Will 2012 be rocky for comic book retailers?Written by Jim Beard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Comic book shop proprietors might have it harder than just about any other retailer. Purveyors of a product that’s a pale shadow of its former self in terms of sales and exposure, comic retailers also go up against incredible competition on a daily basis. Where once comic books were the steady diet of entertainment for children of all ages, they’re now buried by the noise from video games, iPhones, CDs, DVDs, the Internet and all the other temptations that currently plague mankind.
The future of the comics industry isn’t exactly all doom and gloom, but nor is it a rosy picture of health.
“To be honest, I don’t think we’ll see too much of a difference in comics [in 2012], except that the whole print medium continues to lose readership in the brick and mortar stores,” notes Jim Collins of JC’s Comic Stop. “Publishers will also push people to believe the way to go is to read your books, comics and newspapers on your various electronic devices. It seems I’m seeing less and less of the ‘old faces’ [in the shop] and when I do, they’re reading comics on their computers, iPads, etc. Marvel and DC will also continue to capture the majority of the market, with the second level of publishers like Dark Horse, Image, IDW, Dynamite and BOOM! vying for the scraps.
“It’s disappointing because of the current popularity of comics in the movies and TV. ‘The Walking Dead’ series has a viewership of more than 7 million, but the comics and graphic novels can only generate about 30,000 in readership. ‘The Avengers’ film this May will have millions flocking to see it opening weekend, but the comics can barely sell 56,000 copies. Sad really, when you think about it. I believe it’s because people don’t care to read comics anymore and the ones that want to see it as too expensive. Let’s hope I’m wrong and people come back to reading comics that they have to flip pages and not screens to read.”
“I haven’t noticed much of a loss of sales due to customer defection to digital sales,” said Ed Katschke of Monarch Cards & Comics. “I still believe that there is a demand for hard copies of comic material and will be in the foreseeable future. I think that the prime determination of what will help the current comic industry is the same as it has always been: quality content and customer service. Despite the perceived convenience of digital downloads, one still cannot get the experience of visiting your local comic shop from a website.”
What’s the answer to this problem? There isn’t an easy one. Some see it as an issue with distribution or marketing, while others claim it’s the content and characters.
Regardless, as this column has said many times before, there’s currently a comic out there for everyone; never has there been such a varied range of offerings. And maybe that’s the most tragic and ironic fact of all in the “Problem of the Rapidly Fading Comic Book.”