Former Marvel Comics and Valiant Comics editor Tom Brennan provided a lesson in customer service after a number of subscribers to the New York Times indicated they would cancel their subscriptions.

Brennan took to Twitter to state, “It is their right as customers to turn away. You want them to come back? Don’t lecture them. Don’t condescend to them. Don’t tut tut what you see as a lack of understanding. Do better. That’s what you owe them.”

Before he got to that crucial lesson, Brennan would detail that it’s perfectly fine for individuals to cancel their New York Times subscriptions because there are plenty of other outlets that offer journalism. Something similar could be said that comic book fans can definitely find alternatives to DC Comics and Marvel Comics if they don’t shape up their own practices.

Brennan would then detail what he learned as a comic book editor, “Readers vote with their dollars.” He added, “That’s how they express how they feel. That’s the ONLY way to measure how they truly feel about your work.”

While, I certainly agree with his sentiment that readers vote with their dollars, it’s hardly the only way they can express how they feel. And it’s definitely not the only way to measure how they truly feel about your work. Consumption does not equate to feelings. Fans can express themselves in all manners from creating petitions, writing blogs, taking to social media, calling the company, etc… There are lots of ways for them to express their opinions. However, Brennan is right when he states, “readers vote with their dollars.” If folks aren’t purchasing your product, you might find yourself looking at a new line of work very quickly.

Brennan continued, “It takes time and money to read the news. And those are two things you can’t get back. Readers have every right to cancel subscriptions. It’s not foolish, it’s not irresponsible, and hell, even if you disagree with them, it’s NOT worthy of condemnation.”

And that gets us to the point where Brennan stated customers have the right to turn away.

And they certainly do. He also notes corporations shouldn’t lecture, condescend or tut tut their customers. It’s great advice, and something the people at Marvel Comics like Saladin Ahmed, Alyssa Wong, and others should take to heart. In fact, Marvel Studios employees like Jac Schaeffer and Taika Waititi could also learn a thing or two from Brennan. It’s not limited to Marvel either. DC Comics writers like Zoe Quinn and Marc Andreyko could learn quite a bit too. Mark Russell could definitely drink in Brennan’s advice after he wrote up this page in Harley Quinn #56.

Harley Quinn 56

Brennan would follow that up with an analogy on hiring a plumber.

As Dan DiDio recently stated:

“We do these Facsimile Editions where we reprint older issues of comics including all the old ads and stuff…and in some cases these are selling more than the new comics with these characters. People are more interested in buying the stories from 30 or 40 years ago than the contemporary stories, and that’s a failure on us. We should be focused on moving things forward, always pushing the boundaries and finding new stories to tell. That’s how we’ll survive and grow this industry.”

There just might be a reason for why those older stories are selling better than the new stories. Why would you want to hire a plumber who showed up late, clogged up your toilet even more, and then accidentally breaks your sink?

What do you make of Brennan’s comments? Do you think Marvel Comics and DC Comics writers and artists should take his advice?

  • About The Author

    John F. Trent
    Founder and Editor-in-Chief

    John is the Editor-in-Chief here at Bounding Into Comics. He is a massive Washington Capitals fan, lover of history, and likes to dabble in economics and philosophy.