Since last we spoke, the store received its first bit of hate mail, which was nice.

As a shop, we had been fairly vocal about our take on Marvel’s big Secret Empire event and how we couldn’t, in good conscience, hand-sell the book to customers. Danica had appeared in a few articles in particular explaining our aversion to the story and Marvel’s marketing tactics for it. Why push a book about a hate group with Nazi ties by offering stores the ability to cosplay as Hydra fronts without offering up similar opportunities for an opposition? We would gladly sell the book to anyone who wanted it, and would keep a couple of copies on shelf – but unless we were approached about it specifically, we would not include it in our talk of what was new or interesting. This prompted some interesting comments from the public, including a phone call from a gentleman who felt the need to lecture us on how to run a comic shop, and an e-mail that stated the following, verbatim:

“Your attempts to censor this book is disgusting. People like you that are pushing the Nazi narrative are a disgrace to the medium.”

After reading this note, we couldn’t have been more pleased. After stating it was problematic for a company to ask comic retailers to dress as Nazi sympathizers, and after stating that we would be carrying the book regardless – just without offering unprompted positive or negative response – we were deemed a “disgrace to the medium”.

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It’s a badge we wear with pride.

And for good reason.

By Brandon Schatz & Danica LeBlanc

The industry has changed substantially over the past few years, but many are refusing to acknowledge this fact. From distributor to publisher to retailer to consumer, you find old thoughts that linger and fester while the whole structure attempts to lumber on.

At the distributor level, you have Diamond – a company which manufactured a modified monopoly that has directly contributed to the instability of the industry. In the time since it formed, the comic industry has grown past its terrible service and has flourished through alternative means of distribution – although the monthly periodicals seem to be pretty landlocked. Despite the fact that there are better alternatives to get several evergreen products that Diamond offers, they continue to run that portion at the same discount levels to retailers, without the ability to return a majority of the product.

At the publisher level, you have companies that are relying on their old business models to produce numbers in an age where distraction and market fragmentation abound. Gone is the harder focus of the Marvel Zombie or whatever the heck DC called their die-hards. In its place are people with the means for any kind of entertainment they could possibly hope for just a few clicks away – and so the age of publishing for the sake of hitting a budget has been replaced with the need to create art with the ability to grab and hold attention above any and all else.

Pictured: Ye Olden Days in the comic business. Or at least how it’s remembered.

At the retailer level, you have folks who are pretending as though the old model is something they are owed. Where are the ongoing series that last for hundreds of issues? But also, where are those number ones that sold in the millions? And why can’t I sell back issues like I used to? In a world where a digital copy of that comic you’re selling for $25 is just a digital payment of $2 away, or a couple of weeks away from being available as part of a collection for far less, where’s the incentive to spend? And what’s more: if the person does still grab that $25 issue, what other books did they leave behind that could have made you ongoing money in the future?

And finally, there’s the consumer level, where folks are wondering where all the fresh new ideas are for characters that have been around for over 75 years. There’s always a low rumble of voices complaining about how the medium is becoming “too PC”. “Why can’t things be like they used to?” some folks wonder out loud, coming just short of saying, “When everyone was a white dude.”

The industry has been running on all of these old ideas and models for far too long while the medium strains against the constraints those old structures offer, and if that continues, things are going to get really bad, really quick. For some in the industry, that time has seemingly already come.

We’re looking at you, Marvel.

Any way you want to look at it, Marvel has had a garbage year. Their sales are dwindling, their big event is the constant subject of dubious press, and they’re fighting a war on multiple fronts. As higher ups continue to cut costs within Marvel’s publishing wing, those left are asked to use dwindling resources to create better results. Like a lot of comic companies, Marvel has always been reliant on short term solutions, but faced with this mounting pressure, they started using a lot of these short term solutions as crutches, offering more variants, accelerated shipping, bigger events and various incentives to move dials. Under the best of circumstances, this would have been a mistake. These, sadly, are not the best of circumstances.

Marvel Comics, and this industry, are stuck in a feedback loop that’s built from outdated ideas. Some of these outdated ideas are the variants and the shipping schedules and the events and the incentives. Some of them involve the language that Marvel continues to use to promote the books in their line. Let’s start with one of the more obvious ones: the term “ongoing comic”.

