Here’s five reasons Minx died fairly young.
DC didn’t include a free 16-pack of Crayola pencils with each book.
No Geoff Johns? No teenage mutilation? No deal!
Needed more yaoi.
No crossovers. A The New York Four Meet Kimmie 666 would have forced fans of one to buy both titles.
I honestly think it was marketing. I saw no posters or copies of the Minx books outside of the direct market – something I was looking for at local and chain bookstores following the announcement that Cecil Castellucci was involved and googling her name because it sounded sort of familiar. The initial New York Times Article mentioned that there was a “significant” marketing budget in place with Alloy Marketing + Media handing the campaign, but I never saw where it was being spent. That could just be because I’m outside of the target audience, but the fact that the people at Porter Square Books, which has a respectable young adult and kidlit section hadn’t heard of the books – especially The Plain Janes was part of the first wave was hitting says something to me.
But, as Spurgeon says in his post-game analysis, every market failure can be blamed on marketing. One of the big factors cited in his piece was shelving: when I saw the titles in the wild, they were lumped in with the manga and Marvel collections, not the YA section. This would be a key factor in your success, especially when the people who wrote and sold many copies of Flirting in Cars and The Queen Of Cool are your authors. I’d certainly place “Putting Things Where They Should Sell” under the “marketing” umbrella, even if Shannon Smith seems to separate shelving and marketing in her comments.1 The last two times I saw Minx operating in any sort of marketing complex is working within the imprint’s already-existing niche: a table at MoCCA 2008 gave away galley copies of this year’s titles and the group sponsored the most recent Friends of Lulu awards. These are not events where young adult women unaware of the brand are likely to gather in significant numbers.
I’m not going to act like there’s not other factors, though. A majority of the books were fairly indistinguishable from the others at a glance. It’s telling that I never remember the title of one of the books I enjoyed reading and those that I do remember generally fall into the “interesting failure” area or were out and out disappointments. I know that I wasn’t the only person who was puzzled at the ending of The Plain Janes, which seemed to just halt suddenly instead of providing a proper finale, a problem that would have been alleviated with a simple number on the spine or some other notation that it was the first in a series. The one title I was really gung-ho about, The New York Four, was unlike any other Minx book, feeling more like a thematic cousin to creators Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly’s Local than the quirky elevator pitches that marked most of the other books.
No matter what the factors were in the imprint’s failure, Minx was a victim of numbers more than anything else. While Oni Press and the like can get by selling mid-market black and white graphic novels and getting the occasional Hollywood option to shore up finances, expectations for any DC imprint are likely to be much, much higher.
1I should note that In Spurgeon’s piece, Shannon Smith states that the venture seemed very well-marketed towards Borders compared to other DC and Marvel efforts, but it was dwarfed by the dog and pony show the manga publishers put on each month.