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  1. #1
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    Default Tilting at Windmills - Apr 11, 2013

    Brian Hibbs returns from a brief hiatus and finds a lot to like about the comics industry -- thriving print sales, being inspired by the annual ComicsPRO meeting and more!


    Full article here.

  2. #2

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    Brian, I enjoy your perspectives. I'd like to share a personal anecdote, get your take on it, and ask a couple questions about the sustainability of this market.. First the anecdote. I'm an 'old' print guy. Been reading and buying comics most of my life (I'm 48).. I've gone from discovering them in the barber shop, to buying them at the grocery and drug store racks... and then in college in the 80's and beyond with the proliferation of the comic stores and the direct market. Now, as an experiment I switched to digital after the first of the year when I purchased an iPad.. Certain things I'm still getting in print.. Stories I love often get repurchased collected. But honestly, once I started downloading digital the question became what's 'print worthy' and what isn't? In other words, what am I reading merely for the serialized entertainment and what stories am I going to value down the road and revisit? And the answer to the latter was surprisingly "not much." Once I arrived at that.. the next question was: OK, what's worth spending $4 (soon to be $5?) on? This is essentially the same price as renting a movie on iTunes. A comic book does not have the overhead of a movie.. printed or not. And all I'm getting is a glorified pdf on my iPad that I can't view without someone else's app? And that started to get me now to dropping titles altogether.. It has not talked me back into the store. So, If I'm asking this question, I can only imagine what younger people with less of an emotional attachment to the printed copies or the comic experience are thinking.. I guess what I'm asking here is when you get 'new readers' are you getting more new adults? Or old comic buyers returning? Or the same client base upping their ante?

    My concern these days with comics is, based on my own personal anecdote above, I'm amazed by the sales growth. I half expected my experience was going to be the norm. It's definitely bucking a trend with the rest of print media. How does growth continue in the print market when price is rapidly outpacing the 'buying power of any new/young readers coming into the pipeline? The affordability versus other forms of media? And I hear hints that prices are creeping up over at DC.. If so, when's the breaking point? How long can this be sustained? You might get us dinosaurs with plenty of disposable cash to spend $5 on a comic book.. But how many 'new readers' under the age of 15 with no disposable cash are ever going to get into comics at this price point? It's kind of crazy when you think about it. When I was 12, a comic was .50 -.75 cents A 100 page annual was a buck. I could afford to buy a half dozen comics for $3. A half dozen comics now could run you $24. How many 10 year olds have $100 a month to spend on comic books? Even accounting for inflation, the price ratio seems extreme. $3 dollars in 1977 is not the equivalent of $24 today.


    Thanks for your thoughts and your column!
    'It's all fun and games until the flying monkeys attack."

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyrocket View Post
    I guess what I'm asking here is when you get 'new readers' are you getting more new adults? Or old comic buyers returning? Or the same client base upping their ante?
    New Adults. Lots (and lots!) of new KIDS. The "old readers returning" happened a lot around the launch of the New52, and *some* of those stuck around as we showed them the range of comics available (ie: not just DC) -- but, yes, mostly NEW adults. Some days as much as 3/4rds of my daily sales are from "not regulars".

    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyrocket View Post
    When I was 12, a comic was .50 -.75 cents A 100 page annual was a buck. I could afford to buy a half dozen comics for $3. A half dozen comics now could run you $24. How many 10 year olds have $100 a month to spend on comic books? Even accounting for inflation, the price ratio seems extreme. $3 dollars in 1977 is not the equivalent of $24 today.
    Well, kids really aren't reading Marvel / DC superheroes, anyway -- they're buying Simpsons, and Adventure Time and Spongebob Squarepants and Sonic and Mega Man, and (still!) Bone and Asterix and Tintin and Amulet and and and and.... but, either way, they don't have $100/month habits. They might be buying 1-2 comics a week... just like *I* did as a kid.

    Y'know, a typical kid "picture book" is 32-48 pages, not half as dense as a comic, and $15 in hardcover only, so a lot of parents really do see comics as a comparative bargain.

    But also, when I saw a movie in 1977, I believe that I paid $2.50; taking my son to a film last week I paid $13.50 for his ticket... so comics don't seem so wildly out of whack to me?

    -B

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyrocket View Post
    Even accounting for inflation, the price ratio seems extreme. $3 dollars in 1977 is not the equivalent of $24 today.
    Or how about this one: this is a page of old concert tickets... scroll down and you can see a Rolling Stones show for $9.50 in 1975. The new Stones show here in SF has the cheapest seats at a staggering $170 -- with the expensive ones at $750!!

  5. #5

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    Thanks, I appreciate your responses and your perspective! Good to know the enthusiasm for the medium goes on and that (as I think you hoped in another column) everything i.e. print, movies, digital, is all good for the market in general. I can't say enough about how comics contributed to my childhood. I know they played an important role in my reading and comprehension early on... not to mention my sense of imagination. Even if they're not reading Spiderman, FF, and Superman like I was, I'm glad kids today have access to the same experience.
    'It's all fun and games until the flying monkeys attack."

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