Robert Kirkman’s Editorial

If you’ve been on the web today, and you follow the comics industry at all, you probably heard about Robert Kirkman’s 9 minute video speech over at Comic Book Resources. He’s basically saying that in order for things to move forward in the comic book industry, more big names in the industry need to do more creator owned work, and while he loves Marvel and DC, the current model isn’t self-sustaining. He says it better, and in far more detail, and you should check it out. He hinted at some of these ideas when we spoke with him a couple of weeks back, declaring the end of his work at Marvel, but he goes on a bit more about it in this piece.

And after you’ve done that, you’ll very likely have some thoughts, and as you know, this is a great place to discuss said thoughts.

Personally, I always suspected it, but Kirkman is clearly a genius at playing the comic book media. He knows what buttons to push and when, and just now when eyes are just starting to fall away from him after his big news, he comes up with a way to remain in the thoughts of the online comic community. He’s playing the media perfectly, and agree or not, you’ll be talking about him and his ideas, and this will live on in blogs and industry chatter for quite a while.

This isn’t the first time he’s done such brash things. In San Diego a few years back, he publicly went after Todd McFarlane during a McFarlane panel, asking the toymaker why he doesn’t draw comics anymore. It didn’t end up producing any actual artwork, but it got Kirkman’s name out there just a bit more.

Now that he’s a bit higher up in the food chain, he’s upping the ante and calling for industry wide debate, which is, I think, admirable.

Is he right about creator owned books? It’s hard to say, but I think only good can come from more of the big names branching out, and leaving the comfortable confines of their exclusive contracts, and applying their talents to more than just thinking of different ways to make 40 year old characters interesting.

Except Geoff Johns. He’s doing exactly what he was born to do.

But, would I love to see a new Bendis original work? More than anything. Greg Rucka’s superhero work is good, but his creator owned stuff is superlative.

Would that work to make more sales? I’m dubious, but it can’t hurt, and he’s right: you strike and make changes before you need to, while you’re still on top. It’s a fantastic attitude to see coming from one of the industry’s leaders.

 

Comments

  1. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I think we should each post a 9 minute response on YouTube, Vimeo, BlipTV, etc.  

    The most interesting point I, I think, is the idea that big name characters might be better utilized as fodder for younger readers, and that while youth oriented titles exist, the tone of these books needs to be adjusted.  Kids don’t want to be talked down to, but they’re probably not ready for Batman R.I.P. What, then, are the best examples of youth appropriate books from the big Marvel and DC characters?  And does this mean that Morrison is wasting his time, energy, and talent on books like Batman?  

    It’s a tightrope.   

  2. Huh. So, one of the most successful creator-owned comic book creators (did that make sense?) thinks its a good idea for comic-book makers to do creator-owned comics. Cool. Maybe a little Marie Antionette, but cool.

    On the other hand, think about what happened to Marvel/DC during the 90s when all the top shelf talent left. The companies were abyssmal. I like the icon model where Marvel talent (though, really only two writers so far) are allowed to do their own thing. Not sure how the business side of that works, but creatively it seems to be pretty good.

  3. Think about this.  There are lots of creator owned books from big names that don’t sell that well.  Do people only want these guys for their superhero books?

  4. I think its a great idea for creators to have a book that they have created but i dont want to see great writers and artist go and completely abandon the two big guns, i think that if creators are happy doing stuff at the big two but also want to put out thier own book they should be able to do that at the same time as working at the big two. Am i making sense?

  5. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    And consider this:

    Morrison can’t do what he does with a creator-owned property.  Batman RIP and Final Crisis depend on decades of continuity/history.  He can still do We3, but Invincible RIP isn’t in the pipeline for another 60 years.  

  6. I think the problem is quite a bit more complex than the issue of DC/Marvel vs. Creator owned books, but I’m sure Kirkman knows that. I think overall the industry would be better served with more creater owned books, but simply having more creator owned books isn’t going to get new fans in comic book shops. Or at least into the comics section at the bookstore. I think that is where the real struggle is. I think there are a ton of people out there who would love what is going on in comics right now, if they only gave the medium a try. I think the industry should take more risks with there advertising. Marvel has got all this money from their movies, why don’t they fund a TV spot for kick-ass or captain america or something. Try it out. It’s not just creative decicions that limit the number of new readers, it’s also marketing decisions.

  7. Dont big name writers get indie titles published from time to time?

    For every Arkham Asylum or New X-Men; Morrison is going to give us a rendition of the Mahabharata (say that 3 times fast). For every Avengers/Invaders or Kingdom Come; Alex Ross is now given us a story about Golden Age Superheroes.

    I’m just stating that today’s writers can do what ever they want. Sometimes they can stick with a mainstream title, while other times they can make their own story for another company. They are not slaves, it’s not like they are chained to a desk and forever have to write and draw for Marvel or DC. (Unless your J.G. Jones) Creators have much more freedomm then ever before, hell if it was the 1960’s there would be no way Morrison or anyone else could get a job outside the big 2.

    I’m all for upseting the order and making a name for yourself. But these guys dont need to make their own companies or leave the big names that actually gave them a job in the first place. They should just watch out for legal troubles that could cost them in the future. (Like Shuster and Siegel were screwed over for many years on Superman)

  8. I think there’s a sense of wanting to see stuff that matters or wanting to see them at their A game in the big kids’ pool.

    It’s like, just about any major leaguer can go play in the minors and bat about .500, but you want to see what they can do in the show, not watch them knock softballs out of the park. That’s really a terrible analogy for this, but at least it’s not an Olympics analogy…

  9. @patio – The comic book s industry does not equal Marvel and DC, though.  He is talking about the good of the entire medium.  Comics don’t exist to prop up Marvel and DC.  Another mass creator defection might be a good wake-up call for those two, anyway.

  10. @conor – Yeah, that’s a good point. But I guess I tend to think that if something is bad for the two giants, then it will hurt the industry as a whole. Then again, I don’t know that it’s a zero-sum game. Kirkman’s point seems to be that the big guys are going to do what they do regardless. Will it hurt Marvel’s sales figures if Bendis left today? I mean, it would affect what a lot of us buy, but would it really make much of a dent in Marvel’s sales? I don’t know.

  11. I think this is a double-edged sword. For some creators, "cutting their chops" with the big two ALLOWS them the ability to do ‘creator-owned work.’ Others, who perhaps struggled in the industry or started out with creator owned work, ex. Strangers In Paradise, has allowed them to realized more opportunity WITH the Big Two. To me, although Image appears to be indi and the mecca for creator-owned properties, it really is part of the machine. I think of the comics scene now as the Big Two and the other 3-4 Pretty Bigs….in reality, Dark Horse, Image, IDW, are becoming more and more like Marvel and DC. Sure they rely on a lot of liscensed properties and no doubt do not move the volume that Marvel and DC do, but neither are they an Aardvark-Vannaheim or a true indie in the original sense of the word.

    Don’t get me wrong, i love Walking Dead and invincible…but had they not been the success that they are today, Kirkman would not even be in the position he is in today..to be able to turn down work by Marvel and DC. For every creator-owned hit, there are countless others that would bomb. Bendis could probably pull random words out of the dictionary as creator-owned work and it would be top 10…but because he does Marvel Work and is so good at it he can have that wiggle room and the ‘luxury’ to do more creator-owned stuff. There are tons of ‘probably good’ creator-owned stuff out there that noone will ever read. The Previews Catalog is pretty big with lots of stuff that we never hear anything about! Ask any of those guys/gals doing their stuff, and ‘integrity’ aside they would throw their grandmas under the bus to be able to do Marvel/DC work!

    I agree with Paul. To me it’s more fun letting a creator like Morrison go wild in a big universe. If it were not for Doom Patrol and Animal Man, we wouldn’t be seeing a We3, etc. 

  12. @PaulMontgomery I think that argument is weak, my friend.

    Want proof? 

    Ever hear of a book called League of Extrodinary Gentlemen?  What about Lost Girls?  There are a literal ton of creations sitting in the public domain with amazing histories as colourful as Batman or Superman.

  13. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @Luthor – Well played, Moriarty.  But are characters like Alice or Dr. Jeckyl as sexy to potential new readers as Batman is?  Or Wolverine or Spider-Man?  

  14. @PaulMontgomery Depending on presentation, sure why not?  Part of the draw of a Batman or Wolverine is the familiarization to the characters from other media.

  15. Also the iFanboy website hates me because it does that almost everytime I post…but I know why now, so we’re good.

  16. @Patio

    "But I guess I tend to think that if something is bad for the two giants, then it will hurt the industry as a whole.  "

    And this is exactly the problem Kirkman is trying to face down.  We’ve been told this for years, and maybe it is time for that to change.  And unfortunately, you can change by riding both sides of the fence, but it will happen a lot faster if you commit whole hog.

    But I doubt that’ll happen.  It’s too much fun, and too easy to keep working at Marvel and DC.  It’s a dream job for some of these guys. 

  17. @Luthor – It does that because you copied Paul’s name from the link under his name.  If you just write it out, it won’t do that.  Not the best solution, but we’re working on it.

  18. It is about time someone got online and posted a manifesto for how to fix the comics industry.

    Oops! Typo: between "about" and "time," it should say "45 minutes since the last."

    I am so goddamn sick of this bloviation and pontification about how to SAVE COMICS I can barely contain myself. At least, because it was filmed, we can verify that Mr. Kirkman was in an actual armchair.

    An industry that isn’t working right, if it really isn’t, doesn’t need to be saved. This isn’t a goddamn wildlife preserve, and comics are not the goddamn spotted owl. If you really think that entire storytelling medium, a medium that people truly want to use to tell stories other people truly want to consume, is going to die or live hinging on you and your peers, then perhaps the invisible hand of the market needs to smack you in your out-sized britches.

    Stories don’t need a goddamn intervention. They will carry on as they always have in whatever form they need to carry on in. Jesus Christ. 

    Creative people should be more creative, and they should work for themselves instead of working for other people. Thank God someone said something. Somewhere, a business school is missing a dean.

    See everybody in 45 minutes! 

  19. I’m going straight to Image with my own work. Kirkman really struck a chord with me in that video, so I’m going to buckle down and start putting out pages and sending in pitches until something works out (the McFarlane method).

  20. Is someone having this conversation about opera somewhere?

    Are TV writers somewhere being implored to stop writing other people’s shows and start their own network, to save television?

  21. @josh  I think the dream job point is a really good one.  I’m sure Bendis would like to be able to put ‘Powers’ out more regularly, but you can’t tell me he’s that deep into so many corners of the Marvel Universe for any reason other than that he loves this stuff.  And I don’t have a doubt Ed Brubaker is devoted to ‘Criminal,’ but I also think you’re going to have to pry Bucky out of his cold dead hands.

    I absolutely think it would be great if nobody was working on a superhero property that they didn’t want to be working on.  I think it would be great if every creator had the opportunity to put out their own books and support themselves that way.  And it would also be great if more readers would look beyond the traditionally popular titles.  I suspect that some combination of these outcomes is what Kirkman is aiming for —     

    I suppose what’s getting under my skin is that, in Kirkman’s new world order, the losers would be people who want to read good, mature superhero stories based on established characters.  I feel like his hypothetical is implicitly telling us that we’re bad consumers if that’s what we want.    

  22. @Jimski Almost sorta kinda.

    Pod/video casts exist because TV and Radio won’t air the product, dispite there being a demand for the content.  Maybe not saving medium, but certainly saving that content.

  23. I don’t think Kirkman is wrong, but I don’t think he’s entirely right.

    See, my thing is that comic readers have a burnout factor (this is just my experience anyways); They’ll start on something like Batman, and just pick up Batman and a few other Bat books, when it’s not enough, they’ll branch out into the larger DC, and when that doesn’t satisfy the comics craving (assuming they have that) they’ll branch to Marvel. It’s a series of walls they hit. They just run out of stuff to keep reading. Then, they’ll branch into Indie comics…

    So the Indie market needs to grow. Some of the best stuff out there is Indie (Kirkman, Icon, Vaughan, etc.) but it needs to be bigger. Ideally, for me, anyways,  comics should be a triumverate. There should be DC, Marvel, then all the independents. Preferably the independents would be larger than the big two, but the others’d still be a big force.

    But I think what Kirkman’s talking about depends largely on the creator. As Josh said, Johns needs to stay where he is because he does really great, great superhero work, and it’s obvious that that’s his passion. Others, like him and Vaughan do decent superhero work, but they really do work better with their own creator-owned titles, so I think it should diversify. I don’t think that we should just remove the talent from the big two, but those creators should branch out more. I would LOVE to see more creator-owned Brubaker and Bendis stuff. Or maybe even something by Tomasi. Kirkman’s right in saying that they would benefit from writing something they love. I really do think that someone like Brubaker writing Uncanny X-Men is a waste of talent. (But that’s just me); Personally, I find that that’s his weakest book out there, weakest by a long shot. Other than Messiah Complex, which was 25% (or so) Brubaker, when was the last time someone said "You NEED to be reading Uncanny X-Men" like they’ve been saying about Cap or Daredevil or Criminal. Imagine if Brubaker took that extra 25% and siphoned it into another Icon book, or an Oni book.

    Same goes for Bendis. I freakin love him and his work on Ultimate Spider-man and Avengers, but God damn do I wish Powers came out more often. People who read it (myself included) say it’s easily Bendis’s best work and it shows. It’s where his passion is. We’ve seen his Indie stuff, and that was then, before he’s the powerhouse that he is now. I’m not saying it’s bad, I’m saying look at him now as compared to then. He is better, but imagine if he put some of that effort into Powers or another creator-owned.

    Kirkman isn’t wrong, but I don’t think we should mass exodus away from the Big Two. Keep them strong. Morrison is doing good work with Crisis and RIP (even I’ll say that) and he couldn’t do that as well if he wasn’t playing in such a big couple of sandboxes…

    It all comes down to passion and making the best books possible. Whether that’s creator owned (Kirkman & Vaughan), straight superhero (Johns), or a combination of the two (Bendis & Brubaker) that’s where the focus should be. Comics needs to be producing the best it can produce, otherwise it won’t grow. For a creator to phone it in is a waste of talent in a market that, if it wants to grow, needs all it can get.

    Alright, I’m shutting up now… 

  24. I’m fascinated by any and all discussion of the potential of comics, and to me, Kirkman is simply advocating for not only sustaining comics’ popularity, but increasing it in ways that will please fanboys and newcomers alike.

    Let’s be honest: works like "The Dark Knight Returns" and Brubaker’s run on Captain America are the exceptions to the rule when it comes to the canonical characters at DC and Marvel.  The majority of the month-to-month stuff (@PaulMontgomery — see Batman R.I.P.) is either too inaccessible or just not that good.  I love it, but only because I work really hard at loving it.  The two major companies would find it in their best interests to better appeal to teens and pre-teens who really dig the movie versions of their favorite characters.

    Sure, there’s a lot of creator-owned crap out there for every Walking Dead and Pax Romana.  But, more often than not, these books are actually moving the genre forward and telling stories that either couldn’t be as effectively told in another medium or are captivating in that they deal with subject matters that are mature enough and yet don’t require the reader to wade through decades of continuity.

    …and don’t even get me started on how much the industry could stand to gain if they really took school libraries and the potential to incorporate OGNs into middle and high school curriculums… 

  25. I am not a creator but here is my three point plan to fix the comic industry.

    1.  Put out better creator owned books.  

    2.  Put them out on time.

    3.  No complaining when your creator owned book doesn’t sell becaue you didn’t follow step 1 and 2.

    Plain and simple I am tired of this freaking conversation.  This really doesn’t need to be a public discussion anymore.  If you have plans to fix this industry go forward and do it, stop talking about it.  Do what you say, mean what you say.

  26. I’m all for a new creator exodus. I don’t read any titles from the big 2 regulary anyway. That’s not meant to sound elitist. It’s just a preference.

  27. @Luthor Exactly.  Remember during the Writer’s Strike when all these great TV writers were finally going to strike out on their own and make internet content without the help of big corporations?  Why didn’t that happen?  We got Dr. Horrible, but only because Whedon already made his money and could afford to make it.

    Comics are a lot cheaper, though.  They take a lot  of time but only for a small group of people, or even one person.  It’s easier to go make your own comic book without Marvel than it is to go out and make your own TV show without NBC.

    Wait, I forget what my point was.  I agree with a lot of, but not all of what Kirkman said, though.

  28. Does creator-owned pay the bills? I would argue that there is far more ‘creator-owned’ work out there already than what is being offered by the Big 2 or 3. Just look at the back half of the Previews Catalogue. Those little companies and indie one-shots are "creator-owned." I’m not reading 1/4 of that stuff and i’m sure some of it is great. If every "hot" writer or artist left the Big Two and did their own stuff, it would add more matter to the pot and dilute it even more. Once again, i love Powers and Invincible, but why aren’t they in the top 10 each time they come out (ignoring the late factor!) if they are the end-all-to-be-all? Fanboy, and certainly Joe Public doesn’t want that or Powers would be selling 100,000 copies. We want our Superman, Batman, and Spiderman. We love it even more when that "hot" creator is on the book, but we still buy it when it’s crap, be it "hot" creator or not!

    Powers is Bendis’ best book and where his passion really is? Okay. But only because Ultimate Spiderman pays the bills and everyone reads it. He has the luxury to have that creator-owned book. If he were to quit everything except Powers right now…that book would still only sell the same number of copies and only the 20,000 – 30,000 of the few people who read it are rewarded. Keep Bendis and Johns happy and where they are. We need their talent for the mainstream stuff and let them have their pet projects on the side to indulge that "creative itch." 

  29. If we let people like Morrison, Bendis, or Johns leave those respective titles….Not only would the companies suffer huge losses, but they might even go out of business. Think about it, Marvel right now is on a high because of Bendis. So if we just let him leave Marvel now, where would we be? Fuck he helped create the Marvel U over the last couple of years. Without his imput, anything that Marvel has done would most likely never be imagined.

    Johns and Morrison are really the only reason DC get’s any business. Sure there are other great writers, but seriously…who gets more press time then these two? Your telling me the public would be better off without a good Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Final Crisis, All Star Superman, Booster Gold, JSA, and anything else these two men have done in the past year? Go fuck yourself if you honestly think that.

    Target was getting on to my point, there are more creative oppertunities then ever before! Think about it, was there really anything else then Marvel and DC in the 1960’s? Hell Jack Kirby, of all people, struggled after trying to make it big without the big 2 companies. You need to have some sort of dominance in the market in order to stay alive. If Pepsi had no Coke, then it would be the only soda in the world and the world would only have one brand to choose from. If there was only NBC, then we would only have 1 channel to work with in our lives.

    I understand where Kirkman is coming from. Hell I would be pissed off that my titles are getting outsold the majority of the time. He’s ranting about a better creative world….When he wrote for Marvel for a couple of titles last year. It’s a double standard! Hell look at Image as a whole. They were the biggest fucking thing in the 90’s….But once it died off, other companies came up and started outselling the company. It wasnt until Kirkman really when Image started making a name for itself by critics and outside the comic industry. So your telling me Kirkman; that Image would be fine if you didnt just stick to Image for all these years? Maybe he should look at his own career before he starts whining about it.

  30. @TheNextChampion – No one is going out of business if Morrison, Bendis or Johns leaves Marvel or DC.  DC is a part of Time Warner, it’s not going out of business.  Marvel makes most of its money from licsensing its characters to movies, cartoons and toys, not comic books.  When Image was first founded the people who left to start it – Mcfarlane, Lee, Liefeld, etc. – were much, much more popular than anyone working now and sold way more books.  Yet the books survived because that’s what they do.  People will continue to buy UNCANNY X-MEN after Brubaker leaves and they will continue to buy AVENEGRS after Bendis leaves.

    Also, tell people to go fuck themselves again and you’re getting bounced out of here.

  31. I was looking at my wall of comics, a collection that has taken ten years to muster and has been carefully amassed with the greatest stories comics can offer. I have Sandman and watchmen, From Hell and American Splendor, Preacher and Jinx and Tricked and Midnight Nation and a complete run of Strangers in Paradise. I’m very proud of that wall, which also has a section for prose lit, (i’m an english major, I should be reading some prose) and i noticed as i looked that the Comics were all of a similar ilk, while the prose varied wildly.

     

    Comics have become married to the action adventure genre, be it with superheroes or without them. And we all know that comics can be more than that because we have all seen it done, that is kinda what the wall is built upon, the idea that comics can do more than just Superheroes. 

     

    The problem isn’t with creators, it isn’t with the medium, it’s with us. We don’t buy books that creators do because we are so focused on DC and Marvel. We are so used to the big action moment, that our reading muscles for things like a quite love or muted angst or stuble emotion have wiltered a bit. Ex Machina can’t just be a book about a mayor it has to have superpowers in it in order to sell. How many books do we justify by saying that "it has superheroes but it really isn’t about there powers, it’s about the people and the relationships". If that is true for so many books then why even bother having powers at all? If your reading it for the Relationships then Noble causes doesn’t need to have heroes in it, it could just as easially have fry cooks or bussinessmen, but if that were the case i doubt anyone would buy it. 

     

    The industry needs to spend less time rehashing how to show a fight scene and more time how to make two people in a room talking an interesting experiance. I want to see a new Watchmen in the next couple of years and i don’t want it to be yet another cometary on Superheroes. 

     

  32. @conor: It was part of my rant and I ment no offense, I guess the other profanity is fine since you didnt edit it either.

    Going out of business was a harsh word. But you cant deny that sales would dip considerably if these guys left the titles. Sure there are 100’s of writers and artists out there that these two companies can hire. But these writers want to write these titles. Why suddenly just left them go when they dont want to leave in the first place?

  33. Anyone else see something in Kirkman’s eyes that says "Danger! Danger! Will Robinson"? As syked as he was in the SDCC vid on iFanboy is as morose as he looks in this one. Right or wrong. Agree or disagree. This is a man who eats, breathes, sleeps his medium and is whole-heartedly passionate about what he does. I think if everyone were as much invested into their work and into moving the comic industry forward as Kirkman, it might not even be a problem.

    I don’t think that his arguments are very far off, however I think Josh hit a nail on the head when he said that Geoff Johns is doing exactly what he was born to do. There are people out there who are just as passionate about Flash or the X-Men as Kirkman and many others are about people they created and stories that are completly unique. I, for one, would be devestated if all the sudden Marvel said "all the X-books are now geared for kids." (Granted, that’s not to say that they could get rid of about 4 of them and it’d be much better for the industry.) People will always buy Supes books. But I think his point about climbing a MARVEL/DC ladder only to the point where you can jump off and get back to creator-owned books is a great idea. I’d love to see what some of the best MARVEL/DC writers would do with their own projects.

    Before I watched the video I was worried, based on what Josh wrote, that Kirkman would simply be trying to get attention and to make a scene. However, once I watched I realized that that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Whatever you feel about what he said or how he says it you got to give the man some credit for having such love and passion for the industry that we all participate in. It’s not a cry for attention its a legitimate cry for help. Kudos, Kirkman.

  34. there’s no creator i love (bendis, fraction, brubaker, morrison, millar, jms) where i wouldnt rather their next book be creator owned than work for hire.

    wow, thats incredibly awkwardly worded. its just so consistent, with so few exceptions; the original stuff is way better than the big 2 stuff.

  35. So, he’s a new partner at Image, and now all of a sudden wants to "save comics" by getting all the top writers to jump ship & come work for companies like his? He’s saying that superhero comics should be for kids & all the top writers should come & work on creator owned stuff (like at Image)& this is where all the adult readers (who spend the most money on comics) should be at?

    Saving comics or saving his own bank balance?

    Also, if you watch the video — where are his ears?

  36. @WadeWilson – I don’t think an ad hominem attack is really called for just because you don’t agree with his argument. Kind of belittles your own point.

    I know I as a reader have matured in my comic consumption and tend to gravitate towards more creator owned works. Obviously I have to point out that I still like Marvel and DC just so I don’t crucified as an indie-snob, and I do really like their books. Kirkman has some cool ideas though… Comics used to sell in the millions. A top selling book today sells maybe a tenth of that (and by top selling I mean Civil War #1 or Captain America #25). It will take something radical to even begin to push the numbers in that direction again and Walking Dead still sells more and more issues every month so maybe he’s onto something…

    I hope some creators take Kirkman seriously, except Geoff Johns (Josh you couldn’t be more right about that).

  37. @Haupt – I have no idea what ad hominem means, dude, and I don’t know Kirkman personally so I can’t say if his intentions are pure, or not. I wasn’t attacking anyone, I’m just asking the question.

    Is it just coincidence that the week after he becomes a partner at Image, he puts forth an idea that would benifit him (hugely) financially?

    And for the record, I do agree that more creator owned books would be a good thing for comics. I never said I disagreed with that. It’s just that if he came up with this idea to "save comics" when he wasn’t in the position to gain so much from it, I wouldn’t be so skeptical.

    Also, I don’t think comics will ever sell huge, or be mainstream and I’m totally cool with that.

  38. @WadeWilson – An ad hominem attack attacks the person making the argument rather than the argument itself.  Sadly, the internet would grind to a halt without them.

    Of course he wants to benefit Image, that goes without saying.  He wants everyone to do what he’s doing – leave Marvel and DC behind to make their own books and make them great and make a lot of money off them. Now that he’s in a position of power he can say these kinds of things and have weight behind them.  Before he was an Image partner he was just another writer.

  39. I attacked him? What? lol. What was it, the ears comment? It was a joke. Or, was asking the question of motive behind this speech, an "attack"?  *shrugs*

    Once again, to clarify, I don’t totally disagree with what he was saying, I was just asking what I thought was a very obvious question.

  40. Kirkman is speaking from a very fortunate position–he’s struck indie gold not once, but twice, so he’s in a very good position to make this call to arms. However, I find his reasoning to be somewhat dubious with a few holes in his logic. Just because something has worked for you, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it will work for the next guy. And the fact is a mass exodus of creators from Marvel & DC would hurt the industry. No, DC, subsidiary of WB, isn’t going anywhere, but Marvel’s been in bankruptcy once, and as anyone who has read the iFanboy recommended Comic Wars can tell you, the poor sales of Marvel titles following the Image defection, in addition to the speculation bubble bursting, was a contributing factor in Marvel defaulting on its loans and bonds.  If it happened before, it sure as hell can happen again. And remember, the creative dearth at Marvel & DC in the mid-to-late 90s had further economic ripples, wiping out a whole slate of comic book stores.  Sure, Graphic Novel sales from traditional booksellers (i.e. B&N, Borders, even Amazon and other online outlets) are a huge growth area, but there’s still only a limited amount of shelf space (or promotional webspace) those outlets are willing to dedicate to comics & GNs. For better or for worse, Marvel & DC are the economic work horses of the comic industry, there existence allows for an environment where indies can thrive, and if you hurt them (and certainly a mass exodus of top talent would certainly cripple them both), you hurt the industry.  LCSs thrive mostly on the sales of Marvel/DC titles. These sales allow them to stay in business while also providing a forum/gathering place for comic fans to talk, meet, share, and more often than not discover new work–a great deal of it from the independents. It’s at the LCS where indie/creator-owned work sells best, sometimes exclusively so. If there’s another  industry recession caused by a lack of Marvel/DC sales, it follows the LCS and creator-owned/indies will be affected as well.  Don’t look to B&N or Borders to pick-up the slack, they can use those shelves for manga, YA novels, or whatever the next vogue in publishing will be. And while the internet–with places like iFanboy, Around Comics & other discussion sites–will drive some sales to indie/creator-owned content via word-of-mouth, where to buy the books? Online? I, personally, have some reticence about buying a new, unknown comic series or trade sight unseen, even with online preview pages; like a lot of you, I often flip through a prospective book, whether it’s a single issue or a trade, to see if it truly will deliver on the promise of its preview.

