A) Masterworks By the Decade:
Question: "Which decade of comics is the most important priority to you as a Masterworks buyer?"
CLEAZER: As usual, the focus of Masterworks fans is on the Silver Age, though not quite as firmly as it was last time. The Bronze Age is gaining. On the last survey, the 1960's led by 16%. This time it's down to 5%. Quite simply, Marvel is running out of Silver Age superhero material. There's still some left, and there's still a lot of genre material from the Silver Age, like Sgt. Fury or the western Ghost Rider, but many of Marvel's top Masterworks titles are heading into the Bronze Age, and it looks like the fans are following with them. Perhaps on the next survey the Bronze Age will actually win.
GORMUU: I think as long as there is '60s era superhero material in the can, it will be leading this category. I really do think the '60s era superhero completists will rule the day on this question. Once we get out of the woods on stuff like Thor, which has some prime '60s Lee/Kirby left; Daredevil, which is just getting revved up with prime Gene Colan art; and important stuff like Inhumans and Not Brand Ecch; then I think we'll see this subside. (I don't think the lure of Sgt. Fury and Western comics will keep most of them on board for answering this question with "60s". Some will, but most won't.) I wonder where the '60s bloc will then send its loyalties? My guess? Most will go to the '70s, but a healthy amount will go to the '40s and '50s.
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B) After the '60s: Marvel Age Masterworks Collecting:
Question: "Which statement most closely resembles your purchasing intentions regarding Marvel Age Masterworks after the '60s era is completed?"
61%: I love the Bronze Age. I have no intention of stopping when Masterworks enters the 1970s, and I'll still get most volumes.
33%: I'll slow down, but I'll still get my favorite titles or maybe a genre book or two that looks interesting.
6%: As far as the Marvel Age of Comics goes, it's the Silver Age only for me and then I'm out.
CLEAZER: A question was asked about people's future Marvel Age Masterworks-buying plans once the Silver Age superheroes are done. The overwhelming majority of respondents indicated that they intend to keep going and want the Masterworks to march onwards. Some people might slow down, and just pick up their favorites from the Bronze Age, but very few people indicated that
they'd stop when the Silver Age was done. The message here is loud and clear: Keep the Masterworks coming!
GORMUU: This is definitely heartening. Losing 6% of your buyers isn't anything to sneeze at, and I honestly don't think they're going to be replaced once Marvel starts printing more '70s and '80s material. But it's also not a stake through the heart. Masterworks ought to be more than capable of plugging right along once the baseline Marvel Age volumes are being culled from the so-called Bronze Age and beyond.
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C) Masterworks on the Fast Track
Question: "Which Masterworks line would you most like to see fast-tracked?"
Amazing Spider-Man: 16%
None of the above: 12%
Uncanny X-Men: 8%
Fantastic Four: 6%
Sgt. Fury: 5%
CLEAZER: The three predicted titles populate the top of the list for now, though like FF, Thor may drop down when the Kirby material is exhausted. None of the above lost a few votes this year, while Uncanny X-Men picked up a respectable amount. The good news is that it seems like we've already been getting steady regular releases from Thor, Avengers, and Spidey.
CLEAZER: Once the Lee/Kirby period of Thor passes, I think it'll go down to single digits. A high single digits, because the post-Kirby material is still very strong, but not enough to place it atop the list, that's for sure. Avengers will always be at or near the top. It just will. And I think Spidey will remain strong for a long time, too.
The book I think would benefit from fast-tracking the most is Uncanny X-Men. Unlike its other peers in the Masterworks libraries, the issue to issue plots and subplots really start to get thick, and a faster clip of books would help grab and hold buyer enthusiasm for keeping up with them.
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D: Masterworking Classic Material Already Published in Omnibus
Question: "Which of the following statements most closely resembles your feelings about seeing non-Masterworked Omnibus material issued in the Masterworks line?"
51%: I've got them in Omnibus, I don't see the need for Masterworks now.
21%: I have no desire to own either of these titles in either Omnibus or Masterworks format.
13%: I want both of these titles in Masterworks format.
8%: I want Eternals in Masterworks, but not Amazing Fantasy.
7%: I want Amazing Fantasy in Masterworks, but not Eternals.
CLEAZER: Looks like the overwhelming majority of folks are happy with their Omnibus versions of AAF and Eternals. The results to this question might change in five or so years, if the AAF Omnibus is out of print and a number of folks want to add the material to their collection, but for now, it looks like the people have spoken.
GORMUU: Yeah, the results seem pretty clear. Which is a disappointment for me, because I see both of these as desirable additions to the Masterworks library. I think it's more likely we'll see AAF inside of your five year window, cleazer, than it is we'll see Eternals, which has recently been tabbed for reprinting in trade paperback.
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E: The Future Of X-Men Masterworks
Question: "Would you be interested in Silver Age X-Men Masterworks Vol. 7, and if so, in what configuration?"
