More prediction talk, and a couple New Comics Day comments.

§ January 10th, 2008 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on More prediction talk, and a couple New Comics Day comments.

A few more predictions for 2008, from you, the reader:

Redhead Fangirl sez:

“My local comics shop guy says that some comic stores will go out of business in 2008 because of the economy.”

I’ve mentioned before that comic sales seem to trend upwards when the economy is heading downwards…an assumption that appears to be shared by a number of folks on the publishing end of things, judging by some e-mails I received after I brought it up the last time. Not saying some comic shops won’t go out of business…some of the Diamond invoices over the last month or two have been ridiculously ginormous, leaving some retailers scrambling to make ends meet. Of course, if the economy really takes a header, while the desire for some funnybook escapism may increase, $5 per gallon of gas and an endless parade of foreclosed homes may keep that money from reaching comic book sellers’ pockets.

Mightygodking has this to say for himself:

“…Somebody is going to put together an eMusic-like .CBR/.CBZ pay-downloading site that isn’t company exclusive, get most of the indies and Dark Horse to sign on, and debut in early 2009 with a bang and make a shitload of money, and eventually DC and Marvel will sign on with them.”

Now that’s not a bad idea…having a central download store, rather than each publisher having their own storefront, would possibly go a long way to encouraging “one stop shopping” for downloadable comics. If such a thing were enough of a success to tempt Marvel and DC, though, I’d expect the Big Two would simply crib the business model for their own use rather than share the profits with another company. Unless, of course, this theoretical downloadable-comic store is so huge and successful, the one place you have to go to buy your online comics, that Marvel and DC pretty much have to go with them if they want anyone to buy their stuff.

Hopefully, however it shakes out, there won’t be any foolin’ around with DRM protection since 1) that discourages sales, and 2) it generally takes some bored teenager in Ohio about ten minutes to break any DRM scheme any company can come up with.

EDIT: And, as has been pointed out to me, Marvel and DC offering downloads on new material would almost certainly raise objections from retailers, and likely Diamond as well. Yeah, yeah, I know, that’s “old retailing” thinking, but we’re still quite a ways away from a download model like this being viable, at least for the Big Two. Every time there’s an attempt to cut out the middle man by the big publishers, a crapstorm arises, and “hey, kids, buy your new comics online!” would cause some problems, at least in today’s marketplace. I can think of a workaround or two, and ways to allow downloads like this that don’t cut out the comic retailers that already exist, but perhaps that’s a post for another time rather than an after-the-fact edit on this post.

Googum googums:

“…One of the little sub-publishing lines like Wildstorm or Marvel Max or maybe even Vertigo will bag out of the monthly comic racket entirely, going all trade/OGN or online first or something.”

I was actually considering predicting something like this, myself. A year may be too soon for one of these imprints to make the shift entirely to TP, and at least one (Vertigo) still has enough strong-selling monthlies to keep the periodical format around. But I’m wondering when and where either Marvel or DC will take one of their established superhero properties and attempt a serialized trade format with it on, say, a quarterly or twice-yearly basis.

Googum also predicts:

“The mid-range comics keep getting shuffled: books like Catwoman, She-Hulk, Avengers: the Initiative, even Spider-Girl, won’t be allowed to just coast along at their current level of sales. Relaunch will follow relaunch, making these books limited series without set ends.”

Discussing comic reboots/relaunches with a friend of mine, I noted an observation I’ve made in my (ahem) several years of comics retailing. “Every jumping-on point is also a jumping-off point.” Every time you make a clean break and attempt to start fresh, in an attempt to attract new readers, you also give some of the old readers, who’ve had just about enough, a convenient stopping point. So, hopefully, the publishers won’t keep relaunching these titles, and instead attempt to rejuvenate them midstream without the artificial bump brought about with yet another new #1. Sure, restarting Spider-Girl gave the series a brief spurt in orders from retailers, but our orders are now back down to what they were before the relaunch, and I don’t imagine we’re the only ones.

