How Marvel and DC Can Make the Comics Market Healthier

A friend of the blog Jon del Arroz has published a post at Castalia House that talks about comics that you should read:

GUEST POST: How Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Frank Miller Ruined Comics by Jon Del Arroz

I want to cover the business side, which is much more influential on the art than anybody realizes. So I made list of ideas that would help set the general market in the right direction.

  • Subsidize the creation of new comic shops

The reality is that there aren’t enough comics shops. According to a report released by Diamond, there’s about 2,638  Diamond accounts (click here). However, not every Diamond account is a comic book shop ordering comics, so the number of comic shops is assuredly much less than that. For comparison, according to Publisher’s Weekly, in 2013 the number of book  stores in the U.S was 12,703 (click here). Subsidizing the creation of new comic shops would allow more people to see comics and buy them. Perhaps they could even pay Brian Hibbs a large sum of cash to help them.

  • Stagger the releases of new comics

Single issue comics don’t have to come out every month. They can come out  every 6 months, every 4 months, or even every three months. Having a comic come out every month is just too much stress for the pencillers and everybody else on the art team. Less stress means less burnout and a higher chance for higher quality cartooning and story.

Remember what John Workman said:

Editors en masse have failed to ever learn that most people are incapable of turning out, on a monthly schedule, the 22-24 pages of what passes for a comic book

It also has the benefit of lightening the load on the reader’s wallets, which is extremely important benefit that shouldn’t be ignored.

  • Make the single issues dense with story

One of the reasons why Watchmen continues to sell like cocaine covered chocolate is that it’s a really dense story at a good price. If you’re going to copy Watchmen, copy the good parts, not the bad parts.

  • Cut down the number of comics you publish

The reality is that everyone is publishing too many comics. Marvel and DC are especially guilty of this, and have the most effect on the market because of their size.  Marvel is publishing roughly 104 comics and DC is publishing 82 comics in February 2017 (click here). Marvel and DC should cut down the number of comics ongoing at any given point to something between 40-50. This will increase quality and allows stories to be discovered that would otherwise be drowned in the flood of comics coming out.

  • Cut down the number of superhero comics you publish

Here’s a little secret most people don’t know: In comics, superheroes have never really been that popular. No really, they haven’t. The number of superheroes that the average person cares about can be counted on one hand. The reason why the superhero genre dominates comic books is because through the 60s and 70s, readers started to leave all the other genres until superheroes were basically the last man standing. So cut them down, you really don’t need that many.

  • Publish more non superhero comics

Do you remember when the Big Two published more than superhero comics? I remember. Publish more westerns, romances, spy stories, crime stories etc. That’s what we need more of.

There are other ideas, but this would be a very excellent start to making a healthier market.