Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

November 30, 2009

Prominent Retailer Buddy Saunders Doubles Down On Arguments That Comics Lacks Books For Kids

Over at the comics business news and analysis site, the prominent comics retailer Buddy Saunders revisits the notion of there being no kids comics for people to buy by pointing out that some retailers have expanded their inventory to include prose books that appeal to kids and that the prose industry has done a better job than the comics industry of meeting this readership. Saunders is an extremely prominent Direct Market retailer, a potential head on the Mount Rushmore Of Direct Market Retailers, so I think he needs to be listened to here.

Unfortunately, what he's done is essentially lashed an argument already exposed as "there aren't kids comics of the very specific kind that I recall when I bought comics as a child and demand to sell now" to a standard of "these kids comics initiatives of the very specific kind of comics that I recall when I was a kid and demand to sell now need to work as well as other initiatives in other industries aimed at kids." I mean, wow. As is the case with most arguments, if you define everything in very specific terms, you're going to win those arguments. I agree with Buddy Saunders: there will never be kids comics exactly like there were when his generation of retailers were kids that are going to work as well as current initiatives aimed at kids from major book publishers.

At the same time, I can also safely say that the entire nation will never again be held captive by the radio shenanigans of Fibber McGee and Molly.

So where does that leave us? It leaves us with a lot of all ages comics that could be sold and a lot of shops that won't even consider selling them because they're not exactly the way they'd prefer them to be: pre-existing best-sellers that celebrate a self-conception so specific it has its own smell. Saunders has partly re-defined the argument that the comics he would prefer not to sell and which many of his peers won't even begin to consider selling don't count because they don't sell well. The ironic thing is that this general attitude -- and I'm certain this is voiced by Saunders more than it's exemplified in his stores, but let's not begin to think one single second it's not exemplified in a lot of stores -- provides no one that might be in a position to make comics closer to what these sellers say they'd like to see any reason to believe that they should invest heavily in that kind of comic. Saunders wins; comics loses.

Postscript: I only wish it were as laughably simplistic as Saunders arguing there aren't enough comics for kids; if that were the case, I'd agree with him.
posted 3:00 pm PST | Permalink

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