In the classic sense of the term, an “ongoing comic” was a book you could reliably count on to ship monthly, in perpetuity. Yes, books would come and go, but something that was given the chance to be an ongoing concern was ran with the intent of the book being published in perpetuity with creators arriving and departing as required. The market has long been shifting away from this model, recognizing the power of the “new #1” as a demarkation to new readers that there’s a starting point ready for them. Add to that the fact that the entertainment market has reached an intense saturation point, and you have an environment where the traditional idea of an “ongoing comic” has long been rendered useless. People don’t have time for the never ending second act that the traditional ongoing offered – they want ideas with form, with a beginning, a middle and an end. And more importantly? They want those ideas to speak directly to them. The idea that an ongoing, never-ending book can satisfy this need is ridiculous.

So as consumers began looking to grab onto ideas and concepts that spoke directly too them, Marvel began seeing folks drifting away from the ongoing concepts that served them so well. Employing a lot of short-term thinking, they resolved to put out a lot more number ones, and turned their “ongoings” into something else. Yes, the concepts technically continued – they were ongoing stories – but the presentation was different. The form of release was different. Hundreds of issues became tens. Tens soon became ones.

Numbers are hard

In an attempt to both satisfy budgetary needs and the shifting attention of the market, the term “ongoing” continued to be used without thought. These days, an ongoing comic runs more like a television series, with unifying themes for a season, but instead of welcoming new readers to a brand new season of X-Men, Marvel welcomed readers to another ongoing… that would last a few years at most.

For their part, retailers reacted to this change poorly, again working from old models. As the market has changed to welcome regular collected editions and access to digital content, the back issue market has changed. While Marvel (and many other companies, to be fair) are going around brandishing the term “ongoing”, many retailers are stuck on the old ordering patterns for books with that designation. The idea is to order high of earlier issues for back issues and make a bit of money on the back end. The problem? As the runs of ongoings become shorter and shorter, this ordering practice leaves retailers with dead product – as back issue sales tend to tank after a series has ended. And that’s all before you get to the part where many folks who aren’t grabbing comics week to week are more and more likely to grab collected editions of product (at a much cheaper price point) or digital copies instead of inflated back issue prices. All of this leaves a lot of retailers with less cash flow on hand and dead titles – a memory which they often carry with them towards the next launch.

What results from this is the previously mentioned feedback loop. Marvel sees sales dropping on their single issues, so they’re more quick to reboot and relaunch. Retailers are slow to adjust, but have an easier time sending out a reaction in the form of orders of the next relaunch – which tend to be smaller. This cycle continues because old thinking is comfortable, and short term gain is the path of least resistance. The only problem? Old thinking and short term gain always, always, always result in a hard fall – and this is the place Marvel finds themselves right now.

There are ways Marvel can break this cycle – but absolutely none of them appear to be present in their Legacy marketing. In fact, the company actually seems like they’re regressing through a series of even older ideas, leaning harder on the crutches that are already straining from the weight. It’s clear from where they’ve been they know how valuable a well marked jumping on point can be, but they’ve squandered that form of marketing through a lot of bad faith moves that have left retailers and fans less willing to give up their hard earned dollars. So instead of trying to innovate, Marvel has decided to look back and roll out… old numbering? Corner boxes? The return of FOOM? What? These changes are purely cosmetic, and do nothing to address the real problems that exist in the company.

Honestly, if Marvel were looking to turn things around, they have to start looking at companies that are doing so without relying so heavily on gimmicks. Companies like Boom! Studios, who pledged to deliver less books in 2016 than before in order to provide a focus in content and marketing. That company ended up having one of their very best years, and we’ve been reaping the rewards of that in our shop. Image is doing similar things – keeping tight schedules, but ones that build in breaks for people to catch up on collected editions, and to make sure the creative team isn’t handing in books that don’t contribute to the main ideas being sold. You won’t find a book like Spider-Man/Deadpool (or Trinity, for an example from across the aisle) coming out from either, where the main driving creative forces flit in and out of the book. You won’t find their titles interrupted by events, which modify the formula that readers were finding connections with in order to goose the numbers for a few short issues.

