August 7, 2017
Not Comics: Megan McArdle On Aficionado Culture
. My friend Gil Roth asked if there are any lessons to be figured out for comics in McArdle's article. I would say, "Sure." Articles like that tend to have any number of applicable individual insights: it's just the nature of writing on these subjects.
I don't think there are barriers in the making of comics becoming more complex. My hunch -- shared by others -- is more people are making comics at a professional level than ever before. If there are indeed some barrier points for the way comics are made deriving from complexity, some of that is catering to a specific kind of customer or to a final effect that is not placing a new work in a new reader's hands. This happens in a variety of ways. DC sidestepped a one-movie, one-book strategy for this year's Wonder Woman movie and its bunches of books, and I'm sure that wasn't by accident -- they're generally smart with books. There are all sorts of ways to engage an audience, and those that want people to read comics have more ways than ever in making this so.
I think it's easier in comics to see technology abetting a pursuit of maximum profit, and that this is sometimes interpreted as making the sales of comics more complex: reaching the hardcore fan, connecting with a broader type of fan, making inroads into a fan sub-group that happens to fit most easily within a specific culture of sale. Most of my peers with whom I share similar consumption habits seem to spend relatively little in certain avenue now, and are probably not spending money they could overall were they more directly pursued as favored customers. Others -- superhero serial fans (still), old-strip fans, kids books readers who are also comics readers -- have more significant options available to them now than ever before.
I think the difference is that there aren't enough readers, period, hardcore or otherwise. Changes in strategy are causing surges in different places in that market, but not growing the overall market in a way that makes a new industry. People want to know what's important to buy; if there were five times their number, that question wouldn't come up as frequently as it does. All of the comics markets could grow; none of them are guaranteed to do so. That is what complicates things.
posted 7:55 am PST
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