A) MASTERWORKS BY THE DECADE
"Looking ahead to the rest of 2011 and 2012, which decade of comics is the most important priority to you as a Masterworks buyer when it comes to new volumes?"
1940s: 9% (+1%)
1950s: 9% (-1%)
1960s: 23% (-17%)
1970s: 51% (+16%)
1980s: 8% (+1%)
This is fascinating to me. By 2011, the '60s has been completely archived in terms of "super heroes", leaving only long runs of Westerns (Rawhide Kid, Two Gun Kid, etc.), war (Sgt. Fury and Captain Savage), some monster comics (the latter end of Strange Tales and Journey Into Mystery) and some humor and girl comics. In other words, pretty much all the super hero lines that remain reside in the 1970s and after.
So there's a flip flop in chart movement between the two decades, with the '70s moving nearly as many points up as the '60s have moved down. Seems there's still some '60s diehards that prioritize more Sgt. Fury and Rawhide Kid over anything else before and after.
And speaking of before and after: all numbers remain remarkably stable from the last survey. The dynamism of the Masterworks program is apparently solidly locked into its shift from Silver to Bronze...
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B) BRONZE AGE INTENTIONS
"A number of Masterworks fans have intimated that they intend to stop or slow down on collecting the Masterworks after Marvel has completed the Silver Age to their satisfaction (roughly speaking the '60s era of the Marvel Age). Which statement most closely resembles your plans?"
72% (+11%): I love the Bronze Age. I have no intention of stopping when Masterworks enters the 1970s.
25% (-8%): I'll slow down, but I'll still get my favorite titles or maybe a genre book or two that looks interesting.
3% (-3%): As far as the Marvel Age of Comics goes, it's the Silver Age only for me and then I'm out.
Numbers seem pretty stable if one assumes that some of the previous survey respondents who indicated that it's Marvel Age and then out indeed followed through with that and did not take part in the survey. As it is, this year's crop of survey respondents are still in the game as the Marvel Age heads into the '70s by a huge amount.
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C) MASTERWORKS ON THE FAST TRACK
"Which Masterworks line would you like to see put on a 'fast track', i.e. an annual release?" Respondents were asked to make a single choice.
15% (-1%): Amazing Spider-Man
13% (-4%): Avengers
11% (-1%): None of the above
10% (+2%): Uncanny X-Men
8% (new entry): Daredevil
7% (+2%): Sgt. Fury
Amazing Spider-Man and Avengers are the clear leaders here, placing above "None of the Above", which indicates that over 1 out of 10 don't really have an interest in seeing any Masterworks lines on a so-called fast track. (For the purposes of the survey, that means more than one volume in a line every 12 months.)
Uncanny X-Men was the only other title line that scored double digits, and it actually increased by a couple points. Everything else from the list – Captain America, Defenders, Dr. Strange, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man, Rawhide Kid, Sub-Mariner, and Thor – were all statistically about the same at less than 5%.
The last survey's champion, Thor, scored at 17%, but fell all the way down to 5%. Presumably Masterworks fans are well-satisfied now that the series has gotten through its prime Kirby run and past the Adams/early Buscema issues.
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D) MASTERWORKING CLASSIC MATERIAL ALREADY PUBLISHED IN OMNIBUS
"Over the past few years, Marvel published all 15 issues of Amazing Adventures/Amazing Adult Fantasy in the Amazing Fantasy Omnibus as well as the entire run of Jack Kirby's Eternals in the Omnibus format. They've also added Howard The Duck and Tomb Of Dracula to their Omnibus line-up. All of these titles have been mentioned by portions of the Masterworks fan base as desirable additions to the Masterworks canon. Which of the following statements most closely resembles your feelings about seeing this material in the Masterworks line?"
48%: I've got them in Omnibus; I don't see the need for Masterworks now.
16%: I want all of these titles in Masterworks format.
16%: I have no desire to any of these titles in either Omnibus or Masterworks format.
11%: I might get one or two as Masterworks, but not all of them.
