Saturday, September 10, 2011

I know you're all just secretly dying to read comics.

When I read all the comments on digital comics, something becomes very clear to me. The majority of comic readers believe that the general public would read comics if:

Comics were cheaper.

Comics were more accessible.

Comics weren't juvenile.

Comics weren't in comic shops.

Comics were in newstands and bookstores and Walmart.

Comics were more like they used to be.

Comics got more with the times.

Comics were collectible.

Comics were educational.

Comics could get the right license: Twilight, Harry Potter, etc.

Comics dealt with adult subjects.

Comics were for kids.

Comics were made for women.

And the latest magic solution: Comics were digital.

And on and on and on.

I've got news for everyone. The general public doesn't read comics because they don't want to read comics. There is a flat out bias against comics -- an unreasoning dislike, or disinterest, or misunderstanding.


I think it's almost exactly analogous to Opera. If doesn't matter what Opera does -- most of the public won't listen.


The comic art form is fantastic. (As is, no doubt, Opera.) Many of the stories are adult and educational and directed toward women. Many shops have fantastic presentations. Comics are often offered at a discount. Comics have gotten megatons of publicity from the movies. You can get comics online right now, at zero or cheap prices. Everything the comics readers think OUGHT to be done, has been done at one time or another.

But the general public doesn't want to read comics.


We can win people over ONE at a TIME. There isn't going to be a sudden shift of interest just because they become available through the internet.

In fact, I've come to distrust the "Exposure" argument. It doesn't really ever seem to be effective. I'm assured that if we expose Downtown through special events, the public will come back later and spend money. We all thought all we needed was for movies and T.V. to expose comics. If sports cards are sold in the mass market, it will expose them to the general public and they'll come to the specialty market when they become collectors. And so on.

Almost always, it either doesn't work, or the opposite happens. Instead of gaining new customers from the general public, we lose our customers to the mass market/digital.

I know the corporate overlords don't care who buys comics from where, as long as they sell. But in the long run, they need a savvy mix of local shop support and some mass market presence that doesn't KILL the local support. They haven't ever managed to do that -- because I pretty sure they simply don't understand the importance of the local shops. A sale is a sale to them.

Until things stop selling.

Postscript: We have gotten one of those rare overall boosts to sales that happen every decade or so -- like a large wave, but which will recede slowly until we are back to our starting point. The DC titles will probably sell better for at least a year, which is nothing to sneeze at. But my main point that we gather true readers one by one, I think mostly stands.

No comments: