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Author Topic: What is wrong with comics today?  (Read 6974 times)

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Offline John C

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What is wrong with comics today?
« on: June 07, 2012, 04:10:31 PM »
Split this off into it's own general 'what's wrong with comics today?' catch-all topic.
Go crazy gang!  :)


If only there were some say to do this with comics ...

Write a barely-passable story that just gets the reader through the book to see all the advertising?  Isn't that what they do now?

I guess they could take a tip from the newspapers and hide the panels out of order, so that you need to bounce back and forth through the book, wearing you down until you buy stuff just to stop it.  Or throw yourself off a building.

Actually, the reason you're seeing more ads and shorter content pages is that the model's failing for the web, just like it's been failing for paper media.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2012, 11:12:39 AM by Yoc »

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What is wrong with comics today?
« on: June 07, 2012, 04:10:31 PM »

Offline misappear

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What is wrong with comics today?
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2012, 05:48:21 PM »
Lessee here; should I pay 3.99 for Earth 2 #2, or download it free from any one of a couple dozen torrent sites?

With virtually no risk of ever getting caught.

Hmmm, Earth 2 #1 was one of lamest comics I've read in quite a while.  I guess I'll just blow another $4.00 because I'm such a good citizen.

I just hope they include some cool ads.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2012, 11:13:03 AM by Yoc »

Offline Yoc

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What is wrong with comics today?
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2012, 07:27:31 PM »
I guess they could take a tip from the newspapers and hide the panels out of order, so that you need to bounce back and forth through the book, wearing you down until you buy stuff just to stop it.  Or throw yourself off a building.

Johh!!  Dagnabbit, you gotta stop saying these things out loud, someone is gonna see it and start doing it sure as Donald is a Duck!

Offline John C

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What is wrong with comics today?
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2012, 05:05:01 AM »
Lessee here; should I pay 3.99 for Earth 2 #2, or download it free from any one of a couple dozen torrent sites?
With virtually no risk of ever getting caught.

For most people, I don't think getting caught is the issue.  I think most adults understand that you pay to make sure the creators can produce the next issue, rather than to avoid a fictional FBI investigation.

As I hinted before, though, that proposition only works when you provide value that matches the price.  If the first issue stinks, the company can't expect anybody to bother supporting it for the second.  If it's overrun with advertising, same.

I guess they could take a tip from the newspapers and hide the panels out of order, so that you need to bounce back and forth through the book, wearing you down until you buy stuff just to stop it.
Johh!!  Dagnabbit, you gotta stop saying these things out loud, someone is gonna see it and start doing it sure as Donald is a Duck!

I don't know.  I've read some books over the years where that might have been a small improvement.  A lot of the team books in the '90s might have even tried this, for all I could figure...
« Last Edit: June 08, 2012, 11:13:21 AM by Yoc »

Offline misappear

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What is wrong with comics today?
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2012, 09:02:38 AM »
Mr. C,

Sorry, I wasn't clear in my cynicism.  Movies, music, comics, TV, apps, games, books, and whatever else can be digitized are downloaded illegally.  It's the culture.  As such, the impact to creators, musicians, writers is not the issue I'm concerned with (Although I understand that the creators in question would see that differently).  There are several very deep factors to be considered, in my mind, before I can even get to the considerations of creators.  The overall impact that downloading has on our culture has me very concerned first and foremost.

For example, We've chatted about the concept of price versus value.  We could dig deep into this concept that would keep us busy for hours.  For example, I could put forth the notion that a comic is not worth over $1.00 based on countless other ways you can spend money on entertainment.  Or we could look at the convenience factor.  Or the gender factor.  There's so much.  

I get this collision of factors rolling around in my head, and I tend to simplify my frustration with a trite comment.  It's one of my failings.  

Everyone here seems to have a slightly different spin on what the main problem is with comics.  Is it the industry?  The medium?  The creators?  It frustrates me to see an artform like comics suffer and wither.  But that's yet another topic.

