Monday, August 31, 2009

Why are people such as Tuna Amobi Marvel-ing at this move?

Everyone, it seems, is talking about the Disney-Marvel deal. TechCrunch mentioned it. The New York Times said that the deal "redraws Hollywood's architecture" (redraws...geddit?). The Inquisitr implied that the Marvel characters may be Disney-fied, but noted (as did BusinessWeek) that the characters will help Disney with boys, countering the "princess" concentration at the company. VG247 was surprised at the purchase price.

MediaMemo's Peter Kafka live-blogged the conference call, and recorded this explanation of the premium price:

S&P’s awesomely named Tuna Amobi [asked,] premium for Pixar was much lower than this deal. What’s up with that? Iger: We’ve been focusing on Disney brands because returns have been quite compelling. But we’re interested in brands in general, because we think high quality brands are increasingly important given choice. In this case, can not only build Marvel brand, but use Disney platform to help distribute and “create a greater Marvel presence”. “Goal is not to rebrand Marvel [as] Disney.” Staggs: I like to buy premium assets at bargain prices but that doesn’t happen very often. “This was not a deal that [Marvel] had to do”. Premium company, premium set of assets, have to pay fair price for that. “We do think it’s one of those classic win-win situations.”

So what does Disney get? It gets a company that started in the 1930s as Timely Comics, introducing a superhero named Captain America in 1941:

The first issue of Cap showed him punching out Adolf Hitler. Which believe it or not actually drew criticism from some isolationist.

But any consideration of Marvel Comics has to mention Stan Lee. A former employee of Timely who ended up writing training films and manuals during World War II, Lee came into his own in the 1960s. He was creative AND hard-working:

It was in the early '60s that Stan Lee ushered in what has come to be known as "The Marvel Age of Comics," creating major new superheroes while breathing life and style into such old favorites as Captain America, The Human Torch and The Sub Mariner.

During his first twenty-five years at Marvel's helm, as editor, art director and head writer, Stan scripted no fewer than two and as many as five complete comicbooks per week. His prodigious output may comprise the largest body of published work by any single writer. Additionally, Stan wrote newspaper features, radio and television scripts and screenplays.

By the time he was named publisher of Marvel Comics in 1972, Stan Lee's comics were the nation's biggest sellers.

Lee is no longer exclusive to Marvel (he even did some work for Marvel's arch-rival DC Comics, a subsidiary of Disney arch-rival Time Warner), but his contributions certainly led to Marvel's high valuation in the deal.
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