Friday, November 30, 2007

To continue: if an industry has any vitality, innovations will come along on a regular, if unpredictable, basis.

Comics have had several cycles, the black and white boom in the mid-80's, the surge in the mid-90's that resulted in companies like Image and Dark Horse, the development of the graphic novel, and the rise of the independent comics.

I worried in the mid-90's that comics would go the route of sports cards, but the industry changed focus, took the moral high ground, emphasized story and art over collectability and rebounded.

There is always a danger of incestuous innovations; changing just enough to attract the same customers over and over again, but not really creating anything new.

I believe the sports card industry has consistently taken the low road, the short term profit. I don't know if they have no brains, or imagination, or ethics, but just about every decision they've made has been wrong.

Comics are always in danger of going that route -- short term boosts by creating huge mega-crossovers, killing off characters, etc. But I'm hoping there are enough true believers, that the culture changed enough, that we can keep going forward.

The game industry has also had a fair number of innovations. There was a long dry spell after RPG's were created, and as the mass market pretty much took over the selling of old standards like Monopoly and Risk.

But, starting about 12 years ago, there has been one innovation after another, (miniature games, ccg's, Euro-boardgames, etc.) which accelerated in the late 90's. But over the last two years or so, it's turned pretty incestuous, and there is a major downturn happening.

Comics are in a state of flux. Will they go big time into the mass market? Will the internet downloading have a major effect? Will the monthly comics continue to be subverted by the collected graphic novels? Will the mass media continue to find fertile ground in comics and will that affect comic sales?

Only thing I know for sure; innovations are ahead, some of which will help, some of which will hurt.

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