     

    And while I truly believe Kirkman doesn’t want Marvel/DC to disappear, it seems obvious to me that he doesn’t believe the big 2 are capable of pushing the medium into new territory.  There’s some truth to this, regrettably; however, since it’s inception DC’s Vertigo has constantly pushed the envelope, while Marvel has tried various attempts to create an indie-esque boutique within the House of Ideas, remember the aborted rebirth of Epic? And while they have Icon, Marvel seems content to keep it a safe-haven for creator-owned content from Marvel exclusive creators like Bendis, Brubaker, and Millar than to use it to attract and/or foster new creators.  Certainly, Marvel & DC could do more … much more.  But, there’s something disingenuous in Kirkman’s NWO, whereas Marvel and DC are charged with drawing in the new generation of readers and creators, who will in turn graduate or mature from superhero comics onto the indie/creator-owned properties.  It shouldn’t be just Marvel & DC’s job "to step up the plate and make their comics viable for a whole new generation." Uh-uh, your work better be capable of doing the same thing; don’t just make it Marvel & DC’s business 

     

    Finally, just because it’s creator owned doesn’t mean it’s going to be good … or, more importantly, sell. If there was a(nother) mass exodus of top creators who eschewed the big 2 and went to do their own thing, it doesn’t mean their current Marvel or DC audience would necessarily follow. I mean wouldn’t it really depend on the project?  Yes, many readers now follow creators from title to title others, like me, follow characters (we’ve seen this debate at iFanboy before), which means first issues, whether for a series or from a new creative team, are big sellers, partially due to the curiosity factor–what is this series & where is it going?  You might give your favorite creator the benefit of the doubt for a few issues or an arc, but, ultimately, what if it’s not good? And even if it is good, who is to say a creator will be able to make a living from his creator-owned work. The rewards maybe great but so are the risks. Not every creator-owned book draws a following or gets optioned by Hollywood.  There’s also a danger a flood of creator-owned books could dilute the market, making it even more difficult for indie/creator-owned properties to survive–not only would you be competing for the average reader’s hard earn dollars from Marvel & DC but also from Kirkman, Bendis, Brubaker, Fraction, Aaron, etc. Colleagues become competitors. "A comic industry where there are more original comics, so there’s more new ideas, more creator-owned books by totally awesome guys…" necessarily means a more competitive market place, yet it doesn’t mean that those guys will be "… selling a ton of books," nor that Marvel & DC will be revitalized, nor that everyone, or even anyone, will be "… selling comics to a much wider audience than ever before."

     

    To be fair, Kirkman’s NWO could truly be visionary … but it could also be nothing more than poor speculation.

     

    oh so late, cheers

  41. This video angered and impressed me in equal measures, but I know far too little about the business side to comment on whether his intentions would work, or are a good idea. As a plain and simple marketing tool, I will say "Well played, Mr Kirkman".

    Would I buy a creator-owned book by Johns or Tomasi? Hell, yes! But they’re also the guys putting out my two favourite superhero books right now; Lantern and Nightwing. Those are two hero books I would recommend to new readers in a heartbeat (and have done so, with success I should add). Hell, even I didn’t start reading GL until the recent Secret Origin story, and Johns’ writing on that character is so superb I loved it instantly. Ditto with what Tomasi’s done for Nightwing. These are obviously personal examples, and people have every right to disagree, I’m just speaking from my own reading experience.

    Lastly, when I frequent my comic store I notice a really wide demographic in there. It may just my store so I can’t generalise. But I’m 29, and I’m certainly not the youngest in there, but I’m by no means the oldest either. There’s people aged around 50 and kids about 17, so surely that’s some sign that comics are keeping existing readers and bringing in new ones? I could be wrong, just my impression.

  42. Competition breeds ingenuity. Yeah capitalism!

  43. When you have two hugely successful creator-owned books it’s pretty easy to tell others, "hey do what I’m doing." It just seemed kind of arrogant.

  44. The industry is not dying because people work at Marvel and DC. If there’s any reason the industry is dying it’s because comics cost too much money. $4 per book now? How in the hell is an 8 year old gonna afford to buy comics. And don’t say that comics aren’t for kids. Kids are the future of comics. If somone doesn’t start reading comics by the time they’re 12, there’s probably a good chance he’s never going to pick one up. Comics are an addiction. And you have to start that addiction in young kids. And I don’t mean that in any kind of negative context. TV and Video Games are addictions too. The problem is, comics come out at much higher frequency than video games and are much more expensive than TV. And show me a parent (unless they’re fairly geeky) who’s going to walk into a comic store with their kids, much less pay $4 per book. My parents basically laughed at me when I told them I buy comics, and then they laughed harder when they found out how much I pay per week on 5 or 6 books.

    There’s always gonna be good stories, whether they come from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, IDW, Top Shelf, etc. The problem faced now is getting new people to read them.

  45. I am willing to bet the retailers who sell you your books love this conversation. 

    Mr. Retailer, "Oh sure, our shelves would love to be overrun by books that only sporadically come out.  That four issue mini that took 3 years to wrap up was awesome, it did so much for our sales.  And can I also say we should all be so lucky as to have purchased the first two issues of ____________’s new book only to find out he won’t be finishing."

    I realize the retailing end of comics is coming to end, but this is another aspect of this conversation that needs to be touched on.  Unless all these new creator owned books can make money online, you might want to consider the retailers in your math.

  46. @target242  — Any ‘save the industry’ conversation that includes the premise that what consumers want to buy is wrong has a bit of a logical flaw.  How does producing more books that consumers have not demonstrated much interest in buying help the industry?  

    @jerichobp — Isn’t the cost thing a circular argument?  If comics would be cheaper, the companies would have to sell a lot more of them to make money.  That’s why they cost what they do.  A price decrease would only be helpful if it went along with a major increase in demand.  

    On both of these points, my question is, where is that demand change going to come from?  Is the argument that the new books would be so good that they’d create a market for themselves?  

  47. Two things hold comics back.  All the continuity can be daunting to a new reader (I know better than others) and the biggest problem is the comic shop.  They can be  intimidating and not very inviting.  If comics could get into grocery stores or gas stations I think more parents would buy their 7-8 year old kid a Spider-Man comic,  which would be a gateway so when the kid grows to have a job at 15 or 16 he would be inclined to buy more titles.

    As a kid I wanted read but I was scared. I’m 23 and I finally started reading this year but even at this age I was still a little intimidated of walking into a comic shop.  So to summarize I think many kids would want to read but there is’nt a good place to get them.

    Subscriptions are an option but I have found many people don’t know you can get them.  I have convinced my friends who have kids to get them to get their child to read more.

  48. And I fully agree that writers should do more creator owned books.  Competition would shake the big companies out of lazy writing and force them to make better books to compete for our dollar.

  49. I don’t completely disagree with Kirkman. However, you’ve got to imagine that writers and artists get into comics with the hope of one day writing a Spider-Man story or drawing Batman. When kids start reading comics, 9 times out of 10, these are the books they start with and the characters they bond with. I’d love to see a Geoff Johns creator-owned super hero or a Bryan Hitch-owned horror comic, but who are we to say they aren’t completely content and happy playing in the big 2 playgrounds? Or maybe, just maybe, they don’t have ideas that don’t revolve around Green Lantern or Captain America or the X-Men.

    As far as saving the industry, shit, if I had any ideas, I’d do it. On-time books, more graphic novels, lower-priced comics, more creator-owned content, digital comics – in theory, they all sound like great ideas, but since they’re only theories at this point and no one has any concrete data showing the positive (or negative) effects of any of these, you’re not going to get any of the big publishers to go along with any of these in any great number.

  50. I think it is cool that Kirkman had the balls to do this. These are things people should be talking about, and I like that someone with as much pull as Kirkman is talking about this stuff. I agree with some things like that books aimed at kids do talk down to them and should be revamped. I also agree that more creators should start/continue their creator owned books. But whenever somebody starts talking about saving the industry I start to get a little weary. I guess I just need to some see numbers about how many new readers are coming into the fold. I only started reading comics a few years ago and now they are an important part of my life and I’m sure there are a ton of people out there like me.

  51. @Dan- Writers like Bendis and Johns write 3 or 4 books a month.  They could easily drop one of them and put that time towards writing their own book.  I think more writers should do what Jason Aaron is doing.  He’s getting to write his favorite characters (Ghost Rider) yet still writes a creator owned book (Scalped)  which are both quality books.

  52. @Kory – I agree, but could Geoff Johns have done Sinestro Corps or Bendis done Ultimate Spider-Man without the history and legacy those stories feed off from?

    Like I said earlier, I’d love to see more creator-owned stuff from these guys (and many more, both writers and artists), but who’s to say they have any desire to do so, have the ideas to do so, or can afford to do so? Powers, despite it’s high quality and how much I love it, wasn’t covering Bendis and Oeming’s mortgages (at least until the movie people came along, but that probably didn’t help much in the end). And while I think Scalped is a better book, I doubt it’s selling more (and generating more cash) than Ghost Rider.

    As we’ve seen in recent years, these guys have to make a substantial living to be able to enjoy the last years of their lives comfortably, and the only way to guarantee that these days is working for the big 2. Sure you could luck upon a Wanted, Hellboy, Sin City, but the chances are slim you’ll be able to retire on the money you generate from a creator owned project.

  53. As I look at the 50+ comments above, Kirkman obviously did something right, and that was to get people talking.  And you can bet that if we, the fans, are talking about it, then the pros are probably discussing it as well.

  54. The salient point I got out of Robert’s speech was this: Once you’ve hit the big time with Marvel or DC and once you’ve done some good work there and gotten a name and a following, don’t rest on your laurels. Go out and create something new. Something you control. Something good. He’s proposing a cycle – small indie to larger indie to low-level M/DC to top-level M/DC to big indie. And that can be a viable path for many creators.

    Kirkman’s not the only one out there taking this path. Warren Ellis comes to mind. Yeah, he still does a work for hire book or two, but his real creative output of late has been with Avatar and Image (Black Summer, Black Gas, Crecy, Fell). 

    I’d rather have the top talent leave M/DC while they’re still creative and go out and create more – and hopefully – good content, than have them grow stale writing or drawing the same half-dozen superhero titles. The industry is littered with writers and artists who got the good job, did good work, but stayed too long and now can’t get any work at all. Perhaps if they left while the creative juices were still slowing and made thier own book and thier own characters…

    Anyway. Good discussion. Thanks for pointing the editorial out, since I don’t get over to CBR very often.

  55. I don’t understand why people moan about kids not reading comics and at the same time IGNORE that kids are reading A LOT of manga these days. I’m not saying make american comics like manga, but at least acknowledge the fact that there ARE kids out there who are willing to read sequential art stories….they are already there.

  56. @Dan There’s a happy medium I’m looking for. Bendis’s USM is really good, so he should never stop writing that, but imagine if he put more focus towards his non mainstream books. That’s what Kirkman’s saying. Do that stuff you absolutely need to do and don’t just sit around like @RobAbsten said…

  57. @RobAbsten  That’s a good assessment of the situation, though I’d argue that a lot of creators are doing that to the best of their ability.  But I don’t blame them if they’re going to prioritize work with a (relatively) dependable paycheck.  I’m sure that if creator-owned work paid the bills the way Marvel and DC do, more writers (and perhaps more importantly) artists would be doing it a greater part of the time.  Now maybe Kirkman, as a partner at Image, is in a position to change that.  What will be interesting is to see how much money he puts where his mouth is.

  58. @ GungaDin – Couldn’t agree more – I’m just putting out there that while it would be nice, there may be other factors that the readers don’t know about. And if I’m not mistaken, Kirkman did have a Marvel "exclusive" while he was working there, so he’s got a taste of the security an exclusive can offer, and there may be other creators who don’t want to risk that.

    @Josh – and probably sold a few extra copies of Invincible, Walking Dead and Wolf-Man – certainly not going to fault him for that. 

  59. After listening again, I’m bothered by him telling DC and Marvel to leave the more adult stories to other imprints. I don’t want to read stories about my favorite characters that are geared towards teen-agers. That is as unfair to fans as not letting them get to read creator owned books from their favorite writers. I agree with what people are saying about a happy medium and writers like Jason Aaron. The middle ground is usually the best, no need for speeches about how you are saving the world of comics, but I am still grateful he kick started this discussion.

  60. @mrmister That’s something that stuck out for me, and it was a bit extreme, I agree, but I completely understand where he’s coming from. It’s from back when the now late twenties-early forties comic readers were reading comics and they were in convenience stores and gas stations and everyone was buying those books… Comics grew up with that generation and that’s what Kirkman wants to continue… But for me, that’s not enough. There needs to be comics for kids while there also being in continuity adult-driven stories…

  61. @AlexG- Kids are reading manga more because they can be found in bookstores and my local 7 Eleven, making them more acessible.  This industry needs to find new readers and not rely on current readers to get their childern to read comics, because I’ll be frank, 90% of the people reading comics are’nt gonna get many chances to procreate.

    And don’t feed me this crap that kids don’t want to read superheroes.  My eleven year old brother did’nt know a thing about Iron Man.  Then I took him to see the movie and after we walked out the first thing he asked is how can he start reading Iron Man and that day I got him a subscription to the new Invincible Iron Man series and have let him read the titles I have been buying since May and now he is hooked.

    And the whole theory that movies can attract new readers has some merit.  I maybe bought 10 comics books when I was young which is not very much.  Then I saw a movie called Justice League: New Frontier and thought it was amazing, and when I found out it was based on a comic I decided to start reading regularly.

  62. Hey – is this video a re-make? I saw this a few years ago – it was longer and called Jerry Maguire.

    Here’s what I want – a good story. I get that from Astro City. When it comes out. I don’t know, maybe mainstream pays the bills so that creator-owned titles can be more a work of passion that can be really enjoyed. But even reading Astro City, I know that the characters and concepts are somewhat familiar (some of the characters are like Superman, Batman, the JLA, the FF) and I like that. Like everyone else, I tried reading Image. I’ve looked for and tried to support creator-owned titles. But I keep coming back to what I like to read. I like Bendis‘ take on Spider-Man; I like what Johns is doing in Green Lantern. For me, that’s good story. Get it where you can find it, I guess…    

  63. @GungaDin – There certainly does need to be better things out there for really young kids.

