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

January 30, 2018

Go, Read: Rob Salkowitz On Turning Casual Fans Into Hardcore Readers


I enjoyed industry analyst Rob Salkowitz's threading of the needle here on the old casual fans vs. hardcore readers dilemma that conventional wisdom would have us believe is at the heart of many mainstream sales issues. It's a clever article.

I imagine there are characters in the libraries of these publishing houses that could be put to more effective use, no matter how you determine ideal readerships. Second-guessing big-time publishing strategies is one of the individual sports in the nerd decathlon for a reason.

One thing I would wonder after, though, is if the greater context is so different than it was in the '70s or even early '00s. Periods of relative stability with their best-selling titles have in the past allowed companies like Marvel to tear down narratives in less popular titles in a way that made some of their comics very exciting for that break with formula. When those time periods overlapped with new elements being added to mainstream comics expression more generally (violence in '70s, sex in the early '00s), new readers became not just intrigued but hooked.

These days everything's been broken, set and healed multiple times. Each and every title has to get out and push the company car over the profitability line four times a year. If we're in a wider moment I'm not sure what it is... politics, maybe? It's hard to manufacture what used to come out of left field, doubly so without allowing room for that step back on the way to three steps forward. Metaphors that may make sense when standing alone in a sentence or along the rack of a comic shop may simply be confusing lined up one after the other in paragraph form or, let's face it, taking up the whole wall of your favorite store.

I am deeply sorry.
posted 8:25 am PST | Permalink

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