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According to this article, declining sales and increased costs, as well as the much more profitable revenues from films and TV series, may mean that Marvel and DC would eventually cease publishing comic books at all.
The link is broken, but I do have a couple thoughts.
First, I hate the tendency to equate Marvel and DC with comics. Comics is larger than those two companies. And, in fact, as a whole, the comics industry is staying pretty steady. Comics are available in a lot of places, in a lot of formats.
What's in danger right now is the direct market. And it's possible it may collapse in a few more years. I don't think things are really as dire as it seems there, either, but yeah, the direct market's got some problems to overcome. And its collapse would kill Marvel and DC, and would do some major damage to all the other publishers who get books out through the direct market. There are a few other major publishers who might be able to survive through trades, though.
But I doubt Marvel or DC have any current intentions to stop publishing. They're still profitable.
There's also the rise of crowdfunded comics which might be what saves the industry
It's really just a symptoms of print media's loss of popularity to the internet and television. After all, novels are safe because they're taught in English classes all over America. Hell, I remember joking about how AP Literature and Composition was just a glorified book club. Comics lack the luxury of being accepted as classroom material. To the general public, comics are for kids who believe that 90% of them are just POW! WHAM! SPLAT! fests. To the comic readers, some of the stuff in them like Blackest Night, Necrosha, and so many more are definitely not for kids. That's not even getting into Vertigo and that terrible excuse for porn known as Marvel Max. That's not even getting into piracy of comics. After all, you can give copyright strikes to you're blue in the face, but comic books are pirated so easily.
The medium of comics will never die so long as there are people around.
The way comics are distributed in America, however... its days are probably numbered. Not that I care. When it finally dies something newer and better will likely spring from the ashes.
(Layton says in the article: “When was the last time you saw a Mickey Mouse comic?” They’re still being made, pal - in Europe. Not incidentally, the way comics are published in France nowadays will most likely be the future, if you ask me...)
The future of comics is in stuff like Raina Tegelmeier's work, Image's big mainstream hits, and March - stuff that is more for the book store than the comic shop.
I suspect that Marvel and DC will eventually fully adapt to this - they make forays into direct-to-graphic-novel publishing from time to time, with decent results. We may see individual issues die, but comics will still exist.
Right now, DC is experimenting with a line of 100 page comics to be sold at Wal-Mart, and Marvel has, for instance, licensed a reprint digest line to Archie (because Archie has so much experience with digests) to be sold in supermarkets.
I doubt comics will go away, but as has been said, I think the way they're distributed will change. I don't remember who or where, but an English comics publisher put forth a prospective publishing plan that he felt would help re-invigorate sales at the Big 2; it involved only having a few ongoing monthly titles—like Superman and Batman, for instance— and then a bunch of quarterlies and annuals that would be anthologies—like, he suggested, All-Star Western or Adventure Comics and so forth.
One of the questions a reworking of publishing and distribution will raise is what kind of hit are the creators going to take.
If we are talking about sales for over the counter comics, yeah its pretty fucked at this point what with the combination of pricing for said books and how trades is the better way of obtaining the full story for less the overall price.
Otherwise, this is pretty much just a weird continuing transitional period for the buisiness as more of these books are being read digitally by the audience and people prefer to buy multiple issues trades or omnibuses than a single page issue. I’m sure once the big companies realize where to invest their money on for comic distributions the industry as a whole won’t collapsed like it almost did in the 90s.
I know correlation doesn't equal causation, but individual issues sold better before the days of binge watching television. It's how we really digest our entertainment. We want it all at once, start to end. We really don't want to wait a week in suspense for the next episode/issue. It's really the mentality of the buyers.
Note that DC and Marvel, for some ungodly reason, only measure sales by preorders of floppies, so unless you are Ms. Marvel, your life depends on the increasingly niche direct market.
Assuming Marvel and DC were to switch to a short of anthology format for most of their books, how you want them to do it? What characters go together in which books? Do different books come out at different times? Are different magazines aimed at different audiences?
General question, but genuinely curious.
How are they made in France? I'm no expert, but I love The Quest for the Time Bird and Moving Fortress and Lone Sloane, and I've found little gems like Second Moon. Do European comics bundle them together in magazines like Heavy Metal?