--D
« Last Edit: June 08, 2012, 11:13:31 AM by Yoc »

Offline Yoc

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Re: What is wrong with comics today?
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2012, 11:16:06 AM »
Hi D,
It's now it's own topic.  Please feel free to expand on your thoughts about what has been happening in the comics industry to drive it to the point of near extinction.

My own thoughts are the advent of prices over $1 and direct market only.  Toss in Diamond and the 90s multi-covered dreck.  All together I stopped going by 1993.

-Yoc

Offline misappear

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Re: What is wrong with comics today?
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2012, 12:25:18 PM »
Cool,

It's really easy for most of the 310 million Americans to dismiss comic books because comics have made themselves dismissible.  I got into the comics "industry" in 1978 because I believed that there was incredible potential in the artform to educate, entertain, and enlighten.  When I opened my first store it was because I loved the medium and I thought I might be able to carry products that would elevate people's awareness over and above X-Men or Superman as the ultimate end product.  Over the years I sought out and stocked the best stuff I could find along with the obligatory new and back issues expected in a store of that type.  I was proud to carry Hampson's Dan Dare, Barks' ducks, Tintin, Squa Tront, The Smithsonian collections,.......the list is huge.  But also, my customers and I would have conversations about Tony Stark's alcoholism and Captain Marvel's cancer.  There were times when I thought the medium was growing into an artform that could carry ideas and opinions better than any other. 

Unfortunately, the "investment" or money angle of the business was just too attractive to too many people.  As the 80's progressed, it seemed that there was a willingness for a few to buy and digest really great material (I keep thinking about The Studio, a collection of art from Wrightson, Jones, Kaluta, and Smith along with Nemo and Krazy Kat reprint collections).  I also remember this guy who would show up every couple of days and buy 5 to 10 copies of Perez's Teen Titans #1 because they were going to "worth a fortune."  Now its truly unfortunate, but the Titans guy, and the dozens of others like him, kept the doors open a lot better than the occasional customer who would pick up a copy of The Studio and get overwhelmed by its beauty. 

You could have a baseball card store every few blocks, but comic stores pulled from a much greater area.  Obviously, densely populated areas could build a better base, but usually at a much higher per-square-foot cost.  We can talk about the owners of comic shops and their financial solvency and business acumen later.  It would be enlightening.

Jumping forward to today, we seem to be getting pretty uninspired writing, and over-rendered art from the big two.  Add to that a relentless marketing to a aging fanboy base and you get nothing of any sustainable quality.  This is fixable, but the composition, manufacture, and marketing of this medium needs a radical shift.  Why are comics so much more acceptable in Asian and European countries?  Can the success of the European market be adapted and implemented in America?  Certainly!  Don't wait around for DC or Marvel to do that, though.  Their business model is 180 degrees different from approaching comics as a sustainable artform.  I've been thinking lately that with the runaway investment thing just about dead, now might not be a bad time to try to reposition the medium to a more highbrow perception. 

One of the highlights of being a teacher was an attempt at trying to explain story pacing to a bunch of sophomores. I took a copy of Krigstein's Master Race and produced a Power Point of each individual panel.  We then "read" the story off screen, commenting on events and artwork as we went along.  It worked.  And broken down that way, the students never saw the story's end coming. 

There's so much unrealized potential in this artform!  Now I know most of us are here for the nostalgia and innocence of Golden Age comics, but everyone also knows it's only part of a much larger picture.  Man, I used to get so passionate about comics and what they could do......

--David

Offline Yoc

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Re: What is wrong with comics today?
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2012, 03:07:46 PM »
Thanks David, and interesting read from the POV of the store owner there.

I think another aspect of the decline might have been the advent of video games.  I grew up with Space Invaders and Pac Man and I recall seeing guys that used to buy comics spending their dollars (many of them) at the arcade instead of on the books.  I never got hooked on any games until I got an Intellivsion (remember those?) and much later a PC computer.
They say TV had a lot to do with killing the golden age (yes, Wirtham, etc did as well but I think TV did more damage), sales dropped and other than a couple of noted single issues, their numbers have never sold as well since.  Kids have got a ton of more options for their time and money and now if you don't know you want a comic and hunt one down you aren't likely to start are you?  And today's books at $3-4 for just 20 or so pages... 15min reading and you are done.  That hardly sounds like a good deal.  Heck, even a graphic novel you can read in under an hour and that's 4-6 issues!
So we've got no new readers, an industry that panders to those still reading now in their 40s or close to it, shops that are hard to find and from all reports not very appealing to women and kids... thank goodness for the big box book stores for selling graphic novels which I've heard are selling better than the comics themselves.  (I'm a cheap S.O.B. so I use the library for me GN reading.  Members here have recommended some fun stuff for me.)

