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  1. #1
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    Default Problems with the Industry?

    Hi, I’m new here.
    I’ve been having some interesting conversations about what the problems are in the comic book industry. It’s troubling that most creators don’t get to see most of the profit from their works. I was wondering who has ideas on what the deeper problems are and how to fix them. What needs to change in order to thrive as a comic creator?

    All opinions and feedback is welcome.
    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Astonishing Member CSTowle's Avatar
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    There was a recent thread about the problems specifically about "DC and Marvel's Problems" but the posters talk a lot about the problems with the US comics market (not counting manga) in general, its transition from a cheap and easily accessible entertainment option for children to a specialty hobby item found only in specialty shops to the death of print and rising number of cheap/free entertainment options to compete with them. Worth wading through:

    https://community.cbr.com/showthread...vel-s-problems
    Formerly finfangfool

  3. #3
    Mighty Member LordMikel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DangerDean View Post
    Hi, I’m new here.
    I’ve been having some interesting conversations about what the problems are in the comic book industry. It’s troubling that most creators don’t get to see most of the profit from their works. I was wondering who has ideas on what the deeper problems are and how to fix them. What needs to change in order to thrive as a comic creator?

    All opinions and feedback is welcome.
    Thanks!
    As far as creators go, I think Marvel and DC are both making bad business decisions.

    It would be very easy to send a memo to all creators. "We want you all to make new characters, new villains. If a new character or villain makes X goal, you will get 100k as a cash payout." Because they will make millions off of it I'm sure.

    But they don't do anything like that, which is sad.
    I think restorative nostalgia is the number one issue with comic book fans.
    A fine distinction between two types of Nostalgia:

    Reflective Nostalgia allows us to savor our memories but accepts that they are in the past
    Restorative Nostalgia pushes back against the here and now, keeping us stuck trying to relive our glory days.

  4. #4
    Incredible Member Zauriel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LordMikel View Post
    As far as creators go, I think Marvel and DC are both making bad business decisions.

    It would be very easy to send a memo to all creators. "We want you all to make new characters, new villains. If a new character or villain makes X goal, you will get 100k as a cash payout." Because they will make millions off of it I'm sure.

    But they don't do anything like that, which is sad.
    Both publishers made bad decisions but the worst one was not acknowledging a generation of new young readers. Instead of doing that, they are still aiming for an aging fanbase of older readers who will someday disappear due to losing interest, or death of old age or natural causes.

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    Incredible Member Zauriel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CSTowle View Post
    There was a recent thread about the problems specifically about "DC and Marvel's Problems" but the posters talk a lot about the problems with the US comics market (not counting manga) in general, its transition from a cheap and easily accessible entertainment option for children to a specialty hobby item found only in specialty shops to the death of print and rising number of cheap/free entertainment options to compete with them. Worth wading through:

    https://community.cbr.com/showthread...vel-s-problems
    I believe Marvel and DC tried to attract new readers with comic books aimed for children, but it didn't work, because the times have changed. the kids in the 21st century are not the same as the ones from the 20th century. The comics have serious competition with the internet, netflix, youtube, and DVDs, etc. Most kids have short attention span. Why would a kid spend his allowance on a comic book that he can read in a few minutes? Kids are more interested in watching something on netflix or youtube.

  6. #6
    Astonishing Member batnbreakfast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zauriel View Post
    I believe Marvel and DC tried to attract new readers with comic books aimed for children, but it didn't work, because the times have changed. the kids in the 21st century are not the same as the ones from the 20th century. The comics have serious competition with the internet, netflix, youtube, and DVDs, etc. Most kids have short attention span. Why would a kid spend his allowance on a comic book that he can read in a few minutes? Kids are more interested in watching something on netflix or youtube.
    Maybe more parents should do something against short attention span and turn of the screen. That's another discussion, though.

  7. #7
    Astonishing Member Zelena's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zauriel View Post
    I believe Marvel and DC tried to attract new readers with comic books aimed for children, but it didn't work, because the times have changed. the kids in the 21st century are not the same as the ones from the 20th century. The comics have serious competition with the internet, netflix, youtube, and DVDs, etc. Most kids have short attention span. Why would a kid spend his allowance on a comic book that he can read in a few minutes? Kids are more interested in watching something on netflix or youtube.
    Then publishers must change the type of product… I remember reading comics that made read during almost an hour, there were so many pages and text.

    It may be not the answer nowadays but magazines for children with comics, games, news… seem to work in France, though…

  8. #8
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    A lot of the business side has been hashed out in earlier threads here (eg in the one linked by CSTowle) in post #2. But if one were to look specifically at comics creators…

    First, there has probably never been a more thriving ecosystem of independent comics creators than there is today. The stuff that were published in fanzines with extremely limited circulation in the 60s and 70s are today's webcomics. Think of stuff like Girl Genius, XKCD, Stay Still Stay Silent, Digger, or Sunstone. Stjepan Sejic wrote the excellent Harleen, but the planned sequel was canceled because he had far more stuff to do with his self-published material, which was more profitable too.

    Now, getting stuff out via a mainstream publisher will never be as profitable as doing it yourself, given equal sales (using the book market as a comparison, we are probably talking about the difference between the royalty rate of around 5–7% of the sale price, versus 70% for self-published stuff on Amazon). What the big publisher can offer is a far more secure paycheck, not having to deal with all the extra costs of indie publishing (which most assuredly are not zero), good editorial/artistic feedback, the status of working with high-profile characters, and access to a much larger market.

    On the flipside, we have had far too many stories about toxic workplace culture within DC's editorial staff, and I really doubt Marvel is that different, and my impression on the current editorial culture in DC is also that it's more focused on writing to spec than it is to choose and improve good writer-suggested stories. So editorial artistic feedback doesn't look good.

