« on: March 5, 2004, 12:41 PM »
I have a few things I'd like to rant about if people will entertain my thoughts...
1. Who is buying/reading/collecting comics besides me? What titles do you like right now? I would like to recommend a few titles I find to be extremely well written and drawn (outside of the Dark Horse SW comics, which vary). They are te following: The Losers (Wildstorm), Black Hole (Indy), Conan (DH), Batman: City of Light (DC/The Pander Brothers!), The Escapist (DH), The Moth (DH), Plastic Man (DC)... Notice please the lack of Marvel (other than 1602, I have no interest in Marvel).
2. The Slow Death and Immense Decay of Comics as we have come to know them...
Brief History: Comics come into being in book form from collected dailies. Sequencial art and storytelling becomes a lucrative business with unlimited possibilities. Heroes are born, heroes go to war while America is at war and they are popular and distributed everywhere. Comics have a tough time tring to recover from the end of the war. Horror and True Crime comics are the focus and they are eventually censored. Then we see ridiculous monster comics and then back to super heroes. The writing becomes very good and Stan Lee humanizes the hero. Comics become popular and are widely distributed. The 1980s. comics boom and start selling millions of copies per issues having to do several printings to sate the demand. They are at convenience stores, super markets, retail, drug stores. They are out there!!! They are advertising by being a fixture. Specialty shops are for the serious collector, but remain fairly covert.
Then Marvel has a great idea. Let's focus on the collector and forget the kids. Marvel decides that all they need is several thousand people to buy 3-10 copies of 'collectible' issues and they will do just fine. These select people invest as planned, but soon realize that there isn't a market for their 'collectibles' because anyone else interested has them or is trying to get rid of them. They stop buying comics. Marvel prints the few million or so comics expecting to have the continued effect and no one buys them. The market is flooded and there is no more demand. This makes Marvel focus exclusively on specialty shops that order and pay up front and the distribution is taken from the public eye. Marvel goes bankrupt and almost kills the industry because the other companies followed Marvels lead. Indies fold, go under and suffer. Comic books are on life support.
They slowly creep back but stay limited to the specialty shops. Advertising by putting them in every retail store is gone. People don't buy comics unless they hunt them down in specialty shops. Graphic novels become the focus and the monthly books cut corners, artists and writers are hired for their speed and ability for meeting deadlines. The quality drops. Comics go from selling up to 2 million per issue in the 1980s and 1990s to considering good sales on a book being 15,000.
The movies come out and out and out and nothing is done to publicize the comic book industry. Comics are kept in a private world. 250+ million are viewing these movies and no one is buying comics because they can't get them. They are not there...
Rumors ripple through the industry that Marvel wants to focus solely on graphic novels and continue to focus on large corp. bookstore chains buying up front. The idea to stop printing monthly 22-24 page books is considered and could possibly come to be from Marvel.
DC stays true to form and doesn't want to shake things up. They are as concerned with quality as they are with profit. They sign the industtries best creators to contracts and recruit a house of legends by 2004. Dark Horse also stays with the comic as an art form concept nad continues to put out quality books. Image is about the art and not the writing. But the art is worth the cover price.
Comics are hanging by a thin thread.
3. I love comics as a creator and a reader and a collector. I hope something is done to promote the industry better and to make comics more accessible to the average Joe.
I saw a kid (15 or 16) in a Borders bookstore reading a comic the other day. He had a mohawk going and looked fairly nerdy (who am I to judge). He was reading a graphic novel (more underground or independent).
I asked him why he was reading that comic and he said he liked the writing. I asked him if he collected or knew of a few titles and he said no. He was just starting to get into it. I asked if he knew where a local specialty shop was and he said... No.
My point is... The fan is out there, but the comics are not. This is going to be the demise if it is not amended. This art form must live on! I do not know if there is really anything we can do as fans. Just thought I'd air that out because it depresses me and makes me quite angry.
Hope the message is clear here. I tend to ramble when I'm all worked up.