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"Why Letting Comics Fail is the Only Way to Save the Industry


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The absolute best way to get someone interested in reading a comic book is to show them a shelf full of them and let them pick one up that grabs their interest, look inside, and maybe buy it if they feel the urge, and this method is also the easiest way. It requires no elaborate system of payola coverage on niche websites, no private distribution system, no constant carny hucksterism and shallow gimmickry to boost failing sales. All it requires is good comics, which coincidentally happen to be the best thing there is when it comes to getting people to like comics.


But as fucking great as it was to have comics in places like grocery stores, and to have millions of people reading them, major comics publishers (read: Marvel) had a problem. They had to make good comics that people wanted to buy, or else they would be returned to them and Marvel wouldn't make much of a profit. And you can't pay for the cocaine budget of a young Rob Liefeld if you're constantly paying for returned comics.


Now, selling comics in grocery stores was fucking great, if your idea of fucking great is that lots of people end up reading comics. Having comics in places where things other than comics are sold is a remarkably effective way to clue people into the fact that comics are things that exist and which they might be interested in reading. I would venture to say it's the most effective way. More effective than massively popular superhero movies, more effective than hype campaigns on comic book websites, and more effective than shoving a million of them into the latest Loot Crate shipment.


The direct market did a great job of increasing Marvel's profits in the short term, because Marvel had decades worth of equity built up in terms of interest in comic books from people who were introduced to them at news stands, pharmacies, and grocery stores. But as the readership dwindled, with no pathway to bring in new readers, Marvel has had to continuously jack up the price of comics in order to continue to see profit growth from fewer sales. Those jacked up prices in turn make comics even less attractive to new readers and some of the existing ones, causing the readership to shrink further with no chance of growth. New opportunities to replicate the model of the grocery store, such as digital comics, are hampered by a desire not to undercut the direct market, so digital comics remain as prohibitively expensive as paper ones, but with a lot less of the charm.


some great points being made here - and i absolutely get the damage diamond's stranglehold on the direct market has done - but unless we can magically make decent quality paper & ink mass produced in 2016 profitable at $1-2, i just don't know if i see a viable market at retail anywhere. still, interesting article.

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Hm. DC's model is 2.99 -- 3.99 and the summer battle of Rebirth vs Civil War II (4.99+) shows us that readers new and old want that price point. So it makes sense that we need to make paper and ink blah blah easier for the company profitable etc.


...to be honest I found the article hard to read. Maybe it's just how it was written that turned my brain off.


Something we talk about off air a bit and have been debating discussing on the show is this idea of letting things die. Specifically this kinda is about Nintendo, but it could very easily relate to the points made here. Sometimes titans HAVE to fall for real progress to be made. The problem is, the moment you say that - people get all huffy because nostalgia hard-on.


Like no shit, people get really angry about it.


When the 90s/00 comic bust happened, a lot of good came out of it. Companies got their shit together (kinda), but now we're seeing that catering to the collector mentality all over again from that time and it's hurting the industry at a time when they are PRIMED to become a big deal again. Comic movies ARE bringing new people to the medium but the barrier to entry is so high (both in starting off points and cost) that people are turned off immediately from it.


...I feel like i could just keep going with this rant but i'll save you guys the pain and stop here.

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