Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Comics and Movies

So why don't big hit movies make more sales in comics? Or why is it that when folks see an X-MEN movie and then go to a comic shop that they don't instantly share my obsession with the medium? Or at least with the characters?

Well, Marvel Entertainment main-stay Ben Morse, the former Wizard reporter, has written an article on just such a topic. I recommend you check it out. He says a lot of great things here at The Faster Times which boil down to, "Most folks just don't know what comics to pick up" and he suggests some good ones.

Read his article, and then circle back here for a minute for my two cents...

Beyond not knowing the specific trade paperback to read, there is also a problem of market saturation of titles--and I am far from innocent on this, myself. I publish three or four G.I. JOE titles per month. And the same for TRANSFORMERS, so when a fan of the movie, or cartoon, or toy walks into a shop and wants to see where the story lives on a month-in-and-month-out basis, how are they supposed to know which comic to pick up?

Look at WOLVERINE or even SPIDER-MAN or BATMAN, they've all got seven or more comics every month. How does a novice or new reader have any idea which one to buy? I'm starting to consider literally putting a bar across the top that reads: "New to TRANSFORMERS comics? BUY THIS ONE!" or some such thing. It's not a bad idea, honestly. It'd help retailers just as much as it would prospective fans.

Title saturation has become more talked about lately. Especially with Marvel and DC Comics announcing their drop in retail prices. We're asking a smaller and smaller audience to spend more and more money. Is it possible that the shrinking comics market is due to comics publishers pushing too hard on its most loyal customers?

Would it be better for the comics market--and most importantly to potential new readers--if there was just one Marvel continuity? If there was just one Wolverine comic, or one Batman comic? Maybe it would come out weekly or perhaps every issue would be double-sized? I don't know--anyway you slice it it means revenue goes down for the publisher, which in turn means revenue goes down for retailers... and most retailers can't afford to lose much more revenue. It's a catch-22 for sure. But anyway, at least Ben answered the awesome question, "Now that my friends have seen THE DARK KNIGHT, here's what they should read!"

Thanks, Ben!



  1. Awesome article.

    I believe that one-continuity is all that's needed. Alex Albrecht, co-host of the Totally Rad Show on, made a statement, that I'm going to paraphrase, claiming he recently got back into comics and was reading Amazing Spider-Man. Then he picked up Ultimate Spider-Man and couldn't understand why it was so different. That can be confusing to a new reader, especially with costs being so high. Can anyone, specifically a new reader, afford to spend so much on something that they have no idea if they're going to be interested in?

    I agree that publishing multiple books is great for die-hard readers of specific characters like Spider-Man or Batman. I also agree that comic book publishers themselves can benefit from this. So how do we not make publishers and die-hard fans suffer, yet, encourage new readers?

    Simple. Change the logos.


    Marvel, for example.

    The Marvel-616 continuity can have the current logo with the red rectangle and white lettering.

    Ultimate Marvel can have a green circle (for example) with the word "Ultimate" written above it with a green outline added to it.

    Marvel Kids can have "Marvel Kids" written on it with orange lettering.

    And so on...

    Then a new reader, once he or she gets used to it, can immediately identify the continuity differences between universes. I know there are some people out there who don’t care about continuity, but there are a lot out there that does.

    I'm not saying it’s a perfect solution. I'm just saying that it would work.

    Having only one comic based on a character, in a consistent continuity, keeps the character interesting. Superman comes out three or four times a month. His stories go by so fast that there’s really nothing you can do with the character because too much has been done already. His stories go nowhere. There’s no drama or interest at all – unless you’re a die-hard, hardcore, fan of the character. Then it’s great. For someone new or even old, that has no real interest in the character, Superman is a boring book.

    I believe that readership would go up if comic book prices came down and if publishers would focus on telling interesting stories instead of constant smash it up story arcs that takes place over the course of a couple of years. I say we need more mystery and adventure like we see on TV and less all out, nonsensical, action, where the character is in costume 24/7 and we don’t get to learn anything about who they are personally. This is especially true for Marvel whose characters have lost their touch with reality. That touch of reality is what made that company so great.

    I could go on, but I’m rambling enough as it is.

    That is all.

  2. It took me a while to figure out that there were different realms to the comic book world. When I was younger things were easier to follow. and now that I am older and picking back up the comic books I couldn't figure out why I was missing a huge chunk of the story until i looked it up online and it gave me all the books of that particular arch. but i can see why the books did it that way. different characters from all places where pulled into one event... I'm talking specifically about the messiah complex and blinded by the light. great work which is what got me started back into the comic world. blows my mind now how complicated the marvel universe. it makes it great for adults who want depth and the kiddies who want full color action. gotta love comics!