Jim Beard of the Toledo Free Press takes a look at the disconnect between superhero movie box office receipts and meager comic sales, today. He also gets an eclectic set of odd quotes.
Mark Waid proposes the theory that people have a hard time finding a comic shop and there aren’t enough of them.
Ethan Van Sciver has some particularly complicated, possibly contradictory, thoughts on the matter:
They just lack the gene that lets them connect with them through panel-by-panel visual storytelling. It takes a special kind of person to understand the language of comic books, and to immerse themselves into that world.
“I don’t think the time will come when the success of the movies will lead to a real boost in comic sales long-term, but what I do believe is that the movies will be the new catalyst for the next generation of comic book readers. I found comic books because the Christopher Reeve ‘Superman’ films had a big impression on me as a child, and I already loved to draw and to read. Comic book fans will always be a small minority, a fraction of the public at large. But they will always be there.”
Then a couple downbeat quotes from local store owners:
“Serialized fiction can be a hard sell for regular book vendors and it is even more difficult in regards to the monthly publishing schedule of most comics,” Katschke said. “Comics will always remain a niche market, albeit one that will always exist if for no other reason than to continue feeding other mediums with entertaining characters and concepts.”
A quote that makes you wonder if he’s had any luck with the tpb market, but also segues into:
“I find it sad that those films make that kind of money and the comics industry sees so little reward,” said Jim Collins, owner of JC’s Comic Stop. “There’s nothing to drive them to want to read the comics. Warner/DC tried with “Green Lantern” by inserting a plug for its books, but it was at the very end of the film. It was throwing us [comic retailers] a bone, so they could say ‘we tried.’ I have seen crossover sales from “The Walking Dead,” but I believe it’s because they push its graphic novel source. I’m glad for the sales, but it really ticks me off saying ‘graphic novel,’ because it came from a comic book. It’s like they’re afraid to use that name.”
A bit of an extreme response to the comics vs. graphic novel issue. I strongly suspect they call it a graphic novel for two reasons:
- The average new-to-comics viewer is more likely to want to pick up 2 volumes of the graphic novel, rather than 12 issues of the comic — and that’s assuming they could lay hands on a run of 1-12 in monthly format.
- Because, as Waid notes, the new-to-comics reader might not have any idea how to find a comics shop and go to a bookstore, or online bookstore, where Walking Dead is in the Graphic Novel section. IIRC, the only bookstore chain with Walking Dead monthlies is probably Hastings.
The article throws the disconnect at the feet of a lack of advertising redirecting people from the films to the comics. It’s probably a little more complicated than that, but Walking Dead has grown drastically since the TV show came on, in the monthly _and_ in the collected editions. It’s easier pointing people to a single title than choosing which Batman-helmed monthly to pick up, but they’ve also been trying harder.