    But the real clincher is that while the market for mainstream comics has been in a long slow decline, the market for web comics has exploded the last ten years. Historically, the real big deal for comics was newspaper syndication, which largely depended on the mainstream publishers, but after the move to the direct market, that line was largely lost for DC and Marvel. But today that niche is filled by the web comics.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  9. #9
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    The problems with the industry all boil down to one fact:

    There's no Union to negotiate better pay, rights, royalties, healthcare and other benefits.

    All problems in the industry stem from this.

  10. #10
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    It's work for pay.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    A lot of the business side has been hashed out in earlier threads here (eg in the one linked by CSTowle) in post #2. But if one were to look specifically at comics creators…

    First, there has probably never been a more thriving ecosystem of independent comics creators than there is today. The stuff that were published in fanzines with extremely limited circulation in the 60s and 70s are today's webcomics. Think of stuff like Girl Genius, XKCD, Stay Still Stay Silent, Digger, or Sunstone. Stjepan Sejic wrote the excellent Harleen, but the planned sequel was canceled because he had far more stuff to do with his self-published material, which was more profitable too.

    Now, getting stuff out via a mainstream publisher will never be as profitable as doing it yourself, given equal sales (using the book market as a comparison, we are probably talking about the difference between the royalty rate of around 5–7% of the sale price, versus 70% for self-published stuff on Amazon). What the big publisher can offer is a far more secure paycheck, not having to deal with all the extra costs of indie publishing (which most assuredly are not zero), good editorial/artistic feedback, the status of working with high-profile characters, and access to a much larger market.

    On the flipside, we have had far too many stories about toxic workplace culture within DC's editorial staff, and I really doubt Marvel is that different, and my impression on the current editorial culture in DC is also that it's more focused on writing to spec than it is to choose and improve good writer-suggested stories. So editorial artistic feedback doesn't look good.

    But the real clincher is that while the market for mainstream comics has been in a long slow decline, the market for web comics has exploded the last ten years. Historically, the real big deal for comics was newspaper syndication, which largely depended on the mainstream publishers, but after the move to the direct market, that line was largely lost for DC and Marvel. But today that niche is filled by the web comics.
    A huge thank you to everyone that chimed in!
    You really touched on some interesting thoughts here, for me. I’m developing a new platform for selling indie comics online, and I’m doing so because I am frustrated that comics are a billion dollar industry, yet it’s so hard to make a living at it that a lot of people that have made one that I have met advise to not even bother with it. Granted, everyone has a different story, but there is obviously a problem here. This just shouldn’t be.

    I’d like to start a new thread for those of you that would like to help me in coming up with ideas on how to create an online digital comic marketplace that gives back to the creators in ways that comiXology won’t.

    Thank you!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelena View Post
    Then publishers must change the type of product… I remember reading comics that made read during almost an hour, there were so many pages and text.

    It may be not the answer nowadays but magazines for children with comics, games, news… seem to work in France, though…
    You mean like the book Gung Ho?

    I did not know it was an old series when Ablaze Publishing start the books. I found out by accident.

    After some hunting I found 5 volumes that were 44 pages of story and 20 pages of extra material.

    Right now the US run is in parts of volume 4.

  13. #13
    Astonishing Member babyblob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelena View Post
    Then publishers must change the type of product… I remember reading comics that made read during almost an hour, there were so many pages and text.

    It may be not the answer nowadays but magazines for children with comics, games, news… seem to work in France, though…
    But why would the Big 2 change the type of product? There is no reasons for them to. I have said this before. I have heard fan boys and readers bitch about the same characters being used, Batman being unreadable, big events with meaningless cross overs and 20 variant covers. but you know what is selling? These comics. I am am guilty as well because I buy them also. So as much as people bitch about wanting change we do not show it with our buying habits and this is what the big 2 see.
    Favorite teams. Alpha Flight, Avengers, Fantastic Four, West Coast Avengers, Justice Society of America, Legion of Superheroes.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by babyblob View Post
    But why would the Big 2 change the type of product? There is no reasons for them to. I have said this before. I have heard fan boys and readers bitch about the same characters being used, Batman being unreadable, big events with meaningless cross overs and 20 variant covers. but you know what is selling? These comics. I am am guilty as well because I buy them also. So as much as people bitch about wanting change we do not show it with our buying habits and this is what the big 2 see.
    Not everyone is buying that stuff. Once you get past those who actually buy stuff-what is left??? Shelves filled with unsold stuff.

    How many sales does Midtown comics have that is nothing but that stuff?

    I would be HOT if I paid $5 for a book that they toss up for $1.50 in a sale and yes I have seen that.


    Also how many books have endured toxic behavior? See Inhumans, Wanda, POC lead books and so on?

    We got folks throwing FITS over the new Aqualad mini. We got stores that won't sell certain books over who is on the cover.

    It gets to the point of how many books can becomes a OGN or graphic novel and avoid that toxic behavior?

    Nubia had an OGN and it sold very well to be Amazon's top seller for a time. Try a comic book with her and the line starts with those who have issues with it.

    Funny we can get OGNs of Beast Boy and Raven that sell but can't do that in comics.


    The Big two have to figure out who they want. The comic side plays gatekeeper. The other side is open to whatever. Marvel is not flooding that market with Spider-Man books. Unlike DC.

  15. #15
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    The printed comics industry (if you don't count manga) is struggling big time, which has led to creator wages going down. There's of course a vicious circle that builds from there. Low wages lead to good talent doing something else, which leads to bad product, which leads to poor sales, which leads to low wages.

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