UPDATED: Just to put this in perspective ICv2 posted Diamond’s annual sales figures
Diamond Comic Distributors has released its annual sales figures, reporting that in 2006 Diamond Comic Distributors as a whole (including Alliance and Diamond UK) had gross sales of over $350 million — and Diamond estimates that the 3,500 comic specialty stores it services had retail sales of over $650 million last year.
Tom takes an overview of Six problems facing the industry and they boil down to:
1. The Greatest Issue Facing the Direct Market?
2. Syndicates and Self-Knowledge
3. The Mainstream Comics Event Comics Publishing Dilemma
4. The Alternative Comics Serial Comics Publishing Dilemma
5. Manga’s Publishing Dilemma
6. Loss of the Professional Class?
It’s a good, thoughtful read, although we’d quibble with a few points — the high water mark of comic shop saturation was probably the early 90s not the late 80s, although it was the wrong KIND of comics, as card stores began carrying valuable, collectible Image comics and such. There were some 5000 stores then, if we have our math right.
Point #6 involves comics folk not being able to cash in on the current boom via actually creating comics, but Chris Butcher has an alternate view:
The Mouse Guard guy is hitting a bunch of conventions, but he’s not the one lugging cases of his books (I hope), he’s got a publisher for that. Kean Soo’s Jellaby will be coming out from Hyperion Books next year, a young-readers graphic novel aimed squarely at the Bone-reading audience, and while mainstream authors are always encouraged to do promotions and press for their work (and I will be roping Keaner into a number of “personal appearances”) he’s got a team of people out there getting Jellaby in front of reviewers, into bookstores, onto book clubs, and into the hands of its intended audience. Which is gonna be hell for him, he’s so hands on. :)
Making Comics, by Scott McCloudThe real reason that I’m not entirely worried about “The Loss of the Professional Class”? It’s a secret I probably shouldn’t spill on my blog, but… Alright, here goes: Judy Hansen, of Kitchen & Hansen Literary Agency. Judy Hansen is Scott McCloud’s agent, and got him out of the deal with DC and into Harper Collins’s warm embrace. Scott set Judy up with Flight, and moved them from Image’s money-on-the-back-end deal to Random House, where… I don’t know how private those details are.
Based on our own personal observations, we’re twixt the two viewpoints. If you are even moderately skillful you can get all the work you can handle these days, but it takes a LOT of work to make what one would consider a “successful” living. No one is coasting, not even the superstars, who seem to be busier than ever directing movies and designing video games and what not.