Marvel Talks Retailer Rally

[Marvel]Just as the September 11th terrorist attacks still loom large in the minds of Americans and people worldwide, the fallout from the attacks dominated Wednesday's Marvel Comics telephone press conference, which focused on the upcoming getting-back-to-business Retailer Rally Presentation and also quickly touched on Marvel's forthcoming benefit book, "Heroes."

Diamond Comics Distributors and individual comic companies have held similar events for retailers in the past, talking up new product, discussing new ways to promote comics and the company in question's comics specifically, but after the events of two weeks ago, and the corresponding decline in many industries, Marvel's new conference has raised some eyebrows.

You wouldn't know it from those in attendance on Wednesday, though. In addition to the usual suspects at the phone conferences – Marvel president Bill Jemas, editior-in-chief Joe Quesada and marketing whirlwind Bill Rosemann – the event was attended by Brian Pulido of Chaos! Comics, Steve Geppi from Diamond, Nick Barucci of Dynamic Forces and a number of comic shop owners and retailers.

"Every single industry is back," Rosemann said of the event, "So we're saying, 'You know what? Comics are back, too.'"

Marvel stressed that the RRP wasn't a replacement for a similar event Baltimore organized by Diamond that was cancelled in the wake of the attacks. That event will be rescheduled, according to Diamond.

But having said that, Monday's event won't be a Marvel-focused event.

"This is not a Marvel event," Quesada said, reiterating a point that Marvel seemed eager to drive home on Wednesday. "This is a comics industry event."

Marvel's outreach to the comics industry during this time extends beyond the midtown Manhattan RRP event, though. The company is shipping all its product for free to shops near to the destroyed World Trade Center in Manhattan, and will be allowing returns on those orders, as well as other stories affected by the attacks.

As for what the events of September 11 mean for the industry's bottom line, Jemas and Diamond say it's too soon to tell.

But Marvel, like a number of other companies, is taking a pro-active stance, and is assembling a benefit book, "Heroes," dedicated to the real-life heroes of September 11, most notably New York City's fire and police departments.

The book, which features a who's who of talent from Marvel and throughout the industry. Marvel rival Todd McFarlane contacted Quesada to offer to ink the artist-turned-editor's piece for the book.

But that kind of star power won't be putting any money in Marvel's collective pockets: Jemas said the $3 proceeds they'd normally see from the $3.50 book would go directly to charity.

"Any money is good money," Quesada said. "We don't have a figure in mind."

Jemas estimated that that the book might sell 100,000 copies, although Marvel is suspending its current no-overprint, no-reprint policy for the title.

"We are overprinting," Quesada said, "And if there's enough retailer demand, then we'll go to a second printing, yes."

Dynamic Forces has already donated $2,000 to the Red Cross after the first eight days of sales on Marvel's Captain America lithograph.

As detailed by CBR News on Monday, Marvel will be directly addressing the disaster in the pages of "Amazing Spider-Man" this fall. But otherwise, don't look for the company to be going out of their way to address the subject or avoid it.

"We have not changed a single editorial plan for a single one of characters," Quesada said, although he said that any creators who wanted to discuss it in their books was free to do so.

And finally: A special thanks to Augie de Blieck.

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