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January 12 2010

(SPOILER) Twilightgate Day 5 - the Dark Horse Dispatch to retailers. Bleeding Cool gets a hold of it - aside from the comments about the buzz and the reveal, Buffy #34 will have a "mature-themes notice".

In their defence, Dark Horse would have to be very silly not to capitalise on the buzz.

But yes, it looks as if sales were the driver for this particular reveal.

No, it seemed like once it was leaked through a simple mistake, they decided to try to spin it into a positive for the company. But there's no way they thought leaking it ahead of time would somehow be a good thing - witness the madness of the past week. And it just keeps on coming. Oy.
Interesting about the mature themes notice on issue 34.

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2010-01-12 08:53 ]
I told Brad Meltzer I was writing to you guys, and he wanted to thank you for giving him his success in comics, and to make sure you understand that what hes doing in his four issues could bring sales back to where they were when the series started.


Huh, I always had the impression that Season 8 was selling solidly at a constant rate.
It's been steadily declining. It's not a big decline, but it has recently dropped below the 50k mark, which is supposed to a significant line.
It's down 60% in 2 years.
I think they've done a good job making the best of the mistake and promoting the hell outta this thing, but I don't think it's gonna get sales back to when the series first launched. Itll definitely bump sales up but Id be really shocked if it could match the buzz of when the season was first announced.
They remind me a bit of Fox and their "Look we got hookers" advertising for Dollhouse that made their own product look sleazy. Whatever one thinks of S8, I really think DH was a bad coice of company to give the rights too.
No, it seemed like once it was leaked through a simple mistake, they decided to try to spin it into a positive for the company.


It's understandable that they think it was intentional. I thought it was intentional. I'd like to believe it was an accident, but. But.

But.

It's hard to imagine how it could have happened. Everyone knows that the solicitations are public. Everyone in the comics industry is aware of them. It's a routine part of business.

So what they're asking us to believe is that there was such a complete breakdown of communication that the message never got through to keep these covers secret. Or that the message was never sent. Or that it was sent, but it was ignored, and that no one was aware of the situation.

That no one's boss was on top of the situation.

This is after years of building up to this one secret, mind you, in one of Dark Horse's most successful comics ever.

So it's easy to think it was intentional. Scott Allie's seemingly sincere address makes me think it might really have been an accident-- and it also makes me wonder if I'm just a sucker. Because it's just so hard to imagine how it could happen.

If the author of this article believes it was intentional, I really can't blame him. Not a teeny bit.
What they're asking us to believe is that in the middle of the Christmas holiday season, one person said "Hey, don't forget the deadline for that website - it's urgent!" and another sent out the covers marked "Issue 34 - genuine version" instead of the ones marked "Issue 34 - fake version".

Like that sort of mistake never, ever happens in a corporate environment. :-)
No, it seemed like once it was leaked through a simple mistake, they decided to try to spin it into a positive for the company.


Agreed. This isn't a smoking gun. This is Dark Horse trying to show that they are on top of things and telling the retailers why the reveal is a plus.
Plus - with mature themes... and... 3D glasses.... and... something else we are going to mistakenly let slip out next week or so...
What they're asking us to believe is that in the middle of the Christmas holiday season, one person said "Hey, don't forget the deadline for that website - it's urgent!" and another sent out the covers marked "Issue 34 - genuine version" instead of the ones marked "Issue 34 - fake version".

Like that sort of mistake never, ever happens in a corporate environment. :-)


I had a long post all typed out before I realized that I was mostly repeating my first one.

A couple of things, though. Dark Horse is not a corporation-- they're a medium sized business. I'd be surprised if they had more than a few hundred employees, and they probably have less. It's not Walmart.

Second, I see your point in your hypothetical example, but it doesn't add up. Buffy is their most successful product for 2 years running (I don't have the numbers to back that up, but if I'm wrong, I'm not wrong by much). That's not the sort of thing that you forget while running out the door to Christmas break, or that you would let get to that point in the first place. I work in a business that is probably about the size of Dark Horse, and I can tell you, we know where our bread is buttered. When it matters, my boss is on me and I am on the guy below me. Minus the homoerotic subtext.

Basically, asking me to believe that it was an accident is asking me to believe that they're completely incompetent, from management right on down.

That's not a good choice. If I say that, I'm insulting everyone involved, from Scott Allie down to whoever's job it was to send the right covers in. But if we believe it was an accident then that's what we're believing.

Maybe my boss is too strict, and I'm too anal about keeping my job, and that's why I just can't believe that this could happen with a property that's that valuable to their business.

My boss would have my head. He would have my ass on a platter.

He would roll me in cookie dough and hit me with homoerotic subtext until I was blue and then fire me.
Dark Horse has been a really good home for Buffy, and - frankly - for Joss. They let jw do his thing creatively, and understand he's busy and work around it.

