For Sale! Advice On Improving Solicitations
By Ian Wells
Do comic solicitations do their job? Their job being to sell you on comics you aren’t picking up. I gave up seeking out solicitations for this purpose a while ago. They only have one job to accomplish so why are they so bad at it? Nowadays I rarely use solicits, maybe to double check a release date at best. I do receive a fairly comprehensive list of available comics each week from my LCS so in my opinion it deems solicits useless. So are solicitations becoming a thing of collectors past or do they just need a revamp?
This is not an attack on the service provided by Previews magazine which has been going strong for twenty five plus years and it remains a excellent tool for comic shop owners. You get a warm feeling inside when you go into a LCS and they whip out a Previews magazine to help out your needs. I remember the first time I went to my LCS to set up my standing order for Origin. The clerk took out a Previews magazine and I was like “I want one!” In reality the magazine is for retailers and hardcore collectors. If I had had a Previews magazine and a debit card back then fuck knows how much I would’ve spent!
Now I am going to analyse two solicitations for two recent comics I read. I will look at good and bad points and then I will present to you how I would write solicitations for each issue. I will be using Nightwing #1 and Old Man Logan #9. Before everyone starts complaining I only focus on the ‘big two’ let me explain. They are called the ‘big two’ for a reason, they are the standard bearers of the industry. Everyone else is following in their footsteps. So they are there to be criticized. If there is an independent publisher presenting solicitations in a different way I’m more than happy to see it.
Here is how Nightwing #1 was solicited.
Written by TIM SEELEY
Art and Cover by JAVIER FERNANDEZ
Variant Covers by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form details.
“BETTER THAN BATMAN” Chapter One: Batman taught Nightwing everything he knows-but what if everything he taught him is wrong? When Dick is stuck with a new mentor who challenges everything Batman taught him, Nightwing has to shatter his concept of justice in order to fight for what he knows is right. Writer Tim Seeley (GRAYSON, BATMAN & ROBIN ETERNAL) launches Nightwing onto a new quest alongside rising talent Javier Fernandez (RED HOOD/ARSENAL).
On sale JULY 27 * 32 PG, FC, $2.99 US * RATED T
And here is the solicit for Old Man Logan #9
OLD MAN LOGAN #9
JEFF LEMIRE (W) * ANDREA SORRENTINO (A/C)
- The night the villains joined forces and overcame the world’s heroes was the night that Wolverine’s life irrevocably changed. He lost his friends, his purpose, and all that was left was the Wasteland.
- Now, Old Man Logan has found himself in the past, before the Wasteland, and he lives with the fear that the Villain Uprising may yet come to pass.
- And he just might be right.
32 PGS./Parental Advisory…$3.99
Right away you notice two distinct differences. Well they are rivals after all! DC favour the book blurb approach where as Marvel use the bullet points. I’m just going to say it right now. I hate the bullet point usage. I don’t know if I’ve just picked a bad example but these bullet points tell you nothing about the issue in question. It is more an overview of the Old Man Logan series as a whole. #9 is the beginning of a new story arc yet there is no mention of it. With new readers and questions of continuity pointing out this issue is a good jumping on point would immediately attract new readers. Nightwing #1 is a new series so there for a new story arc but they still mention the title of the arc. I maybe be doing Old Man Logan a disservice as further research shows #8 and #9 were solicited together. All the bullet points apply to #8. I am left asking if solicits are really serving a purpose if #9 was not solicited at all. Even in further previews #9 was accompanied by the same bullet points. So really what is the point? Are the writers of previews working on the assumption no one is reading them? Both mention writers and artists but no mention of colours or inkers. DC make two mentions of writer and artist, the second time along with previous work. This is always a good idea to draw in new readers. My main complaint with the solicit for Nightwing #1 is that you have four lines of information before getting into story details. This applies to any issue that has variant covers. Maybe this is where Previews magazine and the way solicitations are presented online can diverge? I know it may sound like time consuming and created a job that hasn’t previously existed, but a little effort goes a long way. Previews magazine moved with the times and has a website but there a some areas of the comics industry that seem to have stagnated. We get a thumbnail of the covers anyway so do we need all that text and the retailers information? I’ve never been a variant collector so maybe I’m being narrow minded on the matter. Listed are the page count and the price, which is key information in the current climate. Although with DC it was stated all ‘Rebirth’ comics would remain at $2.99 unless they are larger issues. Thus making this information redundant on every solicitation for every issue. With Marvel a quick read tells me 32pgs all cost $3.99 and 40pgs cost $4.99. Eight pages cost a dollar?! To be honest I could not tell you the difference between a ‘RATED T’ and a ‘Parental Advisory’ comic. I can understand though if you are buying comics on behalf of a younger person this information is very important, but only if you know the ratings. It’s been a long time since I’ve flipped through a previews magazine so I assuming the grades are listed somewhere in the magazine. Online though they are nowhere to be seen. There is no date on the Marvel solicit so what purpose is it really serving? Again I’m assuming they are in the magazine but it is a bit of an oversight to miss them off the online versions. So with all that in mind I will now attempt to write my own solicitation for these two issues.
Dick Grayson is back in the black and blue! Following on from the events of ‘Grayson’ Nightwing is on a new mission. Teaming with a new partner Dick will be forced to question everything Batman has taught him. ‘Better Than Batman’ a globe spanning adventure for Nightwing starts here. Released: July 27
* Writer: Tim Seeley * Artist: Javier Fernandez * Colours: Chris Sotomayor
Old Man Logan #9
Will Logan’s future forever haunt his present? An enemy from after the Uprising has made his presence known. How will Logan cope with a fight he thought was years away? It will be a brutal and bloody battle of wills as ‘Last Ronin’ kicks off in this issue. Released: July 27
* Writer: Jeff Lemire * Artist: Andrea Sorrentino * Colours: Marcelo Maiolo
I have to admit I’m happy with how they’ve come out. I kept them short and sweet and went for story details without blowing the plot. All other information I kept till last. My aim was to have solicits that would look to catch new readers rather than just providing a list of issues for pull lists. I’d ask people to vote which is better or what book they would rather read based on the four solicitations, but I got no responses on my last blog hahaha. If you want to though hit me up on Twitter @ianwells87.
About Ian Wells
Ian currently runs the THEBLOGOFCOMICSHOTTOPICS blog. Check him out on Twitter @IanWells87.
About Language of Bromance
Together Richard and Shawn formed the podcast The Language of Bromance and from there it has been nothing but fun. The duo laugh about things they go through, stories in the news and even getting serious discussing net neutrality along with other issues. Every so often their friendship turns to a bitter rivalry with their nerdiest creation the draft episodes. An original take on a best of or a top 10 list. The draft episodes are done like an NFL Draft 7 rounds where Richard and Shawn flip-flop picks on various topics.
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