With rumors of Marvel continuing the X-Men Masterworks line with a Vol. 7 and possible Vol. 8 that gathers comics from the "missing years" between their initial cancellation and the debut of the "All-New, All-Different" team, the question was posed to respondents about the manner in which they might like to see this.
44%: I would buy two volumes that collected all X-Men appearances from 1970-1975.
32%: I would not buy this type of Masterworks collection.
23%: I would buy a single X-Men Masterworks volume that collected only the most important appearances from 1970-1975.
CLEAZER: Support for the 2-volume option went up by 4 percent from the previous survey. The no interest option also went down. Looks like more people are getting psyched up for some extra X-Men volumes. Or, as one of the many ways people all over the internet unfortunately misspell it, "Cyked" up. With growing support behind the 2-volume option, this may be enough to convince Marvel to go down that path.
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F) Western Masterworks:
Question: "Which of the following Western-genre titles would you like to see Marvel produce as Masterworks?"
Respondents were allowed to make two choices for Western titles they'd wish to purchase.
Two-Gun Kid Vol. 1: 34%
Ghost Rider Vol. 1: 32%
Kid Colt Vol. 1: 20%
Rawhide Kid Vol. 3: 10%
AE Rawhide Kid Vol. 1: 8%
AE Two-Gun Kid Vol. 1: 6%
Wyatt Earp Vol. 1: 3%
Apache Kid Vol. 1: 2%
Ringo Kid Vol. 1: 2%
Annie Oakley Vol. 1: 2%
CLEAZER: Among the people who care about Western Masterworks, Two-Gun Kid and Ghost Rider once again rode away from the competition. Rawhide Kid took a hit this year, as people decided it time for another title to get a turn after a second Rawhide Kid volume came out late last year. Interesting that the Marvel Age titles lead the way, despite the fact that the Atlas Era presents much more viable opportunities for western books to be published.
GORMUU: While "no interest" led the pack, I still hope there's life in the Western genre. Maybe a brief interval of rest after Rawhide Kid Vol. 2 will put some vigor back into this genre. I still view at least initial volumes of Two-Gun Kid and Kid Colt as essential components of a complete Masterworks Library. Also, of course, the western Ghost Rider! Can't leave him out!
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G) Genre Masterworks:
Question: "How do you feel about genre titles such as Sgt. Fury or Rawhide Kid taking monthly spots away from their super hero counterparts?"
This question was meant to gauge the sensitivity among the Masterworks fan community about what are arguably "genre" titles like Sgt. Fury and Rawhide Kid filling in the one-a-month slot designated for Marvel Age Masterworks. Here's how the results broke down:
I love the genre titles and keep them coming!: 69%
It's super heroes only for me: 31%
CLEAZER: The overwhelming majority of people are happy with genre titles as part of the regular monthly Marvel Age Masterworks line. Nearly 7 out of every 10 respondants want the Marvel Age line to continue as it is right now, with 10 or 11 super hero titles every year, and maybe 1 or 2 genre books thrown in there just for a little variety.
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H) Licensed Masterworks:
Question: "Which titles that would require licensing from Marvel would you like to see reprinted in Masterworks or Omnibus?"
There are many beloved titles from Marvel's past that are not Marvel-created properties and would require a new licensing arrangement with the rights holders to reprint. Respondents were allowed to make unlimited choices for the title lines they'd wish to purchase from among Marvel's licensed titles. Final results are indicated by the number of consumers raising their hand for a particular choice.
365: Master of Kung Fu (+8)
230: 2001: A Space Odyssey (+20)
225: Micronauts (+2)
213: ROM (+36)
157: Doc Savage (-2)
124: Godzilla (+11)
73: Miss Fury (+22)
69: Shogun Warriors (+6)
CLEAZER: ROM, Miss Fury, and 2001 were the titles that picked up the most votes compared to the previous survey, but Marvel's classic Master of Kung Fu series dominated this category yet again. There seems to be little doubt that if Marvel were to ever acquire the rights to reprint this one day, the fans would eat it up. And then they'd come back for seconds!
GORMUU: No doubt. Master of Kung Fu would be a real winner. Here's hoping someone at Marvel can pull this off. 2001 becomes a problem if and when Marvel decides to reprint Machine Man, as his origin story is tied up in the Arthur C. Clarke-inspired series from the late '70s.
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I) Multi-Line Crossovers in Masterworks:
Question: "How should Marvel handle multi-title crossovers?"
With the Avengers/Defenders War looming in the next 3-4 years, the question of how to handle duplicate issues of a multi-title crossover is one of great interest to Masterworks fans. Respondents were asked to choose from among three different options:
Both Masterworks lines carry all issues of the crossover: 62%
Print crossovers in the first Masterworks edition published, skip them in second: 19%
No crossover issues from other titles: 19%
CLEAZER: Support for a full reprinting in both lines picked up another 4% this year, padding it's already large victory from last time. The people have spoken, though I'm sure that this is the type of thing that Marvel will have to go through and decide on a case by case basis.
