I’ve been a life long comic book fan. I learned to read from comics. When I was very little my parents lived in this trailer park and at the end of the street was this market that had a spinner rack full of comics. Once or twice a week I’d walk down with my parents and they’d return their pop bottles for a refund and if I was good, I’d get to play Ms. Pac-man and get a comic. I was always good, comics were at stake. Then we’d get home and before bed my Mom or Dad would read them to me and show me this pictures. This was the early 1980’s.
The modern life for comics in 2017 seems pretty rough. I still love them, I still get them quite often even though the price has shot up to 8 times what they were when I was a kid. I even buy mostly digital due to space to keep them and convience and they still charge the same. Which always gets me, why am I paying $4 for a digital copy of a book the shops sale for the same price and it’s actually paper and staples and has to be printed and delivered. The companies have now realized that fans will pay the same price for digital as print and determine that you pay for ease of access.
Disney and Warner Bros. are churning out mega hit films every few months based on decades old characters. Thor Ragnarok has been out less than 2 weeks and already grossed over 500 million world wide. 4 of the 5 top grossing domestic films of the year are comic based movies. This is all well and fine. While I personally get a little burned out over the hype, its great that so many people enjoy them. What bums me out as a life long comics fan is that the 2 most prominent publishers, DC and Marvel now have their editorial edict to resemble what goes on in the films. Consider that the comics have been going on in some extent for 20 years or more with quite established characters while most films involve an origin of said characters. No matter, Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy was blown to pieces in the first film and is slowly regenerating his form from a tiny bud seen dancing during end credits to a walking toddler version in the sequel. While this has been establish in the comics, the previous volume of Guardians ended so a new number 1 could release in time for the film featuring a baby Groot that still hasn’t fully been explained. Disney just places a phone call to the Marvel offices and says to make the book like the film. The hope of the corporations that own these characters is that folks will leave the film and flock immediately to a comic shop or tablet device to get more adventures of the characters they just saw on film. This has not been the case. Guardians 2 has banked close to a billion dollars world wide while the book is lucky to sell 20,000 print copies each month.
The numbers for books sold have been quite off this year with publisher IDW for example down over a million dollars in sales. Their have been numerous issues of bloggers and industry professionals having quite hateful debates on Twitter. I just can’t imagine a 5-year old wondering into a shop and plopping down 4 bucks for a comic. It just feels bleak to me and I hate it. Comics will always be around. Some have likened comics to prehistorical cave paintings. Telling a story mostly with words. It’s a brilliant art form that may just need to have some growing pains to grow up a bit and to reach new potential.