Screw ups happen. As I said in the other thread, I spoiled a portion of Epitaph One because Fox asked me to. Then the people who made it didn't like that; there had been a breakdown in communication.
I spoiled a portion of Epitaph One because Fox asked me to. Then the people who made it didn't like that; there had been a breakdown in communication.


Well, as a fan, you're really not responsible for any of that, even though you're clearly a conscientious fan. If it wasn't you it would have been someone in the press, or a fan site, or my cat hitting the Enter button because it's pretty. Once it leaves the house it leaves the house. It's the responsibility of the house.
...What was the portion in Epitaph One that got spoiled and was supposed to promo it?

Anyway, I don't see why season 8 necessarily should have been any place other than Dark Horse. Do you mean the rights to Buffy comics from the very start of the TV show era? Even in that case I assume they somehow were more persuasive to Fox than any other company that put a bid out for the license.

I also have slight problems imagining DC or Marvel putting out a Buffy comic nowadays under their main lines without the temptation of integrating her into their universes. (And I don't really see it being a Vertigo, Knights, or other sort of title.)

Plus in any case I've long since forgotten the origins of season 8 but I thought they sort of came about as a result of Allie or someone else in Dark Horse specifically asking to broach further stories beyond the timespan of the show. (For that matter I have no idea how Fray came to exist either.)

Not to say that any other company would have been worse, but SH always sort of struck me as one of the stronger "runner-up"/underdog publishers which had a pretty decent go at doing licensed comics that almost fit/matter ala Star Wars' expanded universe.
I could see Buffy goes to Wildstorm (which is part of DC).
Regarding the S8 comic sales, yes they have been slipping every month, but that is true of nearly the entire industry. In December, there were only 29 comics that were estimated to have sold above 50,000. Last month's Willow One-Shot sold 45,136 copies and was the 38th best-selling title for the month. In November, Season 8 #30 sold 49,155 as the 35th best-selling comic.

Clearly sales are declining and S8 is not making the Top 15-20 titles as it had been for so long, but when compared to the rest of the comic industry, it's not doing as poorly as those numbers would seem in the absence of any context.
I personally know of major organizations where a clerk clicked on the wrong file and released huge amounts of private personnel data onto the web. That, frankly, is a much huger mistake than what just happened at DH. It's just ridiculous to say that this sort of mistake is unheard of when it comes to important matters. File names are cryptic. It's easy to make mistakes like that. I trust that all of y'all who are demanding error-free performance at DH are prepared to resign your job in disgrace the instant you make your next mistake, cause you know it's so unforgiveable to make a mistake.

[ edited by Maggie on 2010-01-12 13:15 ]
The way the words Allie says are worded indicate to me this was planned, not that this was somehow DH trying to make the best of a bad situation. "We want to get behind the buzz?" They created the buzz. If this was planned, then the words Allie said yesterday are not true. Allie plants this conversation and it then goes right back to the fandom, who then amplify it for him, and given this, he throws out how intense and mature it will be. Nothing in this entire debacle adds up. And debacle it is. We're getting played.

And Maggie, yes, there are some mistakes you can make at work that get you fired.
Maggie is so right. I can hardly believe so much buzz about a mistake, which is *not* crucial to someone's personal safety (even if welfare as it seems).

While I am quite shocked by Twilight's true identity and don't want to see involved Angel in the mass murder of slayers by Warren's and Amay's attacks and while I don't see, how this all could possibly play out well for Buffy and Angel, I'M prepared to wait for the further disclosures of season 8. I wish it higher sales, too, since up to now, it's great great story-writing in my eyes, nearly always convincing (left aside the character development of Andrew, which I personally hate), though sometimes uncomfortable.
And here we go again ;). All I can say at this is that I've run small things (on a volunteer basis) and I've done damage control before when we messed things up. This totally seems like that, spinning a negative as a positive.

In fact, if I had to write a piece to retailers - who are, quite directly, my source of revenue - I'd have totally spun the story pretty much like Allie does here. Seems like nothing more than good business sense to me. I don't see any "playing of the fans" here. In no scenario I can come up with, would this entire fiasco be a smart plan by Dark Horse.

If this had been a TV show, and somewhere down the line there'd be a reveal that - yes - this entire thing was a Dark Horse scheme, I'd cry foul for bad writing ;).
Is this situation really "-gate" worthy?
I can't believe how OOC this whole thing has become. Finding the retailer dispatch is one thing, but making douchey accusations based on assumption is a whole other.

Michelle spoke to Scott Allie VERY shortly after the solicitations dropped and 3 times in as many days. If Scott Allie was lying then he deserves an award for acting. I on one of those calls with her on Saturday afternoon. We spoke for over 30 mins and Scott sounded like he wanted to throw up. I also heard the recording of their initial interview in it's entirety. I am positive that this was an assistant's blunder but at this point in the game, why not try to spin it into a good thing? What was the dispatch supposed to say "Assistant was a moron so expect dismal sales and backlash from fandom?" So weird.

