John Mayo is the lord emperor of market data in the comic book industry, and he recently wrote an essay which amounted to a “State of the Union Address.” You can access it here:
I too watch this data monthly looking for trends and hiccups, looking for angles to play, looking to see where titles really stand in comparison with each other, etc. The difference between me and Mayo is that one of us is willing to mix in news on the size of his prostate along with the data. You're welcome.
Mayo comes to the same conclusions I have about the market. If you simply look at the pure dollars generated and issues sold, comics are on the upswing. Particularly trades. Comic book companies generated more revenue and sold more issues in 07 than they did in 06, and that’s been a consistent trend for the past 4 years or more.
But there is cause for alarm. While overall sales are up, essentially every regular title loses readers each month. It’s not debatable and it’s not a fluke. Barring a major shake-up, crossover, creator change, or massive marketing push, each regular ongoing book sells fewer books this month than it did last month, and it will sell even fewer books in the future. It’s scary, frankly.
So that being the case, if every regular book loses readers each month, how are overall sales up??? The answer is new #1s, new one-shots, and new specials. The industry is absolutely saturated with “Newer-Bigger-Faster-Stronger-Sure-To-Change-The-World-As-We-Know-It” junk. And I think you’ll agree with me, that most of this is JUNK. And the comic book companies have become junkies for this junk, and it is costing us storytelling big time.
Rather than put energy into producing quality books with a forever diminishing return, the economic realities of comic publishing in the 21st century basically mandate that Marvel and DC shove increasingly sensationalistic DRECK at us so they can stay afloat.
Can you blame them? Telling great stories month after month is a losing strategy in this era. These are business people who must make a profit or stop feeding their children. Do you want to know why we have disgusting mutant shit babies like “One More Day” infecting the racks? Because we, the comic book cadre, have demanded sensationalist garbage for years.
Exterminators is fantastic. But we don’t buy it, we don’t reward it, and we let it wither away. The Order is a breath of fresh air – a mainstream Initiative spin-off that dared to tell personal stories, attack relevant issues, and take an approach off the beaten path. And it did it all with panache and humor. And we pissed it away.
It’s very easy to rage against the machine, as it were. Damn you Marvel and DC for handing us this filth. But when the do sneak a diamond into the mix, damned if the core audience doesn’t wipe its arse with the gem and then buys a copy of World War Hulk Aftersmash Gamma Chronicles Variant.
Comics are in a precarious state and I place at least 2/3 of the blame on the consumers. We need to buy more responsibly, reward quality, stick with a good book for more than three issues.
The other 1/3 of the blame goes straight to the comic book moguls for gross negligence when it comes to generating new readers. Rather than go through the trouble of adding new teats to the mix, these sadistic pricks are dedicated to chafing the nipples that are already there until they are raw, red, and fixing to fall off. My nipple hurts, Marvel. Find another tap, please.