Marvel Movies are a Success why can't Comics do the Same?
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I'd also say it comes down to quality of story on top of the price.  You have several writers developing a great -script and numerous people tweak it to make it even better.  The few modern comics I've read have not been very well thought out and definitely not in the league of a comic book movie.  Should the compete?  Is it a fair competition?  Probably not since they are different mediums but since they are both competing for similar pools of money they are competing in a way.  People use to get their super hero fix by reading comics - now they don't have to read since they wait a month and another super hero movie pops up.

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I was thinking each movie would have at least one 'cameo' where one of the main characters is reading a real comic that is actually ON the shelves (yes I know movies are filmed in advance, or recently on the shelves), similar to a Stan Lee cameo in each movie.  It doesn't have to be related per se to the story, just like a fun cameo/easter egg where the comic is read or framed or displayed prominently.  Or I guess it could be a relevant key issue with a first appearance or major storyline or something.  Just a wink that tells the people that 'hey comics are fun too!'.

 

Like the 'Collector' could have a comic displayed, or Spiderman or Ned (or both) could be reading a comic, or there's one displayed in Dr Strange's Inner Sanctum, etc, you get the point.

But I guess the ship has sailed on that. 

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I probably haven't bought a newly published comic since 1978. Are they still producing 12 monthly issues per year? How many titles are they putting out compared to say the bronze age at Marvel? The huge number of variant covers would make my head spin as a collector -- same content but different outer wrap just makes me think this has gone the route of Pokemon ("collect them all!").

If the stories, art and even the feel of the books is not as enticing as the older books-- perhaps a change of format and timing might help. Cut the issues per year in half and make the books longer. Give the artists and writers more time to flesh out the stories and create more visually stunning and interesting reads. I'm not advocating going back to pulp-- the new paper seems nicer-- though a throwback issue like some suggest would be cool.

These thoughts are probably not likely or pointless in terms of sales. It seems like what is missing is the old magic of the earlier books and those who created them. The media form is perhaps doomed just like other printed output. But I wonder if gimmicks like variants are just making matters worse-- propping up sales and creating worthless bulk.

Just feeling lucky that I was able to experience the hobby as a kid in the 1970s-- maybe the last time it was meant for kids.

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Distribution is the key for me.  Newsstands arent kid friendly anymore, so put comics in grocery stores near the cash as an impulse purchase.  Kid sees, kid wants.  Eventually, the impulse purchase becomes a routine, and mom will sometimes buy the kid a comic even when she's alone.  The kid will eventually seek out other sources of comics to fill in the gaps.  Isn't that how it's always been?

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5 hours ago, 01TheDude said:

I probably haven't bought a newly published comic since 1978. Are they still producing 12 monthly issues per year? How many titles are they putting out compared to say the bronze age at Marvel? The huge number of variant covers would make my head spin as a collector -- same content but different outer wrap just makes me think this has gone the route of Pokemon ("collect them all!")

There are usually two strategies in economics to get more sales either try to get more new customers or have your old customers buy more.

They are using the classic strategy of having old customers buying more with all those variants covers and new number ones. It has worked. A question would be how long will it work as that fan-base continues to age?

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On ‎5‎/‎6‎/‎2018 at 8:29 AM, 1Cool said:

Anybody have an idea where the $4 goes to?  Is the $2 that goes to the seller a bigger percent than in the past?  Do artist and writers get paid better?  Or is it mostly the better paper increasing the cost?

There are some inflation online calculators you can check out.   When I started collecting, comics were $0.20-0.25.  They should be $0.90-0.95 today - still pocket change.  It's true that energy/paper inflation costs have probably been higher than the average.  But I believe there are two main factors.  Same reason cost of going to see a movie or your favourite sports team has gone up so drastically. Arnold wants 50 million per movie, and my favourite hockey player wants 20 million a season.  We all pay for their ridicules salaries. Also, since new comic sales continue to drop (thanks to direct distribution), the price per comic needs to go up to maintain profit. Anyways, my $0.02.

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For us, new comic book sales are now at their lowest level since... well, pretty much forever.  The leveled off the last 2-3 years, but now seem to be declining once again.  Another area shop that has been around for years recently canceled carrying new comics altogether to concentrate on mail-order collectibles.  The employee time it takes to put together the monthly orders, type it all into the system, unpack and count the comics every week, pull all of the customer files, process damages and returns, pull last month's titles and restock the comic wall... it all now costs more then the comics bring in.  They are essentially loss-leaders at this point.  And graphic novel sales... which were once quite substantial... are now virtually non-existent.  Many, many reasons for this... some have been detailed here, some not.  But no... this trend will never be reversed at this point... regardless of what the publishers do.

