Author’s note: I wrote this sometime before the announcement from Archie comics that Oh- SPOILER ALERT!!****
-they had plans for killing him at the end of “life of archie” or whichever to show how his final fate. However, I pretty much believe it’s another device to try to reel in ‘new readers’ without actually changing anything storywise. But anyway, food for thought! I’m sure at the rate they’re going though; they’ll ever ultimately get there at the end anyway considering Archie’s been in highschool for the past 70 years. 😛
I was thinking lately about the state of the comic industry, and how people have been talking about how it ‘isn’t what it used to be’. In terms mostly of the early 90s or even the early 40s (the golden age of comics) and I was starting to consider and think why this is…
I’ve had some conversation with some of my peers, who feel similar to how I do in various aspects in regards to the business model of Marvel, DC and other publishers such as Image for example.
Although, it seems as if Marvel and DC have a big chunk of market share, the evolution of self published and independent publishers is becoming more frequent, unfortunately from what I seen anyway, far from revolutionary.
Marvel and DC seem to have this tendency of holding on to the same stories, and a more recent any irritating tendency or rebooting them. Before it happened once, but now it seems every 5 years they feel compelled to reboot their long running series such as Spider-man or in a recent case, DC’s ‘new’ 52 (it’s probably more than that now but anyway), to help induct additional readers.
Readers for the most part who really just buy these new issues mainly due to the fact that they’re curious to see how they will take a new approach, however, within about 4 or 5 issues drop the book anyway due to the fact it runs the same old formula.
What is that formula? Well, the formula which large amount of North American books follow and have followed since forever (though not all but the majority of them), super hero comics.
Now this doesn’t mean they’re all like that, or that superheroes are bad. They’re just a story genre/plot device which is far over used within the comic book industry. So much so, I’m sure many people think that comic books can’t be about anything else unless it’s about superheroes; otherwise it’s not a comic book. It’s a “graphic novel” or a “manga” or whatever they’d like to call it, to get away from that stigma.
However, that’s where we get people saying “Why not call it what it is,” well, mostly to get away from that label. But this is the key you see- for example, why is the manga industry never mentioned when commenting on the down turn of American comics? Some people say it’s a different market, not really in the target of companies like Marvel or DC. But DC did make CMX (which failed), in an effort to tap it- by publishing Japanese manga but why did it really fail?
In case most people didn’t know- manga has almost little to no “traditional” superheroes in the traditional sense of the word. A large amount of manga out there, is romance/drama which is a niche American comics doesn’t even touch or go into, not to the extent of manga. A lot of Japanese manga also is ‘slice of life’, like about student life for example, or even people who are working in a part time job setting, or people talking about whatever. Most main stream comics don’t touch that either, but a lot of manga dives deep into it.
Although manga gives a different flavor too compared to American comics, and although it had a different reason subsiding from the retail market (it hasn’t really gone away, it’s just went elsewhere), are different from American comics, it’s easy to see why so many people who read manga weren’t really into American comics in the first place. Not only also because of mature content/themes but ideas and genres that just weren’t touched by ‘traditional’ American comic standards.
Although, there are people who just like it only because it’s Japanese, a lot of people also enjoyed it because it was different/new. This has been shunned until fairly recently within the last 7 years or so, probably even more than that because fans of manga and other independent comics started to join the industry as well.
However Marvel and DC seem to still not be interested in appealing to this interest. Why? I’m not sure but considering the fact the totality of their existence is superheroes may have something to do with that. But not wanting to change or refusing to change often doesn’t bode well for any industry or company, and unfortunately either they give in, or end up disappearing themselves due to other trend setters which are also joining up within the industry.
I’m sure it seems as if I’m picking on Marvel and DC, but really when it comes to comics these guys are the gorillas in the room so to speak. And although they do have a giant part of the market share, nonetheless it’s shrinking. Will they do something different and new? Honestly, I don’t know, probably not. I’m sure there will always be fans of Spider-man and Superman out there, but I don’t think it will be nearly to the extent as it was in the past or the future where it warranted them to have several different series of the same character.
Unfortunately, due to their size, monopolizing themselves to only superhero comics isn’t really a privilege they can realistically use anymore, that’s why they’re losing so much money. Not due to bad storylines, but due to worn out concepts which they keep selling in new packages…