Goon Creator Eric Powell Has REALLY Had Enough of the Superhero Monopoly

Did you see this? Goon creator, and writer/artist Eric Powell put this little video together to decry the state of the comic book industry. It was made in support of the Creators Front for Diversity in Comics. (If you can read that name without thinking of Life of Brian, then what are you doing reading comics?)

Anyway, go watch, then come back and discuss.


So, how about that? There's a lot of anger in that video, and if you're familiar with Powell, you'll know it's not a new thing. Ron and I recently laughed at the final page of the Goon backup in Billy the Kid's Old-Timey Oddities #4, where the titular character basically called people who read superhero comics "Mexican-Jew baby rapers." It was tongue in cheek, and quite funny, but at the same time, if you've been following Powell on Twitter lately, it seems like he's been getting angry about this.

Comics can be anything we want them to be. To have one genre dominate the art form is just sad. Too much originality & talent out there.

Why are comic sales always declining? Well, if ya hated country music but you only got country stations, I'd turn off the fucking radio.

Some of the best new work out there gets ignored while Marvel can sell a shit ton of books just by making a character red.

Big change at Marvel?! Ya mean they are gonna act like a real publisher and do diversified new content instead of whoring 50 yr old ideas?!

And so on.

His arguments go from being upset that people working at DC and Marvel aren't all getting creator owned profit sharing, to the very real statement that superheroes completely dominate the market. It's nothing we haven't heard before, and is really just a more raw version of what Robert Kirkman's famous manifesto was all about a little while back

I think blaming the folks at Marvel and DC for doing the business they've been doing all along is a little thin. They're publishers, and they create a product that people want to buy. There is no shortage of other product out there, but there is an incredible shortage of comic readers willing to buy it. That's not Marvel or DC's fault. They're just serving their audience. Further, DC makes Vertigo possible, and wouldn't you know it, people barely buy those books either. The problem is large and real, yes, but if those publishers were to suddenly turn about face, and start publishing tons of different genres again, they'd rapidly proceed to lose a whole lot of money. I've seen series after series die, over and over again, many of them written and created by people who sell the top superhero books. But the market doesn't support them. That's up to readers. They don't support them. That doesn't make them bad people. It's their choice.

So, depicting the bigger publishers as raping talented comic book creators is a little harsh, and actually unfair. There are a lot of people who want to work at Marvel and DC. Some do both. Powell's done both.

But the market blows right now, and no one's happy about it. I'd be mad too. But I'm more mad at the public in general, who won't read comics, or give them a chance. But they also don't, in mass, support all that much that I love. Still, there are success stories. We mentioned Kirkman. Everyone who puts a book out at Image Comics has a chance at the big time, and every one of them owns their product. There are others. No one is screwing them over but a public who just isn't interested. What's left but to just be better? Keep trying, and making the best comics we can, and talk about the other great comics you've read to as many people as will listen. I can't fault Powell for being upset about this state of things. But making a habit of alienating people and companies for liking what they like, and producing the product they produce doesn't seem effective. It's just going to turn off people from the excellent work he does (and it is excellent). People who read superhero comics are a potential audience for other kinds of comics. They're not assholes. All this is going to do is piss off the mainstream comic reader, who will then dig in their heels further, and not try new stuff.

If there is only one way to make a living doing comics, and that is to write Batman, how the hell can you demonize anyone for making that choice? I'd rather do that than sell shoes. It's certainly not the publisher's fault for giving out the opportunity.

Still, Powell's goals are good. He wants more people to read comic books that aren't about superheroes. I agree. He wants more comics to succeed that are creator owned. Hell yes. But I can't help but think there's really room for everyone, and if this is once again made into an "us vs. them," the little guy is going to lose out, which would suck.


  1. I think we all know that the one of the reasons we don’t have more readers is that the general public still dismisses the comic book medium.  I recently tried to listen to NPR’s Pop Culture podcast, where they have a comic book guy.  After about 3 episodes I decieded I was done.  Everytime this guy came on, it was this condescension from everyone else and even from him (and he’s supposed to be the guy who loves comics).  Well, I think Powell, in his anger, winds up playing right into that by looking like the stereotypical geek who thinks he’s above everyone else. 

  2. Agree with all your points Josh

    To me it’s like complaining about how TV is full of shows about cops, lawyers and hospitals. Those shows get a lot of ratings and people like them so of course there are a bunch of them. Don’t be mad at the companies for giving people a product they are asking for, be mad at the people.

    I for one would love to read different comics. More stuff like The Walking Dead, Morning Glories and Chew but I’m still going to buy Amazing Spider-Man because it’s been a part of my life for so long and because I just love it.

  3. This video makes me want to buy Powell’s comics. I already purposely buy less Marvel books because they have the biggest market share and I want a more diversified field. So maybe I’m just the right sort of audience for this message.

  4. Powell is writing a Godzilla comic this year. Does he feel the same about that project as he does about doing corporate cape comics? Because it’s the same thing. 

    Powell makes some good points, but I’m in full agreement with Josh on this.  

  5. Well said, Mr Flanagan. Well said, indeed. Your last line nails it.

    I pretty much agree with everything Josh says in his retort. Just about every bit of it. But that still doesn’t mean I’m not conflicted when watching Powell’s audacious video.

    The semi-grown up, rational side of my brain reacts exactly how Josh did. While the irrational teenage, “stick it to the man” part that still exists wants to pump it’s fist and yell, “Hell yeah! Suck on it, corporate America!” But sadly, the every growing disillusioned and cynical part of my brain drowns out everything with a loud, “Would be nice. But not much you can do to change things. It is the way it is.”

    Interesting stuff all around. Powell really makes some great points. Even if not delivered in the most constructive manner given the current climate. But still, how can anyone disagree with how scary our world would be if Jack White was doing ABBA covers?

  6. “So, depicting the bigger publishers as raping talented comic book creators is a little harsh”

    To put it mildly.  Powell’s rhetoric is exactly the kind of thing that makes his position hard to take seriously.  I think it might particularly make it hard for *women readers* to take him seriously and, I find it ironic that particular creators who go on and on about expanding the market (and Powell isn’t the only person I’m thinking of) are completely tone-deaf — or outright alienating — regarding the female half of the potential market.

  7. Some of this I agree with and some I do not – but the question it raises for me is what else can Eric Powell and people in his position do? They make the best comic books they can make, get the best deals they can take – post thought provoking media like this to draw attention to the monopoly in the comics business hell he even gave it panel time in the last issue of BTKOTO, but its obviously not going to change a thing in the industry. So the question is raised with me is: how would we the consumer and those the creators go about effecting this kind of change? Is it simply the desire to change isnt there or isnt big enough, therefore it wont or?

  8. Kirkman’s manifesto was aimed at creators and was a challenge to them to do their best work in the creator owned arena.
    Powell is moving the aim to consumers and retailers. It’s a different angle to the same subject. The industry needs new and diverse ideas to grow.

  9. Great article Josh. However, whats the answer here? We shouldn’t blame the readers for making a decision to buy one thing and not another, because its their prerogative as consumers. We (well some of us) also make the decision to trade wait, and as harmful as that is in some cases its also a perfectly valid decision. And yet, we shouldn’t really blame the publishers because they are only providing a product they know will sell. They are in business after all. So……where does the change come from? 

    I actually divide my money pretty equally between Marvel and various smaller publishers so i dont think im doing anything wrong. But it seems like theres always someone upset with the state of the industry because its so… static.

  10. I agree with Josh, however I think Powell is much out of line. He slams big business too much for me to take him seriously. Besides, the market can barely sustain superhero comics, look at all the mini comics and self published works that only sell a few hundred copies at best. I don’t think I will be buying anymore of Powell’s work.

