six issue tale (ala Kingdom Come) sometime later in the year. We can discuss possible authors and ideas on the call, if he is willing, or let him mull it over. I feel his art on covers would be great, but full issues of his art would be completely phenomenal. It’d be a project to hash over in more detail only if he’s interested in his own non-continuity special again (and EIC’s approval, of course). IF EIC did not go for the Ross Special idea, then I would simply apologize ad nauseam and hope we can work together in the future.

    Second, I’d reach out to Christopher Priest, thank him for coming aboard and begin hashing ideas for Superman. It’s our highest seller, and I feel he’s ready to take this title to the very top. I’d also let him know that Brian Stelfreeze is on as artist, but we’ll also be using Ray-Anthony for fill-ins and back-up to keep on a timely schedule. I’d express interest in using Val Zod to get things started, but also listen to Christopher’s ideas and hopefully we’ll get a head start on outline and let Christopher get to work on the first script. I’d also reach out to the artists and inform them of the dynamics, first Brian Stelfreeze, then to Ray-Anthony. I’d also stress that Brian Stelfreeze is the lead, and Ray-Anthony is more for covers or assist if needed for scheduling purposes. I’d also express that this is a golden opportunity, and that while I know he (Brian) has got offers from Image, I’d point out that it’d be a great achievement to have a solid run and hope he’d stay with us, and that I’d do what I can to make him comfortable and produce a terrific title. I’d then make sure each member also had contacts and open communication with the other creators (no surprises for anyone involved). I’d set the expectation to see a few early pages by the end of the week.

    Next, I’d call Grant Morrison, let him know how absolutely excited I am to have him back on Action! And, with his proven history, I’d do my best to stay out of his way, if he has a story, tightly wound plot and all, ready to tell, then I will gladly listen to it, and let him work his magic! I’d also call Sana Takeda, welcome her aboard and express how happy I am that she’ll be teaming with Grant. I’d let her know his ideas, and also give her Grant’s contact info so they can talk in further detail if needed. I’d want to make sure she is comfortable, knows what is expected and what may be coming down the line, and hope we can get her some pages to start the artwork within the week. Grant’s excitement and Sana’s talent make me quite happy for this book, and I’d want to make sure they stay happy while working on it, too.

    Finally, I’d reach out to Felicia and also thank her for staying with us. As I previously mentioned in the offer, this is a story, due to the events of 2020, that I really hope hits home and sends out a message to our readers (and hopefully is great enough to bring in non-readers). We’d hammer out some of the basic details of which time periods she’d like to shed a light on, and how it’s changed or not for times of 2020, and then how those would change the future, and how the team (characters of her choosing from the Legion line-up) would react to the different situations. I’d also let her know that we’d need to lock down who the main characters would be so that we can get that information to John. He’s fantastic, but with such a large library, we’d really like to get that roster down to a manageable number for him. Once we have some basic ideas of who she is using, I’d ask for an outline and possible first pages within the week. I’d also call John, thanking him for “soldiering up” for us, and I’d let him know that Felicia and I did out best to narrow down the main roster, and get him those names to help him get ready. I’d go over the outline again, letting him know that certain panels will most likely be historical context shots, so he can also prepare ideas for that (for instance, if Felicia’s script invokes slavery images, or the riots of Watts compared to LA ’92 and today, he’ll have time to dig up archive photos or whatever he needs for reference, etc). I’d let him know Felicia’s timetable, make sure he has her contact information also to keep them all on the same page, let him know how much I appreciate his coming on and reiterating that I believe this can be a timely, huge story (Eisner worthy, possibly), and that I’m really excited to get it going!

    I’d hope the first issues of each title would be ready to hit the shelves soon, and with the announcement of the teams through the LCS’s across the country, sales will see an uptick once they hit the shelves!

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  3. Iron Man – Week 1, 30,000, now 27,000
    Captain America – Week 1, 25,000, now 24,000
    Thor – Week 1, 50,000 – now 38,000

    MARKETING
    I emailed the EIC, the VP of Ops, and the marketing team asking if I can create a social media campaign video series, direct from smartphones so it doesn’t get expensive. Starting with a video message from each member of each book on their instagrams, announcing the project they’re on. I would like to do a series of live interviews with each member of the teams. I sent the questions I would ask the talent on these livestreams and all of the questions are basic and spoiler-free.