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15 minutes ago, Bookery said:

For us, new comic book sales are now at their lowest level since... well, pretty much forever.  The leveled off the last 2-3 years, but now seem to be declining once again.  Another area shop that has been around for years recently canceled carrying new comics altogether to concentrate on mail-order collectibles.  The employee time it takes to put together the monthly orders, type it all into the system, unpack and count the comics every week, pull all of the customer files, process damages and returns, pull last month's titles and restock the comic wall... it all now costs more then the comics bring in.  They are essentially loss-leaders at this point.  And graphic novel sales... which were once quite substantial... are now virtually non-existent.  Many, many reasons for this... some have been detailed here, some not.  But no... this trend will never be reversed at this point... regardless of what the publishers do.

I know people do not like to talk about the "bad" in our industry but I appreciate the current new book market report.  The one store in my area that seems to be doing well from a new books standpoint is Carol and John.  I think they had had good success in using social media and making their store a destination with special events and artists signings.  I have no clue what there sales figures look like but they seem busy when i go in.

I'm not sure if your business model is a secret but what do you plan on doing?  Follow the other store and get rid of new books at your store?  Only buy enough copies to meet your pull list?

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My 2 cents

 

  • Move to trades/graphic novels. Most people these days prefer to binge on things.
  • Change distribution to larger retailers. Most people don't like to go to comic stores
  • Stick with creators for at least 2 years
  • If you can't stick to  a creative team for 2 years then don't publish as singles and publish as trades/graphic novels
  • Let creators create. Editorially mandated crossovers and storylines are typically
  • Try more Image/DarkHorse/Valiant comics. Marvel/DC Superhero comics are stale. There is a lot of good quality stuff being done by other publishers.

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I have said it a 1000+ times...Why they don't promote the actual comics and/or Find a Comic Shop or whatever before the actual movie as part of the commercials/trailers is beyond me...I mean you have a captive audience...Seems like obvious cross promotion opportunity to me that is being completely missed...

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27 minutes ago, The_Endless said:
  • Try more Image/DarkHorse/Valiant comics. Marvel/DC Superhero comics are stale. There is a lot of good quality stuff being done by other publishers

A good idea, because quite a few of the better writers now work at Image on creator-owned titles; Brian K Vaughan, Greg Rucka, Rick Remender, Mark Millar, Ed Brubaker.

Edited by Ken Aldred

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8 minutes ago, Wall-Crawler said:

I have said it a 1000+ times...Why they don't promote the actual comics and/or Find a Comic Shop or whatever before the actual movie as part of the commercials/trailers is beyond me...I mean you have a captive audience...Seems like obvious cross promotion opportunity to me that is being completely missed...

Not that easy.

For example, the simplified version of Thanos' personality that you see in the film is quite different to the deeply psychological, philosophical, nihilistic complexity of Starlin's comic book version, which would just be throwing a casual filmgoer in at the deep end too much.

Edited by Ken Aldred

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Those in charge at Marvel don't care about making a great comic book anymore. They are there to promote a political agenda. Promoting their agenda plus toxic creators who attack fans equal less sales and increased prices. 

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11 minutes ago, Ken Aldred said:

Not that easy.

For example, the simplified version of Thanos' personality that you see in the film is quite different to the deeply psychological, philosophical, nihilistic complexity of Starlin's comic book version, which would just be throwing a casual filmgoer in at the deep end too much.

I don't think the intent is to get movie goers hooked to the Thanos stories (it would be nice but not 100% necessary).  You could give away all types of comics at a comic book movie to get people hooked to seeking out comic books and get people reading comic books.  I know a big dealer in Pittsburgh was interested in buying up any long box of drek for $15-$20 a long because he puts his store location stamp on the cover and gives them away as promotion material.  Cheaper for him to pay $0.08 a piece for a comic then putting together large flyers and most of those go directly into the trash.  Kids today love free comics (based on the response i get when giving them away for Halloween) so I do agree they are missing an opportunity by not getting comics into peoples hands right as they leave a comic book movie.