  11. I’d like everyone to try a little experiment.
    Take a friend of yours that doesn’t read comics to a comics shop. Let them loose to walk around and see if anything appeals to them. While they’re doing that, look for things that you think they would like, and is accessible to them.
    I did this last week, and 90% of what we both came back with were creator owned works.

  12. There is a section of the comics industry where the large majority of comics, especially the ones that make money,  aren’t superhero comics.  And that industry is web comics.  What this tells me is that if you want comics to be about more than just superheroes, as they have traditionally been, then you need to attract more readers beyond the traditional audiences.  The guys going to the comic shops and buying floppies every week are not going to change what they’re into.  They’re not going to be berated or guilted into suddenly caring about comics with a different subject matter.  The solution is to find new people, and those people aren’t in comic shops.

  13. I found this video funny, informative and poignant. And as I type this in the monstrous shadow of a bookcase probably filled with 90% Marvel/DC superhero trades, I cannot help but feel a tiny bit guilty. But the truth is, I just reads what I likes. This video raises a valid and important matter, but I cannot help but feel that it is merely rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic. Is this really going to change anything?

  14. @ohcaroline  Most women I know read more creator owned than Marvel and DC. I think your point is really valid, for every Y The Last Man there is a lot of other stuff that is marketed almost to a boys club.

  15. This seems to be treating the symptoms and not the diesease. I’m with @RoiVampire I love things like the Unwritten and Powers, which though it features super heroes at points I wouldn’t consider a super hero comic, but I’m not going to dump the super hero comics that I’ve loved forever. if comics want to survive the downturn they need to aggressively market themselves and work to remove the stygma that reading comics means you’re mentally subnormal. We complain about product placement but a few people, who aren’t the cast of The Big Bang Theory, reading comics on an iPad on television might go a long way. Also maybe Marvel and DC could spotlight some of the Vertigo and Icon books in a more widely accessible format then they’re own books (I’m thinking morning news shows or something) anything to bring in a wider audience would help to diversify the market.

  16. @ChrisNeseman  I did a similar experiment a few years ago. Got a friend a gift certificate to our local shop cause he always reads the trades at my house. He bought two trades: Marvels and the first trade of Preacher.

  17. It seems like this is a simple supply and demand arguement to me and that’s why there are more superhero comics. I buy all kinds of genres but more people seem to be mainly into Superhero comics becasue that is what they grew up on.  In order for this to change, it will be up to new readers not used to reading superhero comics, especially younger children. The problem with this is if you tak a child into a comic shop what books are they likely to pick up, a grim and gritty western or a Spider-Man comic? Good article Josh and I agree with you on this one 100%.

  18. Marvel and DC are making books that sell to an increasingly small number of people.

    Powell is suggesting making books and promoting books for people BEYOND the current audience.  This is an idea I can really get behind.  Walking Dead and Scott Pilgrim are perfect examples of books that have legs outside of the current weekly comics buying population.  I wish there was infrastructure and money to help promote non-superhero books well in other markets. 

    Most of the creators barely have time and money to live and create let alone taking the time to promote them.

  19. I think it is a frustrating conundrum, that the audience most reachable for this kind of conversation is going to be superhero readers — because they are the people who are already in the shops.  But it seems like the real problem is that the medium isn’t getting out to people who aren’t already in the audience.  Blaiming the people who are supporting the industry for buying what they like is counterproductive.

  20. @ChrisNeseman – That’s a good idea. However, I don’t think I could get most friends who don’t read comics to step a foot into a comic book shop. I have a hard enough time getting them to borrow and try out a book. And that calls for even less effort. If they did, I’m guessing they’d pick out 98% non-superhero/creator owned work.

  21. Ahh. What the heck happened there. None of that was intended to be a quote. Just a reply to Chris.

  22. ohcaroline makes a great point. A good portion of the people who would consider reading a funny book in the first place, are the type who also aren’t against superheroes. The people who need to be reached for the creator owned/non-superhero stuff to really take off, are unfortunately also the people who thumb their nose at and refuse to acknowledge the medium.

  23. Seriously, I don’t  need to be convinced that the things I like suck in order to try something else.  The people who are going to be responsive to the call for diversity are going to be precisely those people who are open to *different* things, which is why we find the “X genre is great and Y genre sucks” talk boring.  (I know that’s not exactly what Powell is getting at here, but it’s a direction that the conversation always seems to go.)

  24. Education through ass-rape !

    i wonder if this has anything to do with the general ignorance of north americans..stay in the corporately sanctioned box little one all is warm and safe.

    read more goon, read more orc stain, read more 6th gun….. 

  25. None of this is news. None of this will change any time soon. He is talking to a very limited audience. The small group of comic fans, already a very small group, that cares about what happens behind the scenes. Only money will change where the power lies. Such a small number of people who know who he is, who watched this don 19t already buy indie/creator owned work that he may have actually spoken to… a few dozen individuals who weren’t already in his camp. Here’s my manifesto: buy what you like, forget what you don 19t. Respect people’s work and effort, but recognize that what you like is entirely subjective.

  26. You know what, screw him!

    The least effective way of reaching me with a sales pitch is to tell me that I should not purchase what I want because it is being produced by rapists.  I buy this stuff to keep a happy part of my childhood still laughing, and buying ‘indie’ books does not accomplish that for me.  What this has accomplished is preventing me from givng Mr. Powell any money.  So congrats on that one big guy.

    Also JohnnyNormal, way to go calling an entire continent ignorant!  I am sure that that is not overreaching at all…

  27. It comes down to reading what you like.  If you like indie non cape stuff, you’ll seek it out.  Its not like those books need the sheer numbers a marvel book does to stay afloat. 

  28. @MisterJ  Yes.

  29. Yes, acting like an arrogant prick is exactly the way for people to listen to you…

  30. Lots of “indie rock elitism” here. sure Powell is a successful indie creator, but his characters aren’t the most accessible 

    Superhero’s are attractive to society because it is the 20th century’s recreation and moreover America’s recreation of Greek and Roman myth. This has been written about by many an academic and is a very valid p piece of pop culture.

    Yes its crappy that the state of comics dictates that you have to work for one of the big 2 on a legacy character to make a living at comics, but it is also crappy that you can sell thousands of copies of your creator owned book and never see a penny from the indie publisher because they haven’t re-cooped their expenses. Either way comics are in a rough place right now. 

    Sell comics where you sell magazines. Maybe things will change. The direct market and LCS are killing comics slowly by making them less accessible to wide audiences. If i could buy my comics at someplace besides an LCS i probably would.  

  31. Rarely is social, political, intellectual change done through subtlety.

    The Declaration of Independence is not a balanced and fair look at monarchy.

    Neither was the underground literature that germinated the ideas and feelings into the minds of the French before the revolution.

    Just because something might not be intellectually nuanced and balanced doesn’t mean it can’t affect change or that it is not valid.

  32. Yes the industry is dominated by super heroes.

    But anybody remember what it was like in the eighties let alone the seventies.


    Suppose we begin by giving credit to the people who made comics more diverse.

    Back in the day, alternative books were way outside the mainstream. Fantagraphics ,Drawn & Quaterly are the two surviving publishers who nurtured alternative creators like Dan Cloves, Peter Bagge, Seth, the Hernandez Brothers;

    Who wasn’t a little disappointed when the Image creators did nothing but more superhero comics (mostly)

    Dark Horse Comics and the Creators collected under the Legend imprint made a big difference. I have little doubt that Frank Miller had something to do with all those crime comics presently on the market, including Gotham Central.

