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

August 30, 2016

Go, Read: The Let The Whole Goddamn Thing Crash And Burn Theory Of Comics Industry Reform

imageHere. Things are a lot more complicated than that snark-filled essay allows -- the DM's role in fostering art comics by allowing marketplace entry with little capital + the overlap of the two systems and how that worked + the overlapping of at least three current systems and how that works + the general failure of broad-reach print media = things to think about for starters -- but there are several points in there worth considering. Asking people to game a system when the system is limited and counter-intuitive to most folks' wider goals is a sucker's game. I think what it comes down to is that the cost of servicing a hardcore audience with the majority of your resources usually means a reduction of general audience, now and forever.

Whenever there's a shift in the way comics are available, this debate comes up -- it's an ongoing battle in digital comics, really, if you think about it, although there are different measurements there and the element of not just hardcore niche markets but unexplored niche markets comes to bear as its own thing. It could just be that we don't have anyone pushing the virtues of a broad-based strategy in a way that leads to innovation in that area the way that we've had motivated people pushing in the other direction. It could be that such a plan doesn't exist. Who knows? Although seriously, if someone has a workable plan to effectively sell comics to a broad audience, please e-mail me: I'll facilitate the legwork through CXC and we'll both get rich.

I do think comics needs more readers right now, of all types. One reason why that's hard is the infrastructure of comics has dried up a bit -- there is less industry now because the money to be had can be had without that kind of apparatus. Part of what I do now is work on these things and think about them and find ways to give people the best chance to make art without harming their lives. That said, comics is the only place where trying to facilitate a 300 percent increase in a customer base over a decade would be seen as conservative by some who think millions of people are out there just waiting to read hundreds of different comics if they could only be presented to these audiences the right way. The reason why most of these debates focus on the DM now more than ever is both the way a lot of people still think of that as comics in their entirety and the way in which the DM books feel like the group of comics that is most underperforming. And so the debate continues.

Heidi MacDonald wrote a response to the linked-to essay here.
posted 11:55 pm PST | Permalink

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