After I compiled the latest Archie sales figures and read about Time Warner ditching its magazine line (leaving DC as the only publication house it has, protected by being part of the movie division), I started wondering if it was too soon to start placing bets on which legacy comic publisher will be the first to go all-reprint?
It won’t be Marvel, since they’re busy crashing comiXology’s servers by giving away 700 free digital first issues. Digital comics are great until you can’t read them because too many other people are trying to do the same thing. Just a reminder that you don’t really own any of the comics you get through them.
Anyway, Marvel is doing too well with its movies, still rules the comic direct market, and they’re actively reaching for new markets, as seen by their recent digital announcements. Much as we hate their policies, their lack of bookstore support (such as their refusal to keep collections in print) and their head honcho’s love of cost-cutting to the bone means that comics are still a viable business for them.
So I’m unsure whether to bet on DC or Archie. Few people making decisions at DC these days at the highest levels have the kind of history with or love for the comic business their chiefs used to have. However, there’s still too much of a “we want to be Marvel” attitude for them to strike out in such a fresh direction. If something that drastic was to happen, I’d bet on a simple shutdown instead of reprint publications.
So I guess I’ll pick Archie. Their newest product, Archie Double Double Digest #238 for $5.99, provided hours of reading with over 300 pages of content, all of which was reprint. The stories came from all eras — in fact, it was hard to place many of them once we get into the time where fashions become more generic, since the plots, if not involving fads, seem timeless. The only obvious ones were the 1940s reprints in a section titled “From the Vault of Archie”, which I’m guessing were repurposed from the recent Archives line. Particularly if you’re targeting a young audience, if they’re never read them before, it’s a great value, regardless of when they originally came out.