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Future of Comics?

Alan David Doane shot me over an interesting piece he recently did over at Comic Book Galaxy about the future of comics. Check it out here, and let me know what you think!

Edited to add – Here’s a follow up piece by ADD.


Just more fanboys whining about how things like 52 or Civil War don’t meet there expectations. The comic marketplace goes up and down, just like the music industry or any other business. The biggest whiners who claim they don’t like superhero comics are still buying them and/or reading them, so they’re perpetuating the very situation they are bemoaning. I am well educated and a professional. I have degrees in literature, reading, and education. Yet I liked, and have reread Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, and 52, and I am enjoying Countdown. I do not feel that continuity driven stories are all that bad. In fact, I love stories that tie whole universes together. These stories may not work for some, but they work for me and many others. If you don’t like something, stop buying it, don’t whine about it.

I spelled “their” wrong in the first sentence. Oh the shame.

The shame lies not in misspelling a word, Barry, but in either not understanding or outright lying about what I wrote.

To Barry: I have been a comic/superhero fan for most of my life. I too have higher education, an MLA in Literature. I have to respectively disagree with you and agree with Doane’s article. I have dropped many titles I have collected since I was a kid, and most of my collecting in general. Reason is because they ARE poorly written. A well written syndication finds ways to open its doors to new readership, it evolves. DC and Marvel consistently rehash old stories we have already read over and over again in the 70’s and 80’s. Every storyline is a marketing event, instead of a chance to develop its characters. A good story can evolve is characters freely. A bad story has to maintain the status quo due to licensing properties spread out between five different corporations. And honestly, I love DC. I really do. But I cannot understand a single story anymore unless I am familiar with every ounce of continuity from the Golden Age on. I don’t have time for that. As for Marvel, spreading one story out over ten different titles is no way to be reader-friendly to a fan-base who is getting older and has kids to feed. Bottomline, I go to Borders now and pick up the the entire story in one book. Plus, I can rad it there to see if it is even worth buying. Weekly comics just are not worth it. You spend too much per week for a story that lasts longer than it needs to, only to be sorely disappointed by an outcome with little-to-no climax. I did not want to admit it for a few years now, but weekly comics are out for me. Grahpic novels are the way to go. They look nicer on the shelf anyway and are easier to take care of.

I meant “read”, not “rad”. Yes, I feel the shame too, Barry.

Still and all, ADD, there’s really nothing here we haven’t seen many times before. You lay things out well, providing a coherent adn cogent argument, but in the end it’s the same old argument.

For the record, my local comic shop, Kingdom Comics in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, is a clean, open, well-lit store with a staff that’s not only knowledgeable but friendly, helpful, and representative of a wider-than-normal range of comics interests. Superheroes and Vertigo-type books still dominate, but then that’s what the customer base is buying. Still, there are always a few shelves and boxes of children’s books, manga, and obscure older trades and GNs.

In the end, there are two reasons I keep coming back. KC (and its staff) is kid-friendly, and with a comics-crazy five-year-old daughter that’s essential. Secondly, when I order something out of the mainstream, they get it to me as soon as possible (though Diamond doesn’t always cooperate with small stores in the South), and often order an extra copy for the shelf. Service and a friendly atmosphere are the keys, and they provide both to a far greater extent than any other store I’ve visited.

(And no, they don’t know I’m doing this, so I’m getting no store credit for bragging about them to the world. Though if they wanted to …)

Still, it’s Marvel and DC fans that ultimately pay the bills, and they seem to love the big events. We can’t blame stores for continuing to cater to the established customer base, even while trying to expand that base beyond the fanboys. There are, of course, stores that fit the old stereotype, or it wouldn’t be a stereotype. There are also those doing their best to provide a positive experience for everyone, old fan and curious browser alike.

Mr. Doane may be right about the future of comics stores. I don’t know. It does seem like there are some nonsensical things about the economics of comics, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the eventual equilibrium looked a little different from the situation we have now.