What Marvel needs to do, is focus on ideas, and not on cosmetics or marketing – because they are officially bad at both of those things. They need to be up front. The ongoing titles they offer will continue until the idea that fuels them runs out, or the sales necessitate an ending. They need to stop shoehorning content in that doesn’t run along with those ideas, and if they need a title to take a break for a few months to make sure stories come out on time? So be it. They need to stop looking backwards to the methods and audience that necessitated these short term marketing tactics in the first place, and start looking into the future. And if for some reason there are internal struggles that are preventing this from happening? Well, that’s rough, but if things keep going the way they are, there are worse things to come for both the company and the industry than what relatively little growing pains moving forward and incorporating new ideas would provide.

Because as it stands? They’re acting like a true disgrace to the medium. And unlike us? They shouldn’t be proud of that badge.

Change. Grow. Do better. Or else we’ll soon see what a comic industry looks like without monthly Marvel titles on the stands sooner rather than later.

Brandon Schatz and Danica LeBlanc are the co-owners of Variant Edition Comics + Culture in Edmonton, Alberta, and in their spare time, they fill up Submetropolitan with words and podcasts.

38 COMMENTS

  1. If selling a book but not specifically pushing it as something new or interesting is “censorship”, then surely the opposing voices insisting that you DO specifically push it are advocating for slavery?

  2. I moved away from an area in Boston where I had access to 3 comic book stores and into an area that just has one, and that one pretty much only has the big two. Today I was back in the old area and stopped by my old comic book store. No real changes in the store, but the big difference was what I bought. I new comic (Sabrina) and 3 out of the discount bin. When I moved away from the stores I was buying 3 to 10 comics per week, every Wednesday. I haven’t done that for years and I haven’t really missed it. I’ve found I don’t have to have the first runs, I can wait for the collections or the discount bins. In fact in the discount bins I saw fresh copies of marvel’s events from the last two years, all the way down to .25 cents. I’m a patient person, if it means saving 20 dollars a week I can wait, especially if I don’t like the concept of the event in the first place. But what I think is really dangerous in the long term is that if I’m not in the comic book store every week, if I’m not picking up and using previews anymore, I’m not going to pick up comics that might look interesting because I won’t be seeing them.
    I’m not a retailer, but I am a customer and right now there’s no real reason for me to go into a comic book store on a regular basis. Events -particularly events that warp characters- won’t draw me in.

  3. “And what’s more: if the person does still grab that $25 issue, what other books did they leave behind that could have made you ongoing money in the future?”

    Yep. I’ve been tempted by eye catching variants myself. Given higher pricing on incentive variants and often having to source them online because my LCS doesn’t qualify, that has meant sacrificing several new books I’m actually interested in reading. Given DC and Image doesn’t make me jump through hoops to order pretty variants, I think it fair I make those cuts on Marvel’s slice of the budget pie.

    Same goes for events. Secret Empire is my first big Marvel event and I kinda feel obligated because it’s pretty much the continuation to CA: Steve Rogers. Due to the cost, I’m not trying any new Marvel titles from April to August.

  4. Great piece. I wouldnt say Image had been that good with tight schedules recently. With some series having huggge gap beetween issues. But it really depends on the creators and the time and motivation they can spend on their creator owned series. Marvel need to wake up and start caring more about their readers-buyers.

  5. I agree with this article. Periodicals do very little for me, in fairness, cause I much prefer buying a collection (beginning, middle, end always feels best). I think distinct seasons with fixed creative teams would benefit comics greatly, especially if they weren’t on a monthly schedule. And narratively, it would make them more satisfying,

    But the biggest problem with Marvel’s approach is the need to reset the status quo after every big event, Marvel could really do with a line of comics designed around telling great stories in comics, not just brand maintenance for the movies and TV spin offs.

    Image, Dark Horse, Boom, and IDW have much more varied, diverse and interesting properties. Is there a single Marvel that isn’t a costumed superhero book? Can you imagine if that’s all HBO showed?

    It’s utterly mind boggling.

  6. “Why can’t things be like they used to?” some folks wonder out loud, coming just short of saying, “When everyone was a white dude.”

    It’s this mindset from retailers/creative types/executives/holier than thou types that get you the state of comic readers. These assumptions make everyone look bad. Why can’t it be that that comic readers want good stories instead of agenda driven stories? Nope, can’t be that sensible an explanation. Has to be racism or any other reason that blames the consumer not the producer. Have to look for the absolute worst in everyone.

    The rest of the article is very interesting, but you undercut your credibility by alienating a certain sect of readers/customers by assuming malice of thought.

