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Yahoo says there's a controversary over a tshirt that says "Training to be Batman's wife", saying it's insulting to young girls.

It is Ron, it is.

Ron M. said:

The shops don't think things out very well. I've seen a little display of all ages comics right next to a much bigger display of comics with covers parents wouldn't want their children seeing.

Stores that sell DVDs often rack The Dark Knight Returns next to all of the kid-friendly DVDs. They are obviously not looking at the ratings on the DVD's any more than the ones on the comics, in the ignorant assumption that it's all for kids. There was a customer on Amazon who confused The Dark Knight Returns with The Dark Knight Rises. He bought the animated movie by mistake and was mad. He went on to say animated shows were only for kids and mental defectives. Little did he know that the animated movie was a lot rougher than the live-action movie.

And what's all ages these days? Tiny Titans? And when they outgrow that and look for something more grown up about the Titans what do they find? Starfire in a thong sleeping around. The industry's like a "cool" men's club.

I don't buy a lot of comics these days, but I think you're exaggerating to make a point. Every comic isn't about sleeping around. The digests I was suggesting would have to be more entry-level. Archie is doing their bit. Why doesn't Disney/Marvel or whoever has the rights put out Donald and Mickey digests? They're pretty much timeless. Why doesn't Warner/DC put out Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck digests? Once kids get their feet wet and learn how to read and enjoy comics they can seek them out other places. If enough kids start asking for comics in other stores maybe they'll actually start stocking them.

So they cancel it for another Wolverine or Batman miniseries and say "We've tried other genres, they don't sell."

One reaon they don't sell is the non-returnable nature of the books. How many comic stores can afford to buy things that never sell? If they were serious about wanting to kick off other genres, including young-reader books, they should allow the comic stores to return them for credit. Then they would sell to the stores.

Unfortunately newstand distribution failed, and I don't see it coming back. Diamond isn't going to try to put comics in drug stores.

Obviously newstands won't work. When I used to go to the drug store and discovered comics I wasn't there for blood pressure medication. The family would go there because they had a nice cafe. That ship has also sailed. But there are places kids typically go that would be natural places to sell these digests. Chuck E Cheese? Eat-in Pizza restaurants? Other places kids congregate?

.... if you make, say, Spider-Man available online for a dollar, what happens to sales of the five dollar print verson of the comic? Will putting comics on kindle kill off the paper versions? Will online sales make enough to pay the big stars what they're asking for these days? Or will new comics have to use new creators and replace them once they get enough of a following to ask for more money?

Obviously they can't shaft the comic stores. The problem with that is that the online version of the $3.99 book is also $3.99. What they need to do is what some of the start-ups are doing. Make one or two of their umpteen Spider-Man or Wolverine or Batman books online only for 99 cents. At a later date it could be collected in a trade and sell at the comics stores and other TPB outlets. The exclusivity would cause the comic store customers to flock to them without abandoning the books in the stores. The publicity would cause curious non-fans (who all know who Batman, Spider-Man and Wolverine are) to also flock to the internet-only books. As it becomes more popular you could have half the titles in this model. The comic stores will still be happy as they can sell the trades. The increased volume of sales and the savings of not printing all those individual books will make them profitable enough to pay the creators well.

I doubt girls are taking it as anything other than a joke. Except for the ones that actually have no interests except catching a husband some day, and there's really nothing you can do for those. But it's another sign of what DC thinks of women. Like New52 Starfire, which they say they can't understand why anyone would be offended by her costume or actions with men. Too many signs they're doing that sort of thing on purpose and can't see why they're getting complaints because they think it's normal male behavior. More and more I think the top people at the Big Two these days are not the sort of people you'd want to know.

I believe Disney made a deal with some other company to put out Mickey and Donald comics before they bought Marvel, so the rights might be tied up right now. Problem is they need to support them, which Disney didn't do when they had their own comic book company. Disney Comics never turned up at the parks or Disney Stores. I don't know what happened but I've read Len Wein got a lot of the blame for the company not succeeding.

I know they don't have the room in Anaheim, but why isn't there talk of a new "Marvelland" area in Florida being built?

What about crosspromoting. How about Hawkeye being caught reading Donald Duck? Or, heck, Donald being caught reading the Avengers?

I think it the Marvel mess with Heroes World hadn't happened and Capitol hadn't closed up, we might have started seeing returnable comics. Diamond became pretty apathetic when the competition went away.

