Robot 6

Quote of the day | ‘Let’s stop talking about how this is going to end’

“It’s huge — social media and the way we speak to each other. The opportunities are just fantastic out there. Let’s stop talking about how this is going to end because I’ve watched this try to end three or four times already, and it doesn’t end.”

Dan Buckley, Marvel’s president and publisher, insisting the comics market will continue to grow again as long as compelling stories are being produced

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20 Comments

Funny, that’s how I felt about their stories.

It’s why I gave up superheroes, except for Ultimate Spider-Man, which DID end, and IS fantastic, and full of new opportunities…

“nsisting the comics market will continue to grow again as long as compelling stories are being produced”

with the ironic picture of the maxi Avengers vs X-men image…..

The thing that kind of gets missed in statements like Buckley’s is that it kind of begs the question: If the industry HASN’T been growing, does that mean that the stories haven’t been compelling?

The super-hero comic book industry (as opposed to the indies, which I believe has seen growth as webcomics have become more accepted) has definitely not been growing in the past decade, which means one of two things have to be true: 1) Either the statement is wrong, and industry growth is dependent on more than just good stories; or 2) The stories of the past decade just haven’t been good enough to develop and grow an audience, and Marvel’s & DC’s entire publishing strategy has been just plain WRONG.

Personally, I’m going with #2.

I’ve always heard creators say “if you don’t like it, then don’t read it.” Well, droves of readers have abandoned comics over the years, so it seems that a large percentage have been telling those creators precisely that.

Wanted to add but the publish button got in the way– It’s not that we are ” talking about how this is going to end” but it’s that we are talking about how we wish it were going to be better.

Let’s shift the conversation of the industry ending to creating a strategy for making Marvel and DC end. They are the problem with the industry, from the awful stories they create to their unethical business model and practices.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

January 16, 2012 at 4:31 pm

I agree with Mr. Buckley.

However, I do have to say that comic book distribution and marketing is BROKEN.

I love my LCS, but it shouldn’t be the ONLY place I can get print comics.

Listen, Marvel and DC Comics are both owned by large mega-corporations now (Disney and Warner Bros., respectively): is there ANY reason why one or both of those corporations couldn’t buy out a bunch or retail space in malls around the country and create special Marvel or DC STORES?

Why the Hell not? Disney already has a series of Disney specialty stores (at least they did the last time I was in the mall…), so what’s so weird about that? They don’t even have to sell just comics: there’s TONS of swag they could sell in these things. Movies, t-shirts, games, fridge magnets, freakin’ anything!

Get comics (and related merchandise) to where people can see and buy them, and they’ll sell.

Also, I should be able to hear about upcoming stories and events from websites and media outlets that aren’t SOLELY related to comics.

Again, Marvel and DC are owned by HUGE companies: why aren’t I seeing TV commercials about big storylines or new series? Everything is advertised EVERYWHERE nowadays. To try and advertise exclusively through other comics or comics-related websites is STUPID.

To coin the phrase, how are you going to convert anybody if all you’re doing is preaching to the choir? It makes no sense!

Yes, day-and-date digital is a good idea (mind you, the day comics go exclusively digital is the day I stop reading), but, due to the nature of the electronic/internet market, the only people who are going to get those comics/apps are the people that are LOOKING FOR THEM.

Yes, a lot of my rambling applies mainly to Marvel and DC, but they’re the only two I read nowadays.

Sermon over.

There were Warner Brothers stores at one time, and some of them did sell comics, but they went under. Many Disney stores have gone under as well. Mall rent is expensive and sales from comics will not begin to support it. And of course if the Marvel stores and the DC stores only sell their own comics, they are eliminating profits from at least half the market. Let’s add the fact that local comic stores will resent the competition. What Marvel and DC, and the smaller companies need to try to do is to get their comics into bookstores and other retail locations. Even that, I believe, is not enough to save the industry as we know it. Mr. Buckley says that the industry will survive as long as compelling stories are told. If his idea of a compelling story is Avengers vs. X-Men (yawn) I can see why the industry is dying.

