I received a comment from my pal Scott Godlewski the other day regarding the quote I posted from James Patterson:
“Comics could reach a much larger audience than they do right now,” says Patterson, who often works with co-authors and whose thrillers are frequently at or near the top of USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list. “With all of the quality work and talent that’s out there, this industry could be so much bigger.”
Scotty asked," Then why don't they?"
Here in the US and Canada we've marginalized comics for so long and in so many ways that we've fallen out of the pop culture radar field, even though we've been making these huge blockbuster movies based on comics properties...
We've concentrated almost exclusively on the superhero idiom. Those that don't are the exception that prove the rule. You don't see these on newsstands anymore:
We've moved comics away from the mainstream retail corridors and into exclusive comic shops which again, limits traffic and potential new readers.
We've elevated the production value of comics making them very expensive per minute in relation to other forms of entertainment - movies, tv, games.
Storytelling has become insular in comics. I can't pick up a comic at a store and read it without having to understand 70+ years of continuity beforehand.
Comics - for the most part as there are some companies that are the exceptions - cater to a marginal audience. Take the audience for comics as a single demographic and compare it to movie-going audiences, game playing audiences, book-reading audiences ; and you'll see that comics is a very small pond.
And even though we are making these huge movies, the comics publishing community is doing little to capitalize on it. To see the numbers of new readers brought into the fold by these movies is disheartening. They are miniscule.
Someone in the industry told me that 10k books shipped for an indie title is a big hit. (Which it is, given that they are mainly going to just comic books shops).
And though the Asian manga and European comic industries have taken their hits of late thanks to the economy and emerging technology, they are still healthier than we are because they are so diverse: In subject matter, audiences and distribution.
They also take a look at where their money is best spent and act accordingly.