- Posted by Johanna on June 21, 2011 at 4:34 pm
- Category: LinkBlogging
The End of Collectibility
A comic retailer who reads the ICv2 site writes in to say that comic sales are down because comics are no longer collectible. Customers paying ever-higher prices can’t console themselves with the thought that they could always sell their books and get back what they paid, or even more (although few ever would — it used to be a convenient way to tamp down the guilt and assuage the wife, though). Readers who want to catch up on a story now don’t have to pay escalating back-issue prices; they can download or buy the collection cheaply. As he says,
I started selling comic books professionally in 1991 by setting up at shows and then opened my store in 1993. For most of those years the saying had been, “I collect comics.” Or the question was, “do you collect comics?” “What comics do you collect?” I never hear this anymore. Now it’s what comics do you read? … now, knowing that you probably will not be able to get 25% of your initial investment back out of what you just bought makes that person think twice about where they spend that extra income.
He dreamed of curating a collection and eventually making a profit. The books were “worth something” if you kept them nice. Now, demand for back issues has disappeared.
What he says is all true. However, it’s a good thing. Those attitudes used to fuel the hobby, but treating periodicals as disposable and books as the long-lasting format shows that comics have become a medium, not fodder for a trading post.
Of Course, Women Make Comics… Just Not Boys’ Superheroes
Heidi sums up the status of women working in comics today in answer to those concerned about the ridiculously low number of female creative names on the DC relaunch titles. Women are award winners, journalists, graphic novelists, webcartoonists…
Did you know that the two most important graphic novels of the last decade were by women? Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. … 11 out of 50, one out of five bestselling graphic novels last year was by a woman. … as the bookstore market has risen, it seems the only area where women aren’t working regularly are superhero comics. … If everyone who was expressing an interest in increasing the number of women in comics would actually HIRE one of the scores of talented women professionals out there, we’d not only be a lot further along the road to equality — we’d be getting a lot of good comics.
I don’t have much to add here, other than to say it’s a great summation that reminds us of how small a part of comics superheroes have become. If you’re looking for more great comics by women, check out that list.
Green Lantern Not a Success
ICv2 also has the weekend box office estimates, which show that Green Lantern came in #1, but with under $53 million. That’s less than X-Men: First Class, which cost a heck of a lot less to make! Warner reportedly was expecting $55-65 million, so this has to be disappointing, especially since the film didn’t cross over. The audience was predominantly older males, the traditional superhero comic audience. Looks like a big-budget comic film is no longer guaranteed to fill seats.
However, it did result in this humor piece, which I found amusing, basically because it features everyone calling Hal Jordan an asshole. Which, if these descriptions are to be believed, the movie thinks so as well.
Gary Groth Speaks!
Gary Groth talks with CBR about Fantagraphics, comic strip collections, and how the industry has changed. I’m pulling out key, eye-opening quotes here because I admire Groth’s willingness to tell it like it is, but there’s more at the link:
By and large, nobody publishes alternative comic books anymore. The reason is fairly obvious; since the reader knows it’s going to be collected in a graphic novel, there’s very little reason for them to buy a twenty-four page comic of something he’s going to get a year or two down the line as a graphic novel, and in the way it probably ought to be published anyway, collected in a single work.
… the book buyer at Borders was apparently obsessed with manga and bought almost exclusively manga. Of course it would have been nice to have been sold in Borders for all those years, but we weren’t. Trying to be sold in Borders was like beating our heads against a brick wall, so when they went under, we didn’t suffer at all.
After we published Peanuts, the gigantic Calvin and Hobbes book came out, and The Far Side. Suddenly, reprints of comic strips that you never would have expected to have achieved any remote success seem to have flooded bookstores. I can’t quite figure it out. I mean, obviously Peanuts was successful because it’s Peanuts. It’s one of the most successful strips in the history of the world. Why Rip Kirby would come out, I haven’t the slightest goddamn idea. Why would somebody buy a Rip Kirby collection now as opposed to ten years ago when it would have been completely impossible to imagine that? I really don’t know.
We get a box of comics from DC every so often and I’ll look through it. Stylistically, the work kind of repels me. It’s too frenetic and manga-influenced. I’m way too old for that stuff.
Why Would I Buy a Miniseries Any More?
See that first Groth quote up there? Keep that in mind when you find out that SLG Publishing will only be making the last issue of The Royal Historian of Oz available digitally or in the collected edition. That’s one way to sell more books, but it stinks if you’ve already bought the first four issues. I don’t know why anyone buys comic miniseries any more — if it’s good, there will be a book, usually with extras; if it’s not, then hey, you saved the money. More to the point, I know why releasing miniseries is attractive to creators and publishers — you can fund the print and creative costs as you go — but I suspect benefits are rapidly declining and they will soon go extinct.