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January 20, 2019

Go, Read: Is The Direct Market As Increasingly Screwed As Long-Time Commentators Seem To Believe?

Brian Hibbs chimes in on the state of non-returnability, and references a few recent articles from foundational Direct Market retailers we've also noted here at CR. It's a decent recap while getting in some insight from Brian's unique area of interest. Basically, the fundamental structure of the Direct Market of nonreturnable comics and comics-related products is under assault by entities that use it a cross-purposes in order to secure a slight, immediate advantage.

imageSo what to do? I'm not sure. One thing that's worrisome is that some of the adjustments have gone past people seeking short-term advantage and into people seeking a baseline of health. Things might get increasingly rigid from here. For instance it's believed many retailers have and will institute austerity measures on their ordering due to the inherent risk in over-extension involving poor product. That may help retailers from cutting their own throats, but it also makes the slow growth of a market working as it should almost impossible to reestablish.

I agree with Brian that something has to give. I might allow for content to be a bigger factor. I think the general quality of periodical publication is pretty terrible right now, especially the comic book series from Marvel and the licensed product work from other publishers. Working for Marvel and DC or for a toy that was a toy before it was a comic is not the top rung on the ambition ladder for a lot of creators, not anymore; it doesn't feel to some longtime observers to whom I speak like there's enough talent to support entire lines of comics, especially a quarter-century into multiple titles, constant relaunches and energy-diverting stops and starts. I think there a couple of hands left to be played -- if the writer Jonathan Hickman ends up in a mainstream gig soon, definitely note where -- but the best-case scenario is that the potential respite created leads to room for the reform of bad habits. It's hard to think one such miracle as that will happen, let alone two in close succession. Company to company, we're at the point it may be easier to conceive of the cessation of print than its rescue.
posted 3:35 pm PST | Permalink

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