I've changed the title of this thread from "Comic Book Sales Trends in 2016" because I keep coming back to it.

My friendly neighborhood comics shop, Fantom Comics of Washington, DC, breaks down what sold at the store in 2016. This information, of course, applies only to the one store, but it's still interesting reading: "2016 In Review – A Comic Book Shop Talks Comic Book Sales Trends"

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Maybe Al Ewing or Charles Soule, but more likelky it needs to be an artist, and I'm hard pressed to think of the last time I was blown away by someone new at Marvel.  There are still plenty of good artists, but most have been around a long time--not to mention that I'm seeing sub par artwork on some of Marvel's titles. I'm all for giving someone new a chance, but it seems that some of the people they are employing are not ready for prime time yet.

Detective 445 said:

 I think there are some talented people working for Marvel but are any of them game changers?

Richard Willis said:

I think they tie the orders for lenticular covers or other highly collectible covers to the dealer ordering a large quantity of regular editions of the same book. So the dealer either has to be able to move a large number of regular editions or jack up the premium price of the highly collectible cover book even higher to cover the comics he can't sell.

Artificially increasing the orders for the regular edition makes it look like they have more buyers than they do.

That's true, but that's the question: Why keep tying the orders of lenticular covers or highly collectible covers to the dealer ordering large quantities of regular editions of the same book? Why persist with that practice when, across the board, the regular editions aren't hitting the numbers they were in the old days?

Am I missing something? 

  Would they be allowed to be game changers?  I wonder how much the editors are chaffing under the star system that seems to be driving things.

Detective 445 said:

It’s an interesting dilemma. I was trying to think of something Marvel could do that would really get me excited about a bunch of their titles. I can’t really think of anything specific. It seems like there are always a few titles here and there that I enjoy to some degree.  Eventually, all of these new characters will probably have a fan base. I remember how resistant I was to Kyle Rayner back in the day. Now I keep hearing about readers who are younger than me who prefer him.

I wonder if the problem has more to do with talent. When’s the next Frank Miller going to come along and reinvent Daredevil and show us something we’ve never seen before? Where is the next Anatomy Lesson going to come from? Or the next Hard Traveling Heroes? Who will be the next Claremont/Byrne and take over a title no one really cares about and capture an audience no one knew was there?  Is there another Marvels waiting in the wings? I think there are some talented people working for Marvel but are any of them game changers?

I think the people with game-changing ideas are thinking of using them in the future on something they actually own.

1.The companies' best guide to whether readers want is their sales. Granted, they're also affected by how well their titles are marketed and how attached readers are to features. (Quality isn't the only thing we want. We also want characters, genres, styles, tones we like.) During the speculator boom sales were also affected by speculation, but I don't suppose that's an issue these days.

2.If I might be forgiven for repeating a point, Marvel and DC put out more comics than they used to. They do niche titles, and use a wide range of styles.

3.I've completely lost track of what Marvel's up to, but DC is doing outside the box stuff: Bug!, Batman '66, Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye, DC Comics Bombshells. (It should improve its website. The search engine isn't working for me at all.)

4.A great run need not be all that long. Steranko did only three issues of Captain America, which may be the ne plus ultra of short-but-great runs. Neal Adams did 9 issues of X-Men, and the first two had back-up stories by Werner Roth. Jim Starlin's run on Captain Marvel, which I haven't read, was 10 issues (plus framing pages for the reprint in #36, and The Death of Captain Marvel later). Steve Englehart's run on Detective Comics was 8. (He had written the dialogue for "Night of the Stalker!" previously).

Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-ManMaster of Kung-Fu, New Teen Titans, Simonson's solo Thor, Moore's, Bissette's and Totleben's Swamp Thing became successes quickly. Arthur Adams became a superstar artist almost overnight. My point is if just a few issues of a comic can't excite us today, the difference may lie with us.

If Innovative New Hero fails after five issues it's a shame, but in their day Neal Adams's X-Men and Green Lantern runs weren't hits either. What matters is if you like the comics. And five might be as many issues as you really want to read of Innovative New Hero anyway.

For me price is still a major problem.  4.99 is simply too much for me.



Luke Blanchard said:

If Innovative New Hero fails after five issues it's a shame, but in their day Neal Adams's X-Men and Green Lantern runs weren't hits either. What matters is if you like the comics. And five might be as many issues as you really want to read of Innovative New Hero anyway.


There are times when a groundbreaking approach is immediately successful and generates immediate sales and times when sales aren't great but the work turns out to be extremely influential later on. The important thing is that it reinvigorates a stagnating art form. Once new ground is broken, it opens up new directions for comics to go which reignites reader interest. Unfortunately, I don't think we're seeing anything that makes everything that came before seem outdated al la Watchmen. Richard is probably right that the next generation of grounbreakers won't want to work for Marvel or DC unless they change the way they do business.

I don't know enough, but someone else may.  Does the individual artist/writer first make a name for themselves at marvel and/or dc and then go independent or do they start with the independent and then get hired by marvel and dc?

Detective 445 said:



Luke Blanchard said:

If Innovative New Hero fails after five issues it's a shame, but in their day Neal Adams's X-Men and Green Lantern runs weren't hits either. What matters is if you like the comics. And five might be as many issues as you really want to read of Innovative New Hero anyway.


There are times when a groundbreaking approach is immediately successful and generates immediate sales and times when sales aren't great but the work turns out to be extremely influential later on. The important thing is that it reinvigorates a stagnating art form. Once new ground is broken, it opens up new directions for comics to go which reignites reader interest. Unfortunately, I don't think we're seeing anything that makes everything that came before seem outdated al la Watchmen. Richard is probably right that the next generation of grounbreakers won't want to work for Marvel or DC unless they change the way they do business.

They start with a small indie or webcomic, get picked up by Marvel & DC, make a name and hone their craft there for a while, then go back to indies with more clout. Or the just built a rep outside of Marvel & DC altogether.

I also think that, as Luke suggests, the comics output even of just DC and Marvel (not to mention all the other publishers) is diverse enough that there are a number of games being played, and not every even a game-changer won't change the whole industry (or even the whole genre) -- it'll just carve out a new niche. 

Deadpool, I'd suggest, was probably a game-changer.  Not only did it launch countless spinoffs at Marvel, but it led to a change in DC's approach to Harley Quinn -- and a number of HQ spinoffs as well. 

DC and Marvel have been also publishing younger-skewing, lighthearted books -- Squirrel Girl, Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur, Gotham Academy. That's a fairly new game. What book changed it. Lumberjanes, maybe?

Frankly, I think Saga is a game-changer in a huge way -- but for an unexpected company. I don't think Archie's new line would have launched nearly so well (and been received with such acclaim) were it not for Fiona Staples's popularity and involvement. If you're looking for an artist who will move the needle, she's the one. Saga's probably done more for Archie than for Image. 

None of these trends is affecting every comic -- and unlike some previous game-changers, the mainstream superhero books aren't as affected by these trends. But that's because there are so many books being published, so DC and Marvel can chase a trend or two with only part of their lines, not the whole thing. 

"Saga's probably done more for Archie than for Image."

Interesting point.

Great points, Rob. Also, it is interesting that game-changers these days tend to create new genres instead of affecting the whole industry. That's a huge plus.

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