With the major two American Publishers (Marvel Comics and DC Comics) largely pricing themselves out of the periodic comic book market, ($4 for a 22 story page comic? Are you on crack?! 🙂 ) and failing to engage any sizeable readership in the sub-thirty market, and losing readers in their dwindling above 30 market, they are kept around largely to just be an idea space/loss leader for the actually profitable divisions of the multinational oligarchies that own them.
That is not to say there are not brilliant writers and artists that work for Marvel Comics and DC Comics, but unfortunately they are crippled by a few things.
First a pricing structure (over $3 for a couple dozen pages of comics. 10 minutes of reading entertainment is moronic. It is a poor value for dollar when compared to just about anything else) , second a quality structure ( abhorent paper and cover quality. Poor and obtrusive placement of ads, especially when compared to better Indy publishers. Marvel Comics is especially culpable in this) and third a flawed editorial structure/mindset ( lets inundate the MARKET, dilute the brand and confuse and frustrate the readership, with too much overlapping, and conflicting, and redundant books, and events, and storylines. Let us not give prospective readers one clear on-ramp to our comics, a single Batman book to follow, or Spiderman book to follow, when we can publish 20 poorly selling, and market-fractioning books instead. And let us not place the books or advertise the books, places where our demographic could actually find them).
All three of these ingrained ‘sales’ structures of major American comics, seemingly just designed by moronic frat boys, rather than capable professionals who really love and want to grow/expand the medium.
Marvel and DC comics for the last few decades since the 90s, proving themselves inept at selling American Comics to Americans or anyone else. Think about it, Marvel and DC comics, these publishers, their inability to sell 100 thousand comics in a nation of 300 Million people, is an unprecedented level of failure. Especially with the hard work of selling these characters to the mainstream already done by the movies and TV shows.
If I were the parent companies, AT&T and Disney, I would wholesale fire the Marketing and Editorial departments of both companies, and bring in fresh blood with fresh ideas. Because, clearly the people currently running these divisions have not the slightest clue how to sustain and grow their print model/readership.
Now on the Independent comic book publishing Front, there are still promising companies, IMAGE COMICS, and some of the smaller companies such as Alterna and Albatross etc. these companies are really challenging the ingrained pricing and content and quality deficits of marvel and dc. these companies resembling more the mad creativity and broad appeal of marvel comics in its bronze age glory days, before it lost its way. before the peter principle took hold of marvel and dc, and they grew past their best and most useful state.
WHERE I BUY JUST ABOUT NOTHING MONTHLY FROM THE BIG TWO (Exception being Christopher Priest’s DEATHSTROKE) I buy just about everything from ALTERNA, and ALBATROSS and a bunch from IMAGE. Dark Horse, IDW, Ahoy, Aftershock, Titan, all companies putting out great books.
However a recent rash of buyouts of Indy comic companies, by deep pocket Chinese companies may bode ill for true Indy American Comics. and may signal an end to this current golden age of american comics.
AND YES, I WOULD ARGUE THAT LOW SALES AND OTHER ISSUES TO THE CONTRARY, WE ARE IN A GOLDEN AGE OF COMIC BOOKS, graphic literature, slims. cause when you get away from the reprehensible shenanigans and mismanagement and flooding the market tactics of the big two, the comics themselves, have truly never been better, or richer, with nearly every genre of book being published, and across the board, a higher level of story and art then ever before.
i grew up in the bronze age of comics, i love the bronze age comics, and there were some great comics. but across the board the quality and creativity is better today. you just have to push a lot of that noise of the big two out of the way so you can see eric powell’s hillbilly and goon, so you can see brubaker’s criminal, so you can see rucka’s lazarus so you can see walker’s bitter root, so you can see dingess’ manifest destiny, and the list goes on. and even in marvel, great comics are being made, ta-nehisi coates black panther and captain america, jason aAron’s thor, montclare’s moon girl and devil dinosaur, g. willolw wilson’s ms. marvel and the list goes on, it is just marvel has made these books (for reasons mentioned) unpalatable to pick up monthly. it is better to wait for the collected edition and read the story that way.
for monthly comics I really like the Alterna model in terms of pricing, and seeking old fashioned newstand distribution. And hopefully other companies can follow their homegrown lead so we continue to have American comic book companies not potentially censored by allegiance to foreign interests.
Hope you found the above slight tirade useful. It comes from a place of love for the medium, and love that a home grown, domestic comic book company… can endure.
If you want to buy the back issues of any of the books I mention, or subscribe to books (preorder new books, I highly recommend it) use the below link. You will get great books, and it will earn a few pennies for this blog. Enjoy!