Jun 10th, 2010, 10:46 AM
Oh believe me, I'm not for abandoning, nor do I wish, the print comic market. But when I do a print version of my webcomic (which I think looks better than most comics out these days) even if its a top seller, the best I can expect is to sell 10,000. Batman and other TOP selling books sell 100k if they're lucky from the big two. It's depressing.
To put this into perspective, back when I worked at Marvel, a book selling under 30,000 units was cancelled. Now, that number is 5,000. The top-selling books at Marvel back then sold in excess of 500,000 copies consistently. Those were the numbers for the mid-to-late 90's
Just 5 years prior to that, a top-selling book sold over a MILLION copies and any book selling less than 100,000 units was canned.
Now, think about this... the price on the covers has gone UP over the years, but the margins on the books have gone DOWN. Print/pulp industries have only gotten more expensive. The costs of shipping have gone up. Now there's only one distributor, so they take more money and charge more now for their advertising in Previews. Yet the numbers have gone DOWN.
Then you add into this the fact that the core audience of comics are now engaged in OTHER activities... you have a real problem. A kid has to plunk down $50 for a new PS3 game they can play for a hundred hours or more OR they can buy a dozen comics that (frankly) are depressing and the entertainment value is over with in 30 minutes to an hour (if they're an exceptionally slow reader). Which are they going to choose? Seriously.
The core audience USED to be teens/tweens. This is an audience that doesn't HAVE disposable income. It's not like when I was growing up and I actually had a job at age 14. Heck these kids don't even do paper routes or mow lawns. And even if they do, they're STILL not going to spend money on a comic.
UNLESS (and here we get to the heart of it) they're already INTO that property from some other source... like, say, a free Webcomic.
Webcomics have a long way to go, but the readership of an average Webcomic outnumbers that of their print counterparts incredibly. My webcomic just launched last week and I've already had over 10,000 readers! That's more than most comics. Some comics (like Dreamland Chronicles) have over 10 MILLION MONTHLY READERS!!! That's 10 times the number of readers than comics had at their height!
And with iPad and other apps, these things are becoming items that can be carried.
Fundamentally something radical is going to have to occur to change things in the comic pulp industry if it's going to be saved.
I'm rooting for it, but I dispair that it may be a lost cause.