Comics are done in album form - that is, one story comprises a whole book. Think of any Franco-Belgian series that's famous (and any that isn't) and you'll find this is generally how people read them. Comics in magazine form are on their last legs over there.
The thing is, that works fine for indie comics and standalones, but it doesn't work as well for shared universes like Marvel or DC due to how their books tend to cross over and interact all the Goddamn time. Nevermind the events. I could see it working if they did away with events altogether (something I'd actually be down for), but not until then.
I should clarify it's only the future should there be a massive change in the way we experience comics culture. A lot of things will have to change. Like I said in the post above, the whole thing will probably have to burn down so something better can rise from the ashes.
Should comics go from issue to album form and nothing else changes, nothing really will change. DC and Marvel would find a way to work events into that form if they could.
Edited by Aldo930 on Jul 14th 2018 at 7:30:09 AM
Okay, like Tintin or Valerian and Laureline.
The LA Times published this four days ago. It concerns the elephant in the room that superhero films make billions a year with everyone wanting a piece of the pie while the comic industry keeps publishing stuff that best case scenario, will get 100,000 readers, and with publicized let downs like Batman #50, usually averages half.
This quote hit hard - “The movies aren’t rescuing the comics, they’re replacing them.”
Edited by Beatman1 on Jul 17th 2018 at 5:11:47 AM
I can see, possibly, the end of monthly comics, with comics taking a hint from Hellboy and Astro City in publishing arcs as mini-series, and later, once enough pages are achieved, publishing them in collections.
Say it with me: Europe Is Not A Country. It is a continent with multiple countries in it.
As Also said, French, Belgian, and I think Spanish comics are generally sold as albums - you know, trade paperbacks. Graphic novels have almost entirely replaced floppies in those countries.
In Britain, comics are sold as weekly anthologies; the last four holdouts are Viz, The Beano, 2000 AD, and Phoenix, the last of which only appears to be available by subscription. Popular series may be collected into trades; in this way, the British distribution system is most similar to the way comics are sold in Japan and Korea.
Italy still seem to have a decent market in floppies, though digests are the most popular format.
Ireland's fledgling industry is a weird mix of self-published American-style floppies and historical and mythological graphic novels, the historical ones tending to edge into edutainment territory.
Beatman's post brings to mind an observation Moviebob has made a few times - Marvel Comics nowadays serves primarily as a testbed for movie ideas. I'm not sure I agree completely, but it certainly makes sense to test a concept on an audience of 100,000 than on one of several million.
@kkhohoho: CLAMP managed to do a densely-linked universe with their mangas, and Marvel has successfully done it with their three movies a year (so has DC, though not to the same quality). Extensive cross-references are totally feasible with a few graphic novels a year; actually, it would probably be even easier, since the writers and editors don't have to deal with the hassle of concurrently-published titles. Even events can work; again, looking at the movies, the Avengers movies and Captain America: Civil War are clearly event comics in movie form. Heck, that might be the best option for converting team-up comics to graphic novels; they're huge stories that need all the heroes to come together, which only come out every year or two.
I honestly wouldn’t mind if the major comics publishers got rid of the current (and decades old) format altogether. It’s kind of outdated at this point. This is just for me personally, but I will only read trades and omnibuses. It’s so much easier. I can buy 10 trades at $15-20 a piece and read an entire storyline, whereas with the single issues I’d be paying $3.50 a piece for 100 issues for the same amount of story. That’s over twice as expensive and they even include ads! That’s crazy to me. I don’t understand how people can put up with that. I’m not much of a collector when it comes to things like this, though, so I guess I just don’t have the same perspective.
I'm not too crazy about collecting myself, seeing that it did doom the industry.
I do get the floppies, but over here they're reprints that package three American issues into one. The value is actually decent.
I'm guessing that's also why the trades are so much cheaper - the floppies are sold at a higher margin and have ads to bring in the big bucks to pay the writers and artists, and then the trades don't have to pay such big royalties which allows them to be cheaper.
Still, since French comics are doing quite well with just trades and no floppies, and Irish comics look to follow the same route, there's no reason the Americans can't figure out some way to make it work.
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