Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Happy New Comic Book Day!

Hi kids!

If four color ink doesn't run through your veins like it does mine (mixing with the whiskey and venom) then let me inform you that today is New Comic Book Day here in the United States (probably Canada too, but I'm not absolutely sure). That means that every Wednesday, new comic books arrive at your local comic book shop or news stand all fresh and shiny and ready to be poured over by the local geeks (and not just guys either - we love our "Geek Girls").

This is the way it has been for over 27 years since the Direct market comic book shops were started. Kind of a long time to do things the same old way right? Well, that's one of the reasons the comic book industry has major shrinkage as a business. Kind of like George Costanza stepping out of the pool...

One of the persons who comments on the state of the comics industry is writer Steven Grant over at Comic Book Resources (see sidebar). Today he addresses an issue that clearly goes toward looking at the future of comics - downloading comic scans via bit torrent.

(See, I told you it was new comic book day!)

Now this has me a bit pissed off for two reasons:

1) Slott is a downloader himself.

2) His anger is misplaced. he shouldn't be angry at the downloaders, he should be angry at the companies themselves for not being innovative enough to see downloading as the new revenue stream that it is.

- It is cheaper and more profitable and reaches a larger audience.
- It kills far fewer trees.
- It allows for a companion print version.
- The internet allows for a global audience.
- The comics could be available in any language instantly.
- And if done correctly, it would mean that you or I could get comics for free.

Webcomics and internet downloading is the future and it could mean a win-win for both fan and publisher, but somehow these businesses are 180 degrees from where they should be looking.
Kind of like how Jim Henshaw puts it here.

It's kind of sad that a business like that is stuck - especially when they have millions (if not billions) at stake what with all the merchandise and media that spins out of comics. They are looking back trying to recapture the good old days when they should be looking to the future. Oh and for those of you who don't read comics, substitute the words DVD, movies or television every time you see the word comic book. Same business, different product.

(and speaking of the future, where the hell is my jetpack?!!!)

7 comments:

Aric Blue said...

Comic Day has also been Fridays, and also Mondays--if you've been in the business long enough.

Gotta disagree on the downloading of comics--there's nothing like having the comic in your hands to read. I just can't get used to trying to read one on the computer...

I have to stare at a computer screen for most of the day anyway--it's nice to just sit back with a comic and stare at something that doesn't glow its way into my orbs...

Roger Alford said...

Well, this certainly got me thinking. Have to agree with Aric -- online comics are more like eBooks, something else that hasn't ever really caught on. But there is a market (obviously, since people are doing it) and it should never be an "either/or" situation, but rather an additional means to reach your audience.

Dittos on the jet pack, Bill. And where the hell's our flying cars, too?

Bill Cunningham said...

E-comics or webcomics doesn't mean there won't be a print component. It means that there are steps to be taken in all this.

Imagine if you could get your webcomics for free every month...

Go to the store or newsstand and get issues of comics that are three to an issue but printed on cheap paper...

Then later get a trade paperback collecting many issues...

It's kind of how the japanese do it (except they start out with ultra-cheap anthologies every week).

The fact is that the comic book direct market is shrinking and shrinking despite the multiple movies being made based on their properties...

Webcomics make sense and ultimately deliver more, diverse and profitable content to the consumer. Think of how much you spend on comics every month. How would you like to cut that in half?

DecoderRing said...

Nothing compares to the feel of the book in your hand, but I've bought many a comic only after getting hooked by reading an electronic version. Not unlike the who-knows-how-many who got on the Heroes bus only after catching up on-line. NBC may be stepping through the looking glass - let's hope the comics world follows soon!

Jet packs and rocket cars are great, lads... but where in blazes is my robot best buddy?

Bill Cunningham said...

You go where the people are to sell your wares... many, many more people are on the internet than at the comic book shop or newsstand.

and it's sad you need an artificial lifeform to be your buddy...

;D

DecoderRing said...

I don't need a robot best buddy, I want a robot best buddy. I have human friends, but they can't fix a starfighter on the fly, speak six million forms of communication, and they aren't voiced by the late Mel Blanc. So there's clearly room for improvement.

Bill Cunningham said...

Yes, I would definitely have more friends if they spoke like Mel Blanc...