Marvel: Point One Explained with Brevoort, Alonso and David Gabriel

Today on a conference call with the press, Marvel Vice-President Executive Editors Tom Brevoort and Axel Alonso were joined by Senior Vice President of Sales & Circulation David Gabriel to discuss the upcoming Marvel: Point One program.  Announced last week, Marvel: Point One is a program designed to attract new readers to ongoing titles. Each "Point One" issue, released in February 2011 will feature an original story aimed as a jumping on point for the next year's worth of stories within that title.  This jumping on point story is promised to be created by "Marvel's Top Creators" across the following books:

WOLVERINE #5.1 (cover art featured to the right by Paolo Rivera)
MARCH 2011
HULK #30.1 
THOR #620.1
APRIL 2011
In discussing the plans around this program, David Gabriel stated clearly in the beginning that while, "There's been a lot of talk about pricing and page count and too many comics," that this initiative was about bringing in new readers as well as getting old readers back into comics, effectively creating that "jumping on" point that we're always discussing.  Tom Brevoort harkened back to earlier attempts at this by Marvel, most memorably the 9 cent Fantastic Four issue, as well as the recent Free Comic Book Day comics.  Those books gave "a complete story by our best guys in a solid 22 pages with the hope to springboard the reader into what comes next."  This program is very much inspired by the previous recent Free Comic Book Day comics, which had a single story that launched into something big within the title.  Axel Alonso added, "The challenge for the writers is to hook new readers with a complete story and convince them to come back for more."

Compared the Saga books that Marvel have been producing recently which recaps past storylines and provides a guide of trade paperbacks to purchase to catch up, Tom Brevoort made the distinction very clear by clarifying that these will not be throwaways or fill ins.  They will be written by the title's writer and be used to foreshadow what's to come in the title, whereas the Saga issues are created by the Marketing department at Marvel, not editorial.

Confirmed for the first round of titles was Amazing Spider-Man #654.1 written by Dan Slott and Invincible Iron Man #500.1 will be written by Matt Fraction with art by Salvador LaRocca and be very much in continuity and key to the title's storyline.  So much so, that Brevoort figured that these issues will be collected in order with the other issues of the title in collections down the road.
While these issues will remain key for regular readers, the idea is to drive in new readers.  The question was posed as to how Marvel will actually market to new readers? David Gabriel responded quite honestly with, "If we put these to the direct market, we'll just get the same direct market customers.  We're working with our public relations firm to get this message out to a mass audience."  Gabriel expanded that Marvel's PR firm is confident that this will be a big thing to get out to a mainstream audience, but did not go into detail about how they will do that.
While the prices on these Point One issues are set at $2.99, all the books being highlighted, with the exception of Deadpool are regularly $3.99.  When asked if there was a planned price drop for these books getting the Point One treatment, Gabriel responded, "No plans for a price drop right now…there may be an announcement in 10 days, or perhaps tomorrow."  So it looks as if the price point of the issues is still to be determined.  When asked about the digital release of these comics and possibly on day and date, Gabriel clarified that there were no plans to release these digitally, especially day and date. "Focus is on getting these into comic shops so that the retailers have them in their hands to sell," he explained.
One may ask, why do this now?  Tom Brevoort laughed and explained "We're doing this now because we thought of it," and that there was some thought paid to making these available to retailers well before Free Comic Book Day.  Brevoort added, "because they're self contained, they're primed for samplers."
Ultimately if the goal is to get new readers, the key to knowing if they've succeeded will ultimately be based on the retailers as Gabriel explained they'll be looking at not the first months orders, but the second and third months orders to determine if the retailers are backing this program.  And while some titles like Fantastic Four and Daredevil are missing the Point One treatment, that's mainly because the current storylines don't really afford a good jumping on point, but also as Gabriel expanded from a business stance, "We're making a concerted effort to reduce our title count…We didn't want to go out and do 20 of these books.  We wanted to have 1 a week to keep people coming back, if we need to do more we have the 2nd half of the year and the following year to do those."  Brevoort added that this could become a yearly thing they do if it takes off.
Finally, while Alonso was mum on what was coming up in the books that he's editing (beyond the sweet art we featured above), Brevoort did reveal that Amazing Spider-Man #654.1 will feature the appearance of the NEW Venom.  The story will explain who he is, why he does what he does and how he's connected to Spider-Man, so for Spider-Man readers this will surely be an issue not to miss.
While there's more speculation to be had on the business success and impact of this program and it's ability to drive new readers, only time will tell.  Specifically in mid 2011 when we see not only what the sales on these Point One books were, but what the next issue orders are on the titles, which will be the true indicator to see if new readers are jumping on board.  But for now, it appear that Marvel is placing a pretty big bet on the editorial quality of their comics to drive new readers.  As Brevoort put it,  "Nothing sells you on buying the next issue better than this issue being good."


