IDW president Ted Adams is always engaging and as candid as any comics CEO might be, so when ICv2 catches up with him for a state of the industry interview, it’s always good. And Adams confirms, the state of the industry is good.
There are a lot of really good books out. What I like about the market today is that it’s not a speculator-driven market. We don’t have any books that are selling a million copies; we have lots of books that are selling reasonable amounts of copies. The books are good, and that’s bringing people into stores and causing people to find them on their various reading devices.
In Part Three, Adams is asked when the sky is going to fall, and I think his answer is worth quoting at length:
With the market doing so well for almost two years and ever expanding media attention to our industry, do you see any risks?
I think about that a lot, and I mentioned before the reason I think our market is stable right now is that it’s not speculator-driven. There’s some of that with variant covers and with, not so much us, but with some of our bigger competitors where you buy a certain number of books and you get this super rare cover that you can throw on eBay for $100, or whatever it is. But that’s not what’s driving the business.
It’s not like those of us who lived through the 90s and we saw that crazy speculator boom where consumers were buying hundreds of copies of individual comics and retailers opening up all over the place–people who had no business opening up shops were opening up shops. That was never sustainable. In the short run, some people got really rich out of it so yay for them, but in the long run that was never going to work. Whereas what we see today is not that explosive growth; we’re seeing nice, steady, solid growth, not speculator-driven; we’re not seeing thousands of new stores opening up by people who don’t know how to run stores.
So I don’t see any of those warning signals that we saw before. It’s not to say that there’s maybe something I’m missing, but it doesn’t feel as risky as the last time comics were having the success that we’re seeing today.
So the biggest risk might be bad comics?
Yeah, that’s true. We all need to keep on our game, but I also think there’s enough diversity in the marketplace that even if one of us stumbles and one of us starts putting out lousy comics, there’s a good mix. If you look at the bestseller list, particularly for graphic novels, that’s not being driven exclusively by superheroes and hasn’t been for a long time. There’s a really nice diversity out there so if you look at the big five publishers, the premier publishers with Diamond, I think if one of us stumbles the other four will be strong. I think it will be unlikely that we’ll head back to the days where mediocre comics were being way over-purchased by speculators.
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.