9%: I do not have any of these titles and would like them to go BTP on the Omnibus version.
Almost half of survey respondents indicate that they're satisfied with their Omnibus hardcovers and would not consider buying these titles in Masterworks. A further 9% would like to have the opportunity to buy them in the Omnibus format, and request Marvel go back to press on them for a second print. Only 16% indicate a clear and unequivocal desire to see these titles appear in Masterworks now that they've already been published in the Omnibus format.
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E) WESTERN MASTERWORKS
"In 2006, Marvel issued its first Masterworks volume in the Western genre with Rawhide Kid Vol. 1 and, the following year, followed up with a second volume. With the barn door open on the genre, which of the following volumes would you like to see Marvel produce as Masterworks?" Respondents were given up to two choices.
39% (+2%): I don't wish to buy any further Westerns.
34% (+2%): Ghost Rider (Western) Vol. 1
32% (-2%): Two-Gun Kid (Silver Age) Vol. 1
20% (no change): Kid Colt Vol. 1
17% (+7%): Rawhide Kid Vol. 3
11% (+3%): Atlas Era Rawhide Kid Vol. 1
10% (+4%): Atlas Era Two-Gun Kid Vol. 1
3% (+1%): Annie Oakley Vol. 1
3% (+1%): Apache Kid Vol. 1
3% (+1%): Ringo Kid Vol. 1
3% (no change): Wyatt Earp Vol. 1
Once the non-Western fans had their input, it becomes clear that there are two lines that remain tall in the saddle over all the rest: the Western Ghost Rider, a done-in-one from late '60s Marvel, and Two-Gun Kid Vol. 1, the continuing adventures of Matt Hawk and, arguably even more than Rawhide Kid, the Silver Age Western most like its super hero contempooraries, with continuing characters and building continuity.
In the aggregate, "more Rawhide Kid" fared pretty well, with his Silver Age and Atlas Era adventures posting decent numbers especially when you consider gaining in the rankings: There's a 7 point increase in the rankings for a third Rawhide Kid volume compared to the last survey.
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F) MARVEL AGE GENRE MASTERWORKS
"Of the 12 Marvel Age volumes that we get each year, how do you feel about genre titles such as Sgt. Fury (war) or Rawhide Kid (Western) taking monthly spots away from their super hero counterparts?"
72% (+3%): I love them! I see them in a similar way to the super-hero genre and don't view them as "taking away" monthly slots.
28% (-3%): Super heroes only! A month with a genre volume instead of a super hero is a month I'm not buying a Marvel Age volume.
Numbers remain stable: 7 out of 10 don't see a material difference between Rawhide Kid and Sgt. Fury and the super-heroes of the Marvel Age.
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G) LICENSED MASTERWORKS
"Which titles that would require licensing from Marvel would you like to see reprinted in Masterworks or Omnibus?" Respondents were given the chance to select all choices that apply.
60%: Master of Kung Fu
42%: Conan the Barbarian
26%: Star Wars
24%: John Carter, Warlord of Mars
18%: Doc Savage
12%: Miss Fury
12%: Indiana Jones
12%: Shogun Warriors
12%: G.I. Joe
2%: Care Bears
The clear champion is also, for now, clearly not going to be happening. (See Section III, Question E: Future Omnibus Volumes.) Moving on...
The big surprise with this question is that we're actually getting one of these volumes in 2012, only as an Omnibus. Timed with the release of a Disney-produced movie, Marvel will publish the John Warter, Warlord of Mars series in Omnibus hardcover. So don't expect to see this one in Masterworks any time soon, although for a positive reason.
Looking past MOKF, Micronauts and ROM are the clear leaders in the licensing battle. It's very unlikely Marvel would haggle for the rights to Conan or Kull, since Dark Horse has been reprinting that material in multiple formats, but there's a clear and vocal segment of Masterworks fans that aren't satisfied with what Dark Horse has been offering and wants to see them produced by Cory and Co. Can't blame them entirely!
