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Author Topic: May 2005 Sales Figures: Marvel Thumps DC  (Read 11656 times)
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Aldous
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« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2007, 09:20:22 AM »

For some reason the moderator shut down the "new continuity" thread (the most popular on the Superman board) before Nightwing could respond again to my startlingly eloquent defence of the old "Amazing Spider-Man" comic, but it appears any mention of the B. word -- rhymes with urn -- is enough to get a thread closed, which I think is barmy. Yes, I know we go off on tangents, but even so...

Who wants to buy 50 titles to follow a story? Not me. I can hardly follow the arguments against it on these boards. Why can't we still have a great comic like 1960s "Amazing" that is byzantine (at times) and never-ending (it's true) but which nevertheless draws in a reader quickly and easily, a reader who can hardly wait another month to see what happens next in the life (super-heroic or otherwise) of the hero; a comic that sells a few million copies a month? Are all the good stories now told? Have all the good ideas been used (much like the view of the 60s music nut who believes all the good songs have been written)?

If customers feel obligated to buy issues to keep up, if they feel they must own this and that because of a collecting cult, well... you will only get a small percentage of the potential readership. If customers cannot wait to get the next issue because the art (eg. Romita) is so good, and the story (eg. Lee) is so captivating... you will get a huge percentage of the potential readership. Nobody changed those rules.

I agree the monthly hand-held comic is not outdated, any more than the weekly women's magazine is outdated, or any more than a book with covers and the printed page is outdated. I doubt if it's the format which is at fault.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2007, 12:41:19 PM »

All this talk about duplicating the Manga model is something I just don't get.

Superhero Comics are a niche audience, and Manga is a niche audience too. They are nowhere near "all-audiences" in appeal, but appeal to a popular subculture of manga devotees, one larger than superhero comics currently, but still as much a niche audience.

I've never seen a person over 25 in my life buying or reading Manga. Granted, this is my anecdotal experience and thus impeachable, but all the same, I bought my Dad coffee table books about the history of Jazz for Father's Day, not Yaoi, boy pilot, Samurai, or magical girl comics.

Yes, I'm being a wiseacre here, and I do know there is some Manga with a non-teenaged girl in mind. But the point here is, following the Manga model isn't a magic bullet to a bigger readership. If you replace one niche audience with a slightly larger niche audience...you're still a niche audience.

And think superhero comics have too much sex and violence? Hoooo boy, just WAIT 'till you read Manga!

In all honesty, these discussions on how to "save" comics bore me. Not just because they smack of armchair quarterbacking, and further, cravenly scapegoat comics's greatest allies, the traditional fan audience (who have zero reason to be penitent)...but mainly because I simply don't care.

I just don't care.

I care slightly less about the health and vitality of the "comics industry" than I do about the box office grosses of movies.

A lot of writers (Warren Ellis) say we have an "obligation" to "support" the comics industry. But I, as a consumer and a taxes-paying American adult, have no obligations, except to read and buy the books I want to read and buy. And if that's exclusively "fanboy" comics like Geoff John's JSA and Dan Slott's SHE-HULK, that's my decision to make with my money.

And frankly, I don't think comics are in trouble at all. Various Chicken Littles have been saying the sky is falling for decades now. In 1982, Roger Stern said that he didn't think comics would last two more years. He was off by a quarter-century. Comics outlived the radio show and the pulp novel. They're not going anywhere.

All the same, there is something of a truth to what is being said here: teenaged girls that buy Manga look at superhero comics for something to read and find nothing. This is the portion of the audience that enjoys Gaiman's SANDMAN, UNCANNY X-MEN, or BIRDS OF PREY.

My first, callous instinct is to say, "so what?" The reality of the situation is that superhero comics are to men what romance novels are to women. They're written by boys for boys and there's nothing necessarily wrong with that. There's little that appeals to the Sailor Moon and Inuyasha crowd? Gee, no kidding.

Then again, there's the example of LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES. The fandom had a big female component. Why? LEGION had an emphasis on romances as well as adventure, on interpersonal dynamics and long term soap-style subplots; and finally, the book had a great many badass babes in the days when most teams had just a token girl.

So, maybe writing something for the goth girl crowd benefits everybody. It didn't hurt the Legion, that's for sure.
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Aldous
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« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2007, 01:24:38 PM »

Quote from: JulianPerez
In all honesty, these discussions on how to "save" comics bore me.

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...I simply don't care.

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I just don't care.

You doth protest too much. Or, like, you wrote the biggest post on the subject by far.

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I've never seen a person over 25 in my life buying or reading Manga.

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They are nowhere near "all-audiences" in appeal...

Thus speaks the parochial American. Cast your sights a bit wider. And this argument echoes the recent "I never saw such-and-such at the spinner rack" evidence regarding Marvel's supposed lack of popularity at colleges.
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nightwing
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« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2007, 01:27:23 PM »

Julian writes:

Quote
I've never seen a person over 25 in my life buying or reading Manga. Granted, this is my anecdotal experience and thus impeachable, but all the same, I bought my Dad coffee table books about the history of Jazz for Father's Day, not Yaoi, boy pilot, Samurai, or magical girl comics.

