Why exactly are Marvel and DC Comics doing their status quo changes every few years? New 52, Rebirth, NOW! and Legacy to name a few. The answer is quite simple and right in front of everyone. Many comic shops and fans may not want to admit what is happening, so I’ll say it. Well, let me first start with my disclaimer; this is an opinion. This article is written in a pure non-factual manner with absolutely no bias towards either of the big 2 companies. An opinion, like you have.
What many comic collectors have witnessed over the past few years with the ‘big 2’ are major changes within their character structure, their universes, and origins. While many fanboys do not understand why this is happening, I do. The fanboy or the tunnel vision collector or some comic shop all fail to remember is that comic companies, especially the two big ones are in business to make money. Nothing wrong with this. The reason for the big changes all derives from their profit margin sheets. They see sales waning, so they put a ‘fix’ in. This is the normal practice of any business. Regardless of how you particularly feel about Spider-Man or Batman, money is more important to Marvel and DC. They truly do not care how you feel about your favorite comic book character, they’re looking to jolt their business, get in the black once again. So, when the fanboys whine, the big two don’t hear a thing. They never had and they never will. They’re looking to maximize dollars, stir the pot, get new readers, etc. They are allowed to, it’s their business.
We see comic shops closing on a regular basis all around in different areas, we see sales are down, we witness it all like everyone has. Then the ease from other comic shop owners to boast about how great they are doing at their shop and how dumb other store owners are for not ‘having a pulse on things’ or over ordering or whatever feeble excuse they can come up with to make themselves feel bigger and better, instead of picking up a person that is down. Here’s a newsflash for those who brag and those who think they have it ‘right’, comics are becoming a very niche market. Kids do not dominate the sales (which is a very bad thing), heck ‘most’ kids don’t even care that much about comics. It’s honesty, don’t get your panties in a bunch. Children are not going to ‘come around’ and buy comics. Some may, most won’t. Why you ask? Well, do you have children? There are simply too many distractions for them. Here are the biggest culprits; mobile phones (games/Youtube/chat), PC (games/Youtube/chat), Video games (PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, etc). Those are the strongest assets driving kids AWAY from reading a comic or a book for that matter.
Newsflash again, times are changing. Times HAVE changed. Comic books are becoming a cornered market for a dying niche group. Not saying comics are going away anytime soon, but the landscape for comic books are completely different than they were 30, 40, 50, 60 years ago. This is where the fanboy or that boasting comic store owner does not understand the concept that it wasn’t because of ‘over ordering’ or ‘not having a pulse’ or anything to this nature that made that store close down, it’s simply a matter of the market correcting itself to have the right number of stores for the right amount of collectors. If anyone thinks that 18-year-old card collector will continue to play with Pokemon cards for the duration of their lives is a lifer, you need to check yourself. It won’t happen. So the next question is, well, why not just teach the younger crowd to play cards or collect comics like WE do? Well, some of that may work, most of it won’t. Distractions, remember? Like it or not, technology will and is winning. Heck, it already has won. Fewer stores, fewer sales, more discount sales happening all the time. I know many are reading this in a fit of nerd fanboy rage and disagreeing, which is fine, but come up with a more plausible cause for ALL of the stores and the industry, in general, hurting the way it is. Simple, the comic market is not as big as it once was, accept this. Oh wait, now the store owners will cry out ‘The Indies! The Indies are taking over!’.
I know many are reading this in a fit of nerd fanboy rage and disagreeing, which is fine, but come up with a more plausible cause for ALL of the stores and the industry, in general, hurting the way it is. Simple, the comic market is not as big as it once was, accept this. Oh wait, now the store owners will cry out ‘The Indies! The Indies are taking over!’. No they’re not, relax. Been hearing that since 1992. Yes they do have a market share, not enough to overthrow the big 2, so chill with that. The big 2 run the show, everyone still follows. The indies release their Saga’s and Walking Dead’s while Superman and Spider-Man are Superman and Spider-Man. The indies have more freedom to do certain stories that catch with fans (that niche crowd) and they do well, but this crowd will always want their Batman story. Again, no panties in a bunch, just an opinion here. The room is big enough for all companies to do their thing, but let’s not kid ourselves here, that indie writer, artist, colorist, inker, editor would jump at the first chance to work for Marvel or DC. Why is that? Aren’t the indie’s taking over?!
