Prominent comics blogger Tom Spurgeon had a series of pertinent questions about the industry over the weekend. All deserve continued contemplation, but we’ll take a crack at a few.
Fifteen years ago it was conventional wisdom and strongly supported in anecdotal fashion that comic books ranging in popularity from Eightball to Artbabe sold the vast majority of their issues in a tiny, tiny handful of stores. Since then we seem to have seen a significant proliferation of stores like those stores. Why hasn’t there been a corresponding surge in alternative comics sales?
Perhaps the reason is that nobody publishes alternative comic books any more. Everybody publishes alternative graphic novels, and the odd issue of TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE or PALOOKAVILLE slips out once every 12-18 months, but periodical publishing is no longer the engine at the front of the train. Plus, indie audiences are trained to look for the CD, not the single.
The question 4. Why Have Sales Gone Up On The Lower Part Of The Top 300?actually seems to contradict question #1.
The comics at the bottom of the sales estimates have apparently gone up even as the top of the charts remains locked into a successful top ten to twenty followed by a slightly steep slide into the second-rung performers paradigm. I’ve seen plenty of people note the bottom-chart success, and some stick their chest out about it, but I have yet to see a convincing explanation for it. If you’re going to ask me to believe that it just means that market is healthier than previous thought, I want to know why it is right now in that specific way when it wasn’t before.
Maybe….it is because there are more stores, as surmised in question #1?
That answer may seem flip, but it would take a small number of new stores to boost the levels of those that order non-Marvel and DC comics. We’d guess that more people are buying more kinds of comics, to some extent as well. The bottom 100 includes comics from Archie, Bongo, IDW, Image, Dark Horse, Red 5, Avatar, Dabel Brothers, Dynamic Forces and Zenescope, among many others. It’s not a complete epic poem of genre diversity, but there are kids’ comics, horror, humor, SF, fantasy, Westerns, war comics, and so on…different stuff. Perhaps the ginormous PR campaign undertaken by comics in the last five years or so, as well as the victory of nerd literacy simply means…more people read comics. Not on the order of MILLIONS of people, mind you, but hundreds.
We’d agree, though, this is a ripe topic for exploration, especially with ruin facing the world’s economy.