  7. I made it about half-way through the article before giving up. Way too many gifs.

    This felt more like a “manifesto” on a wordpress blog.

    I can hear Patton Oswalt’s voice in my head: “I’m gonna put in a gif of a bald Asian guy wearing Hipster glasses and pointing at the screen. That’ll show Quesada and Perlmutter. That’ll teach ’em.”

  8. I know this is a retailer’s perspective, obviously. And while you do touch on digital comics, you fail to mention what I see as the elephant in the room when it comes to Marvel: Marvel Unlimited.

    For less than the price of two new comics each month, a reader has access to (nearly) every Marvel comic, ever. How can an LCS compete with that? Are there enough readers who absolutely need to have a print copy of the comic sitting in a box in their closet to keep print comics afloat forever? Probably not.

    It all ties in to Heidi’s satisfying chunk theory. Why, in 2017, would anybody want to consume media bit by bit, waiting for a month between servings of an ongoing comic (that rarely has a satisfying conclusion and ties into a hundred other comics and is made by a rotating cast of creators), when they can binge a complete story with a singular creative vision in one or two sittings?

    “Change. Grow. Do better. Or else we’ll soon see what a comic industry looks like without monthly Marvel titles on the stands sooner rather than later.”

    If I was a retailer, I too would want companies to publish comics the way that is most beneficial to me. But people are changing, Marvel is changing. They may be off base with what’s working in the LCS, but their comics seem to be tailor-made for the Netflix generation.

  9. Boom is right up there with Avatar and Dynamite for using variant covers to prop up their sales. The grossest sign of it was putting out variants for the Archaic comics they just bought that didn’t require them before the sale.

    How many Power Ranger variants are sitting in dump bins now that pumped their sales numbers up?

  10. “Mike says
    07/06/2017 12:53 PM AT 12:53 PM

    I know this is a retailer’s perspective, obviously. And while you do touch on digital comics, you fail to mention what I see as the elephant in the room when it comes to Marvel: Marvel Unlimited.

    For less than the price of two new comics each month, a reader has access to (nearly) every Marvel comic, ever. How can an LCS compete with that? Are there enough readers who absolutely need to have a print copy of the comic sitting in a box in their closet to keep print comics afloat forever? Probably not.

    If I was a retailer, I too would want companies to publish comics the way that is most beneficial to me. But people are changing, Marvel is changing. They may be off base with what’s working in the LCS, but their comics seem to be tailor-made for the Netflix generation.”

    Caveat there, instead of trying the direct to Marvel Unlimited digital route followed by GN/TPB release on some new titles, Marvel expects DM retailers to fund creative costs by way of non-returnable single issue print periodicals.

    Also, Marvel has been basing what to cancel on single issue sales and they’ve cancelled books before the first issue even makes its way to Marvel Unlimited.

  11. Hey, I wish people would stop bitching about Diamond. They are a distributor and the “monopoly” they have is one that the comic industry wound up giving to them. Go back in distribution history. It all collapsed due to MARVEL. Diamond are merely a middle man – they are box fillers and if you look at Previews and figure out not only the work that goes into putting that together every month, but then totaling orders, generating purchase orders then tracking for the next 3-12 months while they wait for the product then ship it to stores then collect from the stores, pay the vendors and keep all the plates spinning – I’m missing parts of the process as well – there are many more steps involved to get you your books every week.

    Yes, the system can be improved, but its also changed drastically. I mean books going to 3rd printings and beyond just goes to show that not only are retailers unaware of what will sell in their store (and lets be honest – its a huge financial risk if you are wrong with a non-returnable book) but so are the publishers. Diamond is basically a fulfillment house now, vs. one who would take some of the risk and have extra copies on hand for re-order.. And subsequent printings are lost money on the front end for the publishers and retailers. More can be said, I’m far from a Diamond apologist, but people really need to stop using them as a scapegoat. They are just filling orders for the companies they work for or work with.

  12. There’s a lot of good points in these comments, some of which are better addressed in other columns – but quickly: Marvel Unlimited is tops, and I recommend it to all folks who are a bit cash poor, but want to “keep up”. Those people more often than not come back here to buy GNs of the stuff they loved, and spent next to nothing on things they didn’t… and in doing so, keep a good feeling in their hearts about comics in general.