With the landscape ever changing as it has, DC and Marvel have tried desperately to change with it. Let’s remember, they are in the superhero business, not the Rat Queens, Henchgirl, Saga, Strain business. Although they are completely capable of doing comics like that, they don’t. Which they will eventually (complete confident speculation here). Yes, that’s right, eventually, Marvel and DC will go the off beaten path of releasing non-superhero type comics MORE SO than they will superhero comics. They’re in business to make money remember? And the superhero genre will take a back seat to more realistic, ‘indie’ type stories. Yes they see the indie companies in the rearview, not worried so much they’ll take over as much as it is that they will eventually dominate the independent story making vibe. The superhero movies will run their course and this is driving some (most) of the interest for the big 2 right now. What will be next for them? Yes the offbeat sci-fi story or that asylum story or that southern country story, you get the idea. They will once again run the table as they are still doing right now. Why do you think the Power Pack movie news came out?? (InvestComics did, in fact, predict this would happen too. Take a look at the excerpt we posted on our Facebook page more than two years ago regarding Power Pack #1). Power Pack is the beginning of something different from Marvel (Disney). Yes, they are superheroes, but they are kids as superheroes. A new era is creeping upon us, be ready for it folks. Hate all you want, but the big 2 have the most toys, they run stuff. Say how you will ‘protest’ once again because Peter and Mary aren’t married anymore or Captain America is Hydra. Protest DC for their massive changes in house regarding their universe for the umpteenth time, Marvel for doing the same……like this week….again with Marvel Legacy. But you’ll be back, you’ll read and you’ll secretly like it. You can’t show your fanboy friend (who secretly likes the changes too) that you like the new Marvel Legacy idea, no way. Nope. Not happening. But it is happening because numbers won’t lie, Marvel will take the lion share sales for the month(s) of September and October, so someone is buying this stuff, someone is reading it. Why not just fess up that you will, in fact, buy the new Marvel Legacy comics? It’s okay, you’re entitled to like them. It’s your money, your mind and your time. Be yourself.
If one can remember that comic companies are just like any other business out there, you’ll have a better grasp on the desperation they go through when sales are consistently lagging. The thing is, sales are not really lagging, the audience is the issue. The demo is the same, but the audience is shrinking. Just because the audience is shrinking doesn’t mean to hit the panic button. It means it’s time to adjust. Keep things the same, adjust. Why is it so hard to grasp this concept? Yes, bring Peter and MJ back together to create a buzz, but why overexert the idea by forcing store owners too but 500 copies of an issue to get ONE special variant? It’s absurd. This is related to the poor marketing decisions on Marvel’s part. Many store owners had to opt out of the new Marvel Legacy ‘buy-in’ in order to get special variants because they simply cannot move the amount of books they need to order to get that one special one. Marvel needs to get with it in this department. The audience is not that big anymore. The demand is not exceeding the supply, Marvel needs to get their stuff together on this. Some store owners roll the dice and are probably going to be on the losing side of the equation. Doesn’t make them ‘dumb’ or ‘no pulse’ or ‘out of touch’, it’s making them desperate to make something work. Maybe, just maybe this time it’ll work, is their line of thinking. Being in a dire situation when business is not popping like it was 8 years ago and rent is due, yes desperation comes into play.
The correction is happening because of the changing market. Many stores will fade away and some will stay. It will not be the same though. Orders will be way down as pull boxes will be few and far between. Change with the ever-changing market or you’ll be left thinking it’s all Marvel and DC’s fault.
Jay Katz, a comic book collector since 1983, is the owner/creator of InvestComics LLC since 2005. InvestComics LLC was originally a magazine before the website launched in 2005.
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