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

April 9, 2013

Go, Listen: Talking To Tim Young About Comics Sales


I spoke to Tim Young at the Deconstructing Comics podcast here about comics expanding its business base, getting more asses into seats. I think that's a good conversation to have, although it's a difficult one, too. I'm not sure that I have any answers, and I'm probably pretty hilarious in a Nelson Muntz point-and-laugh way trying to talk about broad business concerns at 6 in the morning or whenever the hell we did it. It was a couple of weeks ago.

I do feel pretty strongly about one element of my basic take on such issues, though: building an audience for comics may be as much about adding 200,000 passionate customers than 20 million casual ones, primarily because I like business models where money goes to the creators involved as opposed to a) no money going to those people, b) money going elsewhere outright, c) some sort of cultural capital being raised in which the creator may not be able to participate when it's finally cashed in, and I'm a little more confident a devoted audiences gets creators to that place in more efficient and rewarding fashion. In other words, I'm more interested in people actually buying comics as opposed to there being an abstract audience of comics buyers, and I'm not sure this is always a distinction people make. In fact, I think there was a time in comics culture where that didn't matter to comics fans, where they'd rather people just stop making fun of comics more than they wanted more people purchasing them. To put it yet another way: I think there are models that build audiences for creators and I think there are models that build awareness of brands; I don't have much use for the latter.

Also worth asking is whether or not we're in a time when organizing things by "comics" is a fruitful pursuit at all, if we're not all better off building an audience for individual things rather than an entire medium. I very much doubt Tim and I talked about that, though, because we'd still probably be on the phone.
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink

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