    If only Alan More had been smart enough to go to a publisher like Dark Horse.

    He could have owned ABC. 

    Karen Berger’s Vertigo imprint did much to diversify comics.

    There is Jeff Smith’ Bone of course making comics cool for children.

    Warren Ellis Transmetropolitan. Terry Moores Strangers in Paradise,

    the list goes on. Here is the point.

    These are creators and creations compelling enough to attract people who don’t read comics. And publishers like Dark Horse can offer the production values of the big two without going for all the rights. Actually DC and Marvel publish creator owned books too, but they are much less motivated to do so.

    So let’s give credit to the creators and publishers who did diversify comics.

    And encourage more people like them.

  33. @ScorpionMasada  You know what wasn’t subtle? Scott Pilgrim. Dude just went out and made a book that killed. That’s what comics needs more of. Granted, there’s a large “luck” quotient to that.

  34. The Big Two make money buy selling the books that their customer base wants. It seems pointless to skewer successful businesses on their ability to remain successful. That said, I think those two companies are serving an ever-shrinking niche population, and there is a lot of room for growth in the Comics Industry. At least that’s what I hope.
    I’ve read on this site something to effect that numbers that merit cancellation from Marvel or DC would be considered a successful indie comic. I also think that comic books as an art form suffer because a casual observer is going to look at the industry and only see superhero books. But what if you got Marvel and DC to produce scads of creator-owned, non-superhero comics? You still would be putting those comics in front of the same audience that’s been buying up superhero comics for the past 40 years. If those were the people to buy up non-superhero comics, then DC and Marvel would already be doing that.
    If non-superhero comics have legs in this economy (and I think they might), then Marvel and DC are not positions to capitalize on that or to get those comics in front of the right eyeballs. If lower readership can be profitable for creators going the independent route, then they are more nimble and can take more risks in terms of finding new places to put their books. To my mind, getting support for non-superhero comics means distancing yourself from the two biggest publishers of superhero comics. Nothing about how they’ve run their business makes me think they are capable of doing what Powell wants them to do. If Powell can’t make a living on his art, either his art isn’t as good as he thinks it is, or his art isn’t getting front of the right people. Neither problem is solved by enlisting the aid of a company that specializes in putting superhero comics in front of people who want to read superhero comics (and arguably doesn’t even do a great job at that). I wish comics had more mainstream appeal, and I think for that to happen, people need to have their eyes opened to the fact that there’s more than superheros out there. Someone should do that, but it won’t be the people who have consistently made their money on superheros. And why would you want them to? If this is a wide-open, unexploited area, then someone else should jump in, find a way to attract those eyeballs, and show the Big Two how it’s done. Yelling at the two companies with the most successful business models helps nothing.

  35. I applaud Powell for taking a stand.  I’m a big fan of the Goon and I love his Billy the Kid minis.  I can’t say that I agree with everything he said, and I think that maybe he’s expecting DC and Marvel to act more like places of pure artistic expression rather than businesses, which would be nice, but is probably not going to happen. 

    Let’s not forget that there was a time when genre comics (romance, western, horror) were hugely popular (thanks for helping ruin that Dr. Wertham) and they could be again, but they need to find their audience.  Who would have anticipated the success of the Walking Dead when they first heard of it?  The problem is that Marvel or DC have little reason to change the paradigm.  They won’t take chances on something that will probably not sell until the audience has proven we’re interested in buying them. 

    Until then, I’m going to be buying collections of EC comics to get inspiration for my own writing.

  36. Truer words have never been said, Josh.  I’ve always dug Eric’s work, empathize with his situation, and have done my fare share of complaing.  However, I’ve learned that instigating “a movement” doesn’t create real change, just a new religion.

    The only thing we can do as creators and readers is come up with new solutions.  Without that, we’re just pissing in the wind.

  37. I can understand their point of view and their frustration with the industry. The more I branch out and try creator owned work, the more I seem to enjoy my weekly books. However, I do think they overlook the creators that put a lot of love into their superhero books.

    All that said, it really, REALLY bugs me when people use “rape” to refer to something other than actual rape. I strongly doubt that this video is the kind of thing that will win anyone over to their point of view.

  38. hrmm..I always wondered what indie-elitism actually sounded like and now I know. People buy what they like. I buy mostly super hero stuff because, well, I like Spider-Man and some others but my comics collection has tons of non-super hero titles.
    Everything from the great EC Comics to Fables and Nightmares & Fairy Tales. The point is, like those mindless drones who ;love’ movies ‘based’ on comics, popular doesn’t always mean right but to whine and moan like this just makes you sound lame.

    I’m buying IDW’s Godzilla comic. I have to admit I’m not getting it because Powell is writing it I’m getting it becuase I’ve been a G-Fan most of my life. Does that make me a bad person? No.

  39. great article, Josh. agree with you 100%. i don’t fault the publishers, it’s the consumers & retailers. lots of independent publishers & titles out there, but consumers don’t buy them in large enough quantities.

  40. Video games made out of bedsheets?

    Sign me up.

    That said, I have to admit that about 80 percent of my collection is made up of the aforementioned superhero comics, but I also have to agree with the esteemed Mr. Powell. About seven months ago, I quit my job and started freelancing full-time. Prior to that, I was buying about a dozen books a month, and about half of those were superhero books. After that, with a much tighter budget, I had to cut back, and whittled it down to four titles, only two of which come out on a regular monthly basis. The remaining four? Green Lantern, Walking Dead, Powers (whenever it comes out) and, yes, the Goon (whenever Eric is not making web shorts about rectal bleeding). Several months in, Green Lantern was dropped as well, and I’m basically back to the three books I was reading when I first started buying comics regularly. And you know what? Now that I’m out of the loop of mainstream comics, I could care less about what is going on or is planned for the Big Two. I’ll always be attracted to certain writers and artists that work on superhero books and may even pick up a title or two to enjoy their work. But at this point, I’d much rather enjoy original stories with original characters than what amounts to the infinite rehashing of the same old stories with the same old characters.

  41. It’s been mentioned a couple of times already, but I think if anyone is going to save comics it’s going to be the readers.

    Giving friends copies of trades is the best idea in my opinion. It’s usually a complete story arc and can be read without having to go back to the store every month. I think some fans don’t understand some underlying factors of why people don’t read comics. I think it’s more about the activities around reading comics versus the comics themselves.

    Many people don’t like going to a special store for one specific thing (especially on a weekly basis). Many stores are out of the way or a great distance from where they live. Comics usually are not in supermarkets. There are a lot of people who have a hard time reading comics – it takes a certain skill, believe it or not (see Scott McCloud’s “Understanding Comics”).

    I don’t think it’s fair to get upset with the small group that is actually buying something. The only fault some readers have is not sharing their love of comics. The 3 things us readers can do right now to start spreading the comics love:

    1. Share/Give away trades to friends
    2. Stop “collecting” and give away your comics after you’ve read them. Wizard is dead.
    3. Don’t call reading comics a “hobby”; making birdhouses or collecting stamps are hobbies. Reading is reading whether it’s Tolstoy or Bendis or Powell. If someone asks you what you’re reading, tell them.


  42. Props to Powell for taking a stand.  Pretty much everybody here nailed it as to what needs to be done to get more creator-owned books in the forefront.  I can sum it up very easily though:

    – We who buy the creator-owned stuff continue to buy it
    – Rave about it in the LCS, with friends, or on the blogs and social media tools (can’t emphasize this last option enough)
    – Increased sales on creator-owned stuff gets noticed by the Big Two

  43. I think he has the germ of a point but I don’t think he’s going about it the right way.  If the audience isn’t buying what you put out find another audience.  I know it’s not that simple but it just seems ridiculous to be mad that people aren’t buying your book and the best you can do is belittle them for buying what they do want.  