But I’m not worried, because I look at it this way:

– there are a lot of people out there who want to make comics, including superhero comics
– there are a lot of people out there who want to buy comics, including superhero comics
– there are a lot of people out there who want to sell comics, including superhero comics

So one way or another it’ll all get worked out.

Dear ADD,

My shame lies in being an English major and reading teacher. Accusing me of lying about your article only proves my point. I understand that you’re disappointed that the comic marketplace doesn’t fulfil what you think it should. Hey, I’m not satisfied with the Television industry either, so I don’t watch what I don’t like. If you don’t like a line of comics, don’t read them. Buying them is just going to give you more of the same. My comic shop is a clean, well-lighted place (thanks Hemingway) and they go out of their way to get me anything I want. They are also very accessible to the public because they work at it. They’ve been in business for over thirty years and will continue for years to come.

I take umbrage with your accusation. I responded to Mr. Cronin’s invitation to offer an opinion, and you are basically accusing me of being a stupid liar. My opinion is just that, an opinion. Just because it is not your opinion does not make me wrong or right. I do apoligize for the “whining fanboy” part. I just get so tired of commentators trying to make me feel stupid because I enjoyed a story that they didn’t. For the record, I have been reading DC comics since I was five years old in 1971. I sympathize with those who do not have the continuity experience that I do. But don’t burn me because I have that experience.

Just a semi-related question. Can we please declare a moratorium on the word fanboy? It’s used by every side of an issue to describe someone they disagree with. Don’t like the big crossover? You’re a whiny fanboy. Like the big crossover? You’re a stupid fanboy. The word has come to be used for everything and thus means nothing. Please please please let it go, won’t you?

And, if your article is about the future of comic STORES, then that should be the title.

To Jesse:

That is why I apoligized. It was uncalled for and inappropriate.

It’s kind of obvious, though well written.

There are plenty of comic stores that are more like hobby shops than anything else. Not very attractive, orders only a narrow range of products for their pre-exisiting customers, unlikely to even be aware of developments in the industry outside their niche… Stores that I wouldn’t even bother shopping at under regular circumstances, so I don’t know why a non-comics fan ever steps foot in them.

Those stores, I suspect, are not long for the world once their current customer base dissipates.

Ryan Day-

Exactly, but don’t lump every comic store into that catagory. It’s stereotyping, and just like saying all teachers are democrats.

I didn’t lump anything – “plenty of stores” is what I said, which, in my experience, is true. The good ones are still a depressing minority.

Barry, ADD, I suggest y;all cool down. Let’s all be friends.

Personally, I’m hoping a comic store manager (or three) will sound off here. I have to figure that stocking is a major issue: books take up space, diversity takes up **lots** of space; in-stock books tie up money, diversity… well, I’m sure you get my incredibly insightful gist.

Overall, and in all my “fanboyness,” I’m inclined to agree that the model that will survive will be the one that embraces — heck, acknowledges — change.

I also think that brick/mortar stores need to wake up to the sales they’re losing to Amazon et al onlione, who offer HCs and TPBs for oftentimes 33-40% off cover price, with FREE shipping. (And no, I do not work for an online retailer.) Again, i don’t know the answer offhand, but perhaps simply identifying the ‘regulars’ and making deeper discounts available? in the end, one thing they’ll theoretically get in return is customer loyalty, which has to be one of the lynchpins of survival.