This is Tara from Buffyfest, btw. Just wanted to be clear as Michelle and I share this login over here, but Bitsy has his own.
There's always going to be people who take things extremely negative, but overall I think most people get it was a mistake. That's how I read the forums, anyhoo.
aside from the comments about the buzz and the reveal, Buffy #34 will have a "mature-themes notice".

I'll be in my bunk?
I think Dark Horse are the dogs whatevers when it comes to publishing stuff. I love Marvel, but anything by them outside of their universe doesn't really exist, and DC are too big corporate (well, it feels to me the humble comics buyer), Dark Horse seem to strike the right balance between being large enough to promote it and pull it off well, and small enough that they actually get in touch (Scott Allie has does 30-something forum Q&A's already.)

That said, I expect holographic covers for season 9.
I'm sorry, but the title and spin of the title seems to be a tad hyperbolic... I guess to be sure whether or not this was planned right from the start, one would need the date that Scott released his statement to retailers. It sounds like after he had already talked to CBR, which was AFTER the covers leaked.
Chronologically, it sounds exactly like trying to spin a negative into a positive.
Secret is out, might as well tell retailers why this could be a good thing.
Sheesh... a mistake plain and simple... and suddenly Allie's a Stonemason in a Dan Brown novel?
Well there are those that believe otherwise wenxina:) It does all seem a tad orchestrated does it not?
I think that the mature theme warning will have a great deal to do with the opening image of 8.32.
I agree, Gossi, with the overall feeling in the forums. I'm just reacting to the writer of Bleeding Cool.
My call? Major Character Death. That's the only thing that truly needs a warning. Think back to the series - that's the thing with the cache. Major Character Death with lots of violence.

Because there's already been sex and Buffy/Angel Innocence-like flashes of sex (the Tales: the Thrill issue) and we've had graphic violence already (Renee's death - doesn't get more graphic than that).

The only reason I can think that Meltzer wants to warn fans is because he's worried about our reaction. And we don't need to be warned of sexy times or violence - been there, done that. We're already expecting it (more violence for me, though sexy times could happen too). But Major Character Death? I've been praying it won't happen. And that's something that if it did happen, they warned you in advance versus just hitting you upside the head.

[ edited by Emmie on 2010-01-12 18:49 ]
I disagree, Emmie. A major character's death at this point would be about what I'd expect from Mutant Enemy. So after all this time, I really don't need a warning for it. But perhaps the newer readers would.
I can see an unexpected Andrew death being pretty hard to stomach since he's so child-like and real. I don't know, maybe it's just to hype people up, but maybe stuff will get real dramatic real fast.
if andrew dies before declaring his homosexuality i will burn the book with rainbow flames of outrage

but seriously, mature warning? I'm hoping we finally get unedited speech bubbles. I'd rather see the word fuck or shit than a bunch of random characters (f@%$!)
Okay, just have to say, all these links have been absolutely killing me over the last few days. I haven't been keeping up with Buffy Season 8 (I've been meaning to catch up for ages, but haven't yet: I'm a bad fan I know), and now I see all these "OMG!" headlines all over the place. I'm dying to know what it's all about, but I can't, because I left my TPBs at home and now I won't be able to read them until I get back in a few months time.

So, anyway, I'm not sure why I'm posting this, because I haven't read the comments above (for all I know you're talking about fluffy kittens and rainbows), and I won't be able to read any replies, so I suppose this is all quite redundant. But I just thought I'd give a voice to all those who are seeing the front page and want to remain spoiler-free and so, too, can't post here. :)
Simon, instead of Wildstorm (which has superhero-team-baggage associated with it, despite having some independant, not-within-the-Wildstorm-universe books as well and despite having attracted the likes of Warren Ellis in the past), I'd like to see Buffy go to Vertigo. Closest we'd ever get to Buffy-on-HBO, heh. So many fans would object (or maybe not, if all Joss did was allow swearing and didn't up the violence and near-nudity any more than Season 8's content).

I like Buffy at Dark Horse. They of the horror/humor-horror comics and licensed film franchises (Star Wars, Predator, Alien, etc) long before they started handling Buffy. Buffy's a perfect fit at Dark Horse. Except for appearing in DC's Vertigo imprint, I wouldn't wanna see Buffy at the Big Two comic publishers (she definitely wouldn't be a good fit in the MAX line, IMO, though Joss has worked for/with Marvel previously, at least).
I was thinking of Wildstorm cause it handles a lot of franchises but Vertigo would be interesting.

Btw Chris Ryall is looking for questions to ask him about what has been going on.

http://whedonesque.com/comments/22861
Vertigo would be amazing, and Buffy on HBO is like my wildest dream. I feel like True Blood has tapped into what Buffy would have been like on the network to an extent.
You know, I rarely see eye-to-eye with Dana5140 on, well, anything, but he and dispatch are right on: the assertion that this was a mistake are incredible. Perhaps not untrue, but actually incredible (as in, not credible, rather than "amazing").

It's far more believable to accidentally leak something through an unexpected channel than it would be to disclose a known secret through an established channel.

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