  44. What a bummer. Powell’s underlying argument has some great ideas behind it, and Josh points out some really intelligent counter-points on the other side too, and for most of us the answer probably lies somewhere inbetween (Inbetween not Powell and the Big 2, not Josh). But when Powell starts fronting his argument with hyperbole and what is essentially name-calling, it becomes a fallacy; it loses all pathos and meaning.

    Side A) [Interesting argument]
    Side B) [Compelling counter-argument]
    Side A) “You’re all Mexican-Jew Baby Rapers, and your points are invalid because they don’t fit within the scope of my personal preferences and moral ideologies”
    Side B) Ummmmm….

  45. @debaser17  Exactly.

  46. Another problem with his argument, if I read it corectly, is this idea that creator owned and non-superhero are the same thing.

  47. How alienating.

    I do appreciate a call for more original creator-generated ideas from someone whose last book starred Billy the Kid, Doctor Jekyll, Jack the Ripper and the Elephant Man.

  48. @Jimski: Why is it “un-creative” to use pre-existing characters?  By that metric, wouldn’t Alan Moore be the least creative writer in comics?  The Watchmen were all analogues of Charlton characters (and would have originally been the DC Trinity if they’d let him use those characters), V ran around in a Guy Fawkes mask in a world George Orwell would have easily recognized from his own work, Neonomicon is just a Cthulu cult story, and League of Extraordinary Gentlmen … makes the point all by itself.  And yet, most medium critics consider him a genius.  

    Despite the above, though, I agree with you, which is why I find statements such as Powell’s, and Moore’s statement about current writers, hypocritical.  Old characters can make the best stories if the writer brings something fresh to the mix.  Are Marvel and DC guilty of resting on years old laurels?  Yep.  But aren’t these the same companies who also turned out “Dark Knight Returns,” Frank Miller’s “Daredevil,” Epic Magazine and Comics, Vertigo (stated above) and other genre-changing works?  Didn’t indie darling Rafael Grampa turn out an AMAZING Wolverine short story  last year in Strange Tales 2?  

    But what do all these examples have in common?  The publisher let the writer off the chain, so to speak.  Publishers need to allow more of this, where the stakes are minimal and the creators don’t have to tie into the “mega-event of the year” of the month.  Short runs on on-goings, or miniseries, or, gods forbid, OGN’s like Marvel used to do in the 80’s?

    Here’s another question.  Authors who make the big money usually have a publicist who rabidly goes after every opportunity to put their client’s face in the spotlight and promote their work.  Look at Dan Brown and John Grisham – these guys get cover stories on “CBS Sunday Morning” and big adds in newspapers and all kinds of visibility when they drop a new book.  Some hire their own, others get promoted by the publisher’s own publicist cadre, some get help from both.  Why in the name of all that’s holy haven’t comic creators done this?  Why haven’t publishers done this when a major work goes out?  I’m not saying Jonathan Hickman should have done the “Today Show” to discuss FF 687, but why wasn’t someone from Image getting him on “The Daily Show” when the Nightly News or Pax Romana trades came out?  Or how about Vertigo with “Cuba: My Revolution” or “How to Understand Israel in 60 days”?  Or, lord, Oni for Bryan Lee O’Malley all of last year with Scott Pilgrim 6 and the flipping movie.  There are so many outlets where these kinds of works are a perfect fit for discussion and publicity.  

    One last question: let’s say that such methods have been tried to get the word out.  People who actually looked at some of these books would realize their quality.  Might the problem be less the stigma of comics and more that fact that not enough people feel comfortable being critical of the genre?  Maybe they feel a lack of a vocabulary hinders their ability to discuss these works or hold a conversation with the creators?  So then is the problem “No one who understands, or wants to undestand, comics works in major media so we can only going to get promoted by our own community?”  How can that be fixed?               

    Sorry this rambled so long.

  49. @Jimski  –there is some irony there for sure. 

    Comics are supposed to be fun. Whatever entertains you and gives you enjoyment is the title you’re supposed to be buying. Don’t listen to snobby bullies who try to dictate taste. 

  50. Lke you said Josh, I’m not sure the problem of “more people should read non-superhero comics” is DC or Marvel’s fault.

    Bookstore chains do their part offering many diverse non-super selections in their stores.

    The only marketing suggestion I’d make is that they rack comic book titles by theri genres and not just a clusterfuck comics section.

  51. Who new this was such a loaded subject with a million different perspectives. The reactions to this have really been interesting and even if you don’t agree with Powell you have to applaud that it jump started the discussion. I thought the video was hilarious and created by a very disgruntled Powell but I couldn’t disagree with him nor can I disagree with anything you said in your journal. What I got out of the video wasn’t so much a villainizing of the big two as much as a “call to arms” to comic creators and fans to really support fellow independent creators and books. I try to do that as much as I can. Nothing excites me more than a great independent but at the same time I refuse to buy comics I don’t love just to support an independent. From a creator’s standpoint it certainly sucks balls that most artists, myself included (shameless plug-, can’t make a living in comics alone but like any industry over flowing with talent and passion the cream usually rises and I think/hope I’m on the way. I love that this is being discussed and hopefully it continues to come up because I love hearing more of everybody’s opinions and nothing gets the word out for comics more than a little contraversy.

  52. @wordballoon  I’m guessing the bookstores look at their comic sections, and, because of years of experience, just accept that they’ll get what they get from it, and don’t think about it anymore, or put any resources into trying to move them faster.

    After all, THEY can return what they don’t sell.


  53. @josh  Lately my Barnes and Noble has been putting up displays of trades like the walking dead, fables and amazing spider-man and i’ve seen more and more people walking up to the counter with them. don’t know if thats a company wide thing or if the manager at my local B&N just really likes those books

  54. @RoiVampire  –i see that as well at lots of B&N and Borders. Comic related stuff has a bigger footprint in the store than it used to. The selection is growing as well, so why wo uld they do that if it wasn’t profitable?

  55. I totally agree with all of Josh’s arguments. I definitaly don’t want to read from someone who comes off as a prick who is complaining while not really giving any constructive criticism. People have complaining about this stuff for a long time and he brings nothing new to it. I only read non Mainstream Marvel and DC books (not including ICON or Vertigo), and while I wish more people would read them and talk about them, this is just childish. I just recently listened to Josh’s interview with B. Clay Moore yesterday, and it was a fascinating argument. Moore came off as a bit of a prick at first, but I respected him by the end of it, mainly due to Josh’s arguments and level-headed contributions.

  56. And the public gets what the public wants……..
    Vertigo stands opposite to his whole argument, but quality’s not selling, and that’s not dc’s fault. People just aren’t reading full stop. I want my MTV. Errrr I mean super hero books. I also want new different stories. No-one is stopping the goon from going to number one in the sales chart. He needs to stop blaming the opposition and just let his own argument win the day if it can.

  57. Why do these people think we HAVE to have two seperate camps in comics? Yeah, Marvel and DC are the Big Two and sell the most but that’s because they have established characters and creators and there is NOTHING wring with that.
    Creator owned and mainstream don’t have to be different things. Myself, for the most part, I just see comics. If it’s good (in my opinion) I’ll buy it until I can’t find it anymore. I did that with Last Blood from Blatant Press years ago. I loved that book and raved about it until the creator/writer, from what I remember, simply decided he didn’t want to make comics anymore. That had nothing to do with Marvel or DC the creator just walked away.
    Powell comes off as bitter. Almost as if he’s saying his books aren’t selling because of Spider-Man. It’s never the creators fault, it’s always someone else’s

  58. I don’t sense another generation of comic readers coming along. I live in a far NW suburb of Chicago and the closet comic book store is 20 miles away. How are youngsters supposed to become comic book fans when they don’t see the product?
    The audience for comic books is shrinking, thereby squeezing the publishers and forcing them to produce books they think have a reasonably good chance to be bought by someone. It’s not that complicated. I’m amazed the comic book industry is afloat at all considering how invisible their products are.

