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Scott Ruggels

DC Comics may go away as Mad Magazine Has.

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It's no secret that the Comics Industry is in a steep decline.   DC Comics new owners, AT&T< seem to think the same way. As they are pruning former Time Warner Inc. properties, from  Niche straming channels to Mad Magazine.  Forbes has opined on it.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/robsalkowitz/2019/07/31/where-does-dc-fit-in-atts-vision-for-warnermedia/#26bd664b79b7

 

Expanding on this was Clownfish TV, speculating on a near term end of the "Direct market" and the demise of both Marvel and DC.  This is not to say the form, is dead, it's just that the Corporations are no longer willing to subsidize a money losing proposition, and will just retain the IP as a source of Lifestyle branding (Batman T-Shirts, and Wonder Woman Coffee mugs, and Funko Pop figures), and reprints.  Even Dan Didio has wondered why their reprints sell more than their new material. Marvel is farther down this trail, as its sales have attenuated, and comic shops are closing rapidly. here' s Clowfish TV:
#26bd664b79b7

 

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Large corporate owners don't know how to preserve a business, let alone grow one.  That would require them to know something about an actual business.   Since all they know how to do is count zeros, that's all they do.  If an enterprise is not profitable enough to tickle their egos and bank balances, they shut things down.

 

 

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39 minutes ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

Comic Book publication is in serious, severe trouble right now.  Their product is too expensive and reading is on the decline.  On the other hand, digital reading is up, so they might survive on that with fewer printed magazines.

 

Oh, the medium will survive, and even thrives, but Marvel and DC, won't.  I for one tend to pick up crowd funded comics. Digfital reads are... ookay, but I prefer the feel of paper in my hands.  I hear the Shonen Jump Ap ios the best for reading manga. 

But with the end of marvel and DC (Well DC may continue their $3 reprints in Walmart), that will be the end of the "Direct market" and will probably take Diamond with it.

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11 minutes ago, Cancer said:

Large corporate owners don't know how to preserve a business, let alone grow one.  That would require them to know something about an actual business.   Since all they know how to do is count zeros, that's all they do.  If an enterprise is not profitable enough to tickle their egos and bank balances, they shut things down.

 

 

 

Pretty much :(  This sort of thing is why I really hate how inflated copyright terms have become. Superman should be in Public Domain by now, and if AT&T doesn't want to show him in print, it would be great for some independent to have a chance to strut their stuff with the character, either drastic reinvention or an attempt to return to the roots or what not. Instead... a section of our collective culture is in a lockbox.

 

 

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Diamond deserves to go down as a company, they are one of the most unethical businesses in existence and a big part of the reason that comics are suffering.

 

Quote

either drastic reinvention or an attempt to return to the roots or what not.

 

I'd love to see a powered down, early Superman interpretation, with him only able to jump long distances and without all the excessive, whacky powers.

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2 hours ago, Scott Ruggels said:

 

Oh, the medium will survive, and even thrives, but Marvel and DC, won't.  I for one tend to pick up crowd funded comics. Digfital reads are... ookay, but I prefer the feel of paper in my hands.

 

So do I, but $4 for a book that takes maybe five minutes to read and then becomes a storage problem is... not ideal.  Manga has had a better physical model for a while now--fewer colors, longer format.  I see lots of people hanging out in the manga aisle at B&N* reading.  That doesn't happen with American comics for several reasons: expense, and the impossibility of following stories, are the two biggest ones that I see.

 

 

* Speaking of endangered business models.

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3 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

Comic Book publication is in serious, severe trouble right now.  Their product is too expensive and reading is on the decline.  On the other hand, digital reading is up, so they might survive on that with fewer printed magazines.

 

I haven't really read comics in years.  The guy that owns what I think of as my local comic store, even though I really don't buy much, will pull me a selection every one in a while.  What I read are not superHERO comics.  They are people abusing power books.  Or slaughter fest books.  Or bizarro weird books.  Or lets just slap out some bleeding edge offensive crap and call it edgy books.

 

They have grungified or grim/darked pretty much everything for so long people can't even tell.

 

I see enough garbage in real life and on TV, I don't need comics to add to it.

 

Perhaps if they remembered they are "entertainment" and not try to be something else they might get people to buy again.