The future?  Who knows?  On the surface digital sales seems the answer but what about all those poor buggers out there that have comic shops?  Do you gut them totally selling a scan for a dollar?  I agree there has got to be a better way of getting scans out there to those that would never set foot in a shop.  The iPad and scans seem a natural but if both Marvel and DC will only sell through Comixology and Flash based product - well that's just stupid.  I think most readers want to 'own' something not rent it.  Let us download it for reading where and when we want.  That's the beauty of DCM anyways.  How you read is your choice.

I sure hope comics don't die off.  The few things I have read lately I've quite liked.  Fables, The Boys, Mice Templar, I'd hate to see them die off.  But someone has got to re-invent the wheel or this just can't live beyond the current generation or so.

-Yoc

Offline Roygbiv666

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Re: What is wrong with comics today?
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2012, 03:34:19 PM »
I think the problem is there isn't one. One. There are many, a lot of which are in this thread and other sites.

I think digital is one step in the right direction. The other would seem to be a return to "all ages" stories, which the Big Two superhero companies don't seem interested in. Price point is huge.

And I keep hearing about kids that love, say, the Mighty Avengers cartoon, or the Spider-Man movie, or the character of Batman, but have no interests in comics. Part of it is attention span. Part of it has to be - their first exposure is the movie or cartoon - to them, unlike us, the comics version isn't the "real" character, the movie version is. If we had all these cool shows and movies growing up, would we have bothered with the book?


Offline Yoc

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Re: What is wrong with comics today?
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2012, 04:00:24 PM »
Good points Roy.
I remember living for Saturday mornings and 'Thundarr' (while never having heard of Kirby!).
I grew up loving animation like Warner Brother cartoons but I also had an early exposure to Archie Digests and the Dell Ducks books.  I wasn't hooked though until years later on my first Marvel.  But I still insist it was a Lot easier to be hooked when a comic was only 25 cents.  I can't see many parents willing to pay the prices of today and again, you have to hunt for a shop unless you happen to live near one.

Offline sandmountainslim

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Re: What is wrong with comics today?
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2012, 04:49:33 PM »
The only two modern comics which catch my attention are Action Comics current run and All Star Western.   I love Superman and Jonah Hex as portrayed in these book.s

Offline John C

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Re: What is wrong with comics today?
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2012, 04:59:30 PM »
Sorry, I wasn't clear in my cynicism.  Movies, music, comics, TV, apps, games, books, and whatever else can be digitized are downloaded illegally.  It's the culture.  As such, the impact to creators, musicians, writers is not the issue I'm concerned with (Although I understand that the creators in question would see that differently).  There are several very deep factors to be considered, in my mind, before I can even get to the considerations of creators.  The overall impact that downloading has on our culture has me very concerned first and foremost.

For what it's worth, I don't think there's a moral issue, if that's the direction you're taking.  I think it's a reaction to how companies treat their customers, rather than how the potential customers view buying things.

What I mean is that the top advantage to piracy isn't that it's free.  For most people I've talked to, convenience hits the top of the list--you don't need special software or a trackable account with another password to remember.  Next seems to be DRM and ownership, so a comic (for example) can be read on any device whenever you want, even if the company goes out of business.

It's a shame, but the pirates treat you far better than legitimate vendors.  It reminds me of computers in the '80s, where you could play the game that made you refer to the manual every ten minutes to type in a key phrase, or you could get the cracked copy that made your life easier.  Free is just a bonus, after that.

