Robot 6

Comics A.M. | Comic sales fall 11% in May; CBLDF joins fight over Utah law

Fear Itself #2

Publishing | May marked the worst month of the year for the direct market since January as sales of comic books and graphic novels fell 11.21 percent versus May 2010. Chart watcher John Jackson Miller chalks up the decline to a combination of retailers ordering more Free Comic Book Day titles than “for-profit” books and publishers’ summer events heating up a little later this year. Marvel led Diamond Comic Distributors’ list of top comics for the month with Fear Itself #2, followed by the first issue of DC’s Flashpoint. Avatar topped the graphic novel chart with Crossed 3D, Vol. 1. [The Comichron]

Legal | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has joined a coalition that includes booksellers, media companies and the ACLU of Utah in seeking to permanently stop enforcement of a 2005 Utah statute that would regulate Internet speech that some consider “harmful to minors,” including works of art, graphic novels, information about sexual health and the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. The law has not gone into effect because Utah consented to a temporary injunction until the case can be decided. [press release]

Awards | A reminder: Online voting ends today for the 2011 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. The winners will be announced July 22 during Comic-Con International in San Diego. [Eisner Awards]

Archie Comics

Publishing | Tom Spurgeon talks at length with Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater about the publishers’ marketing strategy, digital initiatives, and how recently introduced gay character Kevin Keller fits into Riverdale: “You know, with all of the bullying going on in the world today, and all of the issues young people grow up with, it just proves the point that kids are kids, and that Archie, the gang, Riverdale, it’s all-inclusive. That’s how kids are in high school today. The point of his being gay, he’s just another kid. That’s the point of putting him in there. He’s accepted, and everyone should be accepted wherever they go. That sounds a little bit utopian, but why not? Why can’t we at least put that forth? Put forth the fact that everyone no matter what their orientation is, what the color of their skin is, what their religion is, whatever it may be, everyone’s accepted: there is no divisiveness. When you turn on the TV and you hear all this vitriol back and forth between political parties and all this nonsense it’s enough to get you nuts. The point of Kevin was ‘Hey, stop with this craziness. Everyone’s included. We’re all part of the human race no matter who you are or what you are.’” [The Comics Reporter]

Wizard

Conventions | Jerome Maida previews Wizard World Philadelphia, which returns on Friday to the Pennsylvania Convention Center. [Philadelphia Daily News]

Conventions | Lisa Allmendinger looks toward the third annual Kids Read Comics! convention, which kicks off Saturday in Chelsea, Michigan. [AnnArbor.com]

Conventions | On a related note, Snow Wildsmith offers tips on taking children to conventions. [Good Comics for Kids]

Creators | Greg Rucka talks about his upcoming run, with artist Marco Checchetto, on Marvel’s Punisher: “You find yourself in the position of going to your editor and saying, ‘So, who can I kill? Who is on the list of characters we can put a bullet in and is not going to horribly destroy what’s going in the rest of the universe?’ You never want to take a character out of play. It’s easier to take stuff away from the universe than to put it back into the universe.” [USA Today]

Broadway | The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society has filed an arbitration claim against the producers of the $70-million musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark for failure to pay royalties to original director Julie Taymor, who was fired in March. [The New York Times]

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12 Comments

Comic sales falling? Colour me not surprised. I’ve been reading these things most of my life, and all these fake deaths, continuity reboots, and most of all by far the damned crossover ‘events’ have just about completely killed it for me. How hard is it to give us a year’s worth of solid stories and character interaction in a regular monthly title, expressing one writer and one artist’s vision, without an endless round robin of creative teams and tie-ins to other titles. I love Stuart Immonen’s art but Fear Itself is a total underwhelming mess of seemingly random puzzle pieces. And it seems like all that the main companies now know how to do. It doesn’t attract new readers, and just bores and/or confuses older readers like me. We need less of this fan mentality and more cool professionalism at the top, from the big companies. Line wide event-based editorial story conferences? They’re killing comics even for the readers they have! If they could leave behind their cohesive universes and innovate some genuinely new characters and concepts, room for new ideas might actually help generate a new audience. Comics for kids. Comics for fun again. Right now, as prettily as it is sometimes written and often drawn, I mostly just feel like I’ve seen it all countless times before. The icons of decades past stagger on, because the companies won’t reward the creation of anything new. And the last thing I want to read about is another funeral. This is the CharnelHouse of Ideas.

Gee, ILYA, you are totally right, but you’re only repeating things that lots of other people (including me) have been saying for YEARS. The big publishers have never listened to me or anyone else when we said those things and they won’t listen to you, either. This industry is finished, and everyone running it is too blind to see why.

I’d say you were right except that Fear Itself and Flashpoint were the top 2 selling books. So SOMEONE must be happy about the event books. Either that or collectors have become such sheep that they are afraid of NOT buying an event tie in book.

If they make it you will BAAAA.

There are HUNDREDS of comic books that are well written and drawn that are not part of main DC/Marvel Continuities. But few are willing to take chances on them. Give them a chance and if you like it, tell your friends.

The funny thing is how every month they announce a drop in sales, and there’s some attempt to spin it rather than state the truth. IT’S ALL OVER !!! Comics will live on, but not as they are now. No more Wednesday visits to the comic shop, no more monthly pamphlets from Marvel and DC, no more reboots, retreads, or re-hashing old plots. All the hacks both young and old will have to go work at Walmart, or flip burgers for a living, and the baby-men will have to finally grow up. Comics will go on, as graphic novels, and web comics created by artists that want to do something other than endlessly retelling the same old stories featuring the same tired characters. Superheroes will lose their stranglehold on the artform, and the world will be a better place.
Hooray!