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Once Marvel's previous (devoid of) brain trust decided to go scorched earth on the company's entire 50ish year history of main characters, the print decline was inevitable.  Four catalysts immediately come to mind:

1. A large portion of Marvel's established fan base was going to lash out at such drastic and seemingly pointless change, not only with their mouths/keyboard but also with their wallets. 

2. The transition from "old" to "new" was such overt pandering, and done in such a laughably bad manner (art/writing/PR, the whole gamut), that it was ripe for mockery. 

3. With the somewhat exception of X-23, not one of these "new" characters was or is being seen on the big screen in the role they were playing in print.  So the kids who should be the new generation of readers were never going to connect the MCU movies to the MCU comics.

4. Relaunch after relaunch after relaunch with anywhere from 6 to 600 variants of each issue.  No thanks.

I haven't bought a new release since I called it a day after unfortunately subjecting myself to the hilariously bad "death" of Wolverine storyline, so when the Legacy re-launch was announced I didn't care in the slightest.  The damage was already irreparably done in my book.  However, I will say it is a bit of shame to hear that Marvel basically went reverse scorched earth in trying to make things normal again.  It would have been nice to see Marvel get the print division back on track, but it seems the new crew at the top clearly didn't learn anything from the first screw up. 

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1 hour ago, 1Cool said:

I know people do not like to talk about the "bad" in our industry but I appreciate the current new book market report.  The one store in my area that seems to be doing well from a new books standpoint is Carol and John.  I think they had had good success in using social media and making their store a destination with special events and artists signings.  I have no clue what there sales figures look like but they seem busy when i go in.

I'm not sure if your business model is a secret but what do you plan on doing?  Follow the other store and get rid of new books at your store?  Only buy enough copies to meet your pull list?

As long as the losses don't get too deep... we'll keep them going awhile longer... loss leaders can still attract customers in for other products.  We do a pretty good business in vintage comics, and the games division is still strong (though widely dependent upon the manufacturers to keep a constant flow of decent product).  But in the end, the physical comic is an outdated format.  After 550 years of thriving, the book market pretty much collapsed in less than 10 years.  Manga went out of fashion over the course of a single summer a few years back.  Big Little Books, Pulps, even magazines... formats and products of bygone generations.  Years ago I could get $5 for back issues of Playboy... $10 or more for '60s issues.  Last year, after failing to draw interest in them at 50-cents apiece, we tossed 2,000 Playboy issues going back to 1962 in the dumpster.  The magazine boxes we saved... worth more than the magazines themselves!

Beyond that, one has to find ways of cutting costs.  We replaced all of our fluorescent lights with LEDs, saving over $500 per month.  We once had a staff of 10.... now it's just 5 of us.  Our one building is now fully paid-off, and the other has only 4 years to go.  There are a host of issues I could go into... but this is not a forum that takes kindly to "walls of text".

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I go back to how I got hooked on comics as a kid in the 90s. Grocery stores and convenience stores. 

The only reason I started reading Spidey was because my mom bought me a comic to keep me busy while she was grocery shopping. Then a couple weeks later at a convenience store I decided to spend my candy money on another Spider-man comic because I liked the first one so much. Here I was with part 1 and part 3 of a six part story (Blood Brothers for anyone curious). For the next month I would ride my bike every day to the pharmacy and convenience store and check the racks for the other parts of the story. Eventually I got everything except part 2. My parents then drove me to a comic store where I found part 2. Next thing you know they are taking me there once a month and I was hooked!

The point of that story is there is no entry point for kids nowadays. There are no comics at 7-11 or the grocery store. I think the solution is simple. Produce a weekly comic with multiple stories (For Marvel maybe an Avengers story, Spidey story, rotating story featuring a different hero every issue). Price it as cheaply as possible, and stock it in every grocery store, pharmacy and convenience store you can. 

They may not make a profit off that comic but they will be grabbing a whole new generation of readers.

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6 minutes ago, Bookery said:

There are a host of issues I could go into... but this is not a forum that takes kindly to "walls of text".

Please do, as a larger retailer you have insight into the comic market that most of us don't. I, for one, would love to read more about the state of things from your perspective.

Your Playboy anecdote and evidence of declining new book sales is a great caution to those of us who may be overconfident in the future of the back issue market. On a related note, I had a large box of 1930's pulps (westerns and romance) and was shocked at the pittance I was offered at the two shops I carted them to. It doesn't take a big stretch of the imagination to see people offering 50 cents apiece for 12 cent Thors or Hulk in the near future....or eventually throwing in the towel while simultaneously throwing them in the dumpster out back. 

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