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Arcana vs. Marvel: Battle of the character libraries!

by  in Comic News Comment

You expect a press release to inflate a comic’s importance or puff up a creator’s track record. After all, the publisher is trying to convince the media that its announcement has news value. But every once in a while a release overreaches. Just a little.

Take, for instance, this one from Arcana Studio announcing the acquisition of a handful of Devil’s Due Publishing titles that I’ve never heard of. The first half of the release is standard fare, briefly describing the comics and hyping the performance of Arcana (“the company has been growing in leaps and bounds”). But then we get to this paragraph:

Arcana’s graphic novels and intellectual properties have grown in the last two years to be as wide a library of characters as Marvel’s. Marvel was acquired by Disney for $4 Billion, and is the second major comic library to be acquired by a Hollywood studio. DC Comics, which is owned by Warner Bros., recently announced a newly-revamped business model, focusing on reaching deeper into DC’s catalog of characters.

It’s investor (or acquisition) bait, to be sure. But, hey, Arcana isn’t the first small publisher — or, rather, transmedia entertainment company — to dangle the $4-billion Marvel purchase in hopes of snagging a big fish. (However, it may the only one to date to use the DC Entertainment restructuring as back-up.) I’m not dwelling on that, though.

No, I was tripped up by that first sentence, which claims “Arcana’s graphic novels and intellectual properties have grown in the last two years to be as wide a library of characters as Marvel’s.” This is the same studio that, just a few paragraphs earlier, boasted “over 100 graphic novels.”

Now, I’ve written before about the “proven library” of Marvel characters, which jumped from 4,000 or so to “over 5,000” to 7,000 in the course of a few months. I have no idea how the House of Ideas came up with those numbers, but I imagine it involved counting each and every Morlock, Daily Bugle employee and Hydra member (“Hail, Hydra!”). Still, Marvel has had 70 years to accumulate those characters, so I’m willing to believe 7,000 characters is possible (“proven” characters is another matter). However, Arcana has been around for six years.

Of course, maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to call shenanigans: The press release doesn’t come out and say Arcana has as many characters as Marvel; it states that Arcana has “as wide a library of characters as Marvel’s.” Which means … something about genre diversity? A crack at Blob and Big Bertha? All right, I have no idea.