A lot of people are touting social media and how it’s changed how fans interact with brands, claiming that it allows for transparency and a level of engagement that goes above and beyond websites and blogs.Â Jennifer Van Grove at Mashable wrote a great blog entry about the best Twitter brands and the people behind them. While it’s interesting to see how companies and their customers interact publicly, it’s also important to note how professional these exchanges are.
And when you think of professionalism, Marvel Comics immediately springs to mind. Let’s look at the following exchange between a fan of the publishing concern and the company’s official Twitter account.
To review: a fan mentions that they read ten Marvel comics this weekend, and got rid of 20 weeks’ worth of DC’s weekly Trinity, written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Mark Bagley. They are told, by a Marvel representative, that they’re amazed that someone could/would read 20 issues of this comic. (The original Marvel tweet has since been deleted, but someone smarter than me screencapped it and sent it my way.)
Kurt Busiek is currently writing a sequel to his Marvels series for the publisher. Marvels was a crown jewel in the publisher’s line through the 90s and continues to sell well for them because it’s actually very good. Mark Bagley was a mainstay of the Spider-Man titles through the 90s and drew over 100 consecutive issues of Ultimate Spider-Man, a title that helped the company’s publishing division ride the success of the cinematic version of the character to financial solvency.
In other words, to get a cheap shot at their perceived “competition,” a Marvel representative threw two of their most respected creators under the bus. This “competition,” by the way, has been blown vastly out of proportion over the years mostly by Marvel and its fans. While I can appreciate the tongue-in-cheek tone they’ve embraced (“Not Brand Ecch” and “Distinguished Competition” being two of my favorite bits they’ve used,) there’s a distinct difference between winking at the readers and outright badmouthing of another publisher’s product. Despite the inflamed passions of fans on both ends of the spectrum, it’s not like either DC or Marvel’s comic book divisions are making cars – they’re putting out $3-$4 doses of serial entertainment. The closest thing to comics and how they’re purchased is America’s movie habit and while Fox and Paramount certainly compete for weekend dollars across America, you never see either studio trashing the other for the quality of product. (Most likely because they know that neither of them has a leg to stand on in that department.)
There’s room for more than one major company putting out comic books. That sort of dismissive, we’ll-finance-anyone used-car-salesman bullshit cheapens Marvel in multiple ways and while there’s plenty to say about DC’s inability to grasp Twitter and the like, I think it’d be better to not have said anything at all than indulge in cheap snark at the expense of your brand’s respectability.