GORMUU: Agreed. So far it's not been that big of a deal to double up on crossovers in multiple lines, as they've only been one issue here and one issue there. But the big blockbuster Avengers/Defenders War will be the first test of the "case by case" basis, as we're looking at around 60 pages of material being duplicated in two volumes if they reprint the crossover in both Avengers and Defenders Masterworks.
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J) Skipping Ahead:
Question: "What are your thoughts concerning the viability of 'jumping ahead' to well-regarded runs rather than plodding through chronologically?"
Let's face it: not all issues and eras of Marvel's comics are "Masterworks". Some are not as good as others, and the market realities of printing through the doldrums to stick with the strict chronology that Masterworks fans are accustomed to may become an issue one day. This is a burden the DC Archives line and its fans are well-acquainted with. One solution would be for Masterworks editors to "jump ahead" to well-known and coveted eras, like Frank Miller's Daredevil, John Byrne's Fantastic Four and Walt Simonson's Thor, should those title lines find themselves foundering. Here's how Masterworks survey respondents replied to this question:
41%: I want Marvel to stick with the status quo and don't see this idea as desireable
22%: I am open to the idea, but don't see it as anything necessary to worry about at the current time
21%: I am enthusiastic about this idea as a complement to the traditional lines. I would encourage Marvel to jump ahead and start new lines where there are popular, fan-demanded choices (i.e., with something like John Byrne-era FF Vol. 1)
16%: I would only encourage Marvel to do this if they hit an absolute dead end on sales with their traditional lines and needed to jump start the program.
CLEAZER: Not surprisingly, most people chose to keep things just the way they are. The other three options all kind of lingered in the same vicinity, though if you add them all together, we'll find that we know at least 60% of Masterworks fans won't jump off a bridge should it ever come to this some day. That said, let's hope the Masterworks program remains healthy and vibrant for the foreseeable future, and no changes are needed.
GORMUU: Personally, I'm open to the idea, but don't see any evidence that it's something that requires thinking right now. There are no lines that are both dead and the water and with later material that fans are shouting for hopelessly down the line. I'm optimistic, though, that FF and Amazing Spider-Man can forge ahead for a while without losing many sales.
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K) Collecting Not Brand Ecch:
Question: "What is your preference for how Not Brand Echh should be reprinted?"
Marvel's Silver Age humor mag has a page count that makes it difficult to carve up properly in Masterworks form. Survey respondents were asked to choose the option that most closely resembled their opinion about collecting Not Brand Ecch.
One Omnibus: 36%
No interest in this material: 28%
Two regularly-priced MWs with Spoof and Argh: 15%
One higher-priced MW volume: 13%
Two regularly-priced MWs: 8%
CLEAZER: Fans were pretty split on Not Brand Echh. If you add up the three Masterworks options above, the total numbers for Masterworks and Omnibus were just two votes away from each other. The problem with Masterworks is that there's just no clear idea on how to go about doing it. The good news though is that a pretty decent majority of folks around here do seem to be interested in the material.
GORMUU: I'm in for the two regularly-priced Masterworks with Spoof and Argh thrown in for good measure. That would be a complete run of Silver Age and early Bronze Age humor comics.
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L) Masterworking the Jungle Genre:
Question: "If Marvel were to reprint Atlas Era Jungle titles, how would you suggest they proceed?"
There's about 7 Masterworks worth of jungle comics from the '50s, split over three titles. After super hero, horror and post-Implosion monster comics are explored from the Atlas Era, this seems to be a next possible step. Survey respondents were asked to describe how they'd like to see this material in Masterworks - or if they'd like to see it at all!
No interest in this genre: 49%
Reprint them in a subline like Atlas Heroes: 43%
Reprint them in separate title lines: 8%
CLEAZER: Looks like just a little over half the folks here are interested in the Atlas Era jungle titles. That said, it's likely that a good chunk of the 49% who said they have no interest said that simply because they've never been exposed to the material. Once people get a few glimpses of it, and notice that it served as Marvel's entry into the hero/action genre after their 1950's super hero line died off, and see that the art
is equal too if not better than much of the horror genre material from the same period, perhaps they'll come around. Heck, maybe if we tell everyone that all the girls are wearing tights half the time, we can convince people that it really is a super hero title.
Interestingly, among the people that are interested in this line, the option to reprint all the material together in one single subline won by a massive margin. One big benefit to doing it that way as opposed to giving each title its own separate line is that it should be possible to finish all the AE jungle material in 5 volumes instead of in 6. I guess anything that gets material Masterworked faster is going to be a popular choice.
GORMUU: Not to mention it mixes up the different features effectively. Equal parts Lorna, Jann and Leopard Girl, not to mention the many nifty features from the back of the respective books!