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

July 16, 2018

Superheroes Everywhere But In Comics Publishing, Sort Of, If You Look At It A Certain Way

This article by the solid Geoff Boucher at LA Times was baffling to me for the number of weird assertions and half-assed instances of verbal judo on display. A short list without returning to the article, because San Diego week:

imageComparing the sales of right now to the newsstand sales of the 1960s and 1970s seems insane, as those are two entirely different modes of sale and the high rate of returns and the inability to get rack space consistently for cheap items nearly ended that supposedly healthy market. CB Cebulski's hiring was met with significant backlash that should have been mentioned because it had an effect on the standards mentioned as important. They're still a huge player within their market, which indicates that some of the broader issues at play are medium-wide, not Marvel-wide. There's a weird mixing of Marvel issues and format/medium issues. Counter to the conventional wisdom of this article, there does seem to be an established way to sell comics based on the attention a movie drives to it -- when there is a single trade volume to which one may point as the comic to buy and that pointed-to thing is a solid single-buy on its own. Conflating criticism of Marvel with "the industry is near collapse" opinion-making is rhetorical tap dancing of the silliest kind and doesn't comport to the reality of those critical pieces. And I'm still confused as to how DC's latest Wal-Mart move is challenging the status quo when the status quo includes a previous DC/Wal-Mart deal. I think it's a better deal and the differences are worth examining, but not in the language of value-free qualifiers.

I suspect there's a good story here how Marvel has let slide on what I am told are basics of publishing reality -- a rational books program, library outreach, that matching single-volumes to movie releases thing -- and has thus cost itself some money and market share, which the awesomeness of its character library and relative health until recently of its talent pool due to the company's star-making ability has kept at bay. It might also be worth looking at how ambitious the movie side of things has been compared to the comics within their respective worlds. If nothing else, if we're going to look at comics as a development laboratory for licenses and other narrative media, it'd be nice if the creators involved were rewarded for that element of what they do.
posted 1:45 am PST | Permalink

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