  1. Nice dickish answer right there by Brevoort: "We’re doing this now because we thought of it"

    So it’s essentially like a Free Comic Book Day comic….but priced at $3.99? No dice Marvel. I know I’m not gonna waste any money on Deadpool #32.1 or Secret Avengers #11.1 that’s for sure.

  2. They want to give people another chance to jump on besides just FCBD. At least they’re trying. Of course if they really want new readers, they just need to do a Justin Bieber event across all the titles. The storm that would produce among readers new and old would be insane.

  3. I don’t think this will change anything for me–I’ll buy the issues of books I’m currently reading, and probably ignore the rest.

    By the way, this article could use another editing pass–lots of typos/grammar issues.  I’m sure everyone is just preoccupied with voting 🙂

  4. This does seem like a cash grab.  Is it really going to bring in new readers?  I doubt it.  If they wanted to do that, EVERY issue would be written like it was going to be someone’s first and distribution would be better.  No, this is to compensate I think for the cancellation of lower-selling titles.  Why put out more of those when you can try and put out more of the big-selling ones?  That’s all this is, a way to gouge fanboys even more.  I realize it’s a business but the fact that they aren’t lowering their prices on most comics from $3.99 after it was pretty much known the price jump was for a cash grab, and now this, it just seems Marvel is just plain getting greedy.  Couldn’t Uncle Mickey just give them a few bucks?  Or is he making them do this (I kind of doubt that since the price jump was before the sale and this is just a continuing trend of that).  Could this by this era’s "foil cover" fiasco?

  5. Love that Wolvie pic.  This initiative is not too interesting to me, but then again, it’s not for me.  Hope it works in bringing some folks into the fold.

  6. @TheNextChampion – all the Point One books are $2.99, not $3.99 – and his answer wasn’t dickish, he was laughing while he said it cause he was being honest – Tom is anything but a dick, trust me

  7. @ron: Sorry, it just reads dickish. I hope he’s a nice guy…..but I heard things 🙂

    Also misread the price point, I agree with @mrlogical, the grammar in this is pretty bad….Sorry Ron…

    Even still I don’t think you’re going to get new readers by asking them to pay for what will essentially be a FCBD issue for full price. 

  8. I don’t understand the big deal. Marvel is just placing an emphasis on these issues to let people know that it’s a good jumping on point. I see this question all the time here and now you have a printed answer on the covering. If they hadn’t put .1 behind the numbering, would you all be complaining about a one shot issue at the end of an arc in Wolverine? Of course not.

  9. @TNC: Yes, this is a very unclear sentence:

    " While the prices on these Point One issues are set at $2.99, all the books being highlighted, with the exception of Deadpool are regularly $3.99."

  10. "Gabriel clarified that there were no plans to release these digitally, especially day and date. "Focus is on getting these into comic shops so that the retailers have them in their hands to sell," he explained.

    Thats fine for retailers, but I’m not sure how this attracts new readers.

    If they arent coming into the stores now, is this enough incentive to start, and how are they made aware of the program , if they dont normally pay attention to comics via the usual channels.

    It’s confusing. 

  11. Why are they providing jumping on points for comics that are still in their first 10 issues?

    Where high numbering is thought to scare away new readers, decimal numbering is just unnecessarily confusing to new and old readers. This is stupid. But.. since these are effectively in continuity and by the same creators, looks like I’m buying them.

  12. @conor: Right. It sounded like the .1 issues and the regular issues were gonna be $3.99. That’s how I read it.

    Thanks for clarifying it again. 

  13. @TNC: I wasn’t being serious, it’s a very straight forward sentence.

    @wordballoon: That’s because this isn’t about attracting NEW readers it’s about attracting MORE Marvel readers from the current shrinking pool of people buying comics.

  14. So, on the plus side:

    – These appear (creatively) to be simple jumping on points for new readers, written by the series creators. I think that’s great. The fact that they’re not doing it on books like FF because the story doesn’t lend itself to a jumping on point, tells me that they’ve got the right idea.