DC is aggressively trying to make changes, while Marvel is aggressively trying to do more of the same things that has caused this. Glad I quit buying comics! Love my back issues!!

So obviously, the superhero comic book is dying. Honestly, I’m kind of shocked it’s taken this long. The real question is why have the two main publishers had so little success with non-superhero comics. Why don’t they look at TV and movies for new ideas? If there’s a hit novel, why don’t they adapt it like the movies do? Expecting superheroes to carry the comic book art form is as silly a notion as expecting superheroes to carry the art of Television.

I just read the preview to Punisher #1 by Greg Rucka. Those few pages just made me think how much I would love to read a Rucka comic that was just a police procedural like Law and Order. As I read those pages, I kind of hoped that the Punisher wouldn’t show up at all.

Stories about the same spandex characters doing the same things over and over again only appeals to part of what is already a very small group of superhero comics fans. Many superhero fans want to read about characters that have powers, but still age and change and mature and die and then stay dead. That’s why books like Invincible and Hellboy do so well. I worry about DC’s new initiative. I fear that it will get attention, then a bunch of new readers will read an issue of Flash or Justice League, realize that it’s exactly what they were expecting with nothing all that different from watching a rerun of the superfriends cartoons. Then they’ll roll their eyes and realize that they were right to dismiss comic books as disposable crap to distract little kids.

Actually, what I find wrong with the comic industry is some of its own fans need to bash it constantly as evident in this thread. It totally detracts others from comics and makes it hard to have any positive conversation. For example, at least DC is trying something. Instead of “wait and see” there are droves of supposed “non readers” who are already saying the thing is a failure. This is what truly saddens me. If you have moved on from comics, good for you, then leave the rest of us who like them alone and quit telling us whats wrong with our hobby.

As a retailer for 29+ years, I have long gone on about the need for one of the publishers to take NEW creative ideas and meld them into the publishing dynamic that existed in the 1960′s and 1970′s. The comic industry, even with a superhero focus, is absolutely capable of being saved. All that is needed is an individual or group of individuals with an all-encompassing vision to make it happen. The combination of aggressive marketing and editorial strategies would not only keep current readers from leaving, but it would also bring back a god percentage of lapsed readers. I wish I had the deep pockets to buy just the publishing rights from Disney. If anyone does, write me…..let’s change the comic world together!!.

Actually, if Rucka wrote medical/legal comics, would have to consider them :)

Just to be exact, I didn’t draw a causal connection between retailers ordering lots of FCBD books and fewer for-profit books — just that both things happened. I doubt the price tag on ordering the free comics (and yes, there is one) would put much of a dent into the regular ones.

The rankings now have the estimates added: http://www.comichron.com/monthlycomicssales/2011/2011-05.html

It’s probably good to note here that even if the sales tracks continue exactly at current levels for the rest of the year (which I doubt, given some of what’s coming up) we’re still looking at another $400 million year in the direct market and a $600 million year industry-wide, which is double what it was in 2001. Inflation explains some, but the trade paperback explosion accounts for more. That may lend some perspective, long-term, and it’s why I advise extreme caution in looking at the individual ups and downs from month to month. The last decade had plenty of months that generated concern, but it netted out much higher.

“There are HUNDREDS of comic books that are well written and drawn that are not part of main DC/Marvel Continuities. But few are willing to take chances on them. ”

Abba-so-lutely. Including, unfortunately, the average comics retailer and the current distribution models – which c**k-blocks anyone else from having their chance. I shop at one of the better stores that exist and even they only get in a few copies of most Image titles past the launch, let alone anything else. Books are clearly their main revenue now – the weekly pamphlet format looking beyond redundant (but even the likes of Gil Kane and Jack Kirby could see this, back in the 1970′s). Still, none of this is to deny the sheer amount of good comics being produced worldwide – just to say that our current retail model for the mainstream of comics (the direct market) clearly is not working.

WOW, thought I’d get bashed for letting my frustration out. And that’s all it was – I don’t expect anything to change, and agree that that opportunity passed long ago, sadly. I’m not bashing the hobby at all. I’m still *trying* to read something weekly in a vague gesture of support. But I do think the time has come for me to give up on the ghost. The DC relaunch looks to be nothing of the sort, bar a numbers game – same old same old, in fact. Where is the courage?

Guess I’m a reader, not a fan…

“Comic sales falling? Color me not surprised. I’ve been reading these things most of my life, and all these fake deaths, continuity reboots, and most of all by far the damned crossover ‘events’ have just about completely killed it for me. How hard is it to give us a year’s worth of solid stories and character interaction in a regular monthly title, expressing one writer and one artist’s vision, without an endless round robin of creative teams and tie-ins to other titles. ”

QFT

The only books that I read that fit the criteria of a stable creative team are Kirkman’s Invincible & TWD and Vertigo’s Fables & Scalped.

That’s why I’m slowly weaning myself off the monthly pamphlet format. DC’s forthcoming reboot/relaunch is a perfect time for me to step away since they’re cancelling the 4 monthly DC (superhero) books I still bother to buy anymore anyway.

And the way Marvel cancels books every few years anyway I’m sure the few titles I buy from them will be done sooner rather then later.

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