Monday, January 25, 2010

The Fantastic Future of Comics

Could anyone draw women like Matt Baker could?....

The comic distribution system as we know it is changing. In the old days, titles were monthly. Shops ordered the most issues they figured they could sell. Excess inventory was returned for a rebate. These comics were destroyed. James Warren of Creepy fame was one of the first publishers to actually sell back issues. Clever guy.

So what did this mean for a publisher? Basically, you had one kick at the can to make money. That's why comics are made after all. Profit. Oh sure, there were reprints. It used to be comics were reprinted in, well, comics (usually 20 to 30 issues later). You just had to pay a printer that way, you already owned the content. Then came graphic novels (and respectability!).

I want you to think really hard about this next question. Seriously, let the gears in your mind grind for awhile...

How many comic issues have ever been published?

Use "Action Comics #1" in 1938 as your starting point, the beginning of The Golden Age. That was 72 years ago. Greater Comics Database currently boasts over 542,000 issues indexed and more than 40,000 series. Marvel and DC have about 80,000 issues currently indexed. I'm sure that's not all of them by any stretch.

OK, that's a lot of old comics, so what?

You remember when iTunes™ came out? I mean, up until then people just went to music stores and bought the CD when it came out, or picked it up used from a store. Music companies had one kick at the can to make their money. Oh sure, they could do a reprint, errrr.... 'Best Of' collection later on. There was always royalties too. But who would have thought any sane person would be paying 99 cents for an old Neil Young song...

Well they did.

And you know all these back issues? The comic companies still have them... They own them outright.

Do you see where I'm going?

Just consider for a moment an iTunes™-like distribution system for back issues. You don't even have to own the back issue. You can rent movies from iTunes™. Would you pay 50 cents for 48 hours with a back issue? A high-quality back issue. Maybe even with some interviews from the creators. How about 40 cents? Would you pay $10.00 per month for the ability to download ANY twenty-five issues from DC or Marvel you wanted?

Would you buy a gift card from a supermarket with your favorite comic book character on it that was worth $10, $20 or $50 or these downloads. Easy birthday present. (Personally, I would buy anything with the Two-Gun Kid on it...)

And this dear publishers, I give to you. Please hurry.

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