Family Comic Friday: Barbie #1 Review
Fashion and toy icon Barbie makes her triumphant return to comics in this week’s Family Comic Friday. With a revolutionary production format by Papercutz, this new series looks to attract fans both new and old. It’s a crazy idea that just might be what other publishers need in order to save the comic book industry! Well, it would work, if the publisher executed it right…
Written by Sara Kuhn
Art by Alitha Martinez
Jim Salicrup, Editor
Published by Papercutz
Retail Price: $3.99
In this new series, Barbie is an aspiring fashion designer. She is set to be assistant to a top designer at their new fashion show. But something’s missing! Barbie wants to impress this clothing guru and to do so, she’s going to have to create an outfit that will stand out amongst the crowd. To create the ultimate outfit, Barbie just needs to find her own style. And that’s going to be hard, because everything she comes up with looks just like those designs of her new boss!
‘Want to know the rest of the story? Fans of Barbie will not have to wait for the next issue as Papercutz has gone the route of digital streaming TV! Along with readers being able to buy the individual issues of Barbie monthly in stores, for a little extra money, they can buy the entire story in collected form! It’s this sort of choice that just might save the comic book industry!’
The above paragraph is what I wanted to say about the new Barbie series, based on introduction to this comic from editor Jim Salicrup (Tales From The Crypt). Salicrup entices readers to get the whole story in the pages of Barbie #1: Fashion Superstar which is currently on sale. What Salicrup fails to mention is that this story has been in stores for almost 3 years! Not only is this issue of Barbie based on a reprint story, if you were to buy issues 1 and 2 of this new Barbie series, you’d actually spend a dollar more on cover price than if you bought the graphic novel!
Sales of comic books is way down. There’s a number of factors to this. While a number of my colleagues at Outrightgeekery have been publishing articles on this alarming trend, I’ve decided to stay out of the debate. But what Papercutz was initially offering is so revolutionary that I felt I must sing its praises in hopes that other publishers take note. Unfortunately, while Papercutz had a great idea, they’ve executed everything wrong.
The idea of spending a little extra for the whole story right away has been a major selling point for TV channels touting their new digital services. This sort of idea is something that I think the comic book industry needs to adopt. One complaint is that individual issues are too expensive to purchase monthly or bi-weekly. I know I was digging deep into my change drawer to be able to afford the $3.99 plus tax for this issue in order to review it. So anything that could be done to offset such costs and save comic books from extinction is a good thing!
What Papercutz and the other publishers out there need to do is as follows:
- Publish simultaneously both the first individual issue of a series or storyline as well as the collected version.
- 24 hours before the books physically drop, release the digital versions of both.
- In terms of price point- the digital versions need to be priced higher. If you want to be first to read something, you’ve got to pay for it. And there are those out there who will because they have to be the go-to person for info! It’s a fact of life.
- The paper collection will of course be higher as there is more paper involved and no ads.
- The individual issues need to be the cheapest option. It takes longer to collect as it only comes out on a 2-4 week basis. But with ads, the price point should be 50% cheaper than such an issue is now.
I have no problem with Papercutz releasing the Barbie #1 graphic novel as individual issues. But the cover prices collectively are higher than the book was when released new. The industry needs young readers- especially girls. Barbie is the right property to entice young female readers. You’ve got to make it affordable for them to become customers.
I hate to say it, but if you want to read this story, go to Amazon or your local book store and buy the trade. As much as I want individual issue series to succeed, getting the first couple of issues of this ‘new’ series isn’t cost effective. However, I still feel that Papercutz has hit upon a novel idea- they just didn’t get a bullseye to make it happen!
In terms of the story and artwork, it is ideal for readers of all-ages. Sara Kuhn (Clueless: Senior Year) formulates a story that is sophisticated in the level of work Barbie does to impress her fashion hero while using vocabulary that is pretty easy to read. I’m quite jealous of Batgirl’s Alitha Martinez and her artwork in this story. Barbie is a Mattel property and the toy manufacturer is pretty specific on how the blonde doll should look. Martinez does an astounding job of making each image of Barbie and her friend Liz look like they were still mint in package on a toy store shelf!
Barbie #1 is a comic that fans of all ages will delight too. I recommend that if you are wanting to buy this for a young fan, get them the graphic novel that is already on shelves and more economical. Barbie also has fans that must have everything with her image on it. If that’s you, then getting this issue is the next logical purchase for your Barbie collection.
Barbie #1 debuted in print on February 27th, 2019. Barbie #1: Fashion Superstar debuted in 2016 and is available in print and digital formats such as Kindle.
For more Family Comic Friday and other reviews, check out my blog: Madman with a Book!
- Execution of Point of Sale
The book is great. The price point- not so much. But there’s potential for what Papercutz wants to do. If they make a few marketing changes!