***I know a good portion of you DGAF about the comics industry, or any comic other than mine (bless your hearts,) but you might still find this interesting…like watching a train approach a collapsed bridge**
The great comic book crash of 2020
For those of you who have forgotten how insightful I am, Lemme list a few examples
-Said immediately after Charlie Sheen got in trouble for beating a hooker and abusing his wife, that he would be even more beloved within 6 months
-said the guy who shot Trevon martin would be found not guilty but ruin his entire life on his own.
-said that no one would be able to beat Trump, immediately after the first republican debate.
I could actually list about 3 dozen times I predicted something that people thought was absurd at the time, but proved to be correct. I am able to see these things ahead of time because I am a keen study of the culture and of human nature and I am able to look at things stoically…ignoring what I would or would not prefer happen. It’s what makes me a good writer and a good comedian. It is instinct that has been honed over the years. No one is 100%, but when I am able to give it some thought, I’m pretty damn close to 100%.
SO, if you earn a living via published comic books..ignore what I have to say at your own peril.
Here’s what I see. I see an industry with a core product (printed comic books) , from which has derived many other products (movies, tv shows, cartoons, toys, collectables, comic-cons). I see the derivative products completely taking over the culture. I see the derivatives making BILLIONS of dollars. I see the core product…not doing a very good job of riding on those coat tails. AND I see..on the horizon…an ending to the culture’s infatuation with the derivatives.
Lemme put it simpler. If there is a Movie based on a comic book which is making BILLIONS and the sales of that comic book isn’t growing by leaps and bounds, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM. Captain America (for EXAMPLE…I don’t mean Cap specifically, let’s just use the name as a baseline/generic/standard example) comes out, right…and sales of EVERYTHING Cap related goes up dramatically…posters, toys, t-shirts, dvds, cartoons, Captain America F*cking Toothbrushes…and the comic book itself, which is distributed internationally, can’t sell more than 50,000 copies. The comic book itself is not managing to capitalize on the F*CKIN FAD BASED ON THE F*CKING COMIC BOOK THAT THEY SELL. the core product is selling less units than a derivative of a derivative of a derivative…because I guarantee you that Wal-mart is selling more that 50,000 Captain America toothbrushes or they wouldn’t even stock them on the shelves. In lue of this I hear things like “sales holding steady” and nobody in the comic book industry is freaking out.
You should all be terrified.
You stores out there, you publishers…I want you to look at the world you live in right now. Comic books are THE thing. They are spoken of everywhere. Their very subject in a headline is clickbait. Millions upon Millions of dollars are being spent on advertising by TV, Movie and Video game companies to promote brands and characters that appear in comic books. Now look at your sales…now imagine your sales after ALL THAT STOPS.
Sales holding steady is actually a tragic and dramatic failure. BECAUSE a solid percentage of the sales right now are only there because of these movies. You actually gained a huge number of readers whether you realize it or not . Can I ASSUME that you have heard of the law of diminishing returns? Can I at least assume that, if you make a living selling a product? (please tell me you have heard of this…I probably need you to stay in business longer than two more years, at least three) sales holding steady means a lot of people left but were replaced by new people. More will leave after this fad goes away. I’ve talked to comic books stores who disagree, they tend to say “we have all the same readers for Cap that we always had and the movie hasn’t done much one way or the other”. WRONG, you cannot, if you live in reality, actually believe that Captain America being all the rage, being talked about everywhere, on every blog, podcast, clickbait site, ect…is not helping AT LEAST keep old readers interested. That notion flies in the face of reality as we know it. MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS of dollars have been spent getting the population of the entire world to know/remember/like who Captain America is.
Trust me, if they made a burning tire flavored hot pocket and it got that much publicity, it would be making money hand over fist. yet Captain America the comic book has “steady” sales. That is as big a FAILURE as I can imagine. Can you even imagine making a product and that product becoming a household name and being on the forefront of everyone’s mind all across the globe…and NOT having a dramatic sales increase?! You’d have to be selling testicle smashers. F*ck even a testicle smashing device would starting selling out just for novelty sake. IT IS F*CKING ABSURD. And it is a problem for the entire industry because the industry lives via comic book stores, and comic books stores have comic book racks, and these racks need a lot different of comic books on them for people to buy, so that the stores can pay their bills. Right now Marvel and DC are the only publishers big enough to put enough different comics on those racks. SO if these two fall…so falls the industry.
