Sometimes we’ll have people over. OK, well we did that once, before our son was born. And during those times, we’ll get the idea that we should entertain with food and drink. There will only be two people coming over, but we’ll make enough food for 90 people. Afterwards, there’s a lot left over and we’ll eat it for a few days, and then eventually throw most of it out, and then we’ll be broke because we spent all this money for no reason. Not only that, but the people who came over brought their own stuff too, and we can’t even fit it all in the trash.
This is sort of what the comics market feels like today. For every comic reader, there are 700 monthly titles. That might be an exaggeration, but it doesn’t feel like it. DC is bringing out 52 new titles this month. Others are on the way in the months to come. Marvel has gotten to the point where they’re offering so many books, they’ve resorted to decimal points to number them. There is actually going to be a Fear Itself #7.3. Dynamite, IDW, BOOM!, Dark Horse, Image, and others release another 20-30 issues each every month. Then, every single day, I get email from creators who have produced their own comic books of varying quality and scope. I just don’t… I mean, who has the time? We get emails constantly asking us if we read, and why don’t we read every title and series you can imagine.
And this is my job!
What is the casual reader to do? Say you want to read a few comics a week, and have some fun. Instead, you’re deluged by shelves and shelves of options, all while being told of a dying industry, and dropping sales. And yet, the weekly list of possibilities is mighty. Listen, we at iFanboy, we’re not helping, I get that. In a given week, we’ll tell you about dozens of great comics you should be reading. “But iFanboy, I’ve got to feed my kid!” Yeah, buddy? Me too! Wait, you’re not reading that? What are you insane?
This goes on constantly. This past week, I read 13 DC Comics titles. Do you know how long it takes to read 13 comic books? Then I had another 10 issues from other places. Quality or no, I just wanted to get up and go for a walk. Then you’re left with the stacks of books. I know some folks like to re-read, but with this kind of input, how would you? You’ve got to make cuts! You’ve got to cut books you like, that aren’t even bad. Honestly it’s no wonder that people stick to books they know. It’s daunting otherwise, and they’d like to see their families for a couple hours a week.
At a certain point, it’s just not fun anymore, and it feels like comic book readers are all super users. There are no casual comic book readers. Comic readers not only read as many titles as they can pay for, they also watch every cult TV show, get to every movie, play every video game, and spend all day on social media talking to the people who make that stuff.
This is because it’s fun, and fascinating, and it’s unlike any other fan experience out there. It’s no wonder we can’t get new readers. You have to go from 0-60 faster than a Nissan GT-R. “Well, if you like this book, you should read this one, and these 10 volumes of trades, and this, and oh, you should pre-order the three concurrent series that creator is putting out in 3 months!” If I wasn’t neck deep in this, I’d go take a nap.
Then, everyone wants you to go see their band! Again, I’d have to check the stats, but about 90% of comic book readers want to make comics, and we’ve been telling them to just go do it for years. And they should. It’s a remarkable time for creatives, and the web is your oyster, and blah blah blah, it’s too much! If you’re all making books, who’s got time to read any of them? It feels so circular. Again, I am guilty of this, and thinking that I, among all the thousands, have something to say that’s worth hearing. Who do I think I am?
It has never been easier or harder to be a comic book fan. If you want it, it’s there. And there, and there, and there, and there. Reprints, trades, hardcovers, omnibi, and statues are all yours for the hording. Then next week, back the truck up again, but we’re getting another dump. The week after that? You bet. It’s a good thing real estate is in a slump, because we’re going to need more space to keep all this garbage, provided you still have time to work after reading all those damned comics.
Now my longbox is full again!