The bottle of Armstrong Ale is still the best Valiant promotion of all time.

§ May 18th, 2015 § Filed under valiant § 3 Comments

So one of the side effects of doing my End of Civilization posts (which I haven’t done in a while, I realize…I plan on doing one when the next Previews comes out) is that it gets me to pore through the order catalog fairly thoroughly a couple of weeks prior to my actually having to go through it for work-related reasons and generate my order numbers.

Since I’ve been out of the End-of-Civilization-writing mode for a few months, I haven’t done my close reading of Previews ’til just a few days ago, as I started working up the monthly order. As such, I didn’t really look into the details on the Legends of the Geomancer deal from Valiant Comics ’til then.

“What the heck is that?” you may be asking. Well, here’s the deal. The full title is Book of Death: Legends of the Geomancer, which is a companion series, containing an all-new story, to Valiant’s crossover event mini-series Book of Death. The catch here is that Legends of the Geomancer is a “retailer incentive” — for every certain number of copies of the regular Book of Death first issue I order, I can get one copy of the Legends of the Geomancer first issue. If you’re a store who has a dozen customers who all want to read Legends of the Geomancer, you’re gonna have to order hundreds of copies of Book of Death in order to accommodate them. And unless you have hundreds of Valiant fans shopping at your place, I don’t know that you’re going to order that many…and if you do, you’re going to have more than a dozen of them wanting that Geomancer series, most likely.

Now, the press release says Legends of the Geomancer is never being collected into trade, which of course leaves the possibility open for deluxe hardcovers or digital download or whatever, but it also compares the planned scarcity of this comic to the Harbinger #0 from the original Valiant Comics of the early ’90s. Now, as someone who was there for that particular situation, I can tell you that these are two different things. Harbinger #0 was obtainable by everyone who bought the initial issues of the Harbinger series, in that if you collected the coupons from the first few issues and mailed them in, you got yourself that #0. It wasn’t “we only put coupons in 1/25th of the print runs of those early issues, so only people who managed to find those coupons could mail away for it.” Everyone who read those issues and wanted the #0 could get the #0.

As time went on, and the comics investment craze of the ’90s went into full swing, Harbinger #0 did increase in demand and was hard to find, both as readership of Valiant books increased and people who didn’t jump on at the ground floor sought it out after the coupon offer ended, and as people looking for “hot, rare” comics snapped ’em up. But even then, the story was eventually available, as the Harbinger trade paperback was released, polybagged with a reprint edition of that #0. (There were also collectible variants of those trade paperbacks, but that’s a story for another time.)

Point being, anyone who wanted to read that Harbinger #0 could do so, in some form, eventually. It wasn’t hard to get initially for folks originally picking up the series, and it was offered up again later for anyone who missed the boat the first time.

Valiant saying that the story related in Legends of the Geomancer is known only to a few people in the Valiant Universe, and thus its limited distribution in our universe will reflect the scarcity of that knowledge, is clever and all, but potentially frustrating to anyone with a vested interest in following Valiant’s comics. The current comics market combined with our current economic state is not one where you can afford to give people excuses to not read something, and it would be too easy for someone to say “well, if I can’t read all of this Book of Death event, then I won’t read any of it.” On the other hand, another difference between the then of Harbinger #0 and the now of Geomancer is the fact the second a comic gets into someone’s hands, it’s scanned and thrown up on a torrent site for anyone so inclined to read it that way. Hey, no money for the publisher or me, the friendly neighborhood retailer!

I’m not trying to be to harsh on Valiant. Good on ’em for trying something different to create some buzz, and they’ve done some interesting promotional stuff in the past. I just think this particular stunt isn’t a good idea, and I hope they reconsider making Legends of the Geomancer more widely available, especially given the strong creative team on the book. To be fair, Valiant is offering some generous deals to retailers to make it a little easier to order the numbers necessary to obtain the rarer book (such as returnability and deep discounting) but it’s still ordering a lot of one comic in order to get a precious few of the other, and it feels almost wasteful getting too many of something you’re just going to have to destroy for returns later.

There are workarounds, of course, such as selling the main Book of Death for cheap and hopefully moving more copies that way. But I want good comics to be easier to find, not harder, and I’d be a lot happier just being able to order what I think I can sell to customers who just want to read the books, rather than jumping through hoops to fit my business plan around someone else’s marketing gimmick.

3 Responses to “The bottle of Armstrong Ale is still the best Valiant promotion of all time.”

  • Tim O'Neil says:

    why do you hate comics, mike

  • James says:

    There are several problems I had with Valiant’s reaction to the outrage from fans:

    1. Fans were told to go sell the idea to their LCS. Customers shouldn’t be forced to be an unpaid sales force to the retailers. Valiant has salesmen that are paid to do that.

    2. Dinesh said to let Valiant know if your LCS wasn’t going to order the book. I emailed multiple times and contacted him through Twitter. Nobody from Valiant called my LCS. The manager had questions about returnability windows and for future issues that were never answered. If it doesn’t matter enough to them to sell their product, their product doesn’t matter enough for me to buy it.

    3. Dinesh has claimed that Valiant isn’t responsible for retailers jacking up the price on this issue to $20 at least. By creating the scarcity problem, Valiant is 100% responsible for this nonsense in my book. Retailers will be forced to put out extra money up front to get the issue.

    4. I would have bought BoD, LotG, and the Bloodshot tie-in. Instead of those 9 issues, I will be getting 0. If anybody can explain how this is helping the publisher, please do.

    I dropped 2 of the 3 books I was getting from Valiant in response. To prevent this from hurting my LCS, I added two other titles to my pull list. I want to see Valiant punished by their fan base, but I hope other fans protest in a way that doesn’t hurt the local shops that are being put in a bad spot by Valiant.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “If you’re a store who has a dozen customers who all want to read Legends of the Geomancer, you’re gonna have to order hundreds of copies of Book of Death in order to accommodate them.”

    Pure and simple, that is one STUPID idea. I guess NEW Valiant hasn’t learned from the mistakes of many 90’s publishers.