  59. We need new readers first and formost. Without that, it won’t matter how many awesome ideas we have because the industry will be dying.

    Also, did anybody else think the guy in the suit was Robert Kirkman for a second? I literally did a double take!

  60. Can’t I read good superhero books AND good creator-owned books?  Why must it be an all or nothing scenario?

  61. Is this the same Eric Powell that has upcoming DC work listed in their April solicitations?

    Speaking as someone who buys all kinds of comic books from a variety of publishers but whose primary interest these days is in the kind of indie black & white self-published type stuff that I typically have to buy directly from the creators themselves at local conventions because they aren’t even distributed by Diamond, I will say that the whole “superhero comics are gay anal raping independent creators” thing is really not very helpful at all. In fact it’s pretty offensive.

  62. What I want to know is when the next issue of Goon is coming out.  I freakin’ love that book.

  63. Here’s my take.

    I’m an amateur musician and I make kind of weird music. I want to make money with my strange-ish music. I want there to be a big market for weird music. That’s why I love that the generic music scene is huge. The bigger the generic scene is, the more chances weird music has to get ears.

    Example: Let’s say the average sale of a Marvel and a DC comic was 800 000 copies. That means that comics would have an audience roughly 5-10 times larger than it is now. And that’s 5-10 times more people that might buy The Goon along with/instead of a generic superhero book.

    Musical acts such as Boredoms, Merzbow, and Labradford have a chance of making a bit of a living with their unusual music because there’s simply lots of music and music listeners out there. That’s only true becuase Kate Perry, Lady Gaga and Beyonce drive the market upwards. If Eric wants more people to read atypical comics he needs to wish for superheros to sell more, not less.

  64. umm…i like superhero comics. i also like a lot of creator owned comics that have nothing to do with super heros. I feel like im supposed to feel like a bad person for flat out liking what i like. and isnt Powell working on a Godzilla book? im fairly certain he didnt create the rampaging giant nuclear lizard.

  65. Why worry so much DC and Marvel? That monopoly problem will resolve itself through a little thing called public domain…in another 50 years or so Batman will be as fair game as Sherlock Holmes unless the Disney lawyers get another extension to copyright law. Trademarks of their logos and licensing agreements are all that DC and Marvel will have left. Then your grandkids won’t have anyone to complain about…except for all those Deadpool books still around.

  66. This reminds me of the time that Darwyn Cooke talked about the industry being too violent and for older readers. Overall, he was right, comics are very violent these days and not something a parent would give to their kid. However, saying that comics are marketed to ’45 year old perverts’, makes him sound like an ass and more importantly; ruins the point he was trying to make.

    If you want people to try new things or in this case drop the bat/deadpool book that you only kind of enjoy in place of Walking Dead or Scott Pilgrim. Then you should encourage them to do so by showing them the number of great unknown titles out there. Not by saying ‘hey, that DC book you enjoy is shit, you should read insert indie title or an older, ‘better’ superhero book‘. When I go online and someone chooses the latter, it doesn’t make me want to read the book, it just makes me stay off the forums(I’m talking to you, CBR).

  67. @jokingofcourse  –yeah well i doubt that will happen. Every time a major character is up for it, someone lobbies congress and they extend the laws. Plus all those corporations are actively building Trademark cases. I’d be shocked if a major character like Batman or Superman ever entered public domain. Too much money, too much power is in play. 

  68. one reason superheros are so popular because of their immortal nature, they never die, or f they do, they come back, again and again and . .    if independent creators could create steady, monthly, non-miniseries, ongoing perpetual goodness, that is the key to success with the readers. I don’t wanna invest my time into a character that’s going to last 6 issues. that’s great for a distraction and can be very very enjoyable and even GREAT. but it’s heartbreaking when that great character is over. There will always be a Spider-man, Batman, Superman, X-men, Wolverine, Wonder Woman, etc comic  Kirkman is starting this too, with Invincible, Walking Dead, Image founders have Spawn and Savage Dragon. Creating comics should be viewed more as long term commitment, not a miniseries for success or failure judgement. sadly that’s the model the industry is moving towards. and we all know Previews isn’t helping this.  It is much easier for Institutions like Marvel and DC to sustain perpetual characters for perpetual consumption. 

    and damn it, I like superheros!   :-p  

  69. Where to begin with this…. So let me get this straight. This “everyman” comic creator only sells 2,000 copies of his book, but is so bummed out. (Hell, I’m sure plenty of struggling independent creators would be happy with that). So, he just picks up his phone and dials “The Man” to sellout. Shit, if it was that easy count me in. I would love to call up Marvel or DC tomorrow and ask for a job writing comics! Must be nice guys…

    However, sorry to break it to you Mr. Powell and Mr. Kirkman, but nothing in the entertainment business is fair. Hell, as a film school student I can tell you that you at least in comics, creators have some semblance of control in their stories. In a perfect world you could make a living off your art, but this world ain’t perfect fellas. Comics are not perfect… nor lucrative…. but plenty of people would be very happy to be in your shoes creating comics. It would be nice if anyone could publish their work, in any genre they want, and make a living; newsflash…probably not going to happen any time soon fellas. Comics are great…but sadly print is a dying medium… and lack of variety is not its cause of death.

    Second, to imply that us comic readers are just mindless drones buying only superhero books is insulting. Is taking a huge shit, on your ever shrinking, potential audience any way to win them over? This is the same kind of negative bullshit that drove me away from people I once loved reading, like Alan Moore.  Do all creators just inevitably become crazy bitter assholes at some point?

    I’m sure both Powell and Kirkman mean well, but this whole thing just seems so immature. Jeesh. LIGHTEN UP!


  70. @LostArtist – But people love to watch movies. They invest in characters that are gone even sooner than those in a mini series. It’s just learned behaviour. Learned because that’s the way the dominating majority of comics are.
    if we would live in a comic world where finite mini-series would be the most popular way of publishing for decades, maybe people would loath the idea that s story never gets a good closure and characters have to rehash the same fights against the same villains over and over again.

  71. Comics as a whole aren’t selling that well, especially single issues. Eric Powell should worry more about getting people to buy comics in the first place instead of worrying about what particular book they buy once they’re in the store.

    Also, picking up more creator owned books isn’t going to singlehandedly increase your enjoyment of the medium. I read a lot of indie books and there are just as many shitty ones out there as there are of Marvel or DC. As a reader my only job is to pay for what I like rather than worry about how much of it goes to Eric Powell.

  72. I like his glasses.  I want them.

  73. @jerome – What if people do not buy comics because they think superhero comics are all there is? Isn’t diversity (and thats what it is about, I can’t belive how many people turn this into a creator owned discussion) offering a better chance for people trying a new comic? A shelve full of comics from different genres, displayed equally, would make it way easier for a potetially new reader to find something simmilar to his taste.
    A shelve full of superhero comics for in front of a customer who is not into superheroes almost certainly does NOT result into a new reader.