    HOWEVER, if you listen to the Word Balloon Podcast he isn’t talking about really young kids, but kids that are like 15-17. I agree any industry including comics needs to constantly bring in fresh customers, but you don’t need to change the tone of major continuity titles to attract those age kids. None of the main books on either of the big 2 are too adult for kids in that age range. I also disagree with him about continuity being too much of a problem. Today there are simply just a lot more things competing for the attention of kids that age. Of course there were always things doing that, but I honestly don’t think you can argue it has ever been this bad or good depending how you see it. There are a million ways I’m sure to bring in new young customers without calling for an entire revamp in marketing strategy and publishing for comics two biggest publishers and without kind of sounding like a goof at least at points.

  64. If I had a job and there was this guy coming around and criticizing me for not quitting my job and doing the job that he wants me to do, I’d tell him to kiss my ass.  Got kids to feed and shit.

  65. @mrmister – The Word Balloon was really enlightening. Everyone else should give it a listen to hear his views fleshed out a little bit. And to hear him make fun of Bendis.

  66. I was intrigued but not going to watch the video today until i came across Jimski’s comments. Because he constantly refers to himself as an old man, I think of Jimski as an 89 year old man reading comics on a rocking chair out on his porch. So when I picture this elderly gentleman jumping around and shaking his fist, I knew I had to go watch the video.  It was fun. this is an argument that I genuinely agree with both sides (huh?) so I am in no danger of being upset. I imagine that, as people have said, Bendis and Brubaker love their babies like Powers and Criminal, but that they also want to write the characters they love that have been around for decades. Then you have guys that just prefer their own stuff and really shine more on creator stuff than company stuff like Jay Faerber.

    If there was a mad rush for everyone to just do their own stuff for the heck of it, we’d have Image circa 1994, which is not something I am interested in at all.

     Last I looked, The Walking Dead was the pick of the week for 51% (or so) of the iFanbase. Quite cool. (what does this have to do with anything? Nothing)

  67. I think Kirkman is right. And kind of to echo some comments made by Conor earlier:  A couple years ago, in the video games, 2K sports came out with 2K Football. The game was awesome and kinda shocked the video game world. Up until that point (and largely now too) Madden was the only sports game out there if you wanted to play NFL video game. The next year thier were actual improvments, and the game was better off for it. 

    I guess its just a long way of saying that competition is a good thing. Honestly, compared to Marvel or DC, how many readers were tied into Dark Horses huge crossover First Born last year? Compared to them none. Marvel and DC are content with putting out a couple really good books and a bunch of normal, horribly rushed and written books to fill everyones needs. Who is gonna push them? The readers will buy and thats all that matters to them. Characters like Batman and Wolverine are made with a treasure of potential that could be used and yet what do we see? Wolverine getting the crap beat out of him cause he can heal and Batman going crazy again cause his job is hard. Comics are the ulitmate medium in my opinion. You can divulge so much more than a movie but dont have to sit for hours to get it like a book. But the general public still sees comics as a superhero medium. What about amazing books that dont even involve superheros? Criminal, Walking Dead just to name a few have great stories that are small market books because Marvel or DC didnt publish them.

    I guess all in all, Sure what Mr. Kirkman did was a marketing tool and probably just that to him, but he did have a point.

  68. @Kory: And don’t feed me this crap that kids don’t want to read superheroes

    Calm down Shades, re-read my post and you’ll see I never mentioned what kids actually like reading or a distate for superheroes.

    My point is that there is a built in market of kids out there who WANT to read sequential stories, the industry heads have to just figure out how to get them. I think digest books are a good start…

  69. The comic book industry definitely needs a kick in the ass.  A second "Image Revolution"* might really help.

     

    *Doesn’t have to be Image.

  70. I think the prime example of this is The Hulk. 90% of people think its crap but its always one of the top pulls. With a threat to take away readers, Marvel might not let stuff like that be published on a regular basis.

  71. Andrew, don’t be fooled; in this case, I’m actually advocating the non-crotchety position. It just blows my mind that every week I read something about how to fix the comics industry before it dies, and the Graphic Novels section of the Borders next door has doubled in size in the last year. The kids are finding the comics just fine, old men; they just ain’t the ones you’re readin’. It’s not about us.

  72. @conor I think an Image Revolution redux would be interesting because Kirkman (in my view, anyway) is calling to the writers, who are a bigger draw. The problem with the Image Revolution of the 90’s (this is just my perception) is the artists were top star artists, but they fell off rapidly. Liefeld rarely got a book out (still does), Macfarlane stopped drawing, and Lee’s books are still plagued with delays. The Image Revolution had a ton of flashy that more-or-less died when the founders started not caring (Valentino and Larsen aside)

    With a Redux, though, it’d be so, so interesting to see what would happen if a ton of writers left. Writers are limited by artists, and can easily put out four books a month (as we can tell). That, alone, would buoy the revolution long enough for it to get a good ass kicking till it gets itself in shape…

  73. @AlexG- That part was’nt directed to you it was just a general idea I was conveying.

  74. Geez, OK, I’m late to this party, but…

    This is such a huge topic that it needs to be broken down into a couple different arenas to really address it.

     

    1. Give ’em What They Want – OK, so… truthfully… we KNOW that Morrison on Seaguy sells a fraction of what Morrison on Batman sells. The best-selling comics usually work from a combination of superstar writer and well-known property. What this tells me is that the comics FANbase is made up primarily of people who LOVE recognizable super-hero properties that are written well. And there’s nothing wrong with this! There’s nothing wrong with wanting great writing on characters you love. I guarantee you that JK Rowling’s 7th book would not have sold what it sold if each of the previous 6 books had been about a different character. She built an audience captivated by Harry Potter’s adventures. MArvel and DC have this going for them. The fanbase is BUILT around people who want to read the adventures of their favorite characters. But if those characters are poorly written, then many WILL leave the book (some will always stay, that’s just the way it is).

     

    2. Comic Book Guy Syndrome – OK, fine. The FANbase is made up of people who want mostly well-written super-heroes, but the rest of the world just wants to be entertained. So there IS an audience for everything from super-heroes to crime to horror to sci-fi comics. But two things block them: distribution and stigma. Distribution means that they don’t go to comic book stores, and they only see comics lumped together on one shelf at Borders surrounded by D&D manuals and teenagers reading manga books. This is not good advertising for comic books. Stigma means that if they DO try to go into a comic book shop, they’re often faced by an unfriendly member of the fanbase, or they just don’t know that comics are more than super-heroes. There’s a stigma that’s sometimes based on myth, sometimes based on real-life stereotypes.

    So, while Kirkman’s notions of creators doing creater-owned books is noble, it flies in the face of the current business model, which says "cater to the 300,000 people already readings comics, then hope that because comics are now cool, it will bleed into bookstores and/or get turned into movies."

    Does this mean he’s wrong? No, it does not. It just means that there’s a huge uphill battle to be fought. Long before Kirkman was saying this, I remember Mark Waid attributing a quote to Devin Grayson about this subject. I believe it was something like, "for the medium to thrive, the industry may have to die."

    There’s a lot to change. the current distribution system keeps things isolated, and the two biggest publishers seem to be mostly trying to cater to existing and lapsed fans more than new readers. I think it’s great if creators and publishers try to force change from their end, but it seems to me that a "top-down" solution only addresses one portion of the problem. A lot of work needs to happen from the "bottom up." 

     

     

     

  75. this was an advertisement for Image. nothing more. A bloody good ad (because good ads are things you talk about) sure it goes with Kirkman’s actual philosophy.

    I’m personally very dissapointed with the big two at the moment (they aren’t really giving me the stories I want to see).

    here is my message back to Kirkman GIVE ME A WEEKLY INVINCIBLE BOOK THEN. 

  76. @leigh – Why would you want a team of people working on INVINICIBLE?  I don’t want to see anyone other than Kirkman and Ottley doing that book.  It’s their vision.

  77. @Jimski – totally agree with you!

     

    @conor or anyone else who wants to answer – what is wrong with the comic industry? why does it need a kick up the ass? why does it need saving? i’ve only been reading comics for about 5 months now so I’m not clued up on everything but I don’t really see anything wrong with it. There’s 3 comic book shops where I live and all seem to be doing pretty good business. I buy almost exclusively indie comics (just happens to be where my interests lie) and there are anywhere from 10-30 titles a month that interest me so it’s not like there is a shortage of indie comics either. The only thing I am seeing missing is money in my pocket once I’ve left the comic shop each week.

    I am 100% behind creator owned work and writers and artists starting up their own companies. I’d love to see more companies like Avatar for example and people like Terry Moore putting out their work themselves. Fact is though, it’s easier said than done – and it sure as hell involves quite a risk. As far as Kirkman ‘s opinion goes that more writers should get together and release their own work, well, I feel that it’s kind of a redundant thing to say. If a writer is in any way indie-publishing inclined then I would have thought they would self-release stuff if and when they could. So it’s kinda like preaching to the converted as far as that goes.

    The Marvel/DC thing I just dont care about :p. 

     

  78. @deadspace- The industry really is’nt growing.  Eventually the 20/40/60 year olds reading comics will die or dare I say grow up.  Or readers could start have kids and stop reading to save money, because if I had kids there is no way I could justify buying $30 worth of comics a week.  If this industry is expected to survive well into this century they need to get some new people reading, because the people reading now won’t be around forever.

  79. Godlike, Kirkman’s beard.  It engulfs humanity.  Invincible hair.

  80. @Kory – I don’t believe the industry will die when this generation stops reading them. For as long as there are superheroes, there will be readers. Boys will always love superheroes. (massive generalisation but it’s true :p)

  81. @deadspace – They will always love superheroes… in video games, movies and on TV.  The comic book industry, as we know it now, has a short shelf life.  Unless something radical changes.

  82. So people aren’t going to read anymore? I don’t believe that for a second.

  83. @deadspace – People read in less and less numbers every year, not just in comics, but in general. 

  84. @conor: So why do you like the idea of major writers leaving DC or Marvel? Sure they rotate writers/artists all the time…But Geoff Johns GL, Action Comics, and even Booster Gold are the characters in his mind. This is how he wants to write the characters, and the artists want to draw the characters in their own way.

    So if you dont want Kirkman to leave his titles….Why should Johns, Morrison, or anyone else leave at a major industry?

  85. @Conor – Yeah sure, but I don’t think this means the end of comics any more than it means the end of books in general. Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t see it happening.

    Before, a kid would have a comic and a football for entertainment. Now they have iPods and Xboxes and DVDs etc on top of that. With more things to do, more things to spend money on, there are going to be less comics bought. But you’re always gonna have people who want to read. You’re always going to have people who watch X-Men or whatever on the TV and want to go and read X-Men as a result. You’re always going to have people interested in reading or maybe interested in reading but not so much into ordinary books and therefore go for the graphic sorts.

    And the current generation can help out by going "here son, we’re off down the comic shop today…" 😉

    I could be wrong though. It happens now and then 😀 

  86. Is this now the official most-commented upon piece in IFanboy history?

  87. @Dan – It’s not even close.

  88. i thougth i thought many of kirkman’s points were very interesting.

    to point one; (a life long career)

    the mainstream industry doesnt really allow for any type of aging.
    sure, story-lines and concepts are more mature today than they were in the 60s but the characters and environments are not.
    the accumulated knowledge and life experience of the people producing these books does not permeate them. 
    "seasoned" creators leave mainstream books earlier and earlier; 
    and where do they head to? retirement? at 40 something?
    that makes no sense to me. 
    main stream comics should not have the burn-out factor that pro-sports or top modeling has… c’mon! 
    will eisner was over 60 when he wrote and drew a contract with good. 
    this was, in a way, the beginning of his career or at least the most personal portrayal of him as an author.

  89. @deadspace- "the current generation can help out by going ‘here son, we’re off down the comic shop today’…"

    You can’t rely on that to save the industry.  Like I said before, and please no one get offended, most comic readers don’t get laid often, so how can you rely on them to have children and get them to read comics.  That is’nt a reliable method to keep this business thriving.

    If anyone here truly cares about comics then here’s what you should do.  Take all those comics you are hoarding in a storage unit, closet, basement what have you and give them to a kid you know.  Does’nt have to be a family member, you could donate to a school or give them to a neighbor.  Currently I buy a lot of single issues but  once I replace them with trades I will give them to any kid who would have them.  I understand that some books are sentimental, for instance I ‘ll never give up my Batman issues, so if they are you’re favorite characters then you should keep them.  But a character like Green Lantern, a character I like but is’nt my favorite, once I have the trade I’ll get rid of them.

     

  90. @Kory–I agree on giving issues away. I’ve started doing this recently. I was amazed when I culled my boxes how many comics I was perfectly comfortable parting with. It was liberating. Unfortunately I don’t think anyone is going to want to read 52 issues of Countdown…

  91. My girlfriend is a teacher and I give her my comics to let the kids have something to read and she told me several have gotten their parents to get them subscriptions.  Surprisingly they enjoy Booster Gold, go figure.

  92. @Kory – my point wasn’t that it would save the industry. i don’t think it needs saving. my point was that people are always going read.

  93. But…people read less and less every year.  Bookstores are slowly going out of business.  Eventually so will the comic stores.  There is no sustainable growth, a business can’t rely on a set number of customers to sell to, eventually they have to grow and branch out.  If the current climate continues eventually comics will be gone, sooner than later.

  94. With that argument though – it isn’t a problem with the comic industry then. It’s about people reading less in general. If people dont want to read and prefer to spend money on video games, there’s nothing the comic industry can do. I don’t think that’s the case though. Sure, less time is spent reading these days but then we have more stuff to do. Our time (and money) is spread over more leisure activities.

    But still, it must be different where I am because I don’t see any bookstores going out of business. In fact, the one shop that is open late night every day of the week in my city is a huge bookstore. They’re obviously doing great business. They have a big graphic novel section too that I have seen grow over the last couple of months.

