Metamorphosis, yes – Magnificent, not really… (rant)

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These days, the 296th Suske En Wiske comic book hits bookstores in Belgium and the Netherlands, and it’s called “The Magnificent Metamorphosis”. Which is strange, since the Suske En Wiske story that’s wrapping up in Flemish newspapers as we speak, is called “The Curious Noses”. So, what gives ?

The answer is marketing, my dears. For sixty years now, Suske en Wiske albums have looked the same : a bold red cover with a large illustation and the title in equally bold letters. Generations of readers learned how to read from these familiar albums. It’s become a mainstay in Flemish and Dutch households – I would even say it’s one of the most well-known and easily recognized brand images in the Low Countries. Show anybody a book that remotely looks like a Suske En Wiske album, and people will immediately associate it with Willy Vandersteen’s creations.

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But let’s not forget we’re talking marketing here : focus groups, bar graphs, that sort of thing. It would seem that recent research showed that young readers prefer large imagery on the cover of their albums. And let’s face it, sixty years is kinda long, isn’t it ? So, the cover design for the books was changed, and a slip cover was added to smoothen the transition.sw003.JPG

The new cover isn’t all new – there’ still an ample amount of red, and the logo has been left untouched. But beyond that, there’s not a lot setting this book apart from the slew of albums that crowd our bookstore’s comic book stands. I can easily imagine the nation’s grandma’s and grandpa’s wanting to buy a present for their grandchildren and aimlessly looking for that well known silhouette. Suske En Wiske’s sales, which are not that spectacular to begin with anymore, will no doubt be influenced by the change – but I’m not sure in which direction…

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And that’s not all. Together with the classic look of the books, another monument of Flemish comics history has been chucked out. For years and years, the back of the books sported a complete list of published titles, along with an illustration of all the main characters, sitting on each other’s shoulders. This has become so familiar, that statuettes were produced of that image. But not anymore. These days we see a very ill-conceived illustration of all the characters hobbling along in their car, along with the four latest books and a condensed contents of the book. Again, this is marketing, and on the package of a product, you put the ingredients

You would think that all this caused an uproar over here. After all, this is tantamount to changing Batman’s costume or killing of Superman… Er, no wait, I’m sure there are better examples. But no, nobody cared. After all, the book’s story stinks, as did the last 50 or so. So why bother – we still have a hundred-odd good stories, with their familiar red cover. Nobody’s taking them away from us..

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3 Responses to Metamorphosis, yes – Magnificent, not really… (rant)

  1. Pingback: Metamorphosis, yes - Magnificent, no… (rant))

  2. kurye says:

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