Thanks for taking the time to respond (twice!) to my questions; I've gained a lot from the discussion, and feel I understand the situation much better. I am glad that the digital initiatives have given non-traditional comics readers like me more choices and convenience, without disrupting the existing retail channel in the way many had feared. I look forward to reading your future columns as things develop.
Very interesting thread here, covering a lot of bases.
Digital readers are less engaged and feel like they're 'watching' rather than participating?
Huh. Interesting thought.
Comics readers are often collectors, really interested in the fetish item of the comic itself, and this differentiates itself from other media.
With the possible note of vinyl collectors who still look for old records. Yes, the collector gene is, I think, an interesting one but also something of a flawed, recidivist thing...with all due respect to my collector friends, as well as myself who spent years collecting shit over the years. I finally came to the conclusion...and it literally took years, to realize that the huge amassing of paper and related things that represented my comics collection was largely filled with items which I would never, probably, read again. I soon became a dealer and realized that...woah! Most of the stuff I had kept and saved was now eminently replaceable...and for much less money now than ever before (see eBay and any online sales venue). It turned me into a dealer for over seven years and turned me from a collector/hoarder to...gosh: a reader...which is what I was back in 1966 when my 'collecting' was simply the desire to READ THE STORIES!!. Collecting quickly became something of the evil, degenerative twin to my reader brain--which simply wanted entertainment.
Is the 'collector gene' enough to forestall the demise of the comics in print medium? Brian seems to think so.
Comics readers need to be trained to get into the perpetual soap opera that is much of the medium--superheroes with sixty years of back history, multiple revisions, rehashes, retcons, etc.
That's for sure--Hawkman, Aquaman...any major hero has gone through as many suits of clothes/costumes and changes through current cultural mores, editorial tyranny or publisher's fiat that they are fairly unrecognizable half the time. Now, here I am at nearly 60 years old and I've got the training and understanding of the genre, indubitably, so I can fairly easily navigate my way through the labyrinthine corridors of their mutlipe Ultimate/regular/DC52 universes...or Earth 1 and Earth 2, for god's sake.
Problem is--while I 'get' it--I'm kinda jaded and...I no longer care. Spider-Man and Batman, arguably my two favorite characters, hold little interest for me these days. I just...don't care, though each month I pick up their books with noble efforts. That being said, it ain't all crap--Miles Morales the 'new' Ultimate Spider-Man is very fun. An exception.
Point is-- if I can't get into it and I know what's going on...how will your average citizen figure it out? Big barrier.
ohgod I"m getting a headache now, just thinking this through. Bottom line might be...there will be digital comics in the future right there along with print comics, but the print comics (my prognostication) will shrink and shrink and be marginalized until...well, there won't be enough collectors to justify the print market for them. Goodbye comic shops except those who might specialize in old print comics like the vinyl record dealers. Fewer and fewer. God who knows!