As for Care Bears, you could say that it finished in a distant last place, but why not say it finished in 15th place! Think of Cheer Bear...don't let her down!
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H) JUMPING AHEAD IN MASTERWORKS
"Currently, Marvel is approaching its Masterworks line in a strictly chronological way, with each new volume in a line continuing where the most recent volume left off. For most fans, this is preferred and has produced nothing serious in the form of consumer angst. However, there is plenty of material far ahead in the timeline from where Masterworks currently stand that is 'Masterworks worthy', such as John Byrne's Fantastic Four, Incredible Hulk circa Peter David, Thor by Walt Simonson, Daredevil by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson to name a few. What are your thoughts concerning the viability of 'jumping ahead' to this type of material in Masterworks through brand new Vol. 1 lines?"
48% (+7%): I want Marvel to stick with the status quo and don't see this idea as desirable.
20% (-1%): 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% (-6%): I am open to the idea, although I don't think the Masterworks line is in a position to need to do this anytime soon.
14% (+2%): 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.
Three years later, the status quo is retrenching. Perhaps that's because Masterworks fans are largely pleased with the progress the line is making all on its own.
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I) NOT BRAND ECCH IN MASTERWORKS
"Not Brand Ecch – the Silver Age humor title that featured the art talents of Jack Kirby, Marie Severin, and more – is a potential volume in the coming years. There is a quandary over how to release this material, however. To fit into 2 Masterworks volumes, the approximately 405 pages of the entire series would carry over into volumes that were 193 and 212 pages respectively. What is your preference for how this material should be reprinted?"
36% (no change): One Omnibus of NBE.
27% (-1%): I have no interest in this material regardless of format.
18% (+3%): Two regular-priced Masterworks volumes of NBE, the 1967-68 Annuals satire short stories, plus Spoof and ARRGH!.
11% (-2%): One higher-priced Masterworks volume.
7% (-1%): Two regular-priced Masterworks volume NBE with the 1967-68 Annuals satire short stories (approx. 218 and 248 pages)
Virtually identical numbers to the previous survey, with slightly more people on board with the idea of including Spoof and ARRGH! in a two-volume Silver Age Satire line.
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J) MASTERWORKS VS. DC/EC MARKET SHARE
"There has been a significant decline in the number of DC and EC Archives that have been published over the past 12-24 months. How has this decline changed your purchasing habits towards other high-end collected editions?"
72%: I'm buying the same amount of Masterworks and other high-end reprints as before.
10%: I'm buying both more Masterworks and other high-end reprints.
10%: I'm buying more Masterworks than I used to.
9%: I'm buying more other high-end reprints than I used to.
Since this survey question was asked, EC Archives came back online through a new publisher, and DC's positive commitment to more new Archives has become more clear. Still, it's notable that for slightly more than 7 out of 10 Masterworks buyers all the activities of other popular high-end lines was academic: it didn't affect the amount of their Masterworks purchases.
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K) ECONOMIC DOWNTURN VS. MASTERWORKS
"How has the downturn in the economy affected your Masterworks purchases?"
52%: My Masterworks purchasing habits have not been influenced in any way by the state of the economy
26%: I have not reduced my purchases at all, but it has put strain on other areas of my discretionary spending.
9%: I have reduced my purchases by up to 25%.
7%: I have reduced my purchased by up to 50%.
5%: I have reduced my purchases by up to 75%.
2%: I cannot afford any Masterworks right now.
The economy has been a big issue since the last time we undertook the survey in 2008. Half of Masterworks fans report no alteration in their purchasing habits during the last three years, and a little over 1 in 4 report that their Masterworks buying hasn't been affected even if other areas of their discretionary spending have.
That leaves 1 in 4 respondents reacting to the lagging economy by modifying their previously established Masterworks buying habits. That's probably a bigger number than anybody would like, for a multitude of reasons.
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L) SOFTCOVER MASTERWORKS
"Marvel now has a line of softcover Masterworks. What are your feelings towards this line?"
67%: I do not need them. I am content with the hardcovers I’ve already bought.