Master of Soup

June 13, 2007 at 9:29 am

I like the big event stories…. sometimes. Civil war was a hugh disappointment in that some issues that were important to the mini series were late, messing up any flow the store had. The ending was terrible , the heros just giving up. Alot of money i spent wasted for something that could of been done in a book or two.
One thing i think that really has to happen again is getting rid of comics only going to the direct market stores. Some of my best memories are going to the newsstand and finding the new issues on that spinner rack. If you picked a book from the middle of that bundle you were sure to get one in great condition. And most of the time your books were there and not sold out. My comic book guy will only order in a book or two of the lesser known books and if your not there right away good luck. Plus we really have to get rid of when you go into a store the guy behind the counter starts to snarl at you because you might not be one of the regulars that play magic in the pack. If you sold hamburgers like that, no matter how good they were no one wouls come back.
And finally we have to get rid of the thinking that comics are for kids or geeks only. They combine art and fiction. People love art and they love reading. This has to be put across that this wonderful artform has something for everyone.

“just like saying all teachers are democrats. ”
all the good ones at least.

I didn’t read the whole article, my apologies, but during my skimming a couple of things popped out at me such as;

“We know we’re really in a good store if there are Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts collections — you know, comics people have heard of in the real world, outside the narrow boundaries of the mostly insular, unreflective and very likely doomed direct market.”
These are very expensive books that can be found anywhere. Does it really make sense for a comic store to have their money tied up in this inventory if anyone can go to a bookstore and get it? Their margins are usually razor thin anyway and your suggesting that they have these kinds of books simply so they can be ‘good for comics’. I think your piece lacks any sort of business perspective on the part of comic-shop owners. At the end of the day, their not going to do things unless its profitable. Should they try everything they can to be profitable? Absolutely, but a suggestion like the one I quoted just shows a lack of thought.

Yawn. Pretty much a checklist of the same “the revolution will not be distributed in the direct market” pseudo-prognostication that’s been self-indulgently flitting around the Internet since the first installment of “Come In Alone.” “Superhero comics are evil.” “Superhero fans are evil.” “Diamond is evil.” “The direct market is evil.” “Burn it all, first up against the wall,” yadda, yadda, yadda. Someone writes this essay every year; I guess Doane’s turn had to come sooner or later.

Which is not to say he doesn’t have a point. The direct market is pretty badly broken, largely as the result of the Diamond monopoly. There are pretty much two ways for it to end up; either it collapses in on itself like the newsstand system did and we all move to another model, or another company rises up as a major competitor to Diamond, forcing them to either innovate or face extinction.

Where he gets it wrong, as every one of these little pseudo-Marxist screeds does, is in the assumption that the Evil Empire will fall and the valiant Rebel Alliance will rise up and establish a New Republic of order, justice, and Love & Rockets on every coffee table. It makes for a nice pre-emptive “I told you so,” but conveniently ignores the realities of history and economics. Because in either of the two scenarios listed above, where do you think all the money to set this up is going to come from?

Starting with the second first, it is of course ridiculous to imagine that a company trying to compete with Diamond in the direct market wouldn’t lead the way with the biggest sellers in the business. Which is, incidentally, why this is the less likely of the two to happen. Diamond keeps Marvel, DC, Image, and Dark Horse (ruh roh! I just mentioned big publishers who published more than superheroes! Does! Not! Compute!) pretty happy, so a new competitor would have to pull some pretty impressive tricks out of its hat to get them to leave the

But let’s go to Doane’s preferred scenario, the fall and rise of the New Comics Order. First of all, I’d like to pop the balloon of the bookstore market being the salvation and vindication of comics as an art form.


I’ll admit one thing; it says a lot about the artistic and economic health of the comics industry that the book publishing industry is seen as a paradise of fair rewards and artistic respect. I don’t know who’s been Pollyannaing in some people’s ears, but that market isn’t exactly booming. If anything, it’ll be harder for interesting, diverse, artistic comics to get noticed, published, and respected if the comics go all-bookstore. For a nice wake-up call, take a good look at the non-Marvel/DC shelves in Barnes and Noble. Demographically, they look similar to the other sections: Big names and the latest trends. This is what publishers look for, this is what bookstores want to buy. It’s a narrow range. A non-name creator wanting to tell a non-superhero SF story, a funny animal comedy, a western, a mashup of all the above, would be just as fucked in that market as they are now. (Hint: The book market pretty much has all the comics it wants already; you think they’re going to expand just out of the goodness of their hearts because Vertigo’s gone now? Oh, that’s right, if DC falls, so does Vertigo. Not so eager to kill the czar’s family now, are you?)