    On the confusing side:

    – The aim is to get new readers, and they have mysterious plans for that, but it’s not digital, and it does involve retailers, rather than some kind of new/alternate distribution.

    So, for me… there’s no real negative. I keep buying the books I regularly read and maybe check out one or two books that don’t usually read.

    But I’m definitely damn curious as to what this mysterious PR idea is going to be (aside from the ".1" numbering gimmick.)



  15. I dont understand how people complain so much about "cash grabs". if youre an idiot and dont pay attention to what you buy, you deserve to lose the 2.99. If youre reading the book, then buy as usual. Not interested? Dont buy it. @mrlogical lives up to his name.

    I didnt perform an official scientific experiment, but id bet that there will be at least few people out there who would appreciate a jumping on point. They make the medium accessable to new readers. Whats the problem with that? New readers will keep this medium alive.

    Everyone isnt out to get you.

  16. I can just imagine delays happening because artists are now forced to do two issues in a row per month. That can’t end well.

  17. "And you can always not buy it!"


  18. Absolutely people don’t have to buy it, but with the number of comic book readers who suffer OCD, they will because they have to have every issue of a title, whether or not it’s good, important or just a reprint or not.  And comic companies count on that.  I mean, that’s really just business I guess.  I’ve seen people talk about how their comic buying is as important to them as putting gas in their car, that’s how badly they feel compelled to buy stuff.  Me, I won’t touch them, I’m more a trade reader anyway, but if you really want to attract new readers, even readers who already buy comics, why not make the .1’s a buck or two and even digital?  It just seems like they’re still trying fix the shrinking readership by getting the current one to just buy more comics rather than try and reach new people through digital or whatever, which would probably work.

  19. Yeah, I don’t see the downside.  Will it achieve the stated objective of attracting new readers?  I think so.  If you were new to comics and walked into a local comic shop where the store owner said, "Any comic with a ‘.1’ on it is ‘new reader friendly’," that might make it easier for you to choose which books to buy.  It limits your choices, which sometimes is good.

    Speaking from personal experience, when I got back into comics in the middle of Dark Reign, I was totally confused as to what to buy.  I had missed the obvious jumping on point, and I didn’t know which titles were essential to understand the story.  "It’s not an event, it’s a status quo," meant that every frickin’ book had that damn Dark Reign banner on it.  What was I supposed to do?  Buy them all?   There was no way I could afford to go back and buy all the "Dark" titles I had missed to catch up.  And, I couldn’t tell which stories I "needed."  

    If they had had this program when I got back into comics, I would have loved it.  I probably would have bought more Marvel titles.  As it was, I bought almost no Marvel in single issues because I was paralyzed by uncertainty.  In fact, Dark Reign opened the door for DC, Vertigo and Image, which I had never really read before then.  I would still be a "Marvel Zombie" if there had been some easy sign posts pointing to good jumping on points.   

  20. @TNC They aren’t doing an extra issue, they are just altering the numbering to let people know this is one of the jumping on point books.

  21. in talking with my LCS owner the biggest problem for him is that he only orders maybe half or less of the books that are published in any given month from Marvel and DC for the shop. Just the main titles, Everything else is special order. He just doesn’t have the room, and the desire to take on all that extra stock that he can’t return and won’t be purchased.

    Casual readers and new readers aren’t going to order stuff from Previews. You can’t sell issues that aren’t stocked, so its a chicken and the egg.  

    The market is flooded with too many titles with the same character and stories that cross over between several titles. Thats more confusing for new readers than high numbering i think. 

  22. The response to this makes me think of Jimski’s article a few weeks ago wherein he wrote about comic fans flipping out as if Marvel/DC sit around thinking up ways to piss off comic fans.


    These pretzels…are making me THIRSTY!!! 

  23. @ RessurectionFlan   It is going to be an extra issue.  Check out this previous post by Josh.

  24. "While the prices on these Point One issues are set at $2.99, all the books being highlighted, with the exception of Deadpool are regularly $3.99."

    Invincible Iron Man is usually a $2.99 book, except for extra-sized issues. Either this is a misstep or I must speculate that IIM is going to make the price jump post-#500.

  25. this seems like a great idea. i love single-issue stories, and at 2.99, i can see myself buying most of these.

