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Why do we buy comics?

Hey all,

I was listening to an interview - actually a discussion - my friend and I recorded in November and posted to our site about our online comics and comics in general. My best friend mentioned something about having a comic that people want to buy. Suddenly that statement struck a cord with me. I then asked myself "What makes people want to buy comics?"

Why do we buy the comics we do? Is it the art, the writing, the craftsmanship, the craft or the company. Is it any of that or is it advertising and we do what popular culture tells us to do, such as, buy this comic, look this way, eat this stuff.

I see alot of comics that really are subpar in art, writing and craft marketed very well and the press and fans eat it up. Alot of stuff from Mike Turner - great guy, very nice - and Top Cow in general fits into this catagory, but it is marketed very well and everyone loves it. I also see superb work, Astronauts in Trouble and Steampunk to be exact, that is great, but under a small company with little advertising and no one ever hears of it.

Of course there are great comics out there that do get thier due with little marketing and terrible comics that flop even though the marketing was good no matter the company they are with.

Bottom line is this, in an industry that seems to be growing beyond control, but making no real profit to speak of, how do we as small creators make our buck. Why do we buy what we buy? If we understand this as creators, and as the fans start understanding this too, there may be enough of the pie to go around and increase the quality at the same time.

Why do we buy comics?

Hey all,

I was listening to an interview - actually a discussion - my friend and I recorded in November and posted to our site about our online comics and comics in general. My best friend mentioned something about having a comic that people want to buy. Suddenly that statement struck a cord with me. I then asked myself "What makes people want to buy comics?"

Why do we buy the comics we do? Is it the art, the writing, the craftsmanship, the craft or the company. Is it any of that or is it advertising and we do what popular culture tells us to do, such as, buy this comic, look this way, eat this stuff.

I see alot of comics that really are subpar in art, writing and craft marketed very well and the press and fans eat it up. Alot of stuff from Mike Turner - great guy, very nice - and Top Cow in general fits into this catagory, but it is marketed very well and everyone loves it. I also see superb work, Astronauts in Trouble and Steampunk to be exact, that is great, but under a small company with little advertising and no one ever hears of it.

Of course there are great comics out there that do get thier due with little marketing and terrible comics that flop even though the marketing was good no matter the company they are with.

Bottom line is this, in an industry that seems to be growing beyond control, but making no real profit to speak of, how do we as small creators make our buck. Why do we buy what we buy? If we understand this as creators, and as the fans start understanding this too, there may be enough of the pie to go around and increase the quality at the same time.

I don't buy comics anymore. $3.00 for 24 pages of crap?

I was thinking of buying DKK's Same Difference book, but it sold out in my hometown.

Well, here things are not THAT expensive (1.70€, which is more or less 2:10$), you get no ads in between pages, and the paper quality is quite higher. Besides, not everything is crap in the land of the big american companies. Have you read Powers, or Alias, for example? Or most of Garth Enis' works, Alan Moore, Or Mignola's Hellboy, even the deceased Young Justice (Which Peter David transformed from a predecible marketing piece into pure, intelligently-written fun). And that's only looking (more or less) at the superhero market...

I myself look for a good balance between writing and art. Most superhero fans go for the later, while most creators go for the former. I myself see comics as visual storytelling, so a good piece of both must be there in order to please myself.

I think the trick is to have a small circle of comic-lending friends, in which you can collect your preferred niche, but read your friends' tastes, too

Uncle Ghastly's picture

People still buy comics? I stopped buying comics back in the 80s when thanks to all the mega-delux-super-holoraphic-foil-stamped doo-dads pushed the cost of a comic book up past the cost of a paperback novel.

I buy Shonen Jump though for my son and I've got to admit it's a bargain. 300 pages of comics for $7.50 Canadian. That's a deal. Perhaps if western comics were being sold like that I'd be buying them again too.

I agree on that front.

Surlyben's picture

I buy comics for the same reason I buy books. It gives me something to read and fills up my bookshelves. And I like looking at the illustrations. If the art looks good or interesting, I am way more likely to buy a book without knowing anything else about it. If the writing is dissappointing, or the comic fails to engage, at least I can look at the drawing, and maybe learn something from it too.

I never buy the pamphlets because I like to sit down and read a whole story at a time. Also, they are too flimsy to keep on a bookshelf, or loan out to someone, if I want to get 'em hooked on a particular comic.

There is a certain amount of connoisseurship that goes on as well. I like knowing about the important books that are being produced, and why they are important, and I like talking about them with friends, and I really like being able to show someone something they might like that they haven't heard of. (I have friends who are into military history that are now also into Donna Barr's work... very cool...) My taste runs to indie and art comics (as well as minis) but I imagine that connoisseurship is a factor for any comics interest. I'm sure that people into superhero comics get a real kick out of discovering a really good superhero comic, as well as being able to talk about why it's so good.

Um... Another factor for me is the type of store I buy comics in. I've gotten to the point where I hate going into traditional comic book shops. Here in Seattle, the closest comic store to my house (the downtown Xanadu) caries a lot of indie stuff, and is really quite good if you want something obscure, but man... Go in there at 5 in the afternoon and it's a bunch of guys in trenchcoats furtively peeking at the comics. I don't like to feel like I'm buying pornography.