  95. All I want is the comic companies to do a better job attracting new readers.

  96. The more time I spend with this imaginary problem, the funnier it gets.

    "Comics are going to die if WE don’t do something!"

    Take a gander over at the manga section and say that again.

    "Well, the comics INDUSTRY as we KNOW it is going to die. We need to save it by changing everything about the way it works now."

    Okay, so in order to keep the industry as we know it from dying, we have to make it into something other than the industry as we know it. Awesome.

    It’s like people really believe that it’ll be 2035 and kids will be sitting around going, "Man, I would love to tell this story, and I have a gift for art; maybe I should tell it using sequential graphic art," and someone will then come up to them and say, "Sorry, kid. We’d all love to see that story, but no can do. Comics died. Remember when Kirkman asked you to clap if you believed in comics, and you didn’t clap? Now we can never have comics again."

    Did I wake up on Wednesday in an alternate universe where capitalist market forces don’t exist? If the insane theory at the center of this argument is true and the comics industry is actually going to shrivel and die because of this boneheadedness, then it should. There will still be demand, so there will still be supply, and what emerges from the ashes is better. We don’t need summits and subsidies. Return to your ****ing homes, citizens; nothing to see here.

    Just actually take it apart and think about it on its face for a minute. Is it hubris, or narcissism, or… what’s the word I’m looking for?

  97. @Kory – I’m willing to bet that the comics companies, certainly the big 2, are much more interested in getting readers for their comics than any of us. Because to them it is money, and there isn’t much more of a motivation for a business than the ka-ching of cash.

  98. Well according to Jimski I’m an idiot so I’m done with this topic.  I guess I have no say in this matter because I’m not as smart as him.  All bow down to the Jimski.

  99. @jimksi – the basic core of the argument is that comics aren’t bringing in enough new readers. The audience is aging. Kirkman’s going after creators and publishers and trying to get them to think about the long-term. Others in this section (like myself) are talking about how comics are distributed, etc. Distribution specifically is an interesting quandry because comics didn’t START like this — the birth of the "specialty shop" and the direct market only happened in the, what, late 70’s? And with the rise of the internet and electronic media… we are actually in a unique place, historically speaking. A lot can change from here. So I don’t think it’s fair to say that it’s an imaginary problem. It may not turn out the way any of us are suggesting. But it’s a conversation worth having.

  100. I certainly don’t think anybody’s any flavor of idiot; I just feel like I’m crying out in the wilderness. Ghettoizing traditional comics in a little boutique shop halfway across town certainly isn’t doing anybody any favors. But dying? The entire art form? Come on.

  101. Well, me, I go back to that quote I cited: "for the medium to thrive, the industry may have to die." So, let’s just say change. Die is dramatic. No one’s saying the artform is dying. But the industry may need to change. The industry didn’t start out this way, so it’s not even a universal thing like — "oh, comics have been around for so long, they’ll survive." Publishers and distributors changed the way they did things once. They may need to change it again. That’s what kirkman’s trying to stir up.

    I’ve no doubt there will be comics in 2035. But will I get them from a specialty shop that — in turn — got them from Diamond? That, I do not know. 

  102. @Jimski-Tell me where I’m wrong.  My argument is that new readers need to be found.  More readers = more money which would = more talented writers writing comics instead of films and tv and lead to better quality comics. 

    And I feel it is dying because I only see 30 year olds in the shop buying books and guess what, they will die one day.  The entire art form will never die, it just won’t attract big name writers which means the books will suck and if they suck I’ll stop reading.

    Are these statements hubris and narcissitic?  What is so wrong with my points?  All I want is these books to go forever at a high quality.

  103. Here’s the narcissism, boiled down: "We’re dying, and when we die comics will die with us. Future generations will only have comics if we show them the way. It’s up to us to save comics for the children! Comics are all about us and how we understand the industry!"

    I keep waiting for Al Gore to come out and do a Powerpoint presentation.

    I don’t accept the premise. I see a lot of anecdotes here; I don’t see a lot of reliable numbers. And I cannot call enough attention to the word "reliable."

  104. All you gotta do is open your eyes.  There ain’t a whole lotta kids buying comics.

    And don’t compare me to Al Gore, I’m a Libertarian.

  105. We all want comics to continue at high quality – there’s no disagreement there. It’s the idea that the industry is facing some impending doom that sparks the disagreement (well, from me and Jimski anyway). Kirkman never fails to mention how The Walking Dead is getting more and more sales every issue. Have you seen the number of comics Image is putting out these days? It’s growing like mad. It’s fantastic! Terry Moore sells shedloads of his comics that he’s self-published. Could it be any healthier? I see people on forums saying they’ve just started reading comics – so new readers are still appearing too.

  106. I’m not saying it will disappear tomorrow.  I just think it can’t keep operating like it is.  Am I speaking Spanish or something? What’s so bad about my argument? 

  107. There’s no need to get so defensive and sarcastic about it. It’s just a difference of opinion.

  108. Well I get defensive when I’m called a narcissist.

  109. I agree with Kory.  And I agree with Robert Kirkman.

  110. Do you agree that creators should do creator-owned work, or do you agree that comics are dying?

    It’s great that Kirkman has set himself up so that if you disagree with him it sounds like you want people to stick to Speedball forever.

    I’m saving it for Monday now. 

  111. Someone needs to whip up some new Civil War-style "Whose Side Are You On" banners with "I’m with Kirkman" on them.

  112. @Kory – i didnt call you anything so i didn’t appreciate the attitude

  113. @deadspace-There was no attitude meant in my comment.  I can’t help if that’s how you took it.

    Sounds like you’re trying to star an argument, and I’m not going there.  So fine you win you’re right.  I’ll get the last laugh in 20 years.

    @dacampo- I’m pro-Kirkman

  114. @Kory – "Am I speaking Spanish or something?" I didn’t take that as a genuine question so I could only assume you were posting with an attitude.

    Or do you genuinely not know what language you were posting in?

    The very fact that you are talking about having "the last laugh" shows you aren’t discussing in an adult fashion. It’s got nothing to do with having the last laugh as far as I’m concerned. 

  115. I only hope that Geoff Jones doesn´t end up like Claremont… a Huge name on his time and now people only refers to him as out of date, crazy on times… I´m not qualifying his work, I just think Kirkman´s argument could be seen under that light. But of course, I´d never want to see GL written by anyone else.

  116. @deadspace- I get the impression you like arguing for the sake of arguing.  And yes I know what language I’m posting in.  And now that you have attacked my maturity you have made me angry.

    "Am I speaking Spanish or something" was directed at the fact that I don’t understand why people don’t want comics to reach new readers.  I genuinely don’t see what’s wrong with wanting to grow the industry.

    And by ‘last laugh’ I mean that if the readership does’nt grow soon there won’t be any readers, because I don’t see myself reading anything past the age of 30.

    I find it funny that I state a reasonable opinion and I get called a ‘narcissist’, ‘immature’ and even worse ‘Al Gore’ and I’m the one being told I can’t have an adult conversation.

  117. Giffen said it best…make comics more accessible.

  118. @Kory – dude you need to lighten up. you obviously get angry when someone doesn’t agree with you. i thought the discussion was going fine till you had a tantrum and said "am i speaking spanish or something?". i never attacked you so there was no need to get so arsey with me.

    who has ever said they don’t want comics to reach new readers? you’re just making stuff up now.

    and why wouldn’t you read comics after the age of 30? gosh, i suddenly feel really old 🙁 

      

  119. Seriously, no more bickering.

  120. @deadspace-"who has ever said they don’t want to reach new readers"

    Then…why are you disagreeing with me?  The points I have been making are that they need to find new readers and Image and other companies need to become better competiton.  Did you even read what I said?  Seems like you did’nt.

    And I’ll lighten up when I’m not called names for having a thoughtful opinion.

  121. Subsequent bickering posts are going to get deleted.  Starting now.

  122. Sorry Conor, I had to defend myself.  Won’t happen again.

  123. @Kory – I’m disagreeing with you over the idea that the industry is going to die. All of us want comics to continue to have new readers but I don’t believe we need a comic industry revolution to achieve that. For as long as there are people there will be readers and for as long as there are readers there will be comic readers. I have yet to see any evidence that the comic industry is in any danger. It is this lack of evidence that leads Jimski to call it an "imaginary problem", and I agree with that.

    However, I’ve also said before that I’m not 100% clued up on everything comic-related so if someone were to provide some kind of evidence to back up the theory that comics are going to be gone after this generation unless something drastic happens then I’d be happy to change my opinion.

  124. No one is saying that comic books will go away.  That’s not the point Kirkman is making, nor the point anyone who agrees with him is making.  It’s the system as we know it that is in danger – the shared universes that so many people love so much have a definite shelf-life.

  125. Well said Conor.  I just worry about the quality of comics.  And is’nt that something we all can agree on?  I just want to expand readership to get more money to creators so better writers will want to work on comics.

    Now that it’s over can we make nice deadspace?  =)            

  126. @Conor – then I must have completely misunderstood Kirkman when he said "But as we age, we die, so we’re not going to be around forever and so if comics continue to age with us, they will die along with us and that’s not something I think any of us want."

    He is saying "they will die", so I think he is very much saying they will go away. You can’t get them to go away much more than if they die…

    How else can you translate what he said?

    That is fundamentally what I’m disagreeing with.

  127. He’s not saying there will be no more comics anywhere in the land.  There will be manga, there will be comics produced by people who have a pen and some paper and a copier.

    If you think he means that you have misunderstood him, yes.

  128. So when he says "the main reason I did it was to save the entire comic book industry," he’s not saying that comic books are going away… so what is the point of him saying anything?

  129. The comic book industry =/= comic books

    It’s like saying if Major League Baseball folded people would stop playing in the park.

  130. So… no! No. Never mind. This is so much worse than I thought it was going to be, and I thought it was going to be pretty bad.

  131. @Conor – lol, well obviously if i sit here and scribble a comic strip and photocopy it then one could say comics always exist in that capacity but that’s not what we’re talking about (and that’s not what I thought he meant – I don’t know why you would think I thought that to be honest). we’re talking about the industry here. we’re talking about the comic companies. we’re talking about Diamond and the stores that stock the comics. that’s what he was referring to when he said "they will die", isn’t it? I am disagreeing with that. i don’t believe all that is going to "die with us".

    the industry looks healthier than ever right now. we have comic writers turning down work. goddamn, that’s a good position to be in! sounds like the supply can’t even meet the demand at the moment. we have Image and IDW sending comics off for 2nd printings. that is awesome. but apparently comics are still "going to die". for some reason, lots of people think we are the last generation interested in comics. where is the evidence? 

    @Jimski – did he really say that? :O 

  132. How in the world is the comic industry going to end anyways? It’s all because of the films this year that is keeping the industry on notice! All five superhero films (sadly including Wanted) help make over $1 Billion in revenues this year. Now I know not all the people who watched the films came out and say ‘I wanna read Wanted, Hellboy, Batman, etc’….But I can bet you that a good 1/4th of them were interested in seeing a TPB for any of the characters next time in the book store. Also, because of the Watchmen trailer; over 200,000 more copies will be printed this year because of heighten popularity.

    So if anything, we should be thanking the films this year to help the comic industry stay alive. Maybe if comic book films weren’t as popular, then I agree with the notion that ‘comics will die’…But I think, like Deadspace and others stated, the comic book industry is as healthy now as it’s ever been.  But then again there always have to be a warning sign every decade. Weren’t there arguments over the future of comics in the 80’s and 90’s too?

    Oh and when Kirkman states, ‘they will die’ in his video…I’m pretty sure he’s stating that the industry is dying conor lol

  133. @TheNextChampion — but… sorry, you just said "the comic book industry is as healthy now as it’s ever been." Whah? Circulation numbers are nowhere NEAR what they were when Jim Lee’s X-men #1 came out. They’re nowhere near classic newstand circulation numbers from the 70’s. Yes, they’re higher than they’ve been in a long time, but… "healthy as they’ve ever been?" THat’s just not true.

    That said: trade and graphic novel sales HAVE come a long way. But that’s not really because of specialty shops and Diamond distribution. That’s because publishers have been circumventing the direct market tendency of the 80’s and 90’s and expanding. 

    If you guys listen to Kirkman expand on his video on, say, the Word Balloon podcast, he pretty clearly says what Conor is saying: the American comics industry as you know it could die if publishers don’t take care of it. That’s the extent of what he’s saying. 

     

  134. I still think this is all Kirkman’s new business side coming out. It’s a recruiting drive/advertisement for Image. Good luck to him, I can’t hate him for trying to make money, I’m just surprised so many people are getting worked up over it.

    If comics really are in any danger of "dying" then it’s all about distribution, sales & getting more books into the hands of kids. I personally NEVER see kids in my LCS, so to "save comics", they need to make them more easy to get & make them cheaper for kids to buy, not put all the best writers on unknown characters. That benifits the smaller companies (like Image) and no one else.

  135. @WadeWilson – Did you watch the video or listen to the follow-up interview?  It doesn’t seem as though you have.

  136. I think it boils down to this:

    Interviewer guy: if it’s not broke don’t fix it…

    Kirkman: I disagree. I think it is broke.

    Kirkman then goes on to compare today’s comic sales to the 70s to prove how much it’s broken. That’s the problem right there. That’s just unrealistic. It seems like he really hasn’t thought this stuff through. I agree with the interviewer guy.

    The successful writers know they can do creator-owned stuff, and lots of them already are. They don’t need some other writer to tell them this. Whatever writers choose to do I just hope they don’t have the audacity to say they did it to "save the entire comic industry". I can’t believe he actually said that. And with a straight face too. Wow.

  137. @deadspace – So you know better about the financial health of the industry than one of the people in charge of one of the companies?

  138. @conor – yes i do.

    was that the answer you were looking for?

    let’s see some of the stuff Kirkman has said regarding the financial health of the industry:

    – he has said numerous times how he is making a really really really good living out of comics.

