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#1226728 - Tue Sep 11 2018 07:16 AM A really interesting look at comic book sales from the 1960's through the 1980's
Wonder Boy
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http://zak-site.com/Great-American-Novel/comic_sales.html



This is a great overview of the market, over the last 60 years.

I think we've all known a long time that Marvel began to surpass DC sales in the late 1960's/early 1970's, at the point when Marvel stopped using DC's distributor so they could expand their line, circa 1968 (using DC's distributor, the condition was Marvel could only have 8 titles a month, which explains why so many characters were crammed into STRANGE TALES, TALES TO ASTONISH and TALES OF SUSPENSE. And then all these characters got their own books in 1968, when Marvel got its own distributer again for the first time in 15 years since the comic-market implosion of the pre-Code era of 1955-1956. )


I always thought the main factor in DC surpassing Marvel in 1971-1972 was that DC began 52 page books for 25 cents, while Marvel still had books priced at 15 and 20 cents, and fans in any era don't go for more pages of story, they go for whatever comics are cheaper.
But it was more than that.
Marvel began surpassing DC as early as 1966. And the factor seems to be the sheer dynamic quality and consistency of the Marvel line, building momentum and readership over a decade.

Over the last 40 years, there are many other factors in the industry's decline, but key to the decline of the market is the growing unaffordability of comics to younger readers (and increasingly, to even older readers!)

I used to think over the last 25 years, in which close to 100% of my comics spending has been on reprint collections and back issues, that I was spending more.
But increasingly, I've realized I generally spend a lot less, and enjoy them a hell of a lot more.

The part in the article about increasingly expensive issues, reader-exploiting crossover stories, and other gimmicks like polybagged books, foil covers and trading cards, is absolutely spot on. And traces back to precisely when I was repulsed and largely stopped buying new comics altogether. There's nothing I've passed up buying over the last 30 years that I couldn't buy, if I wanted to, at a fraction of the price, a few years later.

And the advantage of buying back issues, beyond lower price, is I can buy and read the complete series at one time instead of waiting for stuff that often is not published consistently and on time. Frank Miller's RONIN, Barr and Bolland's CAMELOT 3000, and Moore/Gibbons WATCHMEN come to mind. All of these I stopped buying, and got all the back issues at cover price or less a year or two after the fact.


The part about the various changes in comics marketing in the 1990's, 2000-2006 period, and the changing eras of the market on up to the present was really enlightening. There is an intelligence and savvy to the changes in the market by the major publishers, but seeing the factors determining the market changes, the market exploitation of comic-based movies and collected trade editions, and that continuity considerations now extend (at most) back only 5 years, all further convince me that the post-1987 industry has no soul, and satisfying its readership with enduring quality material is not even a consideration.

And that I made the right decision walking away from it.



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#1226729 - Tue Sep 11 2018 07:47 AM Re: A really interesting look at comic book sales from the 1960's through the 1980's [Re: Wonder Boy]
Wonder Boy
Online   content brutally Kamphausened

Registered: Wed Sep 12 2001
Posts: 18017
Loc: A glorious bold new America
 Quote:


2014: the most profitable month ever (what? did I read that right?)


The top selling comics today sell one tenth of what they used to sell. There are 30,000 towns in America, and one sale per town puts a comic near the top ten sellers. The worst selling comics are often below ten thousand issues. So the publishers must be bankrupt, right? No: they have ten times as many titles, and charge three or four times as much per issue (after adjusting for inflation). In August the Christian Science Monitor reported "July 2014 is the most profitable month ever in comic book history, and comics are only getting bigger." And of course the movies and merchandising bring in many, many times that revenue. Stan Lee worked out of a single office, but now Marvel has a big flashy global headquarters. The future looks even brighter: the movies are raising awareness of superheroes, and the industry is slowly learning how to sell via the Internet, which solves the distribution problem, always the biggest problem in comics. Comic sales are so small that it would not be difficult to double them and double them again if they get it right.


The bottom line is that the comics industry is mature, and so it knows how to make money.


So why am I such a pessimist? Because these are "just comics." All the fans tell me that. They are "just comics" and should not be taken too seriously. They are not on the same level as real literature. They contradict themselves, they expect readers to lose interest in a few years, they are short term fun, with a bit of sex and violence mixed in, or else they pander to nostalgia. They are small stories with small ambition. These are not the comics that inspired me and millions like me in the 1960s to 1980s. For a brief period in the 1960s some people dared to believe that superhero comics could be real literature, to the highest standards. Those days have gone. The dream is dead, at least in the superhero genre. At least in my opinion.



And there it is, in a nutshell.

Stuff like "Marvel Monsters" four pre-Marvel styled single issues and collected hardcover, or the 12 issue Giffen/Larsen FANTASTIC FOUR: THE WORLD'S GREATEST COMIC MAGAZINE tribute, or the Didio/Giffen 8-issue OMAC series (2011), or the current KAMANDI CHALLENGE, all exploit an existing fanbase that reverently look back to an era when comics were good, and give the faintest nostalgic taste of when comics were good, but are at best hollow exploitations of those fans, that make no attempt or pretense to match or surpass those great comics from 30 or 40-plus years ago.




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#1226730 - Tue Sep 11 2018 07:49 AM Re: A really interesting look at comic book sales from the 1960's through the 1980's [Re: Wonder Boy]
Wonder Boy
Online   content brutally Kamphausened

Registered: Wed Sep 12 2001
Posts: 18017
Loc: A glorious bold new America



 Quote:


The cost of being a Marvel Zombie

Once upon a time a large proportion of fans would be "Marvel Zombies", buying the complete line of comics. This is what it cost each month:
• Until 1968: 96c (Marvel's most successful period: around 8 titles at 12c each). Adjusted for inflation: $5.95
• 1969: $1.80 (after the Marvel Explosion)
• 1986: $24 (just before Shooter left)
• 1993: $150 (when the bubble burst)
• 2010: $250 (today: an estimate based on 72 titles, a mix of 2.99 and 3.99 each).

The number of Marvel Zombies is now almost zero



Also spot on.

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