    As for the Diamond thing – I don’t know your circumstances Tim, but as a retailer who has to deal with their horrible service (in 10 years, I have yet to have a shipment come in without damaged, missing or wrong product), but they are the least effective of all distributors that we deal with. They are currently, a necessary evil.

    And that one rando complaining about gifs: you got us. While our gifs seem to have failed to change the direction of comics, as was our clear intent, your single comment has changed the course of our business practices forever. Shine on, you beautiful rando. Shine on.

  13. “That company (Boom Studios) ended up having one of their very best years, and we’ve been reaping the rewards of that in our shop.”

    —what percentage of your store’s business is Boom? What other publishers over perform in your store as compared to their overall diamond marketshare?

  14. Our store is fueled by new generation readers for the most part so pretty much everyone but Marvel and DC over performs. And then there’s Zenescope and Avatar who just don’t connect w/ our customer base as well.

    One more thing I wanted to address, in regards to folks saying “not all old guard”. There are great stories in every era. There are bad stories in every era. We’re out here in a physical space collecting data that walks right into our door, and lemme tell you, for a shop that pushes to be as progressive as we are, the majority of the folks who have complained about the contents of Marvel Comics as of late have followed up the “I want my characters back” with anything ranging from “brown people aren’t heroes” to “these books are too gay” to more explicit versions of those phrases. is that everyone? Heck no. We’re also a retailer advocating for a big change and we stated that “retailers” are looking backwards. The guts of this are true.

    I’d agree that we should all be more careful with the way we phrase things. For instance, one of the most important writing tips I’ve ever received was “if you can cut words and say the same thing, do it”. It’s why I take issue with people who say “I’m not racist, but…” The intent of that completed sentence is to say something known to be harmful, but to remove blame. Or: the intent is to say something harmful.

    When folks talk about what they want from Marvel and DC, if it’s really not about that for them, they shouldn’t bring it up. Self editing. We stated what we did here, because that was our intent. That is what we hear, and have experienced outside of whatever portion of curated internet we call home, and we would be remiss not to point that out.

  15. Here’s the thing with “ongoing comics”:
    1) They are soap operas for men (and some appeal to women, if the characterization is good).
    1a) Nobody buys soap opera DVDs, because most of the plot is disposable. (See exception below.)

    2) You need to allow entry points for new readers, to offset the readers you lose from attrition. That means following Shooter’s Observation that every comic is someone’s first comic, and offering recaps or introductions into each issue.

    2a) These recaps get clunky when collected into trades, just like Dick Tracy reads a bit rough because the Sundays have to recap from the previous Sunday, and/or Monday has to recap from Saturday or Sunday.

    3) The first “serial” prime time show I watched which wasn’t a soap opera was “Arrested Development”. As the series progressed, it became more difficult for new viewers to enjoy the show. (I downloaded pirated episodes, then bought the box sets at Barnes & Noble after getting hooked. I never really watched the show live. I “waited for the trade”.)

    4) It’s not hard to keep ongoing comics running. Levitz’ ABC paradigm constantly weaves new plots into stories. The publisher might need to create a brief recap at the beginning of a collection, but if done well, especially by ONE writer, it works well. I think Dan Slott is a recent example. Snyder’s New52 Batman. Those volumes are more likely to remain in print, as they are cohesive. (See also: Morrison’s Doom Patrol)

    The DVD example: Babylon 5, and most serialized television dramas. Or even just regular series like The Twilight Zone or The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

    Fans want MORE of what they enjoy. Comics publishers are lucky in that they have a non-stop assembly line feeding that desire, and don’t rely (as much) on specific creators to write the next book. Ideally, you want that, and if you can find a writer who has the endurance to write serialized fiction, even better. But now… many writers don’t enjoy that, and many will either take breaks, or write finite series.

  16. People like this remind me of the super old people who complained about Breaking Bad because it was about a meth cook and meth cooks are bad people. They can’t separate a story’s key figure (or even its protagonist) from its hero. Sometimes stories are about villains. Get over it.

  17. Sometimes stories are about villains, no argument there. I can enjoy those, I can enjoy stories where the hero turns into a villain. However hero to villain has become marvel go-to story and the heroes who change into villains rarely if ever get called for it. Tony Stark and Carol Danvers did horrible things to innocent people and with the exception of a few angry glares and a few bruises skipped away from their actions. No one will ever hold the Illuminati to account for blowing up a planet.