  26. Why not just put a flash on the title saying "The start of a brand new exciting story!"  Or give them a banner, since Marvel seems to like banners.  Or even a specific logo/title branding.

    I just don’t see the benefit to this system.  Why hide away the fact that it’s a jumping on point in the numbering box?  Which is generally so small as to be unreadable.  Are new readers going to scan shelves to see ".1" after a number on a cover, provided they enter a store that shelves their comics in such a way as you can see the numbering?  After the proprietor has identified them as a new reader (by some form of telepathy or by knowing all of his customers by sight) and then explained to them that ".1" after a comic means that they should read that comic so they won’t get scared away by ongoing stories.

    Marketing-wise it’s a mess.  As a campaign it doesn’t know what it’s audience is, doesn’t convey a clear message and it hides it’s own identity.

    The only thing this reminds me of is the bizarre 0.5 issue craze of the mid-90s, which goes along with the revival of everything else from that decade. 

  27. I see the whole Point One thing as an experiment.  You can’t complain about not being able to find new readers without trying something out of the box.  Marvel can’t give the books away for free, so I love the idea of them knocking a buck off the top.  I for one collect mainly DC and indie books and want to try and get back into a few Marvel titles.  This is an interesting marketing campaign, I do want to see how it pans out in the end.

  28. @alanmac–i agree very much. They had a good system in place with the Amazing Spiderman. During the Grim Hunt series for example i noticed they had been putting numbers for the series on the covers so we knew what part it was. I also noted they had two distinct cover designs for this book (confusion?) that were plentiful enough to not be variants. 

    That seems to make more sense than .1 but whatevs.  

  29. Ironically, the Spider-Man "Saga" issue that DCBS threw in with my latest shipment convinced me to not go back to reading Amazing Spidey. What a mess.

  30. I can only assume that the "other avenues" they speak of would be getting Marvel product (comics and merch) into Disney stores across the nation/world. There’s one in the mall by my house and whenever I go in there I expect to see some sign of them, especially since a good deal of Disney store merch is targeted to girls (There is one wall with CARS toys, Toy Story toys and Power Rangers but the rest are stuffed animals and play-pretend dresses).

    Other than that, I get what they seem to be going for, but can’t see how an "uneducated" (Not aware of comics, their numbering schemes, etc) new comic reader is going to be able to find these .1 issues and go "Aha, this is the place to start." Whether it be as a child or a teen or adult, I’ve never looked for one of these. I always just grabbed an issue off the shelf and jumped in. This feels reactionary to DC’s price drop and a way to stave off having to drop Marvel’s $3.99 books (which as of this week was every Marvel book I bought seemingly) lower. The idea that these "jumping on points" won’t be available digitally is completely perplexing. I think that hints at how valuable Marvel thinks the digital publishing side is. I heard a lot of people murmuring that "someone from Marvel said the digital comics side was profitable" at NYCC, yet never saw that stated in any report nor have Marvel openly talked about their successes. (If the Iron Man annual did rake in cash, why isn’t Marvel shoving that in our noses!?) By comparison, DC releases free "Origins" pieces (Granted reprints from 52 and Countdown) for characters whose books launch digitally that week. It’s a good way to get a reader to care about a character even if you start at issue 507.

  31. @Prax I think it’s up to us and the retailers to let people know that these are the places to start. Come to think of it, for all the bitching I’ve done about not seeing young readers in my store I only recommend books to people that already read comics. I think the day before these come out we should all tweet and facebook the shit out of this. get the word out, grassroots style

  32. @prax–they sell comics in Toys R Us…in the same aisle as the superhero toys. For $10 you can have a really cool action figure or an issue of Spiderman Magazine….if i were a kid, i’d take the action figure. 

  33. @Wally Not at my local Toys R Us they don’t. And they sell Doctor Who figures (Much more obscure to American kids than comics, but they offer the weirdest figures!). Though overall, with a few exceptions, toy sales have dwindled over the past decade. I remember when I was kid you bought action figures for every kids-based event. Nowadays no one in my family asks for them, so I usually give them comics or books. 

    @Roi I’m sorry but what makes these issues more deserving of this style of promoting comics than any other issue? If you’re serious about getting comics into more hands, treat every issue like a special event and pimp it to your hearts content. 

  34. @RoiVampire: If it has fallen to the comic book customers to get the word out about the product then things are in worse shape than anyone will admit.