COMICS: The Future of Comics
A week ago I talked about losing my job and how it has impacted my comic book addiction, and Vee showed me this article from CBR, the author discussing what he wants from a comic store, and on a base level the industry.
Something that struck me about the article is that he talks about Comics as strictly a form of entertainment, and unfortunately that's how I think most people see it. I've talked about the negative aspects of collecting before, but it's also what keeps us weekly single issue buyers buying.
His dream comic store exists minus one aspect, the accessibility of the store, which is something I don't have a problem with, and I can't be alone. I'm very spoiled in this aspect, even my local library carries great trades, ranging from indies like Daybreak to all the major super hero titles. I have the opportunity to always be around comics in one way or another, and all of the shops in my area are thriving.
For me part of comics is getting into a friend's car, driving to a store that we hardly ever go to and looking for that one issue you haven't been able to find anywhere else. No one wants there to be a world where everything we read is on a screen, the printing world may be losing popularity but it isn't dying. It's "neat" to read on an e-reader but it's not comfortable, and it's not the same as carrying around a book or having a book shelf and seeing the landscape of spines. It's the same as records or even CDs, no matter how many times people have said that the end is near, people love a product, an in hand item they have and hold.
It seems like a lot of people see digital comics as a way of propelling Comics into the future, and while it may keep the media alive, who cares of the quality of the content decreases? Music is currently battling with digital taking over, the flood of new bands with easily downloadable songs from Myspace or itunes reflects their careers, you just can't stay in the game long when there are a thousand more behind you waiting to take your place that one week you don't produce a new song. Souljaboy Tell'em is a great example of this, that boy hasn't stopped working in years and is on top because of it, other rappers similar to him have just fallen apart because they haven't released something new each week.
The kinds of comics that won't be able to survive are books like X-Men, that rely on a comics readership that will stick with them through thick and thin, and are willing to remember years and years of information. Continuity in comics isn't always a positive thing, it becomes confusing and elitist, new readers are left in the dark when every character in a book seems to know someone you've never seen before. But continuity is what keeps us reading comics, we love seeing new artists and new writers take on our favorite characters.
One way most comic stores stay alive is by starting to carry non-comic items, such as role playing games, nerd board games like Utopia and cards. Most stores that have started to carry these items become more successful, but stop concentrating on comics, shrink the comics side of the store and usually become unorganized. It's not that they should stay comics only focused, but there is never a good balance, you only seem to be able to have one or the other.
The Top Two understand their position in the entertainment world, so the newly overpriced $3.99 comics are strategically chosen. The comics that are priced at $4 aren't each issue, or even books like The Might Avengers or The Amazing Spider-Man, they apply it to the event books like Secret Invasion and Final Crisis and oneshots. They hold out to use it on books that non-comics people will buy, the people who walk into a comics store and want to know where the newest and best Batman comic is.
We who have been reading comics for years feel threatened by the recent changes to our world, with huge blockbuster movies turning heads our way and bringing new interest. Comics, and all media, are changing and we aren't ready to change with it. We often forget that not all children want to read their comics online, and manga is proof of that, it is keeping some stores alive and while some comics dudes want to write it off completely, it's a whole new world for those of us who have seen everything.
My little sister, age eight, reads tons of comics ranging from Bone and Tintin to Princess Kalala and One Piece, and when I showed her some web comics she may be interested in she didn't care. She wanted to be outside while reading, and although that can be achieved with an e-reader, it's not the same for a kid.
We're all old and grumpy, we fear for our hobby (as dumb as it is to call it that), and forget comics are changing for us as adults, kids like my sister are still experiencing them and will continue to buy single issues of Sabrina the Teenage Witch because she can't wait for the collection.
More and more comics will be online, they will be available in ebook form and more comics will go straight to trade, but they won't replace single issue comics because that is what tells them what is popular and what people want. My little sister reads her comics in issue form because she understands what makes comics exciting is the week to week beauty of waiting, and she can always have three bucks for her fix. She understands this better than most adults and she reads Disney's Fairy Adventures.