And there’s another problem with the bookstore-only idea: The sales ain’t that great. There’s a reason Image and Dark Horse still publish monthlies; it’s to subsidize the big bookstore projects. Especially since bookstore sales are returnable, meaning if a big project goes south, the company eats the cost. Try getting Dark Horse to publish Eisner/Miller and Usagi Yojimbo without the big Buffy and Star Wars money coming in. Go on, I dare ya.

Which leads me to my second question about the post-DM utopia: Where’s the money going to come from? Distribution networks don’t just spring up overnight if you wish really hard. It takes a significant investment, and years of building up an infrastructure. For a histroical dialectic, this theory is pretty ignorant of history. Back when the newsstand was dying and the direct market grew up to fill the economic niche, who was it who ponied up the cash to subsidize those stores during those critical early years, who filled those stores with product people wanted? If you said anything other than “Marvel and DC,” stay after class, because we have to do some remedial learning. Carol Kalish may have been a capitalist tool of the insidious corporate machince, but she also got fucking cash registers in comics stores when nobody else would.

If Marvel and DC go down with Diamond, who’s going to fund the next system? Gary Groth? Well, apparently, . You could make a case for Image and Dark Horse picking up the slack, but given their current sales, say hello to the second Great Comics Recession in as many years.

Furthermore, does anyone really think *everyone* at Marvel and DC is that fucking stupid? That, if the ship really starts taking on water, someone, if only the suits whose jobs live and die by the profits, won’t see that something’s wrong, and start baling? They’re taking the tacs they are now because they’re working; if and when they stop, they will try something else, if only because they like to eat and sleep indoors. Staring down the business end of poverty is a pretty goddamned powerful motivator for change. A lot more powerful than having people say nasty things about you on the Internet, anyway.

Oh, and like Time Warner is just going to shut down a cheap and easy method of keeping their trademarks on Batman and Superman current. If Something Awful smilies worked on WordPress, I’d be doing the code for the one that makes a wanking motion right now.

I’m finally approaching a point here (please, hold your applause), and it’s this: If any big change is going to happen in the comics distribution market, Marvel and DC are going to be at the forefront. Just like they always have been. They’re not going away just because you don’t like them. Change is coming for comics (it’s the only thing anyone can ever reliably predict is), but it won’t involve throwing the Superbaby out with the bathwater.

Screed over. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get down to my local evil convenience store of Satan, because it’s Wednesday, and it’s the only fucking place I can find the latest Evangelion digest.

Holding up Borders and like bookstores as models of “diversity” is all well and good and I have bought by fair share of trades at them but keep in mind that stores like these are huge chains and they’re only going to stock what sells. Sure, you have ever increasing shelf space devoted to Manga but by and large the rest of the comics and trades are DC, Marvel, Image and Darkhorse. Do you think you’re going to see “Rex Libris” at a Barnes and Noble? How about “Left on Mission” — one of the best spy stories in years? How about “Mr. Stuffins”?

In the end, comic book stores might do well to diversify but its always going to come at a cost and that cost is usually shelf space. The reason why you stopped seeing comic books on the magazine racks at your local grocery store? Because space is limited and “Glamour” or “Better Homes and Gardens” sold better than “X-Men”.

Face it, people who like and read comic books are probably always going to be of a certain “type” and that type are those who are more open, accepting, and read more of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Not that this is ALL they read, mind you, but that they do read and enjoy these genres.

In the end, really, the way of the future is probably going to end up being web comics or e-comics anyway. You will subscribe to certain titles electronically and then new releases will simply be dropped into your e-mail where you can read them on your phone or your computer. If you want to “save” them you’ll burn them to a disk or save them to a flash drive.