Actually, the Disney Stores in my area do carry a bit of Marvel product. High-end action figures and figurines, mostly. No comics or graphic novels, I believe. This could be because Disney Stores don’t carry many books in general, or it might be because the current Marvel titles don’t agree with the Disney brand’s family friendly-nature.

I have seen the Muppet magazine collections in there recently, hitch were published by Marvel but originally produced by Boom! Studios.

Tom, Store Manager

January 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Sure. Comics as a media won’t end. Just the stores.

Print business is going the way of record shops. Period.

Ignoring the DC stunt re-boot (which is dying on the vine…but thankfully DC made their #2′s – #4′s returnable) and Death of Peter Parker, the highest selling comic non-event/first issue was Green Lantern at an average of 75,500 copies a month. That’s HORRIBLE!

And it’s NOT about compelling stories. Writers and artists are producing masterworks compared to the artistic blight of the HUGE 90′s boom, let’s not kid ourselves. It’s simply the new ‘social media’ that is killing physical single issue comics. Kids are being brought up on digital comics and teens/adults are downloading from pirate sites or ordering trade paperbacks off sites like Amazon. The average comic store will never recieve the retail discounts on books to compete with the likes of Amazon’s retail discount or free/stolen downloading. Yes, it’s the nature of today’s beast, but please don’t act like the physical market is due for a sudden resurgence or even a slow growth. It’s a shrinking violet who’s day is slowly ending.

Very sad.

Regarding advertising:

It’s a nice idea, but TV advertising for comics just isn’t viable because it’s too large an investment for too small of a return. The reality of e modern super-hero comic audience is that we’re getting older, and we already know what we like, what we want to read and what we don’t. If you want anecdotal proof of that, just look at OMAC. It was pretty much hailed as the third or fourth best book of the New 52… by those who read it. But not enough people did, and now it’s gone. Would a heavy push on FX or even Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block been able to help that title any better than a grass roots word-of-mouth campaign could?

Plus–and this always seems to get ignored–almost no prose book gets TV ads because they simply don’t work. I can’t remember the last time I saw a TV ad for any kind of book outside of a Time-Life series. Writers don’t do commercials; they do interviews or conventions. Regardless of whether I agree with Buckley or not, the truth is that this interview with The New York Times will bring more long-term readers to Marvel than The Avengers movie will.

“– Dan Buckley, Marvel’s president and publisher, insisting the comics market will continue to grow again as long as compelling stories are being produced”

I would also like to know what is meant by “continue to grow again” when the comics market has been steadily shrinking for years. It it continues on its current trajectory it will shrink, not grow.

On the Disney stores-they could carry a small selection of all ages titles, but as the parent of a 7 year old girl I can tell you they are the primary clientele of the Disney stores. Regular comics fans would not be caught dead going in one to buy their comics, but I guess the point would be to go after new fans, not established ones. I still think it would be a short-lived experiment.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

January 16, 2012 at 8:13 pm

I can understand how the mall shop idea I threw out there (probably) wouldn’t work: it seems malls in general aren’t doing as well as they were 10-15 years ago.

My main point was just that the large comic companies need to do more to get more people (and certainly younger readers) exposed to, reading and involved with comics.

That’s where I see the biggest failing of everyone in the industry.

I mean, even if the big companies wanted to throw some money behind LCS’s to place ads before big superhero movies at their local theatres (because most LCS’s can’t afford a heckuva lotta advertising), it’d show that they’re at least trying to expose some of the people that are enjoying their characters and stories where they can find more.

Heck, I’d even accept the comic book equivalent of GameStop, in terms of a national comic-centric retailer.

Or how about putting some digest-size collections back in grocery stores? How much money does Archie Comics make off that model? It may not be gangbusters, but they’re getting eyeballs on their product. I recall Marvel did some digest-size collections of some all-ages titles a while back … and sold them almost exclusively through LCS’s. What’s the point of that?

Sorry if I seem a little erratic: it just drives me nuts that companies with characters that people are CLEARLY interested in (based on box office numbers) aren’t trying harder to get some of these people to consume their primary product (comics).