Most of my comics purchases these days are from bookstores and zine shops (Confounded Books, here in Seattle is close to where I live, and carries a good selection of the kind of thing I like, if maybe a little too heavy on the middle-class white guy autobio genre... Bailey Coy is also good.) The danger with bookstores is they don't always take very good care of the comics. (Barnes and Noble seems to be a big offender here). The nice part is no Simpsons style comics guy looking over your shoulder..

-
Ben Bittner

[quote:c6d1e329a3="mickasso"]Really? Do most webcomic readers not buy comics?

I go to the comic store every week and throw down an average of $20 a pop. You really can't get that quality of entertainment in webcomics yet.
You mean $20 for a half dozen 24 page books filled with two page "Splash pages" of Wolverine jumping at you with his claws out...?

Why that IS a better deal than the forty or so FREE webcomics of quality that are sitting in my bookmarks folder!

I've been so foolish.

But it's true, there are a number of webcartoonists who still darken the doorways of those rapidly vanishing comic shops.

Some of theme even still COLLECT comics. Mostly out of bad habit. But partially because they cant figure out that the gig is up and the big two are running on fumes.

Really? Do most webcomic readers not buy comics?

I go to the comic store every week and throw down an average of $20 a pop. You really can't get that quality of entertainment in webcomics yet.

There's a lot of generalizing going on here. There are some great print comics, and some shit webcomics -- and vice versa.

For me, the cool part about buying a comic is reading the first page right after you walk out of the comic store, then promising myself I wouldn't read the rest until later, only to break that promise at my next free moment.

-Justin

Re: Why do we buy comics?

[quote:24c85ebc61="Thomas"] Is it the art, the writing, the craftsmanship, the craft or the company.

I don't really buy comics anymore but when i did all of the above played a factor. I was a big image fan mainly because it was from Image. Still i was a fan of the art and story of the books they make (still am).

I've said this before. But IMHO it comes down to giving the reader something they feel is worth reading. I've read some pretty sketchy stuff and watched even worse. Due to whatever reason something was there that got and kept my attention. The niche, story and art can all play a facter but it still comes down to. Well is there something there that truly speaks to the reader.

Just my thoughts Later!

Webcomics consistently regurgitate the same stuff over and over and over. The problem is, they continue to do this with people who read webcomics insisting that they are better than print comics. They get closed off and GOD KNOWS everyone who reads webcomics also makes them. This further escalates the problem. The same concepts and same genres are cannibalized over and over and over since outside influence is at a minimum. The quality of most webcomics reminds me of a flushing toilet and we're currently in the middle of the bubble gargle at the end.

As long as the print industry doesn't open up more to the ingenuity that CAN be shown at times in webcomic and as long as webcomics veer away from the sheer QUALITY and professionalism (I.E. Sorry for the late update, I was sick/depressed/going to a con) of the print industry, the whole scene will suffer.

That reminds me of a statment made in the column I Hate You All By Dalton Wemble. Not to be rude or in the attempt to offened anyone. But there is both some great art in print and webcomics. But in the same breath there is still a lot of (how can i say this) less then that in the web world.

I may not read comics any more but i do still think they can teach a great many things. Where as the same can be said for a print comic reading a webcomic.

I buy comics every once in awhile. Our local comic store sucks, so I shop either at a used book store that also carries new alternative stuff, or at Borders. I lean either towards new alternative comics, or collections of classic stuff. (I'm more forgiving about writing quality when the art is by guys like Jack Kirby or Alex Toth.)

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[quote:f21bad704c="BigEvil"]As long as the print industry doesn't open up more to the ingenuity that CAN be shown at times in webcomic and as long as webcomics veer away from the sheer QUALITY and professionalism (I.E. Sorry for the late update, I was sick/depressed/going to a con) of the print industry, the whole scene will suffer.

Actually, print comics have an almost worse track record on tardiness than webcomics. Image did a lot of damage to the comic shop market in the 90's by tying up retailers' cash in preorders for comics that shipped months late and arrived after the hype for them started to die down.

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And Image ended up fracturing into several smaller studios. I actually gave up buying anything associated with Todd MacFarlane when I saw an ad for Spawn that said "Almost monthly!". He actually took pride in tying up funds which could have been used to buy books of much smaller independant studios with much more reliable track records.

blinky's picture

I don't buy the single issues, I just wait till the GN comes out, then pick it up. That way, I can get a larger chunk of story, and a format that holds up better after multiple readings. :)

<a href="http://www.nekkoandjoruba.com"><img src="http://home.comcast.net/~yocchi/njmar07.gif"></a>

That largely pertains to Marvel prints. Marvel comics aren't well known for having high quality prints. I have about a zillion Ghost Riders in a box someplace withworn thumb prints on the side and the back along with a cover hanging precariously off of one staple. I'm talkin' Mark Texiera run here...now THAT guy can draw a badass skull.

Well, comics are different then web comics, web comics are good and free and update more. But mostly paper comics you can feel and most of them come out monthly, most times just th feela dn the touch of a comic is different then looking ata screen getting 2 feet closer to being blind, LOL

But last few years comic compaines been lacking off and givin off poor quality, kinda sad. But not all anyway some have more popular have as well. I buy some comics montly i spend a few bucks but the comics i get are all not main stream lol they annoy me, most series i think should have ended long ao but they keep going and going which limits what you can do and does not expand, when story told it should be dropped and left alone and get another storya dn keep moving forward, but they don;t do thata nd keep forcing the same comics on people becuase that is all they have. LOL oh well my quarter enjoy ;)