Makeshift Musings and Comic Book Bliss: Hollywood and Free Comics To The Rescue
Hollywood and Free Comics To The Rescue
In the sky, it’s a bird... it’s a plane!
No, it’s just Hollywood obsessing over another trend, mashing it into the ground with well intentioned overexposure all for the sake of the almighty dollar.In the sky, it’s a bird... it’s a plane!
No, it’s just Hollywood obsessing over another trend, mashing it into the ground with well intentioned overexposure all for the sake of the almighty dollar.
Did that sound bitter? If so, I apologize. This isn’t just another “big corporations suck and I’m bitter because I’m not a part of it and rich” type rant.
I’m going to shake the comic industry tree here: Hollywood is not here to save comics. Blockbuster comic-based movies have not and will not convert into a healthy audience that’s rabidly looking for comic book stories. It’s the exact opposite: Comic book fans (and many ex-comic book fans) are flocking to the theatres to see the movies based on their childhood superheroes. The tickets sell, the toys sell, but the comics themselves don’t seem to gain much ground.
There’s at least one thing that can bring it back to center: good pricing.
I look at Free Comic Book Day (which is oriented around comic movie release dates) and it seems like it could work. Free comics get people into the store and they see the amazing variety of comic material. They may be tempted to buy and get hooked on the medium. That is, until they look at the price of non-free comics...
$2.25, $2.95, $3.50 or more for an issue you can read in 10-15 minutes. Holy crap!
This isn’t a knock against the organizers of Free Comic Day. I think that the idea has serious merit and is the best new promotional idea I’ve seen from the industry in a long time. But the product has to be available at a reasonable price every month, not just free for one day and ludicrously high the rest of the time. It’s great that you can get a special issue for 13 cents, 10 cents, 9 cents or whatever... but that doesn’t change the month to month standard.
It’s not that people don’t want to read comics. It’s far simpler. They don’t want to pay out the nose for them.
Web comic sites are gaining ground because they’re at a continuously reasonable price. Keenspot is free and Modern Tales is just a few bucks for all their material every month. It’s a good price with maximum accessibility.
It’s the same mentality that’s caused the manga market to flourish here and in Japan: A decent amount of material for a reasonable price. Viz’s amazing product Shonen Jump is doing it here and now, growing in a market that no one thought would accept it. You dig in for the long haul and you take the financial hit until the audience grows because of the value you present. Raising the prices won’t bring more people on board.
Manga and web comics are cheap, regular and experimenting with all kinds of genres and styles to grab a new audience. The big print publishers are flopping around with the same old ideas and formats, overpriced and out of touch. It’s harsh but true.
If the comic industry can pull its head out of its butt and realize that price problems are one of the anchors holding things back, then things can improve. If not, then minor market fluctuations aside, it’s a print industry hemorrhaging and in need of some serious euthanasia.
Take my advice: Free sometimes is great. Well priced all the time is better.