  74. @Bendrix  –i’ve never seen any LCS EVER set up like the one you describe. Sure they don’t always order every indie book that comes out, but i’ve never seen a store that only has superhero titles and nothing else. I suppose if they do exist thats because thats what the local market wants. Maybe if publishers allowed returns on unsold product more stores would be able to take a risk on new, unknown properties, but as it is now, shop owners who want to stay in business only order what they know will sell or is pre-ordered. The system is jacked. 

    Did you read the article? People are responding to what Powell said and what Josh wrote. 

  75. @wally – I didn’t say that they don’t order indie books (but there are still too many shops that don’t). I was responding to the comment that said “people should buy comics, what comics isn’t important”. And I say: It is important to give them at least a choice. A easy choice where the don’t have to do research, or look at the smaller shelve. From the more topics they can choose, the more likely they going to pic something up. Nobody can deny that superhero books dominate the shelves. But I don’t blame anyone. Of course Marvel/DC put out the books that sell, and of course the retailers order the books that sell. Yes, the system is jaked.

    I was just saying that diversity is a good and improtant thing to bring in readers, and it’s nothing that should be neglected. From all the people I brought into reading comics, no one reads superheroes. And some of them flat out told me “I DID’T KNOW that such [american] comics [as DMZ, Fear Agent, Exterminators, Y the last Man] existed. I thought it was all men in thights”. Go figure.

  76. What people, even Josh, seem to miss is: If Powell did a well rounded argumentation saying  “I know Marvel and DC just doing business and the retailers have to order what they can sell. And yes, some superheroes are really awesome, but it would be nice if other genres would sell to, pretty please”, everybody would have glanced over it and we wouldn’t have this discussion. And it’s a good thing this discussion is being held. Somebody had to be the bad guy, shake stuff up a little bit. Provoke some thoughts. And Powell, truly independent from the big too, is the guy who can do it.

  77. @Bendrix  Who are you quoting? I certainly didn’t say what you put in quotes.

    How is this not a “creator owned” discussion? Genre diversity and creator owned comics go hand in hand on this particular topic and both Josh and Mr. Powell mention creator owned comics several times in both the article and video.

    If this is solely about pro genre diversity, then yes, of course everyone wants more choices. No one argues that. But Powell frames his argument as Superhero vs Everything Else, and thats missing the biggest problem; All comics aren’t selling that hot right now. Superhero, indie, whatever. Writers in the industry should championing comics as a whole, not just the genres that they personally feel are more valuable.

    Its interesting that 3 of the 4 comics you just named as having brought your friends into comics come from the same corporation that the video just spent time villifying. Go figure 😉

  78. @jerome – I was paraphrazing. I thought that was obvious. If it haven’t been clear to anyone, I apologise.
    The problem of the dropping sales is that more people drop out of buying comics than there are new readers. So I think we agree that bringing in new readers is the key. From my point of view, you can’t separate this from the fact that one genre is overpowering any other genre. It IS difficult for potential readers not into superheroes. Or at least it would be easier with more diversity.
    DC is doing a tremendous job with Vertigo. The quality of the imprint is amazing and as done probably more than anything else to bring in new readers. Like I said, I do not demonize the big two per se. But the Vertigo books are not superheroes (and not even always creator owned). That was the point.

  79. @Bendrix  –really your gripe is with independent mom and pop LCS owners who most usually are pretty crappy business people. Thats the problem too…we have an entire retail distribution system dependent on business owners who for the most part should not be business owners. As one of my local LCS owner of 25 yrs once told me “a lot of people open comic shops to avoid getting a real job and from getting thrown out of their parents house.”

    yes i agree diversity and choice is good. 

    Like i said before, if comics were returnable then A LOT more stuff would make it to the stores. Agreed you can’t buy whats not on the shelf, but with the current market and the margins so low, i’m never surprised that smaller indies aren’t ordered. Its just bad business to stock a product that probably won’t sell. 

    In an ideal world if say an image controlled their own distribution they would allow returns, or lets say some sort of program where if you order X amount of big titles like Walking Dead they’d allow you to return X percent of smaller titles that don’t sell. I think the non returns policy of comics distribution will all but ensure less and less success for new ideas and new creators. 

    Yes there are ALWAYS Image, ONI, Darkhorse etc stuff that i’ve never heard of or seen in shops that appears on the weekly comics list. I can only blame bad promotion, or its from an unknown team. The good shops that i’ve been to fully integrate all their titles: Marvel, DC, Image, Indie etc onto their weekly shelves in alphabetical order. Its becoming rarer and rarer for me to NOT see that setup. 

  80. I LOVE SUPERHERO BOOKS. I’m still gonna buy superhero books no matter what this arrogant ass says. I’ll try out indie books sure, but yelling and blaming the people who run A BUSINESS is just naive, You can’t blame stores for buying in what sells.

    Also the “Rape” situtiation is dumb way to make a anolgoy to superheroes dominating the market. Because of this I will not even touch this Eric Powells book. Much like how many won’t touch Dave Sims work. I won’t give my hard earned money to this man at all.

  81. Wow the bad of this.

    Who exactly is this thing supposed to be reaching? He calls people stupid for reading superheoes, he calls the publishers rapists and depicts the creators as willingly (if reluctantly) bending over to be raped. Of the people he is trying to reach with this, is there anyone to whom this isn’t viciously insulting?

    If at least it had been funny that would be something. 

  82. i think it’s a bit of a contradiction to say there is room for everyone while acknowledging the fact that indie series after indie series dies.

    to be honest, i’m sick of hearing people talk about how it’s a light week while (apparently) making no effort to see if there’s anything new out that week that sounds worthy of giving a chance. i understand that some people are on a tight budget (especially after buying 20 batman books a month) but i seriously just feel a lot of apathy from comic book consumers. too many people buy the superhero books without giving much of a thought for indie books and won’t check something out until a website like this one tells them a certain title is good. have one less beer and set $3-$4 aside to check out one new indie comic this month. just one. i dare you.

  83. @deadspace  Or we just do not want indie books

  84. @deadspace  That all sounds like indie elitism to me.

  85. @bigben2012  Really? In deadspace’s comment? I see nothing elitist about imporing people to consider indie books.

  86. Look I don’t care what I read so long as its good (and sometimes, in the case of comics, if the art’s purty enough).  That said, I’m totally in favor of more diversity in comics.  In Japan, you have comics for everything.  You got sports comics, mysteries, political thrillers, cooking comics, and even news comics.  Europe, well, pretty make the same deal.

    However, these comics aren’t crudely drawn first-person slice of life narratives.  They have the same high standards of production as anything else on the market and come out on time, every time.  It’s not about choosing between “indie” and “mainstream.”  It’s about making something compelling that connects with an audience and is as good if not better than the alternative.  Even that doesn’t guarantee a given comic’s success but that’s at least the base-line.  

    Finally, let’s not forget that a TON  of initially successful indie publishers in the past failed because they were run by idiots and con artists.

  87. This may or may not be germane but most of my non-superhero comic books I get from the library.

  88. @deadspace –been trying to put my finger on why i’m more hesitant to try an indie book over a superhero one, and it comes down to this. Comics for me are a form of escapism. Superman or Batman…i know what i’m gonna get (for the most part) every time…its the Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. Now the indie book…thats the Avocado Ice Cream. I just don’t know what it is, if i’ll like it or if its what i’m in the mood for. And no one wants their escapism ruined with something weird that they don’t like. At the same time that unpredictability is what makes it great and leads to some great surprises. Its easier to go for the things you know and expect over something weird and new. When you bring the cover price of comics into play, its tough to take a flyer on things sometimes.

    I agree, it would be good to set aside some money for a creator owned book…maybe we drop that one title that we haven’t liked in a while or like you said, hold back on one beer. All i know is sometimes i get bored with comics and taking a risk on the Avocado Ice Cream indie book actually becomes fun.  