    – he also mentioned how the graphic novel dept in book stores is the ONLY dept that has had any growth in the book industry.

    when you add that to the several reasons I have given myself (through simple observation) about why I think the industry is doing just fine then is it any wonder I come to the conclusion that I have? just because some of you keep repeating it is dying or that it’s in trouble, doesn’t make it true. i’ve asked about 3 times now – where is the evidence? i’ve even said if i was shown evidence i would change my opinion…. but alas, all the evidence is pointing to the contrary. 

  139. @conor – Yes, to both questions (not sure why you asked that?) & I agree with a lot of what he says, it’s just that I don’t know the guy personally, so just because he says he’s not solely recruiting, doesn’t mean I take it on face value.

    It seems like coorparate guys like him & the big name writers who would make more money & have longer careers, have the most to gain from these ideas — not the "industry".

  140. @deadspace- "To compare sales to the 70’s is unrealistic"

    You just proved my point.  30 years ago sales were higher,  but have slowly tailed off since then.  What do think it will be like in another thirty years then?

    Again the evidence I have that sales will drop is this.  Ask yourself how many 15 year olds you see at the shop on wednesdays.

  141. I found some sales figures

    Unit sales for Diamond’s top 300 comic books from each month.             Dollar sales

    1997- 100.32 million copies                                                                244.39 million

    1998- 84.45 million copies                                                                  210.65 million

    1999- 78.08 million copies                                                                  202.54 million

    2000- 69.26 million copies                                                                  190.75 million

    2001- 66.92 millon copies                                                                   186.98 million

    2002- 73.72 million copies                                                                  196.65 million

    2003- 74.14 million copies                                                                  207.19 million

    2004- 74.14 million copies                                                                  213.24 millon

    2005- 76.13 million copies                                                                  229.73 million

    2006- 81.85 millon copies                                                                   252.18 million

    2007- 85.27 million copies                                                                  270.00  million

  142. What I gathered from those numbers is sales and profits were dropping until the superhero movie phenomenon started with Spider-Man in 2002.  Though there has been some growth, they have’nt reached their full potential.  Obviously people want to read after seeing a movie.

    But if you notice sales of individual issues are down 15 million since 1997, though profits are up, but that has more to do with the price going up. 

  143. @Kory: So even though the numbers have gone drastically up since 2002….that means the industry is dying? It seems to me, once again thanks to the films, that comics are going threw a resurgence thanks to the films since Spider-Man. It’s nice that you dug up this chart Kory, and it does show that sales are still down….No question about that.

    But if sales have gone up since 2002, doesnt that mean it’ll go up again this year? I’m pretty sure thanks to Batman, Iron Man, and the Watchmen Trailer…comics might go up even further this year. So you did prove your point Kory, but in turn you made my argument a little more credible. lol

  144. Sorry for the double post but I did some math and I helped Kory out with the chart he discovered today. From 2006 to 2007 the sales for comics went up by 96% Obviously the numbers could go down or up depending on this year….But if we keep up with this 96% upward trend, guess where sales end up before you see the final results.

    2009: 88.81 Million

    2010: 92.51 Million

    2011: 96.37 Million

    2012: 100.39 Million

    Okay, so if this trend continues then we get over the 100 million mark by 2012…and surprising it beats out the 1997 sales figures by a couple thou. Now obviously, I’m no magician, I cant see into the future. Heck, the figures could go up even more then 96% or go suddenly down…But if comic sales are in this much ‘trouble’ then why would this upward trend seem to indicate we could past the high mark of the 90’s in only 4 more years?

  145. @Kory – I don’t think sales of comics are ever going to get as good as in previous decades. There is way too much competition from other entertainment types. The interviewer in the Word Balloon thing made this same point. Kirkman’s response? That he doesn’t have all the answers. This is a fundamental point and it’s obvious Kirkman hadn’t thought about this because he was truly stumped when it was pointed out to him.

    Your stats show that contrary to "dying" the industry is actually making increases in sales! Quite steadily since around 2001. So why the panic? Why is it that Kirkman says comics are in trouble and everyone agrees without looking at the evidence? Comics aren’t selling like they were in the 60s or 70s and this therefore means the industry is dying? No, look at the stats. They are making an increase.

    I am not against better advertising or better anything that brings more people to comics. What I’ll argue against though is the idea that we need to save the comic industry – because it doesn’t need saving! 

  146. Comic book companies have become very good at selling more comics to the same people (and a relative handful of new people) for the last ten years.  It’s still not bringing large numbers of kids and teens into the market which is waht it needs to survive once the people that are buying all the comics die in 20-30 years.  That’s why comics are dying.  Not because salesa are going down every year, no one said that.  But if you open your eyes and look at who is buying comics it’s pretty easy to see that the audience is not self-sustaining.  I haven’t seen anyone under the age of 20 in any of my regular comics shops buying a comic book in ten years.  I go to conventions and see parents dressed up as super heroes dragging around their disinterested kids who are too busy with their PSPs.  Yes, comic sales are up, no one is denying that, but that’s because comics are way better so the same uadience is buying more of them.  My pull list is 3x the size it was ever two years ago. 

    Everyone who works in the industry that I’ve ever talked to knows this, it’s funny/sad that the only people who don’t are a portion of the fans themselves.

    And I’m done.

  147. Some of you have mentioned Diamond and some of you have mentioned Capitalism, but (unless I missed a post) I’m not sure any of you have put the two together.  The real issue (in my opinion) isn’t that writers aren’t doing enough creater owned stuff.  Conventions (especially the small local ones) are crawling with people who want to get their stuff out.  If we could break Diamond’s near monopoly on distribution then capitalism (through the market) would dramatically increase the variety of products on the shelf (in a LCBS or at Borders).  If we had 5 distributers all competing for distribution rights then they would all be striving to find/and itching to promote the next big book, the next big writer, and/or the next big idea. While at the same time the costs to publishers to distribute their books would be falling.

    IF this monopoly were broken up then there would be more opportunities for new writers/artists and labels other than DC/Marvel (not that I have a problem with either) to get some attention.  That would lead to more creater owned work (from the big boys and some new guys).  I think Kirkman might be right, but he seems to be putting the onus on the writers when it (at least partially) belongs on Diamond.

  148. nextchampion-  The sales are up because of the movie bubble.  Eventually it will burst.  You can tell by reviews by some recent superhero movies, they always mention how they all are relatively the same movie.  Eventually they will stop being made, and sales will come back down to Earth.  My point has always been strike while the iron is hot.

    @deadspace-By the way I found stats that say most revenue comes from trades.  So yes, single issue form is ‘dying’.

    It’s obvious I’ll never get some of you understand.  To me Conor laid it out best before me, and like him I’m done.  I don’t know how else to explain myself.  If you still don’t understand you’ll never understand.

  149. Conor – agree 100%. Sales are going up, none of us have said otherwise. But they’re nowhere near the numbers they once were. One also has to consider that an aging fanbase generally has more disposable income — as you mentioned with your pull list.

    Just a quick reality check:

    1960 – #1 comic in circulation was Uncle Scrooge (Dell) with 1,040,543.

    june 2008 – #1 comic in circulation was Secret Invasion #3 with 175,649.

    Now, many things have changed, but… one simply cannot say that it’s "as healthy as its ever been."

    Kory’s also citing 1997, which was AFTER the comics bust — things were already declining. IIRC, The most ordered comic ever was X-men #1 (1991)… and that was how many million copies? So to say we’re headed back to ’97 levels doesn’t equate to skyrocketing future sales. All it means is we’re refilling a very big hole. And as Conor astutely points out, a lot of this comes from lapsed comics readers and current readers buying MORE comics. See, we also need to factor in that the last few years have been ripe with EVENTS, causing regular readers to buy more comics. We’ve also seen the return of variant covers. To say that movies are causing this spike in regular comics sales and that the future is ensured… well, that’s an overly simplified speculation. There are number of factors at work here. Kirkman may have been dramatic in his "death of the industry" statement, but he is CORRECT to say that publishers, distributors, creators, and even fans need to look at the larger picture. This is not a time to rest on one’s laurels. Comics are very much in the spotlight right now, thanks to Hollywood. But the publishing industry needs to be very careful of its next moves. They really do have to plan for the future, considering ALL the factors.

    And now…  I’m done too.

     

     

  150. I just disagree that there’s ANY evidence that this industry is "dying" or will die once all the 30 year old comic readers are gone.  Comics are so much more accepted these days because of the success of the movies, it seems to me people are more open to picking up a graphic novel instead of just dismissing it as kids stuff or dork stuff.  

  151. I feel like the scientist in any disaster movie who’s trying to tell everyone the problem and they won’t listen. 

    Or maybe Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes.

  152. @ Kory – I agree that one of the issues is the number of customers, but I feel part of the reason there is a lack of customers is that there is simply not enough variety, not enough advertising of  and access to the "less mainstream" books.  For example: I live in a relatively small town with an exceptionally small comic book shop (it is a shop that is 1/2 NASCAR crap, 1/4 Cards, 1/8 coins, and 1/8 comics).  When I started listening to the podcast here and reading on the website I realized I wanted to try out Fables, Powers, The Walking Dead and a few other books.  The owner said something along the lines of: "I can’t afford to carry those OBSCURE titles because Diamond requires minimum quantities and returns are impossible."  I have since convinced him to order a few of these titles, but it was like pulling teeth.  Last week a woman came in to buy Fables and we started chatting.  I told her she should try out Y:The Last Man and she was interested, but the shop didn’t have any of those "obscure" Y trades, so I had to send her to Borders.

    Now, if we break up Diamond’s monopoly, allowing for entry into the market, we WOULD see lower distribution costs.  Meaning that my LCBS could afford to stock more "obscure" titles and that nontraditional readers, like that Fables woman (a 35 year old african american lawyer) would be more likely to spot a title that fits their tastes.  Multiple distributers would also be much more likely to advertise because advertising would become an enticement for publishers to use their services.  This would draw in more new readers.

    I can’t disagree with your assesment that one of the problems is the sheer number of readers, but I am not sure that problem cannot be addressed by the market.

  153. @stuclach – You are definitely right that Diamond is strangling the industry, and it’s the smaart companies that bypass them to go to the bookstores that are making the smart moves. Doesn’t help most comic stores, though.  Although I know one or two retailers who get most of their trades through non-Diamond distributors and they make a lot more money that way.  And get their books way faster.

  154. @ Kory – the movie bubble?  seriously?

  155. What’s wrong with that statement? 

  156. @Kory – Movies don’t bring in a statistically significant number of new regular comic book readers.

  157. They would if comics were’nt only sold in specialty shops and bookstores.  Which is what I’ve been saying.

  158. @conor – If only people like Kirkman (don’t get me wrong, I love the guy, he’s beardtastic) would create 9 minute videos discussing the blight that is Diamond.  Unfortunately, as soon as the video hits the web his work becomes exponentially more difficult to distribute because he pissed off Diamond.

    I would hate to think that writers are blaming themselves (or are being blamed) for the issues in the industry.  I think the four key problems in the industry are:
    1. A lack of customers-this is a problem in every industry on the planet (unless you are apple).
    2. A lack of new ideas-by ideas I mean characters, styles, story concepts.
    3. A lack of publicity-the movies and podcasts like yours are helping here, but can you name a place (other than a bookstore or comic shop where you saw anything that even resembles a comic book ad).
    4. DIAMOND’s monopoly

    I think if you fix #4 you will also fix 1, 2, and 3 indirectly.  We may never reach a reader base like those of the 1950’s, but there are absolutely hundreds of thousands of potential customers out there just waiting to be enticed. The new ideas are there just waiting for someone to offer to distribute them.  

  159. Well you’re right in one aspect, that a lot more comic movies will get made, and therefor more bad movies will get made.  But the fact is that this year’s box office success will lead to more GREAT comic book movies.  Its not a fad, if the movie is well made and appeals to a lot of people, its going to make a lot of money.  And I wouldn’t worry about reviews saying they’re all the same, as 99% of movies are in the end pretty formulaic.

    My opinin is that while Kirkman’s opinion may ultimately prove true, his reasons for saying it are wrong.  Nobody knows whats going to happen, this movie success is unprecedented and who knows what is going to happen in terms of actual comic book or graphic novel growth.  I don’t care if you’re a blogger, or Joe Quesada, there is no history that is going to repeat itself and really nothing to base your opinion on.  Robert Kirkman doesn’t know what’s going to compel a new reader to walk into a comic book store 30 years from now

  160. @cutty – If there are comic book stores still around in 30 years I will be beyond shocked.

  161. @cutty- comic book movies are definitely a fad.  There no different than the John Hughes teen movies of the 80’s, there’s a lot of them and eventually the larger viewing public will get bored with them and less will be made.  Though they will always be made they won’t always be financially viable.

  162. @cutty – Actually, I would bet that Kirkman knows what could compel a new reader to walk into a comic book shop and I bet you know, too: a comic book.  The odds are that it won’t be a traditional Marvel/DC book (not that I don’t love me some batman), but rather something we haven’t seen yet.  If the industry is allowed to work as it is intended to there will be as much variety in comics as there is in movies, prose books, and websites.  There will be (literally) something for everyone.

    However, if the market continues to be run by the distribution company rather than consumer demand the comic book that would draw in that theoretical customer 30 years now may not exist.

  163. comic book movies are certainly not a fad, just like sci-fi movies or action flicks with big monsters aren’t fads. 

  164. @cutty – Yeah, the "comic book movie"* has definitely moved beyond fad.  It’s its own viable genre of film now.  This summer was an aberation for these films in terms of number, quality, and success, but they’re not going to be going away.  It’s like reality TV.  Everyone thought that was a fad too.

    *Which is a misnomer, but it seems to be what we’re stuck with.

  165. between 1986 and 1998, how many comic book movies did you see?

  166. @Kory – What’s your point?

  167. These movies go in cycles

  168. Hollywood wasn’t making comic movies because they didn’t have any evidence that they would make any money (espically because it looked like Schumaker killed the Batman franchise).  Do you think they’ll be giving the necessary resources into developing comic book movies now?