Infinity War part II is the high point of the high point and it can only go downhill from there, probably quickly. This is a movie that ten years worth of other movies have been leading up to…that’s not going to happen again. That means no other movie will draw as much interest, that means the amount of caring, of the general public, about super hero movies will begin to drop. that means no other movie will make as much money, that means movie studios will see the downturn in revenue and begin dusting off scripts that are not comic book movies because no studio wants to be the last on putting out a movie in a dying genera. As quickly as they got into a super hero movie arms race, they will De-escilate. That means you can kiss goodby the giant wave of interest and awareness of comic books in general that was funded by multi million dollar movie ad campaigns. See how right now any webbrowser you open will have a link to something related to a comic book character, movie, cartoon, seak preview, ect…kiss ALL that goodby. imagine a world with NONE of that. Imagine that, because that is how it will be. Maybe all at once, maybe gradually. but the day is soon coming when the culture turns it’s back and gets on some other bandwagon.
The comic book industry has about a year and a half ( you’ll have a big wave of interest for Infinity War II…then another year or so of comic book movies not doing as well and general super hero fatigue setting in) to get it’s head out of it’s ass or it will be every bit as relevant as stamp collecting. Conventional wisdom would say “oh no, this is a beloved medium, it has survived for almost a century and will outlast any downturn or ending of a fad.” …uhm…here’s the problem with that notion. Comic books never had to face a “flaming out”. In all it’s history it has never been “the big thing”. Big things come, and big things go and get replaced by new big things. Let me give you an analogy, that is a bit off the mark since we are talking about a medium not a specific genre or character..but the medium has once again become tied at the hip with the genre which is tied at the hip with the characters. David Bowie had peaks here and there but was never the big thing. So his career lasted as long as he was able to last. Vanilla Ice became the big thing, flamed out and is now just “so 199o’s”.
“are you seriously comparing David Bowie to Vanilla Ice?!”
Yeah…or have you forgotten “Let’s Dance”? I hate to break it to you, but Bowie put out his share of crap, and Vanilla ice might have gotten better. he didn’t get the chance because “flaming out” is devastating. Still don’t like the comparison? Fine, how about Ska music, or the Beastie Boys. Take whatever example you want of something or someone who took the culture by storm and the pattern is the same- a crap ton of sales and exposure and then …nothing. One doesn’t recover from flaming out for decades…until a nostalgia for the time when they where the big thing brings them back into the public graces again.
What is the comic book industry going to look like when super heroes are “so 2000-teens”? If things don’t take a dramatic turn, and FAST it is going to look like a bunch of cell phone stores…because that’s what will have taken over the store fronts that used to be comic book stores.
Some percentage of new readers will stay…some. SO what the ENTIRE INDUSTRY…SHOULD BE DOING…is culling every new reader that they possibly can and getting them interested in the medium and what is unique about storytelling in comic book from, so that when super heroes go the way of T.V. cowboys, they still have enough readers to continue being relevant.
The good news is that in 2018 this isn’t that hard too accomplish. You just have to realize that it is 2018, and understand what you have to work with, and what about your product (a printed comic book) is good, and what about it can be made appealing, and how to convey that in 2018 to get NEW READERS.
…Since I’d prefer at least a 3 year head start before the industry collapses, I’ll explain a few things next time that will be helpful for any publisher, store or convention, that wishes to still be relevant after the movie studies stop pumping millions of dollars into brand awareness of the product/medium you are making a living off of. I’m going to cover four things, and they are IMPORTANT. 1-Paragim shift 2-stop fighting over a pie slice, make a bigger pie 3-it’s a medium not a genera. 4-why indy books will be the most insulated from a crash and what to learn from them.
Oh course it’s always possible I’m wrong and EVERYTHING I pointed out here is nonsense…just in case though, you might wanna come back next week.
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