23%: I buy both hardcovers and softcovers depending on the desirability of the character/title.
10%: I prefer the softcovers as they are far more affordable and/or better produced.
Results speak for themselves. One thing perhaps I should inquire about in the next survey is how many hardcover fans have switched completely to softcovers. Is it all of that 10%? Or less? Or how many of that 10% are newcomers to the Masterworks through the trades who have never previously bought hardcovers?
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M) SPIDEY'S TANGLED MASTERWORKS WEB
"After the Amazing Spider-Man line hits 1976, the stories inside will roughly coincide with the stories of Spectacular Spider-Man. (This will occur roughly around ASM Masterworks Vol. 16.) Which of these options most closely resembles your feelings?"
55%: I would like to see the two lines be released so there is a rough chronology between them.
22%: I plan on buying both, but am not concerned with when they are released.
14%: I don’t buy Spider-Man Masterworks.
10%: I am mainly interested in Amazing Spider-Man and don’t plan on supporting Spectacular Spider-Man in Masterworks.
The obvious take to me here is that scheduling Amazing and Spectacular so they jibe with each wouldn't hurt anything. (Though 14% might be rankled that there's multiple Spidey books in a given year, and they'd not have anything to buy that month.) Still, if Spidey's overall sales numbers stay at the top of the MM sales charts, it may be worth it for the overall health of the line to experiment with a dual-track of releases.
Having said that, that option is still a few years off.
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N) HANDLING SHORT RUNS
"Considering the creation of new Masterworks lines, particularly short ones of only 2-3 volumes in length, which of these statements most accurately reflect your opinion?"
55%: I like to see these wrapped up as quickly as possible before more new lines are started to get in their way.
25%: I prefer variety, so I won’t get hung up if it takes 2-3 years for a followup volume for a new line.
20%: I don’t care one way or the other.
Apparently, Masterworks fans appreciate the tidiness of the quick 1-2 punch of Inhumans and the big, fat done-in-ones like Deathlok and Black Panther Jungle Action.
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O) NEW ATLAS ERA GENRE?
"What new genre would you most like to see represented in the Atlas Era line?"
25%: I do not purchase Atlas Era volumes.
Atlas Era Masterworks have ticked off the horror/suspense anthologies, super heroes, war, and jungle adventures. If survey respondents have their way, any new ground broken in the Atlas Era will be on the surface of the moon: Bring on Spacemen/Space Squadron!
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P) MARVEL AGE RARITIES MASTERWORKS?
"Certain stories from the Marvel Age of Comics, like 'Tales of the Watcher', Marvel Super-Heroes one-shots like Doctor Doom and Phantom Eagle, and too many early '70s stories from short-run series and anthologies to mention, are difficult to gather in Masterworks on their own. Which of the following statements best represents your opinion on a Marvel Age Rarities line in Masterworks?"
65%: I would heartily support a Marvel Age Rarities line that collects all the obscurities available without discriminating.
21%: I would support a Marvel Age Rarities line, but only if they collected the best of the best of such material.
14%: I have no interest in supporting a Marvel Age Rarities Masterworks line.
There is strong support for a catch-all "Rarities" title that scoops up all the orphaned Marvel Age material not currently in Masterworks form. 1 in 5 say they'd only support a "best of" collection, but without knowing exactly what the volumes would be solicited to contain, perhaps it's likely that some of those would eventually come around to purchasing such a volume.
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Q) TALES OF WONDER
"Have you ever purchased from Tales of Wonder?"
Tales of Wonder is this site's sponsor and through their patronage it allows me to set aside the substantial time it takes to run the website, message board, and build things like this survey. Looks like many survey respondents have at least tried their service at some point. Since TOW was an early and consistent advocate for Masterworks, that makes sense.
So thanks to them for being a retailer that cares about Masterworks, and also thanks to everyone who buys items from their site through the affiliate links on mine. Every purchase helps put a little in the website's pocket at no cost to you – and it's always sincerely appreciated.