The leaking of information - be it spoilers for stories or the contents of marketing catalogs not publicly released yet - is an ongoing frustration for publishers, and Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso has begun speaking out such leaks... and isn't mincing words.
"We can't control... this is an industy in which there will always be predatory sites who are able to use the system to their advantage," Alonso told Fuse. "They're able to find people, in certain cases retailers, who are willing to turn over information that's not yet public and post it. That's the world in which we live right now."
Alonso doesn't specify what sites he's referring to when he says "predatory websites" or "retailers." Although best known as a comic book editor, the Marvel Editor-In-Chief is well-versed in journalism with a Master of Science degree in the field from Columbia University.
Although Alonso admits that Marvel sometimes strategically spoils the event of upcoming issues, he says that when that decision is made for them it's equivalent to piracy.
"There are occasions when we have to, and we work with our creators, to get news out a little in advance, simply because we know that if we don't, someone else will. I want to be very clear, we're very strategic with how we do that. But for a book like Civil War II, which is selling somewhere around 300,000 copies, a book that a lot of people count on to keep revenue generated in the arteries of this business, it's very important to us that we control that message and that everyone benefit from it, not a site that is ultimately only benefiting from it by getting hits. It's the same thing as piracy."
The leaking of such information has predated the internet and isn't exclusive to the comic book industry, with U.S. courts actually prosecuting and convicting a person who leaked a "work print" of 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine before its theatrical release.
The threat of something being leaked before an actual release has led, according to Alonso, for Marvel to "strategically" spoil their own book themselves in order to "control the message" as they have done with the deaths of Peter Parker and Steve Rogers, as well as the "Hail Hydra" moment in Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 in June. Most recently, the death of Bruce Banner in Civil War II #3 earlier this month - the main attraction in a special Direct Market midnight on-sale event - was also spoiled in a NY Daily News story four hours before the book went on sale on the East Coast - a story Marvel retweeted to its 4.1m followers.
"By going to a larger media outlet, and a strategic media outlet, we can get the right bang for our buck, get the right message out and control the message," said Alonso. "There's instances where that's taken out of our hands, and a lot of people applaud those outlets like they've done them a favor, when it's actually hurting the market and it's mean-spirited because it hurts the creators. No one resents that more than the creators. And I hope I'm clear and I hope this gets into the article, 'cause it's a bad thing."
Alonso makes a distinction that those who want spoilers and leaks of this sort aren't "true comic fans."
"You make an important distinction here, which is the fact there are hardcore comic readers and there are casual fans and new fans. There are even hardcore comic readers who don't pay attention to websites, you know?," Alonso said. "True comic fans, everyday fans who don't really want to go to the Internet because they don't care about the peripheral news, they don't want that. They just want to read the comic book. But there will always be gossip page-style reporting in our field, that's part of it. As long as that's there, we have to reconcile our plans against that."