ITEM! You’ll have to forgive Ol’ Smiley for being a little late to the party on this one, True Believers. I only just learned not to pound on the keys of the luxurious laptop my great-grandson set me up with as hard as I used to on my old Olympia manual typewriter (the preferred writing instrument of Harlan Ellison and Luddites everywhere, pilgrim!). If I do, the plastic keys tend to fly off in errant directions and then Irving Forbush has to haul the thing down to the Apple Store to get ‘em stuck back on. It’s a real pain-in-the-keister. Maybe Harlan’s on to something... but I digress.
It was only a few months ago as Yours Truly was browsing the software aisles at Best Buy when I spotted GIT Corp’s clearly convenient collections of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four on DVD-ROM. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing for a few sizzling seconds. Here was every single issue of Spidey and the FF (plus Amorous Annuals!), all stored digitally on DVD and readable on a computer screen. Fantastic! If I was creating the Magnificent Marvel Universe today, instead of nuclear radiation, every crazy character’s powers would come from digital radiation. Or transistors. Do they still make those?
So it was with some chagrin that your old Uncle Smiley recently read that after doing such a fabulous job of panoptically re-presenting these cosmic classics of the Marvel Age of Comics, GIT lost their license to produce these digital discourses from Mighty Marvel. The article said that the House of Ideas had decided to present their own digital version of their books online at Marvel.com. Fair enough, right? After all, they own ‘em right? Heck, they own everything. Probably somewhere in the safe at 387 Park Avenue South they probably still have the lockbox with Jack's and my souls in it.
But what did I discover when I tried to read a few of my own peerless past productions on the Marvel website? They want me to subscribe to their service for a monthly fee of $9.99 or $59.88 annual rate... just to read their mags. I don’t get to keep ‘em, like I do with the DVDs. And guess what happens when I unsubscribe, oh Fearless One? That’s right — poof! No more Mighty Marvel Mags.
This is not a good idea. And if there’s anything that your Uncle Stanley knows how to do after 67 years in the biz, it’s how to sell comics. Can you imagine if we had tagged our subscription ads back in the day with a monthly up-keep fee? Actually, my boss Marty Goodman once proposed just such a model. The kids were supposed to keep mailing us their nickles and dimes each month, and when they missed a payment — Bammo! Two or three goons showed up at their house and repo’ed their Rawhide Kid collection. I told him it would never work, and in the end got him to settle for letting me create the Merry Marvel Marching Society instead.
So good luck with your new venture, Marvel Entertainment... you're gonna need it! I’m just glad my salary is primarily derived from the movie franchises at this point. True Believers can still get the last few remaining copies of GTI’s Marvel DVDs here. Get ‘em while they last, sunshine!