Definite read of the day: ICv2′s interview with Marvel’s SVP of Sales, David Gabriel, which addresses every single topic you’d want him to tackle in a way that is both professional and wonderfully frustrating. It’s nonetheless full of interesting information, whether it’s that Marvel apparently plans for collections to stay in print for eighteen months unless they’re considered evergreen, which the Essentials collections are not, or that the publisher has cut its line by 25% for 2012. He’s also great at downplaying DC’s success (“Certainly DC achieved some success with their New 52 and we’re happy to see them prosper” being my favorite line of the interview) and initiatives (Dropping pricepoint to $2.99 is characterized as “retailers seeing a huge drain on their bottom line when prices from other publishers dropped overnight without any story to increase sales of these price reduced titles”), but the money quote of the whole piece may be his answer to how many story pages we can expect in a 32 page comic from Marvel this year:
First, that’s like asking how many minutes does an audience expect a movie to be, or a concert, or a Broadway show… those forms of entertainment are not pro-rated by the minute and comic books have never been prorated by the page count (which has fluctuated for all publishers for 75 years!). But because it does get asked… in a standard comic they should expect to find around 20 pages of content. Some may have more, some may have less. The important thing is to deliver a compelling comic book month in and month out–as long as we’re doing that, everyone’s getting their money’s worth.
It’s the “some may have less” part that sticks in my head. We’ve already seen some Marvel books have 19 pages of story for $3.99, but now I can’t help but wonder if this is a sign that we’re going to see more of this kind of thing. The question of the year may end up being, how short can a mainstream comic get and still feel worth the money?