Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Comic Book Confidential: The Future Of Comics?

Welcome to the show folks...

Today I'm going to take a little dip into an industry I'm not really an expert on, comic book publishing, and post links, and a few little thoughts on them.


DC Comics is moving all their non-publishing operations from New York to Burbank to be closer to their parent company's movie division Warner Bros. Pictures.

The good side of this news is that it will hopefully streamline the film/TV development process for DC properties, which right now seems cursed outside of Batman, and is currently being left behind cinematically by arch-rival Marvel.

The bad side is that a lot of people are losing their jobs, being forced to move to Burbank, and other unpleasantness. Also the Wildstorm Comics line is being retired, but the option of incorporating these characters into the mainstream DCU is being left open, possibly adding a whole new layer to their already head-spinning continuity situation.

Feel free to post your own thoughts on the situation in the comments.


Erik Larsen, creator of
The Savage Dragon, and partner in the Image Comics company has a suggestion that could bring comics out of the specialty store ghetto, and back in convenience stores and magazine racks where they can bring in new readers.

To sum it up for those too lazy to click the
link he's suggesting following a business model that's closer to the Japanese Manga method. A good way to illustrate his argument is that DC comics prints multiple titles all starring Batman every month, as well as spin-offs, crossovers, and special issues. Those books are hated by mainstream retailers because they are small, flimsy, hard to ship, hard to stack in modern magazine racks, and have a profit margin thinner than the paper they're printed on.

Larsen's plan, if I understand it correctly, is to cancel all those monthly titles, break each of their 20-25 page stories into 5 page installments, and combine those installments into a weekly, 60+ page magazine size publication, with a sturdy card-stock cover at roughly twice the price of a standard 'floppy' comic book. Extended stories from these new combined magazines could also still be collected into graphic novels and trade paperbacks as they are now.

Like I said, I don't really know the comics industry the way I know the movie business, so I'd like your opinion of this plan. Do you think it will work? Fail? Let me know.


  1. Larsen had a good idea up until the price: if $3.00 is the standard price for a "standard" comic (it was when I quit collecting about 5 or so years ago), then he's talking a $6.00 book. Every week.

    Maybe if they could keep it at $3.00, they'd have a chance. Also, the storytelling would have to be a little denser (no 2- or 3-panel pages that advance the story only a little) if there are only 5 pages per story per week.

    Sometimes I wonder of the publishers wouldn't do better to simply publish the first three or four "issues" of a story at a giveaway price, and (factoring in the falloff in sales when readers decide to "wait for the collection") then publish the complete story including the unpublished conclusion a month after the cancellation of the "series".

    But then, maybe I've just proved why I wouldn't make a successful publisher...

  2. Dc and marvel needs to do something new with comics as their current plan is not working. When they make more money from licensing their characters for movies and vg's but their book sales are stale, trouble is on the way.

    Big causes of this is..

    Kids are not reading comics, sure they love the games, films and toons but the books are only sold in comic shops that they without a adult can get to and books are just way out of price range when they would rather save that money for the next Halo or Call of Duty.

    Books need to be cheaper and sold in the racks of local drugstores for the price of a value menu cheeseburger.

    When it comes to the books, I rarely buy comics, only in trade paper backs and when I do browse through one, it seem to be reading more ads than anything resembling artwork or a story. It shows where marvel/DC/Dark Horse/etc are getting their real revenue from.

  3. Well, on a sentimental level, the end of Wildstorm is a little sad, but it's probably for the best. Only about three writers could actually do anything worthwhile with that universe, and over the last decade they've all been poached by Joe 'Superpimp' Quesada and employed in making sure that Marvel's world doesn't deviate from it's course straight into the sun - except for Garth Ennis, who got chased out of DC for, uh, being too much like Garth Ennis (I don't know what line 'The Boys' crossed that 'Preacher' didn't, but in the end, it's DC's loss). The characters from Wildstorm have always shown up whenever the heck they wanted in DC continuity up 'til now, so there's really not too much change story-wise going on.

    In the end, while some cool stuff came out of Wildstorm over the years, I'm just gonna have to label the whole line with a great, big 'Over-rated'.

  4. Dirty Dingus Sezs:

    Lived in Japan for 4 years and on the rare moment I'd buy one or three of those monthlies. The size ranged from 400 to 600 PAGES of cheep Ass paper you wouldn't even line the pet shitter with. The average cost for them went from 350 to 800 yen($4~$9). The Hentai (PORN) monthlies cost in the 800~1000!

    Everything within -except the PORN- where series and Not stand alone stories like most if not all comic books and the Last attempt to sell Manga(JP) / Mawha(KO) Bombed this July and it sold for the nutty price of $9!

    Since the time when their own companies De-Balled themselves to peer pressure by removing all the Mature stories out of comic books, this spiraling down the toilet has forever niche'd themselves to specialized "Always Going out of business" Comic book stores that mostly transform into card trading ones~

    To the point: His "explosive plan" will die without even a whisper!

  5. I agree with Dirty Dingus, Marvel should publish superhero porno comics in telephone book manga style.