Monday, August 31, 2009

House of Mouse Consumes the House that Stan & Jack Built

Or in other words... DISNEY BUYS MARVEL!. There are reports all over the interweb covering various financial details of the deal and there's a solid report for those who want a more comic-centric view of the deal at Tom Spurgeon's fine site, The Comics Reporter.
It's way too early to draw conclusions about what this deal might mean.

When I first heard the news on the radio this morning, the fan in me flashed immediately to the back pages of Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5 from 1968, where the picture that accompanies this post comes from.

As for the deal itself? Way too early for it to have any impact on the publishing of comics, either from Marvel or from Disney. This is a great deal for Marvel stock-holders, even if there was still quite a lot of unrealized upside potential for Marvel stock, current share-holders will get a nice premium for agreeing to the deal (and there's virtually no way this deal doesn't go through).

Back in 1991, when Disney had its own comic's publishing division, I was one of 12 retailers nationwide invited to participate in Retailer Advisory Board for Disney Comics. We were essentially a sounding board for ideas that would hopefully draw attention to the fledgling Disney line, featuring characters like ROGER RABBIT, LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY & the BEAST, along with the requisite Duck and Mouse comics.

In retrospect, the good folks at Disney Comics had a difficult time with the corporate maze above them, so a simple and essential notion like getting Disney character comics sold at Disney theme parks never materialized. After the Dell Disney comics' boom of the '50s and early '60s, comics just were never a vital component to the Disney plan to rule all media.

On the Marvel side of this deal, I think of how Marvel Comics bowed out of attending many major comic book conventions after the company emerged from bankruptcy years ago. "Marvel Entertainment" may have had a big set-up in San Diego to showcase movies and video games, for example, but Marvel Comics did not. The Marvel Comics' logic was that comic-cons were about preaching to the converted, so they were deemed an unnecessary expense.

So now we have this Disney deal coming on the heels of Disney making noise about doing their own pop culture conventions, starting with one at the Anaheim Convention Center, conveniently across the street from Disneyland. How does Marvel fit into that event? And will that create competition for the the San Diego Comic-Con? We'll wait to see how it plays out....

Looking at this deal as a business owner in the comics' industry, I'm cautiously optimistic this deal will be a good thing for our specialty market.

For now, though, we'll all just have to wait and see.




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