 

26 minutes ago, Old Man said:

 

So do I, but $4 for a book that takes maybe five minutes to read and then becomes a storage problem is... not ideal.  Manga has had a better physical model for a while now--fewer colors, longer format.  I see lots of people hanging out in the manga aisle at B&N* reading.  That doesn't happen with American comics for several reasons: expense, and the impossibility of following stories, are the two biggest ones that I see.

 

I don't read a lot of graphic/comic books anymore.  But when I do, I find myself reading Manga or related Light Novels.  And the Anime if it is available.  And while you do have to pay attention in order to find something you like, they still have actual Hero's and Heroine's being heroic. 

 

And it isn't just B&N.   That comic shop I go to sells a lot of collectables, games and cards as well as comics.  It has a Manga section that always has people hanging out their.  I am pretty sure if comics tank, he will just expand the Manga Section and expand the display space for other merchandise. 

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   I don’t believe Marvel or DC as a creative outlet will go away what ever happens to the other smaller comic companies or ways of distribution.  They will be subsidized by their parent companies as a loss leader because of the the billions made from movies, theme parks etc.

   If however the day should come when the interest the general public has for super-heroes fades they will cut the deadwood loose faster than you imagine.

   That just means that things will go back to the beginning, like in the Golden Age.  Small company’s starting out, lots of new characters and styles.  An old forest burns, new growth takes over.

    Somebody stop me before I start singing “Circle of Life”.

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Not necessary Golden Age 2.0. Do. we still have a bunch of new western comics? 

 

The Brits still publish Commando comics (62 to present). But mostly Western style comics have run their course. If there is ever superhero fatigue and DC/Marvel stop publishing superhero comics, there is no reason to say for certain that indie publishers will pick up the slack -- Golden Age 2.0. 

 

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Most print stuff is going the way of the dodo, just like brick and mortar stores.  Pretty soon we'll buy everything from Amazon...meanwhile the actual Amazon is also going the way of the dodo.

 

A Golden Age 2.0?!?!  Wow, you guys have a lot more faith that humanity as we know it will last more than another 30-40 years than I do...but that's probably better discussed in a different thread.

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The main problem with comics these days are that they're only sold at comic book stores.

 

Back in the olden days (pre-1984) comics were sold in convenience stores, grocery stores, Wal-Mart, Target, etc. Moms would let their kids get one as a bribe to keep the kids quiet while they were shopping and the kids would read it during the shopping trip. If there was one kid, there'd be one comic book. But if she had three kids she'd get a comic book for each kid.

 

Those kids would get interested in the art and/or story and perhaps become a comic book fan. Then when the mom wanted to get the kid something special, whether the kid was with her or not, she'd pick up a comic book when she happened to go to a store.

 

The comic book shop model prevents kids from becoming fans unless they can sweet talk a parent into taking them to one particular store so they can see the comics. And the kid has no motivation to talk the parent into going to the comic book store because the kid isn't a fan. The vast majority of both parents and kids couldn't tell you where to find a comic book store if you put a gun to their head.

 

So the comic book companies have been deliberately killing off their readership base for decades. The only surprise to me is that it's taken it this long.

 

They need to distribute comics just as any other magazine company does their magazines: place their product in every outlet possible and allow the retailer to rip off the cover of unsold issues and return them for credit. That'll increase printing costs but putting product on shelves at a time when superheroes are more popular than they've ever been has got to be a better path forward than waiting for the end without trying anything.

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The distributor system for comics is also messed up in ways I don't understand, but that is one of the important reasons my favorite-for-20-years FLCGS is closing at the end of this month.

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The secondary problem with comics these days is the cost to the consumer, which is primarily a function of printing costs.

 

I literally haven't followed the industry since the 1980's but from what I remember about looking into it back then, the printing was being done in the northeastern US at a limited number of printers which the comic book companies had been using for years. So they were having to pay unionized labor prices and not taking competitive bids from other print shops for the work.

 

Printing technology has changed vastly since that time and the quality of paper which comics are printed on has changed drastically as well. But top of the line printing technology is widely available now as well both in the US and abroad.

 

They could move printing to cheaper states, or to Mexico, to save a significant chunk of money. That'd be a much better alternative than stopping printing physical comic books altogether.