“Such titles create a frenzy of interest in the minority of comics readers who value the sub-genre of superhero adventure fiction more than they value the artform of comics as a whole.”

Well, duh. Exactly why should I value the medium more than the content?

I like superhero adventure fiction. Comic books happen to give that to me. If comics stop giving me what I want, I don’t particularly feel any reason for the medium to continue.

I would also dispute the notion that a “minority of comics readers” enjoy super-heroes. There’s a chicken-and-egg situation here. Super-heroes are the dominant genre right now, so it’s more reasonable to assume that the dominant audience likes that genre. If you talk about the POTENTIAL audience that might be gained with greater diversity, then yes, the super-hero fans might be a minority. But currently I find it hard to believe there’s more people reading non-super-hero comics.

“just like saying all teachers are democrats. ”
all the good ones at least.

That second line is exactly the kind of stereotyping I am talking about. I realize Ian is being tongue in cheek here, but using such a blanket statement to describe something, be it teachers or comic books is not conducive to growth or change.

By the way, I am a teacher, and I am a democrat. I do not object to being labeled as a democrat. I do object to being stereotyped.

Does being a democrat make me a good teacher? No, being a good teacher makes me a good teacher.

Still and all, ADD, there’s really nothing here we haven’t seen many times before. You lay things out well, providing a coherent and cogent argument, but in the end it’s the same old argument.

There’s a certain merit to taking the time every so often to point out the obvious, although it does sort of set the writer up to be that week’s tackle dummy around here. Every time *I* say this — that we are an increasingly marginalized minority, that superhero comics are getting ridiculously insular, etc., etc. — I feel like the villagers are coming with pitchforks and torches.

Sure, you have ever increasing shelf space devoted to Manga but by and large the rest of the comics and trades are DC, Marvel, Image and Darkhorse.

The big-box bookstore closest to me has more manga than all other comics put together.

I’m just saying.

At most of the big bookstores around Toronto, superhero comics are a minority. Manga gets tons of shelf space, but superhero books have to split the remaining space with Love & Rockets, Joe Sacco, Chris Ware, and a good portion of the D&Q catalogue. And you can usually find a pretty fair-sized Bone collection around the children’s books.

Per Ryan (above), I was in a downtown Toronto bigbox bookstore just yesterday. One full bookcase (8 or so shelves) of manga, three quarters of a bookcase for everything else. AND manga got a spinrack.

It’s worth noting that this particular bookstore is located directly beside one of the biggest multiplexes in the city.

The real problem with the article is that it lacks focus. The central premise is, “Comic stores need to cater more to the general public, which means better customer service, a more professional and buyer-friendly environment, and a wider selection of general-interest material.”

But there are a lot of tangents in there, and worse, they’re all loaded in at the beginning before the reader has a chance to figure out what the column is about. A discussion of the shortcomings of direct distribution, an anti-superhero comics rant, a vague complaint about “poorly written comics”, a long and irrelevant discussion of Diamond’s sales data and its relevance to understanding the industry’s sales profile, and a frankly ludicrous claim that the general public associates comics with ‘Elfquest’, ‘Cerebus’ and ‘Love and Rockets’ all serve to confuse and irritate the reader. By the time the article actually gets into its real point, a lot of people have tuned out.

If I was Alan Doane, I’d actually consider doing another draft of this article, focusing less on the complaints about the general comics industry (which may very well be accurate, but aren’t germane to this specific article) and more on the complaints of poor comics stores. Instead of using anecdotal evidence of the coming collapse of the comics industry, I would use specific examples of trends in comics stores that turn away customers, based on actual experience. I might try including the opinions of other readers and even comic store employees and owners–as it is, the article suggests a lot of changes that might appeal to the author (more independents, less mainstream superhero merchandise), but that might run the store out of business (just because you don’t like X-Men doesn’t mean you don’t have to acknowledge that it’s paying your rent.) Getting more hard data might make the article seem a little less arrogant.