Is there an entry level Titans series for readers between Tiny Titans and partygirl Starfire? It's not just sleeping around. Remember the Free Comic Book Day issue where an undead cyborg that looked like a robot with dead body parts sewed onto it brought Thanos a bag of severed heads? Great choice to offer new readers to get them into comics. How many parents gave that to their kids without looking at it first?  

I wonder just how profitable the digests really are.  When the Double Digests debuted in the early 1980s, they were 256 pages.  Gradually, they shrunk over the years to 160 pages - the same page count of the first Archie digests from the 1970s.  Going by Cap's guide, they are being discontinued.

John Dunbar (the mod of maple) said:

I wonder just how profitable the digests really are.

Profitability shouldn't be the only reason to publish digests. This is one of the few things that kids ever see that might get them interested in comics. I seldom see them in the places I shop. They also should have kept the entry-level books like Batman Adventures going regardless of profit and loss as a way to hook new readers.

The Big Two spending money advertising their comic books on the animated TV shows couldn't hurt. I think the emphasis on short-term profits with no regard for the future can only lead to fewer and fewer readers and an even bleaker future for comics. I can see that one day they will only publish one comic a year featuring their most popular characters (almost an ashcan) to retain their trademarks. When the movies slow down or dry up where will they get their money?

We get the Archie digests where I work. However no one buys them for the most part, except for me!

Disney puts out magazines for younger readers though I don't know how interesting they are!

But it is a shame that DC and Marvel have abandoned the digest format since they have tons of material that they could reprint.

Other properties that could be tapped are Star Wars, TMNT and Pokémon.

Surprisingly few Pokemon comics were made.

A lot of people complained about the last Spider-Man movie. What happens if the first Iron Man movie without Downey fails at the box office because his fans insist he's the only one that can play Tony Stark? They're assuming the movies are going to continue forever, which goes against Hollywood. Westerns were big. They went out. War movies came and went. Surf movies. Spy movies. Ma and Pa Kettle. Amicus horror anthologies (remember those? Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, Robert Bloch's Asylum). History says the superhero fad will eventually stop too, after which a few spoofs will get made, like Dracula and Frankenstein died out with Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, and the Airport movies ended with Airplane.

I hear Star Wars VII is being worked on, with VIII coming a few years down the line, and IX a few years later, since Disney is going to want to keep the franchise going on a regular basis. There was a reason Lucas didn't turn out another movie every few years.

Hopefully the Turtles will eventually go back to normal. Difficult to see them as huge Hulk clones. Defeats the purpose of little guy beats Goliath. But then again Wolverine is a foot taller in the movies than he is in the comics.

I'm not sure there is a solution really. And if there is, I don't see the Big Two making the effort. Too much would have to change for the industry to start to experience long term growth, and as long as they're looking at short term profits and letting the future (i.e the people that will take over after the guys currently running things move on) fend for itself they're not going to make those changes.

Cheaper paper ain't gonna happen. That would be like TV and movies going back to black-and-white (and that ain't happening, either).

Mark Sullivan (Vertiginous Mod) said:

This cheaper paper idea always comes up in discussions like this. I know I've seen convincing evidence that it doesn't improve the economics much, but I couldn't find any just now using Google. But it's easy to believe that getting comics into more outlets would increase exposure.

I think publishers have made some efforts at doing this with the book market. Marvel recently offered some cheap collections at Walmart; DC's Vertigo line has had a couple of bargain-priced sampler compilations; and all of the publishers (especially Image) have gotten in the habit of pricing the first trade paperback in a new series at a lower price (frequently $9.99 instead of $14.99). 

The low priced books are probably primarily aimed at existing comics buyers. But there's at least a better chance of an impulse buy if the price is significantly lower.

I do hold out hope that e-comics will reach an audience beyond the existing one. At the very least it is staking out a place in a marketplace that is growing rather than shrinking. As you pointed out, comic shops are scarce in some areas. These days the same thing can be said about book retailers.


Richard Willis said:

I think "reaching the potential audience" is the problem in North America. More digests in many genres on cheaper paper with cheaper cover prices are needed in more outlets. Expecting people who have never read comics to seek out comic shops is nuts and self-defeating.

Ever been blinded by light reflecting off a comic book? Cheaper paper is fine by me.

Mark, is right on the economics of the paper. Tim Seely wrote an article about a few years back, and he tackled a lot of the ground covered here. The printers being used now buy the slicker paper at such a discount, that the cheaper paper being swapped out negates any cost benefit you get out of it. 

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