Brian has lots to say, starting with:

“Comic book fans will complain, generally either about how the movies don’t match up with the comic book continuity (The Joker isn’t Red Hood!?!), or that the currently published books aren’t appealing to the ideal newcomer, completely missing the point that comics are published to promote the movies, toys, and other tie-ins, not the other way around.”

Well, “comic book fans complaining” is a gimme, my friend! But, yeah, even though Iron Man and Dark Knight look like they’ll be pretty good and about as reasonable an adaptation of comic books that a real, adult movie-going audience would be willing to accept, there’s always going to be someone not happy because some obscure, non-important bit of history won’t be mentioned, despite the fact its inclusion would make no story sense or even derail the proceedings.

My favorite response is the postings of “well, this is what they should have done,” followed with that fan’s theoretical film’s plot synopsis which no one in their right mind would ever, ever film.

Mark foresees:

“Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of its run: Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s FANTASTIC FOUR will get later and later.”

Yeah…I’m thinking “fill-in artist, sooner or later” — either that, or Fantastic Four will officially move to a quarterly schedule.

And finally, mighty Rich Handley unleashes this fever dream:

“DC will finally realize that Swamp Thing is the only comic that really matters in the grand scheme of things, canceling all its other books (aside from Hellblazer) to focus exclusively on its new AST (All-Swamp Thing) imprint. AST will produce 24 titles per month, each featuring a different writer-artist team’s interpretation of Swamp Thing, and the multiverse will be restructed during a 52-part maxiseries entitled Swamp Crisis, in which it will be revealed that the Doug Wheeler and Gerry Conway runs actually took place in Swamp-515.”

I FULLY SUPPORT THIS DEVELOPMENT. DC Comics…make this happen. But leave All Star Batman on the schedule, please…perhaps making it All Star Batman and Swamp Thing, The Muck-Encrusted Mockery of a Man.

In other news:

  • There’s one thing I completely forgot about regarding this new thrice-monthly schedule on Amazing Spider-Man, but remembered as I was pulling books for the comic savers on Wednesday. I have several pull-list customers who, of the several Spidey-titles available, only had Amazing Spider-Man on their subscriptions. This wasn’t just a case of people only buying ASM because of J. Michael Straczynski’s writing, though that applied to a handful of them. Primarily a number of my customers just bought ASM because, of all the Spidey titles, that was the flagship Spidey title, the one least likely to go away. Or that they needed a Spidey fix, and just the one comic was enough.

    Well, that one monthly comic is suddenly becoming three, and the people who just bought ASM because they didn’t want to buy two other monthly books starring Spider-Man are going to find themselves buying three Spidey books a month anyway (at least until the schedule collapses). I’ve already had a couple tentative “well, I’ll try it out for now”s from pull list customers, and a handful of drops. And though I’ve only had a day’s worth of sales to judge by, I don’t know that ASM is selling any more than normal. We’ll see.

  • Onslaught: Reborn #5 came out this week. Let’s look at its release schedule, shall we?

    #1 – 11/29/06

    #2 – 12/28/06

    #3 – 03/07/07

    #4 – 07/25/07

    #5 – 01/09/08

    Oh for God’s sake. What exactly was the hold-up on this comic? It certainly wasn’t to add quality.

    But I will say this: at least it finished. It was no damned good, but you got an ending. You can’t say that about Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine. (Well, you can say it was no damned good.)

  • The Teen Titans Lost Annual is finally out this week, after sitting on a shelf at DC for about three years. You know, having looked at it, and given the reason it was shelved (“too weird,” as per artist Jay Stephens in this quote I related a while back)…why they would have held this back, given some of the stuff they have published, I have no idea. It’s just pure goofy fun, and well worth your money. The late Bob Haney gets the last laugh, at long last.

    And it’s got a killer sketchbook section by Nick Cardy. Killer, I say. That man wields a mighty pencil.

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