Monday, January 18, 2010

Spoilers, Part Two

Buffy Big BadOn Wednesday, I talked about spoilers in the comic book industry. I mentioned how sometimes they're a necessary tool that publishers should utilize and sometimes they're just flat out annoying and stupid.

Well, in the case of the whole Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8 "Twilight reveal" that's managed to crack the Internet in half this looks like it's a case of a little from column A and a little from column B.

Because Dark Horse leaked the identity of Twilight (months before the issue in which the identity is actually revealed hits stands), there's been a huge amount of attention drawn to the series, which has been plagued recently by plummeting sales figures.

Check this out from Bleeding Cool, but be WARNED, FOR THERE ARE SPOILERS APLENTY. The article features clips from Dark Horse editor Scott Allie's response to the whole situation.

And Bleeding Cool correctly points out, in several instances, that it was Allie who actually let the cat out of the bag, on purpose, during an interview with Comic Book Resources. But, there are always two sides to every story, and Dark Horse (and Scott Allie) have responded on their Web site.

Check out this page, but again, BE WARNED, FOR HERE THERE BE SPOILERS.

It appears that there was an accidental leak of a cover image, and that prompted Dark Horse to try and get ahead of the story. In doing so, however, they managed to release information without spoiler warnings, everywhere from Twitter pages to their own Web site. Which...was probably not the best way to handle the whole mess.

So, we can all take one of two sides on the matter. The first, much more cynical, side is this. One can assume that Dark Horse leaked the reveal to drum up interest in the book, and to hopefully increase its month-to-month sales.

Which is fine, since that's what publishers need to do--sell their books. But there's just something so...icky...about the way it was dropped in an online interview, and how anyone who frequents (or, like me, visits once a week or so) the comics news sites could just open the homepage and see it in big, bright lights.
Buffy #20Think about it for a minute. Dark Horse is upset that the monthly issues are not selling as well as they did when the series first started. Personally, I think because the book has a cross market appeal (fans of the TV show who don't read comics), many figured out to wait for the book to ship in trades, which are readily available at all local bookstores.

But some fans--obviously, since the book is still a top 50 title--continue to buy every issue. Me, included. So, to get the trade waiters to buy the single issues again, the reveal is spoiled, thus punishing fans who have loyally purchased each issue as the series came out.

Additionally, those waiting for the trade had the reveal spoiled, as well. Now, if you're a trade waiter, you really don't care what happens issue to issue, because you don't feel the need to own each individual book.

Trade waiters are interested in the story as a whole, and they're going to buy the collection regardless of publisher hype about a certain "landmark" issue. So, why spoil it for them?

I don't...I just don't get it.

I mean, sure, I get it--it all comes down to money, money, money. By promoting the reveal online, and getting people to talk about it (nonstop, on some sites...), Dark Horse has catapulted themselves to the top of the Newsarama and CBR links.

Which, again, I understand.

But I guess the thing that bugs me so much is that Dark Horse is supposed to be the alternative to Marvel and DC. The place for stories, sans hype machine.

But, as I mentioned, that's just one potential side of the story.

The other side of this is that Dark Horse was caught completely off guard by the leak, and it happened by accident. As Allie indicates, it was a mess-up internally that led to the reveal, and the company needed to figure out a way to fix things, at the speed of the Internet.

And in doing so, they managed to spread the news of the spoiler and make it into an even bigger story than it already was. It sounds like Allie is genuinely upset at what went down, and I'm sure Dark Horse has heard plenty of negative comments from fans of the series.

Personally, I don't really care how it happened. I'm just kinda upset that it happened. I'm not one of those people who likes to have things spoiled. Clearly, there are a bunch of those people out there, or else the major comics presence on the Internet wouldn't exist. But, wow. Talk about an annoying reveal.

If Marvel or DC lets something slip, everyone just kind of goes, "well, okay, that's what they do." but for Dark Horse to do it. Ugh. I've always likened Dark Horse to that awesome local band that you go and see countless times and tell everyone about how great they are. Then, the band makes it big and you're psyched about that, and you're glad you were able to check out some shows back home.

But then you hear one of their songs on American Idol, or in the background of a car commercial. And, while you totally get why they decided to go that route, you're just kind of disheartened that they had to go that route.

In the case of Dark Horse's Twilight fiasco, I hope things turn out okay. At least it can serve as a lesson to publishers on what to do when trying to keep a story point a secret, and then how not to react if that story point is spoiled.

I mean, look at me. This blog has been going strong for over a year now, and not once have I mentioned that "Nathaniel" is actually a puzzle solving robot from the year 2020.


Someone get public relations on the phone...

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