Over at 13th Dimension Mark Waid has posted an editorial called: How I Fumbled the Ball in which he walks back some of his previous comments on print vs digital:
Several years ago, at a conference for comic book publishers and industry stalwarts, when Comixology was still an ‘upstart’ and iPads were still a toy, I came out aggressively against the Old Ways. I wasn’t the first to do so, but I am loud. I rallied hard that we should all be turning our attention to the emerging digital market and that as an industry, we couldn’t continue to be held hostage by our only significant print distributor, America’s 1,800 — maybe — comics specialty stores. I argued that tablets and smartphones were the new newsstand, the new outreach tool. As the vast majority of publishers and retailers turned on me for preaching heresy and descended upon me like a fat kid on a chocolate cake, I maintained that the Old Ways were doomed to die more quickly than we could imagine and that the future of the comics medium hinged on digital distribution.
And you know what?
I was wrong.
While it’s always entertaining to watch someone have a helping of crow pie, Waid’s instincts weren’t totally bad: we all thought print was doomed, and comics print in particular, given the inability of the industry to take chances, expand its audience and take advantage of disruption.
To be fair, it’s a mix of outside influences, the rise of the book reading channel, the rise of digital, and a whole new generation of creators putting out superior materials—and the availability of the classics of the past—that combined to make the vibrant medium we see before us today. And Waid’s own Thrillbent platform is part of the growth and excitement. Waid continues:
But in all honesty, the Old Ways weren’t doomed. Had you told me three years ago that comics sales in America would be up by significant numbers when all other forms of print media were shedding readers at a brutal pace, I’d have been the one to call you a heretic. Yet here we are. Print comics aren’t the business juggernaut they were in their heyday and may never be again, but no one can deny that there’s a sustained boom going on and no hint of an oncoming bust. And here’s what’s really cool: The same thing is happening with digital comics. They’re not only matching print’s growth, they’re exceeding it.
So yeah, comics WERE cool after all.
I WAS RIGHT.
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.