    BTW..i recently had Avocado ice cream for the first time…it was awesome. haha 

  89. I don’t mean to piss anyone here off. But some of the more, how you say, defensive posts in this thread just go to show you where Powell is going wrong. DON’T PISS OFF THE SUPERHERO FANS. THEY DON’T TAKE KINDLY TO THAT KIND OF TREATMENT.

    It would be nice if there the creator owned/non-spandex stories had a larger foothold in the comic reading community. But they don’t. Capes do. Plain and simple. They are what is barely holding up the industry at this moment. And that’s the world you’re making your living in.

    I for one agree with a lot of what Powell is saying. If not exactly his way of saying it. But regardlses what your ideals, you gotta be realistic. Comic books have a TINY reader base. Regardless what you want comics to be. And regardless how awesome you feel non-superhero are. And how much you feel that they are way more for the mainstream than superhero books. It doesn’t matter. All of that is totally true IMO. And therefore should take precedent. IN THEORY. But guess what? That’s living in an idealized world that does not exist.

    The fact of the matter is that if you’re a comic book creator, you’ve chosen to make your living in an idustry that is built on the backs of 50 year old superhero characters. As well as readers who have stuck with the medium over the decades, mostly for those same characters. Most of the currently tiny comic book readership are of the superhero ilk. Come on. Let’s not be silly. Those are the people who read comic books for the most part. Go to any comic book shop. There’s a reason they are ordering mostly Marvel and DC books.

    I try to tell non-comic friends of mine to check out a book like Scalped or Y: The Last Man, telling them that it’s just as good a storytelling experience as any HBO tv series. And they roll their eyes more than I can stand. I tell them that Strangers in Paradise is one of the most personal and emotional experiences I’ve ever had in any medium. I get a, “Really? With the cartoon pictures? Nah, that’s ok. I’m good.” You may want comics to be viewed a certain way. And for the 50 year old characters to go the way of ABBA. But the sad fact remains. Comic books are what the music industry would be if most people didn’t give a shit about music. And for the most part, the majority of people who still cared to bother with music were mostly old ABBA fans.

    Yeah, it’s kinda sad. Especially given all the other awesome types of music/comics out there that is getting for the most part totally ignored. But until you can find a way to make it so the superhero contingent of comic book readers don’t by far make up the majority (getting non-comic readers to embrace the medium). I don’t see how you can complain too much or make such a stink.

    I’m all for preaching ideals. There is only so much one should put up with in terms of how wrong our society is on so many things. But at a certain point, all you’re doing is preaching to the choir. And even worse, in a case like this. You’re preaching to a very small choir. And in this case, the small choir is surrounded by an angry mob of people who hate choir music.

    Careful now. There’s only so much room for righteous indigation before it crosses the border into obnoxious entitlement.

  90. @wally – Good point. People are “afraid” to try something that they might not like and waste money (and time). The funny thing is: Once you gotten into Avocado Ice Cream, it’s way more consistent and way more likely to get the same taste of Avocado Ice Cream, because every time it’s made, it’s the same guy. You might think you know your Chocolate Chip Cream, but all the time, there are new guys making it, and with every guy, it tastes a little different. And sometimes, it doen’t taste the way you like it at all.

    Once you made the leap of faith and bought Incinvible, Walking Dead, Usagi Yojimbo, BPRD, Chew, Goon or Savage Dragon, you get the same guys writing and drawing almost every issue. What makes for a far more consistent book. For me, who reads both, Marvel/DC and Indie books like the ones mentioned, for years, I get that comfortable feeling you mentioned from the indie books. With Amazing Spider-Man, I never know if I might not like the artist this time around as much as the one last month.

  91. Buy what you like. That should ALWAYS be the most important thing. Whether it’s superheros, paranormal investigators, survivors, or English spies. If I’m enjoying what I read, I don’t think anything else fucking matters.

  92. @Bendrix – Where do I find this avacado ice cream? It sounds delicous.

  93. @mikeandzod21 – Right. It’s not about buying what you don’t like. It’s about trying what you might like. Many people don’t try. And many people buy e.g. X-Men, complain about it, but keep buying because they always did.

    @j206 – I don’t know. Ask wallythegreenmonster

  94. @Bendrix  –i had it while ago while traveling at a mom and pop place that specialized in in home made odd flavors like Pumpkin and Licorice etc. Its all about the old school ice cream Parlors! haha

    I’ve gotten burned on some indy stuff as well but more in the i bought one or two issues and then could never find any more, and no one could order it kinda thing. Then i just felt i got invested for nothing. It will be a good habit for all of us to start looking more an indy stuff and buying things that look interesting, but i’m not going to buy a weekly indy book just to buy one or anything silly like that. 

  95. exactly. no one is asking people to buy comics they don’t like. it’s about trying something new. there are usually #1s of indie comics pretty much every week. read the solicits and google for previews. there’s bound to be something there for everyone. instead of viewing new comics with uncertainty, view them as potential great stories that you could miss out on if you don’t try them.

    also, i don’t think Powell was pointing the finger of blame at DC and Marvel exclusively because to a certain extent they just publish what is almost guaranteed to sell (capes). the bit at the end where it says buy, sell, create, stock etc is there because there is no one answer to the state of the comic book industry and no one set of people to ‘blame’. personally i think a large chunk of the answer lies with the consumers. if more indie titles sold lots more copies, more stores would stock them and publishers would start putting out more indie titles. creators could make a decent living off their creator-owned work and not have to write superhero stories to pay the bills. i know there are many writers and artists whos dream it is to write a mainstream superhero comic (and that’s totally fine!) but i think there are also others who go there for the money. they write a superhero book so that they can afford to keep doing their creator-owned work that is barely selling. to me, it’s the creators who work and work their asses off on their creator owned stuff regardless of how much or little it sells who keep comics interesting.

    This time last year, estimated sales:
    Phonogram 2 #7: 2,500
    Blackest Night #7: 130,000

    Sadly, there are a lot of comics that don’t even make the top 300 comics sales list for the month so I’ve no idea how little they sell.

    DC and Marvel market share by units: 75%. Image: 3.5%.

    Regardless of how offended you want to be over Powell’s video, I think he makes reasonable points. It’s obviously meant to be controversial, so that it sparks debate. The people who are saying they’ll never read one of his books now because of it are being ridiculous. Essentially, Powell’s message is a *positive* one. He’s looking at the state of the industry and he wants change. How can you look at those numbers and not want change? How can you see indie after indie book be cancelled and not want change?

    Light week? Why not try something new?

    @wallythegreenmonster I kind of understand about sticking to stuff you know and being wary of something new but to be honest that’s a big part of the problem. When you buy a new #1 of a series it’s a level playing field – no one knows any more about it than you do, and you’re not going into it completely blind because there is a solicit that gives you a small idea of what kind of genre etc it is. There are also often previews online. So you can actually get a taster of that Avocado Ice Cream before deciding to buy a full portion (or not). You can even flick through it in the shop to get a feel for it.

    @MisterJ why on earth would you not want indie books?

    @bigben2010 i didn’t mean to come across as elitist. but admittedly i am very very into indie books – it’s my ‘thing’ so it’s easy to get pissed off when great indie stories barely sell while people’s pull lists consist of 20 superhero books and maybe a token vertigo book. nobody limits their movie watching to just superhero themed ones so why do they do that in comics? you wouldn’t hear someone saying they only watch superhero movies because that way they know what they’re getting and that all other movies are kind of intimidating because they’re something new so they’re scared to try them. if someone said that to you would you not think they were a bit of a nutter? 😉

    gosh, lost post of the month award accepted.

