Comics are riding an enormous wave. There’s a diversity of comics on the stands that even five years ago would have been unthinkable, and better yet, they’re selling. But there are still things the comics industry needs to do to ensure its future.
Move Away From Adaptations As A Marketing Strategy
The combination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and The Walking Dead dominating the airwaves even when the Olympics are on have driven a lot of people to comics. But the truth is, as we all know, this comes and goes in cycles. There was a similar resurgence in the late ’80s and early ’90s as Batman became an enormous cultural phenomenon… which in turn triggered the speculator boom in the ’90s, which lead to the trainwreck which was the early 2000s.
Similarly, one theme I see quite a bit in the books I cover for my review columns are what I call “pitch books”; comics that are notably screenplays that have just been turned into comic books as an attempt to better sell the screenplay. Not that I’m knocking these books, necessarily, but keep in mind that category includes such illustrious films as Virus and Cowboys And Aliens.
Be Honest About Digital
What is the overall effect of digital sales? How many books do digital copies move, on top of physical ones? What are the most popular platforms?
Good question, and you know who will provide the answers? Nobody. DC and Marvel are notoriously tight-lipped; the best we get out of DC is that it’s seen “triple-digit growth”. Marvel won’t even own up to that: All we get is a top ten list from their app.
Part of this is that they don’t want to offend retailers, who are obviously, and rightly, concerned about the bottom line. But still, it’d be nice to know what direction the market is heading, instead of drawing inferences from books that apparently survive despite low sales numbers.