    And the fact is that the public is going to just "get tired" of superhero movies.  If its well-made, it will make lots of money

  169. @Kory – It’s been eight years now of successful comic book movies.  We’re beyond fad status.  These movies weren’t made before because the CGI technology didn’t exist to make them viable except for the more talented filmmakers.  They’re here to stay.

  170. Superheroes are en vogue now, but I fear that won’t last that’s all.

  171. yeah i’m sure Spider-Man 5 is really going to struggle

  172. Spiderman 3 did’nt meet industry expectations

  173. Neither did Superman Returns.  I forgot that one.

  174. Spider-Man 3 is one of the top 20 domestic grossing movies ever made.  I doubt Sony took a loss on it

  175. SPIDER-MAN 3

    Production Budget: $258 million

    Worldwide Gross: $890 million

  176. Did you see the drop offs after the first week?

  177. @Kory – It doesn’t matter.  SPIDER-MAN 3 might have been terrible (it was) but it made a lot of money.  Regardless, it’s a baseless argument – not every superhero movie it going to be a huge hit.  But they don’t have to be.  All you need is an IRON MAN and a THE DARK KNIGHT and they will keep making more.  They don’t stop making action movies when one of htem bombs.

  178. Superman and Spider-Man 3 sucked.  If you’re looking for some kind of trend, its that bad movies don’t make as much as good movies

  179. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not rooting for them to go away.  I want Marvel and DC to gain new readers from people seeing them.

  180. @cutty- With these superhero movies there’s been more bad ones than good ones.  And that could lead to their demise.  Remember I say COULD, I’m not saying definitely.

  181. My understanding of the movie industry is that most of the big boys (sony, WB, etc) will put out 5ish BIG budget movies in a given year expecting 2-3 of those to hit big enough to cover the total cost of all 5 (and hopefully big enough to cover every other movie they made that year).  Of course they hope all 5 will explode, but they know to diversify. 

    Finding material that "they" feel is capable of being one of the 5 is a big part of the game.  I think we will see, over the next few years, the Sony’s and WB’s of the world dig into some of the less well known comic properties.  We will still see Batman, Spiderman, etc, but we have already seen the start of this with Wanted (yikes), Watchmen, and Hellboy.  (If you don’t feel Watchmen or Hellboy fit in that category then go ask a random 45 year old construction worker if they have ever heard of them.)

    I think we will continue to see "comic book movies" being made, but they may not involve characters traditionally associated with comic books and they may not be marketed as comic book movies.

    I wish I had found this intelligent and useful discussion a few days ago instead of spending my time getting yelled at on the POTW page.

    Alright, I have to go feed my daughters.

  182. @Kory – woah. some of us will never understand? i’m hearing what you are saying, i am understanding your argument, i am just disagreeing with it. that was downright insulting.

    @conor – if it’s nothing to do with declining sales, why did Kirkman use that argument in the interview to explain why he thinks the industry needs fixing? all these contradictions are making my head spin.

    I think stuclach made much more sense in just one post about Diamond’s monopoly than Kirkman did in his entire video and subsequent interview. And this was a very good point: "1. A lack of customers – this is a problem with every industry on the planet"

  183. @deadspace – I never said it had nothing to do with declining sales.  I said, in fact, the opposite.  Sales are up within the small community, but they are still trending down, way down, historically.

  184. @deadspace- I don’t understand where the disagreement is, that’s all.  Comics are’nt reaching a new audience is what I’m arguing and which has been proven to be true.  The industry is doing great now but it won’t be great in the future unless it grows and gains a larger audience.

    Not everything I type is meant as an insult, that’s just how you take it.

  185. @Kory – How can you possibly say for a fact that comics aren’t reaching a new audience?  Didn’t you say in an earlier post that you just started reading a year ago?

  186. More (and hopefully better quality) creator-owned/indie books?  Sure, that’d be nice.  Even if it’s just the Marvel guys expanding on the Icon imprint, that’d be cool.

    Making DC and Marvel "kid-friendly"?  Eh… no.  I like the tone the books are at right now and frankly making a mature and complex book like The Killing Joke or Identity Crisis on an original character simply doesn’t doesn’t have the same weight as putting it on Batman and the JLA.  The big two are making book with as much gravitas and seriousness as ever and to tone it down to appeal to the Pokemon crowd is a bad move in my opinion.  We have the Marvel Adventures line and the Johnny DC line and yes, they DO talk down to kids.  So let’s just up their quality, make them just serious enough for kids to like but not enough to where Little Timmy has to wonder what Norman Osborn is doing to Gwen.  Maybe put Joe Casey and Eric Canete on Marvel Adventures Avengers  Maybe make a Johnny DC Superman book by Paul Dini and Ty Templeton who already does those books.  You can keep the adult stuff and still make stuff for the kids, I believe.

  187. @Kory – telling people they don’t understand just because they don’t agree with you is insulting. there’s no way around that one.

    i keep hearing that comics aren’t attracting new readers yet i keep seeing people post on forums about how they recently got into them. i’m included in that. where is the evidence that there are no new readers?

    the argument that "if the industry doesn’t attract new readers it will die" is such a redundant and pointless argument. it’s like saying "if i don’t eat i will die". i am eating tho so i won’t die – so what’s the point in saying it in the first place? where has this idea come from – that there aren’t any new readers? 

    if music doesn’t attract new listeners the music industry will die. if films dont attract new watchers the film industry will die. if games dont attract new gamers the gaming industry will die. none of that is going to happen though is it? and my argument is that it won’t be happening to the comic industry reader.

    and, even if I did believe that the comic industry needed saving, i don’t think what Kirkman is proposing is how it could (or should) be saved. what stuclach posted however WOULD be a reasonable plan of action. not some mass exodus of writers from Marvel and DC and for the big 2 to concentrate on kiddy books. yikes…

  188. @deadspace – The evidence has been presented over and over.  You don’t agree with it.  That’s fine, that’s  your perogative.  Time to move on.

  189. Regardless the health of the industry, the video sounded like a call to arms for unknown creators to get their [bleep] together and start publishing.  I took it that he was interested in seeing more creator owned ideas with mulit-media potential, he kept stressing we need more creators.  From a creative standpoint this is an exciting time, videos like this reinforce it. 

  190. @conor – no it hasn’t. what evidence? you mean that there aren’t many kids in comic shops? that doesn’t prove that there are no new readers to comics. it could simply mean that the demographics of comics has changed – eg it could mean that new readers are 18 instead of 8. it could mean kids are reading their big brothers comics or their dads comics. it could mean a million things.

    is that the ‘evidence’ you are referring to?  

  191. @cutty- By a new audience I mean a significant amount of people.  Not just little ol’ me posting on a comic site.  I’m tired of this tit for tat let’s just move on.

  192. @deadspace-  By you won’t understand is that we will only agree to disagree, there was no insult.

  193. @kory – your point to cutty is the crux of this argument – where is the evidence that comics aren’t already continuing to reach a new audience. how do you know you are not one of thousands of new comics readers? what makes you think it’s just you – or just you and a handful of others?

    i think that is what those of us who are disagreeing with your view are wanting to know. 

    i never believe what i’m told unless there are some kind of facts to back it up. if someone tells me the comic industry is going to die because it is failing to attract new readers, my automatic reaction is to ask – how do you know it isnt attracting new readers?  

  194. The evidence I have been able to find is a study DC comics did in 1995.  They found the average reader was 18-39 with an average age of 29.

    I’m sure if I or someone else contacted the big two they could provide a more recent age demographic breakdown.  But these statistics go with my argument that the only people buying comics are between 20-30 years old.  I’m sure newer statistics would point to the average reader being in that age range.

  195. Kory, if I told you that the majority of gamers are over 18 and that the average gamer age is 35, would you then think the gaming industry was going to die due to failing to attract a new audience?

  196. @deadspace – That is a good point, but I am not sure the two can be compared.  How many advertisements for video games did you see on TV/internet/magazine today? 25?  How many advertisements for comic books did you see? You might have seen some ads for TV shows or Movies based on comic characters, but none of them mention the actual comic books or where to buy them.

    I do not agree with Kory that the comic industry is dying, but I believe it has a lot to learn and that it will have to adapt to grow.

  197. @deadspace You also have to take into account that there are a lot more gamers in the world, and that the industry is bigger than comics. Also, there are TONS of kids buying videogames that are marketed to kids, even if they’re PC games that teach them basic addition.

  198. @deadspace-Nobody said it will truly ‘die’.  All along I have said several things that the industry can do to become bigger and grow.  And comics and games are apples and oranges,  games can be found everywhere not just in specialty shops.  Therefore more people buy them.

    This is what I’ve been arguing all along…

    – Make comics more accessible to new readers.  New readers, not necessarily younger ones, but that could’nt hurt.  Granted, new readers can be found.  Just not a significant amount.

    -More readers = more money which would lead to writers wanting to write comics instead of movies or tv.  For example, if Brian Michael Bendis was’nt making good money doing comics and could get more money doing movies, guess what, he’s gonna go write movies.  I want to grow the industry to attract talented writers to like Bendis to want to write comics.

    -I agree with Kirkman that creators should do more creator owned work.  Writers like Geoff Johns and Bendis lending their talents to smaller companies would help them become competitors to the big two.  This would lead to DC and Marvel putting out better books to compete for your dollar and would give the writers better contracts because their are companies competing for their services.

    -Get comics sold in other places besides specialty shops and bookstores.  Get them on newstands, grocery stores and gas stations and I guarantee the sales will go up.

    – Fix the convoluted continuity.  It can be daunting to someone who wants to start reading,  I know better than others.

    Nobody has ever said it will truly die.  But if it is’nt grown to new audiences sales will eventually slump and the quality of these books will go down because talented writers and artists won’t see them as a viable place to make money.

  199. @stuclach – hehe yeah i knew when I posted it that the gaming thing shouldn’t really be taken as a comparison :p i think my point was though that average age statistics and stuff like that don’t really tell us anything about the health of the industry or its future. i think the gaming example illustrates that.  someone on the ifanboy forum said:

    "as long as there are new readers, does it really matter what age they are? I didn’t start reading comics til my late 20s. I think that the focus on kids is misplaced. Just focus on publishing a quality product for a reasonable price. The customers will take care of themselves"

    That quote also illustrates my point well. People (including Kirkman) keep using the age of current readers to somehow prove the industry isn’t attracting new readers. That’s like putting 2 and 2 together and getting 5.

  200. nobody ever said focus solely on kids,  but they should be a priority.

  201. @Kory – and i didn’t say that either.  My point was that any time i’ve asked why you think the industry isn’t attracting new readers, the reply has always been about the age of readers – what ages of people you see in comic shops etc as if that’s proof of comics not reaching a new audience. Kirkman said it, you said it, conor said it, loads of people have. it doesn’t prove anything though.

  202. @deadspace – I never said that.  I said the age of readers in the comic shops proves the lack of kids.  I said the declining overall sales (not year-to-year, decade to-decade) proves there are less readers.

  203. I DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE YELLING ABOUT!!!!

     …

    LOUD NOISES!!!!!

     …sorry… I couldn’t resist.

  204. Exactly.

  205. @conor – eh? you did say that. and on this very page too. you said that comics are dying because the industry isn’t bringing large numbers of kids in. it’s in the same post where you said "i’m done". you didn’t just say it proves the lack of kids reading comics – you used it as the reason for comics dying in the future. have you changed your mind about that now? if not, then my argument regarding that is in my last 2 posts… there’s no point me typing it all again.

    gosh lol 

  206. @deadspace – I never said the problem was only about kids.  No kids reading comics is a major problem, it means no new readers for the future.  But the problems go beyond just no kids reading comics.  Diminishing returns means diminishing returns.  That’s the biggest problem plaguing the comics industry – and that’s the result of a cannibalized readership that is not replinished by new readers, which traditionally was kids.

  207. More comics aged at kids? What about the Johnny DC imprint or the Marvel Adventures imprint? Isnt Marvel Adventure Spider-Man one of the top selling comics right now at Marvel? I think the industry is trying really hard to get kids, just maybe they’re too dumb down for their own good. I sometimes flip threw them at my work and the DC kids stuff can sometimes be just ‘Care Bear’s material for me.

    Anyways, I think one of the biggest solutions to resolve the new readers is to advertise more. Why only put advertisements in just comics and comic magazines? Why not put some ads for SI or FC in Entertainment Weekly or even Time? Heck, these companies are making millions of dollars every years….How hard is it to show an ad on TV once in a while? I tell ya if you put an ad for, let’s say Fantastic Four, on Saturday morning cartoons…you’d get a lot of kids asking to buy an issue of it.

    Also, dont tell me that the only a certain group of people buy comics. I work at a Borders in a mall, I get all types of people buying issues and trades. Yes a good part is teengers/young adult (about 40%) but I also get a lot of little kids, regular adults, and even seniors buys issues! It’s funny, a couple of weeks ago I sold a 60 year old man an issue of Action Comics cause he thought it was a tribue to Reeves…Now I see him every week buying a new issue of Action Comics cause he loves the stories. Yesterday a 14 year old girl bought ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ and ‘Arkham Asylum’ for herself….So yeah I get a good range of diversity in my book store.

    I do agree we need more advertising for comics, cause as of right now in the 21 century; this is no excuse for better advertising. But with this upward trend of sales, thanks to Kory’s evidence (lol), a great footing in films, and a huge diversity of stories and companies…I dont think there is a big alarm that the industry will die off ever.

  208. @conor – no kids reading comics means no comic readers in the future? so people can’t start reading comics when they are 20 or 30 or 40? what if it’s simply a case of kids in general not being interested in reading these days and instead people in general are not getting into comics or books at all until late teens or 20s? you say new readers were traditionally kids – what if new readers now aren’t kids? that is what i am saying. you cannot equate few kids reading comics to no new readers when it could simply be a change in the demographics.

