The comic book selling market is in decline and it seems that publishers are throwing any idea against the wall to see what sticks, but are they missing the true problem?
Publishers such as Marvel are changing characters almost daily in order to try to attract new readers and while in the process they are driving away what was once considered loyal fans. The sales numbers seem to indicate that the all new all different method is not working. Meanwhile, DC comics are somewhat restoring some of the characters and possibly listening to their audience, and it seems to be generating more sales. Marvel seems to go in the opposite direction, belittle fans online and try to use shock methods to generate media attention and hope that it translates into sales. My local comic shops have told me that Marvel seems to be shedding readers and that is never a good thing.
In a time that you would think comics could be generating more customers due to the popularity of the movies they are still failing to generate much attention. All of the shock tactics and media push don’t seem to be increasing the market. Could the issue be the ability to easily obtain the product? In order to purchase a comic book today you have to either order the book online or find a comic shop, is that a way to attract new readers? In order to get new readers the product needs to be accessible, and one could argue that the publishers are failing in this area. I wonder how many sales publishers could get by having their books at stores such as Walmart.
The price point is also too high for the product to be considered a spontaneous purchase. Sure the companies will say the price point is necessary but if the market grew the overall cost for production would be less per issue “economies of scale” enabling them to lower the price and make the same level of profit and more. For more on my view on price you can read the following article: The Days Of Picking A Book By The Cover Is Dead
Another issue is the people that represent the publishers online presence. How many readers have been driven away by the writer’s personal agendas leaking into the books? A reader can only be insulted a limited number of times before they stop supporting the company with their hard earned dollars. With writers such as Dan Slott, Mark Waid, Nick Spencer, and many more constantly pushing agendas in the books and in social media it is easy to see that they are pushing away a large market segment. Sure politics can be in the books, but the story should remain neutral enabling the reader to think about the issue and formulate their own conclusions. What we have now are writers forcing their views on readers and if you do not agree you are evil. If a reader voices a different view the writers will attack and mock them on social media, how is that a good business model?
Digital is a nice way to add to the market as well, but does the market truly support it? Many comic book readers are collectors, does the digital format work for them? I love reading the comics on my digital device, but I am also a collector at heart that loves to have the physical copy.
What are your thoughts, should comic books be sold at the local stores again? Would lowering the price encourage more people to try comic books? Should publishers start forcing writers to behave online, or is it too late?