There’s been a lot more chatter on the internet about the ideas touched off last week by Eric Powell and Steve Niles. Here’s one piece by writer Van Jensen that pretty much sums up how we feel:
The problem, for starters, is not Marvel and DC. A lot of criticism centers on the big two superhero publishers, but I don’t think it’s deserved. Marvel and DC haven’t done anything to limit the proliferation of creator-owned books in the past 20 years. Yes, they dominate the direct market, but they also provide tons of work to lots of great comics people. And by keeping the direct market viable, they have helped maintain a market for creator-owned books. The problem also is not diversity. Comics are incredibly diverse today (at least in content, if not in those creating them). In recent weeks I’ve read work by Brecht Evans, the brothers Ba and Moon and the fantastically different Return of the Dapper Men, just to name a few. There are comics being made that anyone and everyone can enjoy. The problem is connecting with those potential readers. Estimations are that about 300,000 people make up the core American comics market. A glance at any sales chart from the direct market shows that these people are spending the vast majority of their cash on Marvel and DC superhero books.
Actually it’s not even just connecting with superhero readers…it’s connecting with more readers, period. In a time when creator-owned comics get tons of mainstream publicity and praise, it’s still incredibly hard to sell enough to make a living off them. Is it the audience? The market? The material? To be continued…
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.