    Also the current storyline of marvel comics proves that Gyrich and Waller were right. In the comics Gyrich is always afraid of the heroes getting out of control and taking over, in the JL cartoon show on Cartoon Network Waller was afraid of the same thing. Now marvel has proven them right: Steve has turned back and taken over. The marvel universe is a place where honor, loyalty and friendship have either died or atrophied to the point of impotence. It celebrates America as a nazi nation and Captain America as a nazi hero. When they switch back I doubt that any of the real consequences of this storyline will be dealt with anymore than any of the consequences of any of the other events were dealt with. Yea, I’m super old and I don’t like that. But I didn’t like it when Don Blake was introduced as a completely separate character in Thor, I didn’t like it when Johnny Storm started to sleep with Alicia Masters… Bad writing is bad writing and I reserve the right not to like it.

  18. “They can’t separate a story’s key figure (or even its protagonist) from its hero. Sometimes stories are about villains. Get over it.”

    I’ve noticed how many fans want every protagonist to be a perfect role model, someone who never makes a mistake, always does the right thing, and wins easy victories.

    These fans don’t want stories or characters; they want a wish-fulfillment power fantasy. Which is OK if you’re 13. But I’m talking about people who, in most cases, are well over 30.

  19. “Why, in 2017, would anybody want to consume media bit by bit, waiting for a month between servings of an ongoing comic …”

    I assume there are still people who like serialized storytelling. Otherwise, most comic shops — which are heavily dependent on periodicals, a.k.a. pamphlets and floppies — would go out of business.

    I converted to trades and graphic novels more than a decade ago, but SOMEONE must be buying those pamphlets. The companies are still publishing them.

  20. “Our store is fueled by new generation readers for the most part so pretty much everyone but Marvel and DC over performs.”

    —specifically, though, you cited Boom as an overperformer in your store. in 2017, Boom has run between 1-2% marketshare at Diamond. What percentage of business is Boom at your store in 2017?

  21. I’m not sure what you hope to glean from this info? Say I have info for 50 companies, and they all sell the same. I mean, that’s not the case, but in that case, Marvel is doing 2% and Boom is doing 2%. But I’m gonna tell you that Boom is doing 2% and that would prove to you…?

    For the record, Boom is sitting anywhere from 3-4% here, but good luck figuring out that that means without all the other data.

  22. “Brandon Schatz says
    07/06/2017 3:55 PM AT 3:55 PM

    There’s a lot of good points in these comments, some of which are better addressed in other columns – but quickly: Marvel Unlimited is tops, and I recommend it to all folks who are a bit cash poor, but want to “keep up”. Those people more often than not come back here to buy GNs of the stuff they loved, and spent next to nothing on things they didn’t… and in doing so, keep a good feeling in their hearts about comics in general.”

    I applaud you for that enlightened view. Wish more retailers felt the same way instead of feeling threatened by digital. And yep, quite agree with being happier and more likely to buy more graphic novels and collections when one doesn’t feel like they just wasted $$$ on some crappy story arc on flimsy, stapled paper.

    Some of my first comic purchases were Velvet and Monstress TPBs (via comiXology Unlimited), and Black Widow TPBs and Brubaker Captain America Omnibus HCs (via Marvel Unlimited). Velvet, I double dipped and got the deluxe HC. Monstress, definitely planning on getting the deluxe HCs if/whenever that’s released.

  23. I’m that guy that buys comic books in a comic book store every week. Part of that is because I’ve been doing that for 30 years this month which makes me an OLD. Part of that is because I like episodic storytelling as comics and tv used to be; I’ll even read books a chapter or two at a time. I can take a break after each issue, chapter, or episode, absorb it, let tension build, maybe there’s a worthy cliffhanger that doesn’t work so well in a trade, move on to something else, come back to it later. That’s how I consume my entertainment; others are different, but as long as they’re reading comics in some way, that’s fine with me. I’ve binged as well, and while that may work for some trades and some shows, I wish I hadn’t for the most recent Black Mirror. So I’m that guy. I’m not buying much Marvel or DC if at all, but I’m that guy.