    @TheNextChampion – exactly. as kory showed, sales have been steadily increasing for the last 6 or 7 years. as with any industry – it could be better, it could do more. i would never disagree with that. it’s the idea of the industry needing to be saved and all this doom and gloom talk about the end of comics if something doesn’t change that just comes across as… irrational. 

    as a side note – last week i had to step over a little kid in my LCS who was sitting on the floor reading a big hardcover spiderman book that looked like it weighed more than he did lol 

  209. Is it possible that kids are reading comics but just not at the LCS?  My kids who are old enough to read (9 and 6) LOVE comics, but you would hardly ever see them at the shop because I hardly ever take them with me.  but I buy comics and hte ones that are kid friendly get passed along and read, and re-read, and re-read some more by my kids.  I have a fairly ‘social’ LCS, aned it seems like there are quite a few folks like me–kids don’t show, but mom or dad buys them comics, or gives them theirs.  When they do go, they love it.  The place where we get our haricut is just down the street and they ask EVERY time they get a haricut, "Dad, can we go to the cmic store?"

    This doesn’t prove or disprove any of the above posts, but points out that younger redeadership may not be determined by what you see or don’t see at the LCS.

  210. I think deadspace has a good point about people starting to read comics later in life than the older blokes did. There is more choice of things for kids to do now, so maybe they don’t start reading for fun until they are 18-20.

    Let’s assume for the sake of arguement, all this hype & "death of comics" talk is 100% for real — what can the average reader do about it?

  211. deadspace- "the focus on kids is misplaced’.  What else did you mean by other than that?  I took it as you don’t want to get kids reading.

    "I had to step over alitle girl in my shop reading a spider-man book".- One person is’nt a trend.  It’s an exception.

    "as kory showed sales are increasing the last 6-7 years".  Comic readers are buying more books.  Not a whole lotta new people are buying books.  If you look sales from 2007 they are down since 1997 which shows a decline every decade since the 70′, which is what the problem is.

  212. How the hell can anyone make the point that kids aren’t reading?  How the hell do you know?  And I refuse to believe the industry is in ANY kind of trouble right now, it has done nothing but grow by leaps and bounds over the past 10 years and to me, its a direct result of the increased quality, there is NO reason to believe this will stop anytime soon.  And I’m not going to compare the industry today to the industry in the 70’s or 80’s, that is absolutely absurd. 

  213. Nobody knows for sure what will happen.  We’ll see in the future.  Can we just end this discussion please.

  214. Following up to say I just got a chance to listen to the Word Balloon followup interview, and I thought Siuntries nailed everything that was good and bad about Kirkman’s manifesto.  Encourage creators (and by extension audiences) to take some more risks with original properties? — absolutely.  Change the approach of mainstream books to appeal to an audience that may not exist? —  That’s where Kirkman loses me.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with writing superhero books that are geared to the audience that is likely to be buying them.   

     

  215. "Nobody knows for sure what will happen.  We’ll see in the future."

    Exactamundo.

  216. @Kory – you’ve completely misunderstood me. i don’t really know how to explain my argument any further. i’ve said it like, a million times. "the focus on kids is misplaced" is referring to the focus on the lower number of children reading comics as a way to prove that comics aren’t reaching a new audience. it proves nothing. therefore focusing on this as ‘evidence’ is misplaced. kids not reading does not mean comics aren’t reaching a new audience. (and this is assuming it is true that kids aren’t reading)

    "Not a whole lotta new people are buying books" – this is what has been repeated over and over and i’ve been asking over and over where the evidence is for this statement!  if you are going to make such a big statement then at least back it up with solid evidence.

    If Kirkman said the sky was falling would you take it as fact or would you at least go to the window to see if it was true? So far, all we’ve had is a big statement about there being no new readers and how this will kill the industry, without anything to back it up. And without evidence, this whole discussion, Kirkman’s video and interview are just pointless. Why should there be a discussion about the sky falling when there’s no proof that it is falling in the first place?

  217. …especially when things are going so well for the comics business these days

  218. I have to say that deadspace is totally on here.  I don’t claim to know whetther the industry is in trouble or not, but nothing said here on this list, or by Kirkman meets the standard of proof.  Give me some studies that the companies are doing or stats or whatever.  Also, people starting to read comics  in childhood (though, my home anecdotal study says they are) means absolutely nothing.  I didn’t start buying cars until I was 17, but that hasn’t stopped me from buying them now.  I didn’t start to buy alcohol until I was 18 (and yes, I wasn’t legal) but that didn’t stop I don’t buy it now.  What I mean is, it is feasible that lots of children will become comics readers later in life.  The most true statement on this entire list is this: NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR COMICS.

  219. @deadspace/cutty-  Where’s the proof comics are doing so well?

  220. By the way, the creators , editors, publishers and artists agree with me.  The AUDIENCE (not just children) has to grow to sustain.

  221. dude, seriously?  Okay, here’s what you posted

    2000- 69.26 million copies                                                                  190.75 million

    2001- 66.92 millon copies                                                                   186.98 million

    2002- 73.72 million copies                                                                  196.65 million

    2003- 74.14 million copies                                                                  207.19 million

    2004- 74.14 million copies                                                                  213.24 millon

    2005- 76.13 million copies                                                                  229.73 million

    2006- 81.85 millon copies                                                                   252.18 million

    2007- 85.27 million copies                                                                  270.00  million

    Plus I’d guarantee Graphic Novel growth has been twice as dramatic over that time period.  Also, I don’t know if you noticed, but a few comic book movies did pretty well this summer.  I’m fairly certain that helps the companies that own the licenses

  222. You guys wanted some evidence.

    I called 3 shops in my area.  I live in a metro area with a population close to a million.  All 3 shops said their business sells the same month to month, with no substantial amount of new sales.  One shop told me that the only change in his retail is that it goes down about every three years!  And he mentioned he may have to close.

    For an area with close to a million people,  geez that sure is growth.  Boy,  this industry does’nt need a kick in the ass.  (That’s sarcasm if you can’t tell).

  223. c’mon

  224. You conviently left out 1997- readership is down since then.  Which shows a decade by decade decline.  And I present evidence that I have been able to gather , and yet you want to tear me apart.  What else must I do?

  225. i left it out because its not relevant.  you ask for proof that the comics industry is doing well, i show you close to a decade of growth – 30+% growth over the past 5 years.  GN and Trade sales are probably double that over the same time period.  But hey, its not like growth and sales are good indicators are they?  Marvel’s stock has grown by 600% in the last 10 years, I wonder what their stockholders think about the company’s health.  And I don’t care how 3 comic shops by you are doing, I don’t even know how those places can stay in business.  Do you think the internet has anything to do with sales?  Comics have done nothing but grow and grow and grow over the past decade, lets not turn this into rocket science

  226. @Kory – "where is the proof that comics are doing so well?" I’ve already posted but I’ll post again because I’m getting used to repeating myself on here 😉

    1. An independent publisher such as Image appears to be thriving right now. Just have a look at how many quality books they are putting out each month.

    2. Independent publishers such as Image, IDW, Dark Horse are releasing comics and then having to send off for a 2nd printing.

    3. Terry Moore is selling more of his self-published Echo than he sold of his self-published Strangers In Paradise. Wow! :O 

    4. There is so much work for writers that writers are having to turn work down! Wow.

    5. People like Kirkman are making a mint.

    6. The graphic novel dept is the only dept in bookstores to increase in sales.

    7. I can’t afford to buy all the books I’d like to. Bad for me. Good to illustrate how much good stuff is out there and widely available. (I’m in the UK picking up independently published american comics. In fact, Ben Templesmith has recently had his independent wormwood book translated and published in France – fucking awesome!) 

    I’m sure I could make it to point 10, but I think that paints a pretty nice picture already. Any industry where independents are doing so well is an absolute sign of good health. So as the word balloon guy said: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

    On top of all that, even if the industry was facing a demise (which it isn’t but lets just pretend) then I dont see how some mega advertising wouldn’t fix it. The books are already of high quality so they’ll take care of themselves. 

     

  227. Kirkman said it best.  "The business is good  right now, but let’s not rest on our laurels".

    All I’ve argued is to take action and grow the industry.

  228. Lastly,  we will never agree.  PLEASE let’s move on. 

  229. lol, no you’ve been arguing that comics aren’t reaching new readers and that this will kill the industry. either stick to your guns or admit you’ve changed your mind, rather than backpedaling.

  230. Who’s backpedaling?  Check what I said.  Comics are’nt reaching their full potential and if they don’t it could ‘die’. 

  231. @Kory – you are backpedaling. you said "comics aren’t reaching a new audience is what I’m arguing and which has proven to be true". PROOF??

    If comics don’t reach a new audience the industry will die. But hang on, comics ARE reaching a new audience (unless you can show me the evidence that they aren’t) so what is the point in the "if" statement in the first place.

    If I don’t eat, I’ll die. But I do eat so…. pointless statement yes? The "if comics dont reach a new audience" statement is just as pointless, because they are reaching a new audience. What’s funny is that you and I both belong to that new audience.

  232. @deadspace- The publishers always say they have a hard time reaching broader audience, that’s where I draw my conclusions.  It’s been a good discussion.  Who knows  who is right , only time will tell.   But seriously it’s time to move on.  This discussion is starting to turn trollish.  There is no winner or loser.  But I beg you, let’s move on.

  233. Interesting points all of you.

    my take on Kirkman was that the industry hit a bottom and is starting to climb and that everyone should look at what they can and should do to make sure that we never end up in that position again. the part that Kirkman thinks is a major point that the industry as a whole needs to work on more entry level material through out all age groups.

    the only thing I disagree with is Kirman’s statment the Marvel and DC worry about getting the kids while Dark Horse, Image and others worry about the adults.

    I used to work for a major Australian department store who probably made more money in a year from Batman merchandise than all of the US comic store combined did. if Invincible didn’t have such graphic voilence I would have pushed that book onto the book buyers so hard because I thought it was a great entry level book. but having scenes like it does they just wouldn’t take the risk. (plus combined with the fact that they wouldn’t even consider seeling comics again after they had done so badly when they last tried them IN 1995, but that is just the mentality of retail)

    books like Scott Pilgrim, Mouse Guard and Herobear and the Kid are great entry points but some of those guys are self publishers and are only a small section of shelf space in a store where the majority of products require 10 years of reading or an encyclopedia to get into. something should be done to push these guys works out more. plus to encourage same but different books so that once people are done with them there is something else to go to.

    the industry as a whole has problems in every area, and each area needs to be looked at and addresed, because if we fall again we may not be able to get back up (because if the book stores are anything like the retail store I worked for we might not be able to get them back). 

  234. @Leigh  Right on!  Not that I think ‘Invincible’ should be toned down, but I honestly think creator-owned books/ original properties have a better chance of bringing kids into the medium. They’re already reading manga.  I have a feeling that if anybody solves the ‘getting kids to read American comics’ problem, it’s going to be some person/publisher from the Young Adult arena, who we don’t even think of as a player right now.  And they’ll be the ones to own the market twenty/thirty years from now.

  235. I think that so much of comics top talent making their paychecks with Marvel or DC is part of what makes comics "Comics".

    There are many things that make the industry different and sets it apart from TV, movies, literature, even video games, but one of the major differences is just that.

    What if they were STILL doing episodes of The Mod Squad, and everyone watched, but just while a certain writer was working on the show.  I can’t think of any TV writer who has had as much success and accolades in that industry as even marginally popular comic book writers have, relatively speaking of course.

    And before someone responds screaming "JOSS WHEDON, JOSS WHEDON!" let me say that he didn’t write every episode of Buffy or Firefly, just the episodes that pertained more heavily to the overarching plot of the show.  Same story with Chris Carter and the X-Files.

    Bottom line is, most of these "problems" that are being discussed here are the reasons we love the medium, whether we know it or not.

  236. @ActualButt – Aaron Sorkin wrote every episode of THE WEST WING for the first four years before they kicked him off the show.  That the only point I can respond to as I don’t quite know what point you’re trying to make.

  237. Let’s be frank here.  The US economy is tanking.  Comics, while not the most expensive luxury in our pampered lives can ultimately add up to one dpending on the number you buy.  One reason why comic sales dropped in the 90s is that cover prices started to rocket up.  Sure the quality of the writer, artists and materials improved, but it was seriously putting a dent in our collective wallet.  Now, with the economy in jeopardy, the comic companies need to make comics economical for everyone – adults and more importantly, KIDS.  Then, the comic book readership and overall market would increase.  Comics, whether we like it or not, are a luxury item.  When we have to tighten our belts, they are the first things to go.  Granpas can no longer just spend a paltry sum to buy a small stack of entertainment for their grandshildren.  I use to get 4-5 comics for a buck when I was a kid!  Want to expand the audience and increase sales, then the comic bigwigs have to re-asses what they make people pay for this item… or else it will go by the wayside… or bittorrent will thrive and kill it anyways.  ‘Nuff said!

  238. Personally i would perfer if the whole industry did more books simular to say fell or cassanova to keep costs down on monthlies. I’m not a fan of splash pages anyway really. meh.

    Also i really think that they need to give us better options when it comes to digital comics. I want an e-music equilivant for comics. This would suck for collectors, but would be a fantastic way to get comics out there, but to also keep costs down. i dunno.

  239. @ActualButt — re: your point about the writers — that’s the mentality of the existing fanbase, and that kinda goes against the point. We know that there are a certain number of readers that will follow Geoff Johns anywhere, but that’s NOT a draw to the general public.That’s not something that can increase readership, just move the existing readership.

    And really: the general public DOES get to know creators by their name. That’s actually the STANDARD of the publishing industry. Readers  learn about authors by the books they sell in book stores. After all, those are all CREATOR-OWNED (which has been the model of the regular publishing world forever). Geoff Johns is never going to become a household name by working on Superman. Superman will always be larger than Johns. Superman will ALWAYS have top billing. Stephen King’s biggest franchise is probably The Dark Tower, but the Dark Tower will NEVER be bigger than King. That’s kinda Kirkman’s point. Neil Gaiman is a recognizable name in bookstores because he writes NOVELS. And because he, essentially, created the Sandman series. But he didn’t ONLY write DC properties, or I can guarantee you he wouldn’t be known outside of comics circles today.