  96. LONG post. not lost. damn.

  97. @deadspace  –on trying new things and flipping through things in the store. Its a nice idea and i always try to BUT i’ve noticed in the past year or two its getting harder to find indy stuff to flip through. Stores just aren’t stocking this stuff…now they have 50 copies of the newest JLA, but not the new indie book that people are talking about. Even indie stuff i hear about on this site, i can’t find it. You can’t buy whats not on the shelf.

    I’m not a previews guy…it turns comics into a job and no longer fun for me.  I ‘m real casual with how i buy things…i flip through it, if i like it i buy it.

  98. @wallythegreenmonster It’s true that some comic shops don’t stock the lesser known indie books but couldn’t you find out in advance what’s coming out and order it? i’m pretty lucky in that i live in a big city with a decent comic book shop that stocks pretty much everything but there have been times when I havent been able to get something I wanted so I turned to ebay. A couple of times when ebay hasn’t had it I’ve emailed other comic shops to ask them if they had any and if they’d  send it out to me. I don’t think there has ever been a time when I wanted a comic and couldn’t get it.

  99. @deadspace  –well yeah i know about Previews but i don’t use it. For me the solicits ruin the big books i read, plus thats a bit of extra work i’m just not gonna put in. Maybe its a cop out, This is a casual hobby for me. I don’t like to order things sight unseen. Its not fun. Going to the store and discovering new things is fun. When comics stop being fun for me, i’m out.

    Thats part of my big issue with the direct market system. It really makes it hard to try new things at least for me. Retailers have told me they’d order indy things, and they don’t. Or they forget or its this or that. Bottom line its a big hassle all the way around. 

    Creators are going to have to figure out a better way to get their new work out there. I don’t think the current way is working very well and the sales numbers support that.

  100. @wallythegreenmonster what you’ve said is what I pretty much think is wrong with the audience. they can’t be bothered. i think that half the time people simply don’t know what else is out in a given week because they couldn’t be bothered looking. it’s not a huge task. every book is listed right here on this website every week. do people never wonder “what’s that about?” or “i wonder if that’s any good?”? do people just pull what they’ve already heard of and pulled for the last 10 years and ignore everything else? do they wait for one of the ifanboys to make an article saying “this book is really good”? obviously people can’t check out everything so those kinds of articles are useful to everyone at some point or another but completely relying on it because you’re too lazy to be even the slightest bit pro-active about your comic-buying is the kind of apathy i mentioned earlier.

    I don’t know what the answer is. If people don’t care then people don’t care and there’s nothing Eric Powell and certainly not me can do about it. It’s easy to say the publishers need to do this, the creators need to do that, retailers need to do the other, but I still think a lot of it comes down to the readers. I know I’m not gonna make any friends by saying that.

  101. @ wallythegreenmonster- You said: “on trying new things and flipping through things in the store. Its a nice idea and i always try to BUT i’ve noticed in the past year or two its getting harder to find indy stuff to flip through. Stores just aren’t stocking this stuff…now they have 50 copies of the newest JLA, but not the new indie book that people are talking about.”

    What now? Haven’t you told me a few posts ago that shops are NOT set up like that? That’s exactly what I ment when I said that superheroes being the dominating genre makes it hard for new readers to find stuff from different genres? Confused now.

  102. @deadspace  — its not that i can’t be bothered. Its that its not fun. Whats the point of a hobby if its not enjoyable? I want my comics experience to be fun…i dont’ think thats asking for much.  Previews when i tried to use it, ruined the comics for me cause they told me what was going to happen months in advance. I don’t want that. Its not apathy…its a dysfunctional system. 

    Its crappy that the entire system revolves around the consumer acting as a wholesale buyer. Its other form of media works that way. Back when i used to be really into music and shop at my record shops, i’d discover new music by going in and talking to people and hearing things. In comics the only way to hear about new stuff is to buy it sight unseen 3months in advance…after having the entire story spoiled for you? Thats bunk…at least from my POV. 

    Part of why i come to this site is to discover things…can’t miss and all that. Its opened my comics world up and its fun. 
    @Bendrix  –well what i meant was every store i’ve been to recently displays their stock democratically mixing in indy and big 2 alphabetically. But i’ve noticed they’ve been stocking less stuff overall and requiring more and more previews orders…even from the big 2. My shop owner says he only orders a third of what marvel and DC put out in any given month. He can’t afford to carry all that stock if its not spoken for.

  103. @wallythegreenmonster but couldnt you use previews to find out what new #1s are coming out? that doesn’t spoil anything. why is finding out what new books are coming out not fun? do you not get curious and excited for new stuff? Also, the only way to hear about new stuff isn’t by buying it sight unseen 3 months in advance. I’ve never ordered anything 3 months in advance but I buy plenty of new stuff. 

  104. Okay, got that wrong.

    So we come back to the point, with retailers ordering less and less books for the shelves and being less risky about smaller titles, superheroes or not. And with Marvel/DC heavyily pimping the big event stuff while the smaller titles get the short end, that the fans and the creators themself have to market the smaller books. Blogs. Podcasts. Message Boards. This very site here.
    Looks like the only way.

  105. @deadspace  –yeah well i mean its that double edged sword. If i see something in previews, i won’t remember it 3 months later, and i’m not a spreadsheet kinda guy. haha Plus thats not even taking into consideration the fact that i get to a shop when i get to it. Its a casual hobby for me and i’ve never liked homework. 

    The way i do it now, is i check this site on mondays and look at whats coming out and if it looks cool i go and hunt for it..the prob with that is that its not always available. The system is broke if you ask me. 

  106. @Bendrix – I agree it’s down to everyone from readers to creators to publishers. However I do sadly have little faith in readers. For example, there’s the article here every week where ron, conor and josh each list a comic that people mightn’t be aware of and encourage them to check it out. This can lead to more pulls on this website for those titles but not really by any significant amount. There is a huge reluctance it seems to try anything new and I find that depressing. Eric Powell made the point on Twitter that if Harry Potter had been a comic then JK Rowling would be waiting tables for a living. That is the sad state of comics and its readership.

  107. @deadspace  –its also the product. Working in advertising i know that sometimes a product is just a niche product…can’t change the nature of what it is. Comics don’t appeal to everyone and it can’t be forced on them. My wife LOVES to read but she gets bored with comics. Too fast of a read for her and she hates that the visuals are created for her. She prefers novels because she creates the world in her mind. It is what it is. 

  108. @deadspace – I am afraid a big part of the readership has no love for comics as a medium. People are fans of the characters, but are not that much into the whole drawings-on-paper-with-word-ballons-thing. It’s just the home for their favourite characters. You can compare how much comments articles on iFanboy get that are about the movie versions of popular characters to articles about a comic book without a popular hero.
    If it would be about the medium, people should be way more interested in who’s drawing Spider-Man than who’s playing Spider-Man. But this is a whole new topic in itself.

  109. @wallythegreenmonster I think the point Eric Powell was making was that, Harry Potter, being a creator owned piece of work would probably have been cancelled after the first ‘chapter’ if it had been a comic book. He wasn’t trying to say that Harry Potter as a comic should get as many sales as Harry Potter the book, if that makes sense? Basically, as a book, HP is massive. As a comic it probably would have sold 2500 and then died.

  110. @deadspace –imagine how many years and issues it would have taken just tell the first harry Potter novel let alone the rest of the series in comic form? Woulda made Starman look like a mini. 

  111. @wallythegreenmonster – i think that’s kind of beside the point.

    anyway, Eric has taken the video down 🙁