The UK Guardian’s written their own take on the increasing closures of comics specialty stores these days – Britain’s included – even as the movies continue to make big bucks at the box office. Not that they ask any challenging questions about the deeper issues, though:
But what of the medium in which the superhero originated – the comic book – and the purveyors of the hundreds of comics that are released every month? The high street is not as bulletproof as multiplexes, and comic shops are having a tough time of it.
Dozens of closures have been reported across the UK and US over the last few months – including, in January, the end of St Mark’s Comics, once one of New York’s most venerable institutions. (It even appeared in Sex and the City.) Last year, comics website Bleeding Cool documented how 50 comic shops had closed in the previous year, in both the US and UK. And since June 2018, at least 21 shops in the US and 11 in the UK – including shops in Nottingham, Ramsgate and Tooting – have closed, with others likely going unreported. […]
“There isn’t a huge profit in comics and graphic novels,” says Jared Myland of OK Comics in Leeds. “Nobody gets into comic retail to be a millionaire. We do it because we love comics. Unfortunately, closures are a more and more common topic on both sides of the pond. Most comic shops make enough to get by if they make cuts, but some retailers depend on the generosity of family and friends to help support the shop.”
I think, besides the plummeting quality of the majors, the fault lies in stocking pamphlets, already reaching 4-plus dollars in the US, instead of limiting themselves to paperbacks and hardcovers only. I do realize, the publishers are surely mandating the retailers must buy both monthly pamphlets and the graphic novel formats, but it’s still no excuse. Maybe the best solution for a retail specialist is to set up a typical bookstore and tell the publishers they’ll stock their wares on the store’s terms, not the publishers, if I can figure out the comic publishers’ thinking right. But that’s unlikely to happen.
But even those on the inside are worried about the future. Lisa Wood, an artist for the likes of Marvel and DC under the name Tula Lotay, is also a director of the Travelling Man comic shops, after first working in its Leeds branch in the 90s. She says being unable to return comics leads to less risk-taking on unknown names: “Marvel and DC stuff will always do wellbut for a retailer, when money is tight, taking a risk on new work by unknown creators can end up being very costly.”
Wood adds: “Superheroes have never been more in the public eye, but people don’t come out of the cinema after watching the latest Marvel movie and head to the comic shop. They’ll go online and buy graphic novels at prices the shops can’t compete with. I think that in the future, the industry will move away completely from monthly comics, and just produce graphic novels. But given that the monthly comic market is so important to the survival of physical retailers, it’s worrying.”
Well it’s good to see somebody believes what I think should be the industry’s future. Depending how one sees this though, I don’t think she should feel sorry for the monthly market, given how outmoded it’s become, and besides, if the industry can make the move to graphic novels only, so too can the retail market.
And I disagree Marvel/DC stuff will “always” do well. They certainly aren’t now, what with the shoddy way they’re written, drawn and edited, by SJWs with no respect for the original creators. So much of their stuff runs for maybe a year or so, then collapses.
If anybody really wants to heal a dying medium, both the artistic merit and the sales methods must be taken into account, and they’d also do well to consider the continued presence of men like Joe Quesada and Dan DiDio is part of the problem. Just because they’re no longer in the EIC’s chair doesn’t make them any less a bad influence to their companies they sadly came into power inside. That’s just what the Guardian’s not willing to bring up and ponder, and if not, no wonder the problems won’t be solved.