Past that point, there's sampling, in that you might buy the comic (or album or whatever), but digital and legally means buying sight unseen, unlike a storefront where you can page through, whereas you can pirate it and figure out if it's worth paying.  The value proposition seems to come after that, then price itself.

There are exceptions to that, of course, but anecdotally, I don't see a huge, persistent problem.  OK, actually, I do, but I'll talk about that in a minute.

Everyone here seems to have a slightly different spin on what the main problem is with comics.  Is it the industry?  The medium?  The creators?  It frustrates me to see an artform like comics suffer and wither.  But that's yet another topic.

It's all of them, probably.

And worse, I see it in a lot of industries, not just comics.  When you look at electric cars, they tell you that it's not too expensive and you shouldn't be taking long trips.  When you buy a computer, they tell you about "the post-PC era," so they can charge you double for a tablet and sign you up for a cloud subscription.

I suspect it's going to get worse as our household tools get better.  When DC's biggest competitor is not so much Marvel as it is some kid with a cool story idea, how are they going to manage?

Look at what that's done to software, after all.  I've been seeing a lot of people abandon Microsoft Office for LibreOffice (or OpenOffice), and a shockingly high (smaller) number--including myself, which I never thought would happen--moving to Linux.  Stuff that people, rather than companies, made.  It could be that really good comics are only an "inciting incident" away--something that makes it easy for people to get their story ideas out, and possibly a framework that allows others to improve it after it's been released.

Offline narfstar

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Re: What is wrong with comics today?
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2012, 05:42:38 PM »
Great thoughts. I do think a dollar price point for digital makes sense. It has worked for music. Everyone wants to get rich but how rich. The previous billion dollar company profits are now able to go directly to several individuals pedaling their own products. If you create something good enough that enough people want it you can still get rich. Just look at the creators of angry birds. The big companies are hurting while the creators can survive and thrive. With virtually no cost, thirty thousand one dollar sales can make you very comfortable. Follow that up with marketing, again like angry birds, and you can get rich. When the only cost is your time you can afford to take chances and hope to hit it big. Without printing cost fewer need to be sold to be profitable. BTW: Comixology has LCS stores. My LCS has a Comixology store now. I will probably be going all digital since I know that they will get a share. There are a few companies still not represented on Comixology but Diamond does not do a good job of getting them to my LCS anyway.

Offline misappear

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Re: What is wrong with comics today?
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2012, 07:59:23 PM »
Great stuff here

My wife and I did some math at dinner. When I started working, minimum wage was 1.60.  I was hired at 1.70. At 20 hours per week, I'd gross 34.00 and clear 27.00.  Comics were 20 cents.  Ten comics =2.00, 7.4% of my pay.  At 7.25 per hour today, 20 hours grosses 140.00 and clears maybe 116.00.  10 comics = 40.00 for 34.4% of ones pay. 

Let me try to remember what I bought:  Superman, the Denny O'Neill sand creature stories.  Spiderman right around #100.  Morbius.  FF at about #110 leading up to Hulk vs. Thing.  Forever People, New Gods.  You'll remember DC had just come off the 52-page 25 cent issues with all those delicious Golden Age reprints.  Tons more.  You get the idea.

How does that era's mainstream quality stack up to today?  Personally, I think it blows today's big two selections away.  In context, of course. 

I remember right about then, Alan Light (Dynapubs, owned the original Buyer's Guide to Comic Fandom, or the current CBG if it still exists.). Alan republished black and white versions of about two dozen killer Golden Age books with color covers and b&w interiors.  Three bucks each.  Also, he published a weekly newspaper reprint tabloid called Vintage Funnies, reproducing some of the best strips of the 20th century chronologically.  The Menomonee Falls Gazette was running doing strips reprints, and Van Hise was cranking out Rocket's Blast Comic Collector.  Plenty of stuff being printed encouraging the industry to consider taking off the training pants and growing up.  Ah, but I digress.

OK, I'm on board for digital for a buck.  Who do we gotta talk to, if you know what I mean.

-Dave


Offline narfstar

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Re: What is wrong with comics today?
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2012, 08:09:30 PM »
I think if you go to wowio or drivethru or graphicly you will find many choices for a buck each.