    And since I am that old guy, here’s my old guy rant: comics still get put down a lot outside of the industry, even with the blockbuster movies where those characters and ideas came from. Within the industry, we put down companies, retailers, distributors, other fans, etc., and that’s going to happen. But as comic lovers, can we just call single issues ‘comics’ or ‘comic books’ rather than floppies, pamphlets, or periodicals? It makes it seem like even comic fans are putting down comics, the very thing they are a fan of. Regardless of what format you prefer, single issues shouldn’t be any lesser than any other format. Call them monthlies if you have to, but they’re just…they’re just comics, man.

    And none of this is a rip on you, George. I’m just late night ranting on something that’s bothered me a long time.

  24. I am also an OLD and you know what? I have been doing this for a long time. I buy the books I like and ignore the ones I don’t. Some stay, some leave. Some are good and some are bad. Lately, DC seems more like a comic book company to me and they get more of my money.
    People say they wish for the old days, but I like the new paper and some of the new storylines have been fantastic. Where else can you get something called Shirtless Bear Fighter?
    Great article. And I liked the pictures, they made me laugh.

  25. Jeff: I call them pamphlets (though rarely floppies) because that’s what people in the comics industry call them.

    Maybe people should just try to enjoy comics, instead of demanding solemn “respect” for them. Maybe we should get rid of the term “comics” because most of them aren’t intentionally funny anymore. (Will Eisner’s term, “sequential art,” never caught on.)

    Most of this longing for respect comes from older fans, people who began reading comics before the mainstream media discovered them in the mid-1980s (the era of Maus, Watchmen, and Dark Knight Returns) and pronounced them cool. Before then, you were usually regarded as — to use a modern term — “mentally challenged” if you read a comic book past the age of 12. Which, I guess, was better than the ’50s perception of comic book readers as rapists and child molesters.

    Comics have come a long way, but I’m not sure monthly periodicals about superheroes will ever achieve the respect that graphic novels have won. And, considering the quality of so many current pamphlets, I’m not sure how much respect they deserve.

  26. People who buy serialized fiction want to know what happens next to characters they care for. It has to be manageable. Too many titles, events/crossovers make it impossible to follow.
    People who like good stories, with a beginning , middle and an (satisfying) end buy collections.
    Different audiences means different products and different publishing strategies.
    See, Marvel? See, DC? Marketing is easy.

  27. Comics readers are looking for wish fulfillment power fantasies? Who would ever have guessed? It’s called escapism for a reason. I had zero interest in Breaking Bad, you got me there.

  28. I agree, Marvel sucks. That’s why I don’t read Marvel books and haven’t done so since Civil War. Marvel books are stupid, bad wrritten, uninteresting, retelling the same story once and again and again and again.

    It’s obvious how much you despise Marvel. Why, then, still buying their crap? You should read and write about other companies (not DC, it’s almost as bad as Marvel).

  29. We enjoy a lot of Marvel’s stories, as do our customers. We do not like their marketing. We reward story, and would not do anything to impede a customer looking to connect with stories they love, from any company.

  30. “But as comic lovers, can we just call single issues ‘comics’ or ‘comic books’ rather than floppies, pamphlets, or periodicals?”

    I don’t really care if someone calls something a floppy or a pamphlet, or people who have something against calling comics floppies or pamphlets, but I do take issue with not calling comics periodicals. That’s because they ARE periodicals. Just like newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, etc. comics are a media form that comes out on a scheduled regular basis, ergo they are by definition periodicals. It’s in no way “putting them down” it’s just describing how they’re released.

    To say that they aren’t is rather ignorant of the term.

  31. Brandon is obviously very young and inexperienced still. Despite working in comic shops for a decade, he is still blinded by youthful idealism.

    He offers a lot of general platitudes, yet few concrete, detailed answers. Brandon is like the Black Lives Matter who blocks the street and demands “change,” but when you ask them for specific details on what they want changed, they just yell that you’re a racist.

    It will be interesting to see what 48-year old Brandon thinks of Marvel’s marketing. Presumably, by that point, ComiXology and torrent sites will have put his shop out of business, so he may have different views on Marvel’s current marketing ploys.

    Personally, I’d rather have Marvel of today rather than Marvel under Bill Jemas with the gay Rawhide Kid, Trouble, and Marville vs Capt. Marvel.

  32. Jim Robert Bader, Doug, seriously? You guys are so funny with your ageism towards Brandon who only wants the best for comics and the industry, the same industry you enjoy.

    It’s easy to criticise someone for being blinded by their generation when the critic is himself blinded by his own.

    Thanks Brandon for a great article! Loved it.

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