Second sermon over!

I want comic shops to survive and be healthy. That’s probaly a sentiment shared by many people who love the medium of comics. The doomsaying doesn’t come from animosity in many cases–it comes instead from pain of watching something we love systematically destroy itself.

* Sigh *

It seems a week doesn’t go by that we don’t see an article or a quote sounding “the end of comics” and then various comments or remarks dredge out the same old tired “answers” to the problem. Most notably the old canard of “Sell them at more stores, other than comic shops”.

First; Comics will NEVER die. Telling stories in drawings form, whether by a panel or various panels will never go away. People will always use this time honored way of entertaining folks.

BUT-

The monthly/bi-monthly version of stapled periodicals will die.

Why?

The standard form of comic books, that began over 70-80 years ago were created as a simple form (aimed mostly for kids) of entertainment. They were reasonably priced and offered a variety of reading enjoyment. The paper it was printed on was cheap, but was good enough to give the reader a good solid read, complete entertaining stories by professional artist & writers and give the comic company enough of a profit to continue.

But what do we have today? Monthly comics printed on expensive paper costing a ridiculous amount of money (in contrast to what you get) for, a CHAPTER of a story. Most every issue (especially those books from the two major companies) contain insular characters and stories that make it near impossible for a new customer to try the product. And while the industry began by offering comics that were suitable for readers of all ages the majority of work their producing today are aimed at only a small, inbred audience that will never grow, but eventually will die off.

IF the comic industry is really interested in continuing with this (IMO archaic) practice of monthly comics, here’s what they need to do:

• Drastically reduce the cost of a 20 page comic. Anything over a $1 for such a small offering of entertainment will never allow the audience to grow.

• To reduce the cost, go back to newsprint. Newsprint was fine for a quick, monthly read. With the exception of the horrible flexo experiment in the 1980′s, newsprint was an acceptable form to read. As long as the stories are well written and drawn, the type of paper should not matter.

• NO MORE MONTHLY CHAPTERS!! For god sake, this is the easiest problem to fix. Tell a COMPLETE story every month. A professional writer can tell a complete story, even if it’s a chapter of a larger tale. A monthly reader should be able to get a beginning, middle & end for every monthly purchase.

• Trades. Stories can still be collected in trades. In fact, since the originals are on newsprint, the trades with it’s slick paper, will offer readers a different way to see the original story.

I could go on and on, (good lord I’ve gone on too long as it is) but the solution to the comics industry is pretty simple. Fix your own house FIRST. Your product is broken. The monthly comic as of 2012 is a indecipherable mess that will continue to cater to a dwarfish audience unless real steps are taken to fix it. Once that’s done will they be able to present it to other venues so that it’s audience will grow.

@Richard J. Marcej
Those are my sentiments exactly!!!!

Maybe it’s time those comic fans who do want to help grow the industry started a grassroots movement to get the industry to change, instead of the industry trying to do its own “grassroots” movement.

I agree with Mr. Marcej COMPLETELY. The current model is unsustainable. As a customer I’d rather just wait for a TPB and pay 20.00 for 100-200 pages than pay 3.00-5.00 for 20 pages.

As an aspiring creator making a monthly (or even bi-monthly) issue that looks professional print-wise is a pain in the ass and not worth the printing costs. However I fear it’s like the movie industry where we can’t go back from computer generated effects. It would be hard to move backwards to newsprint without a borderline legendary creative team standing behind the initial releases. Either that or go straight for kids and parents with a completely disposable (has to be earth friendly this time around) and cheap form of entertainment that helps kids read.

Either way I blame the Big 2 being IP farms for movies and Diamond being the only distributor. Nepotism is bad for business.

@Richard J. Marcej –ditto.
What are the biggest complaints EVERY time I have tried to get somebody into comics?

Price is too much, no beginning or ending to the comic itself and shiny paper with dark coloring that overpowers and covers up the art.

Same complaints over and over for years and years and none of them ever buy more than a couple issues.

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