I have to agree with you there.  I know someone must be buying manga, because there's so darn much of it (it's taken over a whole row of shelves in a local Barnes and Noble, for instance).  But whoever they are, I don't know any of them.  Same with anime DVDs; I "know" people love them, but I've never seen any of those people actually making a purchase, let alone known them well enough to quiz them on it.

But yes, all this talk of aping manga is silliness.  It's as wrong-headed as making comics more like action films, or more like video games, or more like raunchy HBO shows, or any of the other dumb tactics they've adopted over the years.  Comics work best when they are true to themselves, because they do what they do better than any other medium.  Or they used to, anyway.  And just as, for my money, a comic-based movie can never be as satisfying as the comic it was based on, a comic that tries to be something else is doomed to fail, too.

I think what some people may mean is that the future of comics lies in mega-sized trades as opposed to monthly floppies, and there may be something to that.  Certainly the Essential and Showcase volumes owe a debt to the manga format (it's hard to imagine Marvel and DC offering so many pages for so cheap without something to inspire them), and if not for them I wouldn't be buying anything.

Quote
I just don't care.

I care slightly less about the health and vitality of the "comics industry" than I do about the box office grosses of movies.

At last something we agree on.  Smiley  I really don't care if comics go away tomorrow, except that whatever production and distribution infrastructure they've established is presumably also producing those Showcases, Archives and trades of vintage material, and I'm partial to those.  

I'm glad so many people are happy with the way the Super-books are going now with Busiek and other talents on board, but I finally realized this year that I've turned a corner and I can't go back.  I spent long enough away from comics, and still have enough sticker shock over their prices, that I don't think anything could get me to buy monthlies again.  If Cooke's "Spirit" couldn't do it, it's unlikely anything will.

That WSJ article on DC's girl-friendly line said comics are doing better now than they have in years, sales-wise.  So I don't feel bad not "supporting" them, any more than I feel bad about not supporting a politician who represents beliefs counter to my own, or a restaurant that sells food I find unpalatable.  Comics are doing fine without me, and good luck to them.
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MatterEaterLad
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« Reply #20 on: June 20, 2007, 03:59:43 PM »

"I never saw such-and-such at the spinner rack" evidence regarding Marvel's supposed lack of popularity at colleges.

I wish that thread wasn't shut down as well.  Cool  I still strongly believe that letters to letter columns are a terrible way to gauge readership demographics or numbers.  Much as I hate anecdotal evidence, observations at spinner racks beat self-selected letters published by a comic book company.

I actually agree with much of what Julian said, the health or demise of particular media have so many variables that its often difficult to unravel them with the best of statistics.  Very few people 100 years ago would have predicted that we would have stayed with the internal combustion engine so long.
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Permanus
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« Reply #21 on: June 20, 2007, 04:37:53 PM »

Yeah, despite my dire predictions of another glut in the market, I don't really think comics per se are in any danger, just Marvel and DC sales figures. (Here in Europe, comics are doing just fine, thanks, and indeed I shall be off to Paris in a couple of weeks to restock on some of our home-grown stuff.)

The talk of emulating the Manga model in order to boost sales is obviously a bit of a fallacy, because it's comparing apples and carrots. Comics aren't going to do better just because everyone starts doing things the Japanese way (and like Julian and Nightwing, I am completely baffled by Manga), any more than I am going to win the Nobel Prize for Literature by ripping off Derek Walcott.

There is, in comics lore, the great myth of the "comics industry", as if all cartoonists were somehow working in the same factory, and it is our sacred duty to keep buying comics in order to put food on their tables. In the 1980s, it was very much a brand thing: you liked Marvel Comics or DC comics, you couldn't just like comics. This is of course a patently ridiculous state of affairs: I didn't just buy The Incidental Man by Iris Murdoch because it was published by Vintage Press.

Oh, and Julian, I read She-Hulk too. Only I read it for the complex storyline, intriguing characters and beautiful artwork, not like you, you filthy, nasty boy.
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Super Monkey
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« Reply #22 on: June 20, 2007, 06:32:58 PM »

Quote
I wish that thread wasn't shut down as well.

Watch it bud Wink

Quote
I have to agree with you there.  I know someone must be buying manga, because there's so darn much of it (it's taken over a whole row of shelves in a local Barnes and Noble, for instance).  But whoever they are, I don't know any of them.  Same with anime DVDs; I "know" people love them, but I've never seen any of those people actually making a purchase, let alone known them well enough to quiz them on it.

There are a few Anime and Manga fans at this very site, I believe that their avatars reflect it.

Quote
I think what some people may mean is that the future of comics lies in mega-sized trades as opposed to monthly floppies, and there may be something to that.  Certainly the Essential and Showcase volumes owe a debt to the manga format (it's hard to imagine Marvel and DC offering so many pages for so cheap without something to inspire them), and if not for them I wouldn't be buying anything.

I believe that TPBs and OGNs are the way to go, the only reason why monthlies are still around is because enough people still buy them to worth making them, and many of those same people then turn around and buy the trade, then the hardcover trade and then the super mega deluxe over-sized hardcover trade, then the B&W cheap trade and then...( it goes on for a while).

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« Reply #23 on: June 20, 2007, 10:12:31 PM »

Well, if there weren't monthlies, there wouldn't be trades; not unless American comics began to appear like in Europe, with albums that appear whenever the creators are finished with them.
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