But, y’know, that’s just me.

Someone mentioned that this sort of article needs to be written ever few months. How about we just reprint the good ones that have already been done and leave it at that.

“Does being a democrat make me a good teacher? No, being a good teacher makes me a good teacher. ”
Hell, you could be a Libertarian or a Facist and I’d be cool with it as long as you were a good teacher. Just no Republicans.

Not much new here, though I agreed with a lot of it. I’ve been saying the same thing for years (and better people than me have been saying it before I, and much more eloquently).

I find it interesting when people immediately get defensive though, and start ranting and raving about “whining,” rather than actually addressing the issues. If you can’t actually debate properly or critique constructively, then there’s not much point in posting, except to troll.

“If I was Alan Doane, I’d actually consider doing another draft of this article, focusing less on the complaints about the general comics industry (which may very well be accurate, but aren’t germane to this specific article) and more on the complaints of poor comics stores.”

Not another draft, another essay. And it’s been up all day.

Thanks for reading what I had to say, everyone.

“Thanks for reading what I had to say, everyone.”

..God, if only they actually would. I read the piece, it’s great, and I agree with every word. I started reading the comments here, and after about the third person who clearly HAD NOT read it and instead just sounded off about what they THOUGHT you’d written, I just tuned out.

(I mean, where in that article did you say anything about the QUALITY- as opposed to broad sales potential- of current super hero comics? because I missed that bit. If it IS in there, it’s a very small and basically inconsequential part of a long and insightful essay. And it has no bearing on whether or not you’re right about the wider point… you whining fanboy ;-))

You should repost this on the engine.maybe then we can have a proper conversation.

Hell, you could be a Libertarian or a Facist and I’d be cool with it as long as you were a good teacher. Just no Republicans.

So open-minded. Hope YOU aren’t a teacher.

I agree with pretty much everything ADD said. Among some fans, as well as some people in the industry, there is a disturbing tendency to equate comics with superheroes. I don’t know whether or not superheroes are still the dominant genre in North America — it depends on what you mean by dominant, really — but superhero comics represent only a tiny fraction of the worldwide comics market.

As long as there are myopic, poorly educated comics fans who willfully blind themselves to the incredible diversity of the comics medium, there will be a need for articles that criticize this mentality.

“As long as there are myopic, poorly educated comics fans who willfully blind themselves to the incredible diversity of the comics medium, there will be a need for articles that criticize this mentality.”

You know what? Some people just like superheroes. Some people like manga. Some people like anything Fantagraphics puts out. I like Doug TenNapel books and Marvel Essentials myself. Let’s stop insulting people for continuing to enjoy the same characters many of us loved as kids (or did you read Dan Clowes as a six-year-old?) and realize that this wonderful “diversity” you worship is going to include things you don’t like. Like, you know, Republicans.

Are a lot of superhero comics crap? Lord, yes, but there’s an incredible amount of crap in every genre. Read what you like. Shop where you like. Avoid books and places that you don’t. As someone mentioned, Amazon and other sites allow you to get virtually anything you want at a significant discount, so there’s really no reason to face the dreaded direct market if you don’t want.

Just realize that if you do choose to shop at a comic store, it’s those superhero books you hate so much that keep them in business. Whether that’s right or wrong, it’s the way things are. Work to change things — as we all should — but don’t just sit up on that pedestal raining derision on anyone who doesn’t agree with you.

God knows there’s enough pissing and moaning already.

“Let’s stop insulting people for continuing to enjoy the same characters many of us loved as kids.”

Pointing something out is not the same as insulting someone. Or as an insightful former co-worker of mine used to say, “It’s not mean if it’s the truth.”

No one is saying superhero comics shouldn’t be published anymore, or that people should not have access to them. Rather, their presence in professionally-operated comic book stores should be no more or less evident and obvious than the presence of any other viable comic books and graphic novels that attract and interest the widest possible range of readers. It’s in the long-term interests of both the comic shop and comics as an artform.

