With the growth of digital comic books and the perception that audiences are “waiting for the trade,” it’s easy to buy into a doom-and-gloom attitude about the future of print comic books.
But according to the retailers and publishers Newsarama surveyed, as long as the industry corrects some of its current missteps, the best years of the serial format could lie ahead.
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“We’ve seen steady growth in all markets over the last four years,” said Filip Sablik, president of publishing and marketing for BOOM! Studios, citing growth in both digital and book sales. “In the direct market, since 2012, we’ve outpaced the industry average growth consistently every year and in fact have been the fastest growing top 10 publisher in those years.”
“We had our best year ever,” echoed Jesse James, owner of Jesse James Comics in Glendale, Ariz. “We had a double-digit increase in store and triple digit increase online.”
Yet some of the issues raised during our discussions concern industry-watchers, particularly the oversaturation of the market, with the number of titles being released at record high levels. Add that concern to the rising number of variants, and both retailers and publishers are aware that the numbers might not tell the whole story.
Randy Stradley, Dark Horse’s Vice President of Publishing described the biggest challenge facing the overall industry right now as “the sheer number of comics coming out within a given month” – something, he says, that can affect quality and, in turn, the value of comic books as entertainment.
“All publishers have the responsibility of exercising quality control for all their offerings,” Stradley said. “When they put their logo on the front cover, it is a stamp that this is the best they have to offer. I’m not so sure that everyone is toeing this line.”
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“Periodical comics tend to get the short shrift from publishers, yet in many specialty shops, like mine, sales of periodical comics account for as much as 50% of total sales,” Field said. “We regularly see schedules go off the rails. We rarely get creative teams staying on a title for extended runs anymore. I’d like to see more value packed into comic books including less decompressed storylines, more actual things happening in every single issue.”
Link to the rest at Newsarama and thanks to Shirl for the tip.