    IRON MAN
    Jason Aaron and Dylan Burnett have great chemistry. Aaron’s script came in ahead of schedule and Dylan has a couple pages complete. I told them both about World War Kree and they already have ideas on tie-ins.

    I’m waiting for the Talent Management group to offer colorists but I went ahead and put a feeler out to Michael Spicer who worked with Dylan on Ant-Man and he is currently looking for work.

    CAPTAIN AMERICA
    I had a Zoom call with Donny and Sanford who are in alignment with Iron Fist’s death. I asked, “Why does Iron Fist die so early in the series? I’m not opposed to the death but we need to establish what Iron Fist means to this series, hook the readers in, and get them emotionally attached to him within the series. THEN if it makes sense, he can be killed off because that would give us a more emotional and organic reaction from the readers.” After explaining the need to build to the death they agreed that would be the better route. I’m not taking away Donny’s idea, simply moving it back for the sake of the story. We all got off the call on the same page and excited for what is to come.

    THOR
    Kelly Sue and Mark came to me with a great first issue and a question, “Can we put a link to a poll in the back of the book for readers to vote on whether Thor and Jane are having one baby or twins?” I love the idea so I ran that question up the chain of command.

    To really build the hype for the baby, I emailed the EIC and the VP of Ops to see if we can ask Skottie Young to do variant covers throughout the series.

    WORLD WAR KREE
    I called Donny Cates and Ryan Ottley on separate calls to pitch them both on World War Kree and on the other talent. They were both ecstatic to be offered and accepted. In my conversation with Donny, I did tell him that we still need to put his focus on Cap.

    I emailed Kyle at the X office and Kurt at the Spidey office to ask about potential tie-in issues for WWK from their books. Waiting to hear back.

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  4. Great to have everyone on board for the main creative teams on the two ongoing titles! As for back-up options on ASM, I reach out to Mark Russell and ask if he can write a few one or two issue stories that can easily be slotted in pretty much anywhere into his run without too much reworking. I’ll also be reaching out to some artists whose work I like, but have little to no Spider-Man experience that might be willing to do a single issue or two as a special occasion. Just a few of those include Jamal Igle, ChrisCross (since they didn’t work out for Miles), Pia Guerra, Darick Robertson, Olivier Copiel, Stephanie Hans, and Clay Mann as a sample. Any stories that aren’t needed to fill in gaps by the time Sara moves on will be published later as part of an annual, or an oversized special or two when we’re in between “third titles,” so they won’t go to waste.

    I call Phil, thanking him for coming on board, and ask if he has a hankering for a cosmic tale, as Guardians of the Galaxy will be one of the first guest stars, and want to divvy the work as best as I can to their strengths and desires. If Phil has a strong want for the Guardians story, I’ll let him have it. Next, I call Tom and either assign him the following arc, or ask if he is interested in the Guardians (depending on the results of the call with Phil). If he seems unenthusiastic about going cosmic as well, I’ll call Phil back and let him know that I am assigning him the Guardians story, because I’ve seen how well he does cosmic stuff with Infinite Crisis and Titans and also want him to be the first one out the gate. I let him know that he’ll have first choice on the next two arcs, as I do want to keep him engaged and doing the kind of stories he wants.

    I appreciate that Kyle (Ross, fellow editor) is willing to let Jamal choose between the series he would like to work on. I would ask that Kyle (Baker) also attend that meeting to help pitch the series, if he’s available (whether that happens in person or through phone/video chat is fine). Of course, to be fair, Tini would also be invited. The results of that are going to be crucial for getting Miles Morales off the ground, it appears, so in case that doesn’t work out, I’ll be checking to see what pitches people have sent in recently for other Spider-characters, like Ghost Spider, Madame Web, or Spider-Man Noir, and see if anything jumps out as a possibility for getting something up and running quickly if my original plans completely fall apart.

    I got an email from Sal regarding possible World War Kree tie-ins. In response, I reach out to Mark and Peter, and ask them if they have any ideas they want to run with (the Miles Morales book will be completely self-contained). I let them know there’s no pressure. If they don’t want to join in, they don’t have to, but if anything about Sal’s pitch speaks to them, just let me know, and I’ll pass that on to him, so that we can work out details.

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