Sunday, September 28, 2008

This Stinx

So by now we all know that DC/Vertigo canceled the Minx line of comics this week. I for one am very disappointed. I'm not surprised that they weren't selling well, and I'm not surprised that they weren't hitting the target demographic (teen girls). But it certainly wasn't the product's fault.

The Minx books are not good sellers, but they are good books. A few of them are great books, especially when compared to the bulk of comics, or even literature, aimed at young girls. They are smart, funny, and have strong female characters that readers can relate to. They have talented writers, great art, and they offered an exciting new platform for indie comic creators. The books are well-packaged and eye-catching. They look great on a shelf. They are a nice size. They are very affordable.

Since the announcement of the cancellation, I have seen a lot of Minx-bashing on message boards and blogs. Seriously, everyone, these were not bad books. There were a few duds for sure, and I'm not going to name them, but the fact stands that over half of the books were good, and that's a far better track record than most publishers can boast.

When the Minx line was first announced, I was skeptical. Mostly because I was concerned by what DC would consider "comics for girls" to be. But I was pleasantly surprised by the first line of books, and was 100% pro-Minx from that point on.

I am very glad that the upcoming Emiko Superstar will still be released because I have already read it and it is fantastic. I am sad that the Minx line will no longer be a publishing option for similar projects in the future. It really sucks.

And I'll tell you the worst part: Minx was not given a fair chance. One year is what DC/Vertigo decided was a fair trial for something this radical and new. It was a whole new market, and a whole new product, and DC honestly did not even try.

As a nearly-certified Businessologist, allow me to throw down some Marketing 101:

A new product line aimed at a new audience needs to experiment with new channels. You cannot put these books in comic shops and in the graphic novel section of Barnes & Noble and expect teen girls to find them. You need to get creative. You need to AT LEAST make and distribute display units. To promote something this different, you need to go balls out on it.

Now, I noticed that Minx is (was?) a sponsor of the upcoming Seventeen Magazine fashion show tour. I doubt that's still going to happen, but my understanding is that there would be some sort of Minx promotion at these shows. Good idea! Too bad it probably won't happen now.

The thing is, it's not like young girls didn't want to read these. If you put them in their hands, they will read them, and probably like them a lot. DC just needed to put them in their hands. The books should have been in clothing stores, and given away for free at events. There was a big media blitz right before the first book was released, and then nothing besides the occasional print ad. I don't know a single person who was aware of the Minx books besides the people who read Previews every month. In other words: not your target market.

The slogan for Minx when it was first announced was "Evocative and Fearless." The books were often evocative, but the marketing of them was entirely gutless. And the shutting down of the line is a real slight to potential young female comic readers everywhere. It says "See? We told you girls don't like comics."

Young girls do like comics. Young boys like comics. I see it everyday. I spent all day at a book fair here in Halifax where I saw nothing but kids getting excited about comics. And these weren't kids who came into the shop regularly. These weren't kids whose parents are big comic fans. These were kids who were basically picking up their first comic or graphic novel and getting excited just from looking at it. Many of them honestly had no idea there were so many different types of comics.

I am fully aware that Minx as a concept is not an easy sell, but it certainly isn't an impossible sell. The product was good and it had endless potential for the future. I was looking forward to years of great books aimed at a market that had never before been properly targeted. Generating mass awareness and profits is not something that takes 12 months, and the infuriating part is that DC definitely knows this.

The bottom line: despite all their hype and apparent interest in teen girls, when it comes to down to it, they just don't care.


Sea-of-Green said...

Rachelle, here's hoping Kyle isn't creating too many problems for you!

Too bad it's a visit by a hurricane and NOT the Green Lantern, eh? :-(

rachelle said...

That would be nice.

Nah, Kyle (the storm) was pretty weak. I'll be worried if Hurricane Guy ever forms. =)

SallyP said...

Hurricane Guy would be...awesome. Full of sound, fury and hot air.


Well said, Rachelle. The marketing of the Minx line seems to have been pretty haphazard. If you are going to appeal to young girls, then you have to get the word out where the girls ARE! And it's probably not in comicbook shops.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, Co-Publisher Random House apparently couldn't get big stores like Barnes and Noble and Borders to even PUT the books in the YA sections.

DC/Random House can print the books and they can sell the books to the shops but they can't make the shops put them where they'll hit the market.

Believe it or not, when you walk into a book store everything in there is orchestrated. Which books/CD's/DVD's get put on end caps, and where, which ones get put on displays... everything is precise and worked out in deals between publishers and sellers. DC/Random house apparently could never quite "sell" the bigger bookstore chains on promoting the books either.

Crispinus said...

My local library has a decent-ish graphic novel section, and the Minx books figured rather prominently. My newly-teenaged daughter read them and liked them very much. Granted, she likes comics anyway; but I appreciated the effort on DC's part.

Zebtron said...

So bummed! I loved Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly's New York Four (so did my husband)!

I was looking forward to "next semester."

Cap'n Perkins said...

Hey, just read the Minx post. I love it. Love it, love it, love it.

I went through the exact same experience with Minx books.

I figured it would just be blatant pandering, but loved the launch titles and have bought nearly every release and have rarely regretted it.

Hearing about this just breaks my heart. I'm a teacher and am constantly recommending Minx books to my middle school students (guys and girls)

My only hope is that this will act as a launching pad for some of these artists into mainstream success (for those that didn't have it already).