 

And they could try a two-tier quality printing in order to save money. That is to say, for retail outlets like grocery stores and convenience stores, they could print on newspaper-quality paper like they did in the 1970's rather than the more expensive glossy paper which is common these days. Then for subscription sales and the comic book shops who wanted it, they could print on their higher-quality paper. 

 

That'd be a stab at splitting the difference 1) getting news fans by putting comics into more outlets while minimizing returns costs 2) while giving people a real "better quality" reason to go to specialty comic shops or to subscribe.

 

I think there's a real chance that over a couple of years that it'd actually drive up traffic to comic shops. There'd be an influx of new comic book fans, many of who might be wanting a higher quality product or at least curious about looking at a wider selection of titles. And if comic shops could return whatever non-sold recent issues they wanted, they'd be more willing to put a wider selection on their shelves. And each new person wandering through the doors would see the various action figures, RPG's, CCG's, and other things which entice the comic shop customer to part from their money.

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Yeah if comics cost half as much they probably would do better, but there's a limit how low they can price these things.  Plus, Marvel did an experiment with reprinting old comics with some new content by an unknown artist for 99 cents in the 90s.  I know they were taking a bath on the printing costs but it was intended to generate interest.  I don't know how well it sold though, and they stopped after a while.

 

But 5 bucks for 22 pages of meh writing and tons of ads just does not add up to worth while.

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Yeah, for me it's not so much the cost, as the Value. X dollars might seem well spent on this "cool" comic. But most of it is dreck...they used a differant "value model" of "you can Collect" and that turned out to be a bunch of nonsense. Comics are only have value if nobody collects them! Otherwise you get a glut and they put their effort into appearance rather than content. (Glossy paper! Multiple covers!) Now the new wave of comics is trying to gain traction by insulting their customers...dunno how well that model will work out....

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I agree completely with the lack of value for my dollar, at least when it comes to physical comic books on an individual issue basis. However, digital collections are another matter, and if the publishers can find it in their craven hearts to price them reasonably--rather than gouging customers just because digital publication is the New Hotness--then I might become a comics reader again. I have no particular love for physical books anymore. I don't have the space for them and I am quite content to read novels and comics on my beautiful 12.9" iPad Pro.

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For myself I still like a physical book in my hands, but I still read a lot of ebooks. 

 

The root issue isn't the cost or whether it is physical or digital.

 

Crappy writing with crappy art is basically crappy.  And with the exception of a few faint glimmers, comics have pretty much sucked for the last couple of decades.

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50 minutes ago, pinecone said:

Otherwise you get a glut and they put their effort into appearance rather than content. (Glossy paper! Multiple covers!)

 

This is a big part of the problem.  By catering to comic collecting snobs, they've priced out sane people and future customers (i.e. kids).  Comics used to cost $0.12 partly because they were badly written and disposable.  And because they were disposable, decades later surviving copies became valuable.  Today everything on the shelf is a 1st issue, acid free, full color, six alternate holographic embossed foil cover, nine page collector's item that decades from now will be worth cover price.

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By the time my brother and I couldn't really justify the price of comic books any longer, we were getting nothing from the big two, and almost no superhero comics at all.  I think Astro City was the only superhero comic we got, the rest were westerns and other stuff.  But after a while it was just not possible to defend spending 50 bucks a month on little magazines we read once then stored.


I get graphic novels collecting comic runs that I thought were particularly great, and keep those.  We're in the process of trying to sell all the rest through a third party.  And that's thousands of comics from the 60s to 90s, over 30 of those long boxes.  It was like Magic the Gathering, they kept innovating and messing with the product until it just wasn't worth doing any longer.

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2 hours ago, Spence said:

Crappy writing with crappy art is basically crappy.  And with the exception of a few faint glimmers, comics have pretty much sucked for the last couple of decades.

 

That's why I wait for a highly positive consensus to be reached on a particular comic run before I consider buying it (as a digital compilation). Saves me money and megabytes.

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1 hour ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

I get graphic novels collecting comic runs that I thought were particularly great, and keep those.

 

That is pretty much what I do. Though it has been over a year since I have seen anything even remotely interesting.

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