Comics are a big deal these days. Everywhere we look, pop culture tees, advertisement, both print, video and digital media, are bombarding the general populace. Plus, 2013 marks the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the best known super hero of all time, Superman. Of course, there have been other large milestones that have gone unnoticed. Characters like The Shadow and Doc Savage and other pulp heroes that spawned the current popular comic stars reached that 75th mark ages ago. But, in their own way, they were celebrated by the fans that cared. Dynamite Entertainment, just a few short years ago, obtained the rights to start printing The Shadow in comic form again which has been a huge success. So much in fact that the character has been guest starring in their other titles (Masks, Noir, The Shadow verses Grendel) and expanded the series into other ongoing books. Hence, the rights to Doc Savage were also obtained with a new series hitting comic book stores in December 2013. Sweet time for comic book fans to be introduced to the original characters! All this and more as the nerds and geeks have come to age to take over ruling the world. Businesses are jumping on the band wagon and commissioning their designers to make “comic book work” related advertising. Pop culture is very flush throughout our world. But how long with this resurgence last?
In the early to mid-nineties, the comic book industry took a big hit due to distribution technicalities. We won’t go into too many details as anything dealing with the history can be easily Googled. The lapse in bad judgement actually caused Marvel (the company that owns The X-Men, Spiderman, Thor, Avengers, ect) to declare bankruptcy and needed a boost from a toy company. Small comic book stores around the county had to close their doors as the bottom began to fall out. Comic book companies soon had to deal with a monopoly of one company, Diamond, handling all the distribution. Magazine companies (Wizard) began buying up pop culture conventions and then raising the prices for vendors to sell their wares as well as fans to enter through their doors with grandiose promises of getting their favorite actors, artists, and writers to attend. A balloon that seemed to have over expanded itself was deflating. Strange how things have changed in the past two decades. Or have they?
Diamond is still the major distributor for comic books and pop culture memorabilia (boosting that sales have been increasing of late, See Diamond Reports), Wizard still holds the market for the largest comic book conventions throughout the country and fans are still being gauged to not only attend but dish out not $1.00 for single issues of their favorites comic books two decades ago but $3.99 or more. Have things really gotten better for the nerds or all we all just deluding ourselves into thinking it’s okay? And to add salt to the wound, digital comics seem to be OUT SELLING their print editions and the comic book companies are making their comic book print editions OBSOLETE by releasing trade paper back editions of a collected series almost IMMEDIATELY after the series hits comic books stands. What’s really going on behind the scenes and why aren’t more people crying “wolf’? Because, it’s all about making the biggest profit. It use to be about producing good work. Don’t get us wrong, there are some great titles coming out with phenomenal art and stories. Of course, these people want to get paid a decent wage for their time and effort. We know that business is business and the whole point of being in business is to make profit. But how far do you need to go so you can edge out the fans that are just starting? (See Who Knew?)
It’s hip to be square in 2013 with comics now available instantaneously via your android phone, tablet, desktop or laptop computer. Sure it seems print sales are picking up, at least according to Diamond with them now allowing comic book stores to return unsold issues. This new news is actually a good thing for small comic book shop owners who are now contending with surplus and overstock of unsold comics. What we here at IF Comics want to know is how long with this new balloon last? Will the sales still see a rise after another ten years or will the fad fade again as it has done in the past. When will the general public be bored with new television series like Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, Constantine, Gotham Central, Arrow, Flash, ect.? When is the shiny new penny going to wear out it’s shine and become tarnished by the new schmuck who wants it all? We hope the high keeps rising but we also hope that the people behind the scenes don’t pull the wool over their fans eyes and over saturate them too much. We’re already seeing it happen and it’s happening fast. Perhaps a little too fast. All for the love of money, merchandising, and fans?