In the 1980s and early 1990s it made a certain kind of sense to emphasize superhero comics in a retail environment, but times have changed and smart retailers that want to sell comics to everyone that wants to buy them from them need to change as well.

David Wynne — I’ve taken you up on your suggestion of posting the piece(s) at The Engine. Thanks!

chroom —

Just want to say “hear hear” regarding Diamond’s level of service to comic shops in the South. I live outside of Greenville, SC, and my local shop (Borderlands — Hi Stan!) is a nice, good-sized-but-not-really-big shop which sells comics and wargaming materials. But it seems that at least once a quarter, Diamond simply forgets to ship them part or all of a week’s order for no discernible reason — a problem I never had back in New York.

I guess I don’t have the same experience as a lot of other readers regarding “Android’s Dungeon”-esque comic book shops. The first one I ever frequented in NY was run by a nice older couple, and was cramped only because it was a small building they were in, but otherwise was kid friendly. Then, while in college, I got my comics from a shop which sold pretty much ANY printed material you wanted (They were called the Newsstand, and that moniker fit). And now that I have moved up here, Borderlands is a really nice shop with a small but professional group of guys staffing it. They carry some manga, but I don’t know how well it sells down here, but they have lots of kid’s books, and they don’t rack “Super Erotic Adventure” next to “Superman,” either.

Regarding ADD’s article… I’m not all that happy with the perjoratives, but I think we can all agree that the current distribution system doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The question I’ve always had is how to market these lesser known, non-superhero (or similar) titles. I mean, the lesser known titles I read are still pretty “above ground,” so I’m okay on that front. It’s all well and good to have product on the shelves, but you can have racks and racks and racks of titles I’ve never heard of, and unless one of them’s got a kickass cover, I’m probably not going to pick it up. Superheroes are relatively easy to market in that sense, but smaller, lesser known titles don’t have the brand identity to most readers to sell themselves. At least, that’s my take on it, I may very well be wrong.

“Pointing something out is not the same as insulting someone. Or as an insightful former co-worker of mine used to say, ‘It’s not mean if it’s the truth.'”

How is “insulting people for continuing to enjoy the same characters many of us loved as kids” in any way “the truth”? That’s just being mean, and there’s enough of that already in the world.

The success of the comics industry in the U.S. seems intricately tied to the success of superhero comics (at least the big two publishers, anyway), for good or ill. Is that mean? Well, it’s the truth!

I read the second article, and I found it to be a lot more focused–I’d agree with all of it, except for the statement that a good comics store shouldn’t prioritize one type of material over another. In fact, a good store of any kind prioritizes what sells over what doesn’t sell; that’s just good business sense, maximizing your shelf space by stocking what your customers want to buy.

Does this mean that comics stores should continue to devote the majority of their shelf space to superhero material? Not necessarily; if comics stores devoted their shelf space to what sold the most, you might find manga filling up the racks and superhero comics getting the tiny rack in the corner. (The Barnes and Noble at the Mall of America now has a full shelf of manga and one little section of a shelf of American superhero comics.) But they should cater to what their customers want, whatever that is, and plan their floor space accordingly.


My reference to insulting superhero fans was directed to Aaron Kashtan’s post directly above mine, which was why I led off by quoting his last paragraph. (Sorry, but I don’t know how to do the “quote in an orange box” thing.)

As I stated earlier, I found your essay good enough but ultimately a rehash of the same old arguments. You were in no way insulting, though I will say that Comic Book Galaxy as a whole seems to drip contempt for superheroes and their fans. It’s your baby, though, and I simply elect to follow my own advice and not frequent a site that’s clearly not directed at me.

Again, then, I was referring to Kashtan’s obviously insulting tone, and not to anything in your essay. Sorry about the confusion.

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