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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nobody Seems to Be Buying Comic Books Anymore

Posted by on Wed, Oct 20, 2010 at 3:28 PM

Robot 6 says that comic book sales have "fall[en] off a cliff:"

The retailer-oriented site ICv2 has the latest comics sales numbers from Diamond, and the news is grim: In their own words, third-quarter comics sales “sucked.” Compared to the third quarter of 2009, comics sales are down 14% and graphic novels are down 6%, for a combined drop of 12%, the largest the ICv2 gurus have seen since they started tracking year-to-year sales in 2004.

This continues a trend of downward-spiraling comics sales. I have to admit, I haven't been in a comic book store in two or three months; outside of a couple of favorites that I can buy in collected editions at bookstores, there's nothing pulling me in. (I love Chew, but besides that, there haven't been that many great new comics lately. Both Marvel and DC seem to be in the business of making books that appeal to nostalgia for my generation's childhood, and I'm just not interested in reading tributes to the shitty comics I read as a kid.) Nobody makes monthly comics that make me feel like I have to go to the comic book store anymore. And that's really sad. I want to give them my money, but they're not selling what I want to read.


Comments (24) RSS

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Matt Hickey 1
Do those figures include digital downloads? I bought four last night for my iPad -- four more than I did paper-wise a week ago.
Posted by Matt Hickey on October 20, 2010 at 3:35 PM · Report this
gayballs 2
I'm with you. For me, it's a matter of trades.
I'm still reading Sweet Tooth, Buffy, and Stumptown in separate issues but it won't be long till i've changed to trades.

I've read The Unwritten in trade format since day one, same with Invincible Iron Man and The Walking Dead
Posted by gayballs on October 20, 2010 at 3:44 PM · Report this
balderdash 3
There are still good comics out there, but they're also one of the first things to go when times get hard financially. I haven't bought a comic book in at least a year. I mean, to a lot of people - whether it's S.O.s who don't understand or even that slightly ashamed young geek in the back of your head - "comic book" is synonymous with "silly kid stuff."

The economy's not getting any better, and comics aren't getting any better either. There is a limited amount of custom and a limited number of good series.

I mean, I've even been pirating the ones I'd really like to buy. I can't afford to shell out for trades right now no matter how much I'd like to own Fear Agent or the last volume of Planetary. I feel bad about it, but bad feelings don't pad out my checking account any.
Posted by balderdash on October 20, 2010 at 3:53 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 4
Sorry, I'm too busy paying increased parking taxes for the $330 million the state just bribed the Deeply-Boring Tunnel contractors with.

Lower your prices.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 20, 2010 at 3:59 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 5
Maybe they grew up. Maybe you should too.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on October 20, 2010 at 4:16 PM · Report this
I've just been waiting for the movie adaptations.
Posted by Peter F on October 20, 2010 at 4:35 PM · Report this
I'd buy more comics but I don't know where to find good that interest me. Even on Slog it's mostly about superhero comics. Where can I find good alternative comic recommendations, preferably with good female characters? Whenever I go to a comic store it's almost impossible to find any comics other than superheroes and "alternative" comics about boys sad because girls don't like them.
Posted by Not interested in x-mens on October 20, 2010 at 4:56 PM · Report this
Schmapdi 8
I should be the perfect target for comic books. Here's some of the things I love:
super powers, heroism, villiany, deep mythos, large breasts tightly wrapped in spandex,super hero comics/movies, etc etc.

But comics books? No thanks. I don't want to read 3 different titles to follow one arc, I don't want to wait months upon months for story progression, I don't want 30 years of dead weight being hauled out again and again, no bullshit parrallel universes for me thanks, there's like how many fucking Flashes? Blech - it all just feels like a convoluted mess.

Google "your comic company of choice" + wiki and I bet you can't read for more than 10 minutes before you start getting a headache at how ridiculous everything is.

How about they just start making that awesome Justice League cartoon again?
Posted by Schmapdi on October 20, 2010 at 4:56 PM · Report this
Fnarf 9
Harvey Pekar is dead.
Posted by Fnarf on October 20, 2010 at 5:03 PM · Report this
Cory 10
I'm not surprised...
Posted by Cory on October 20, 2010 at 6:02 PM · Report this
McGee 11
8 you are right on. Slavish devotion to past continuity is an anchor for these companies and alienates potential new customers.
Posted by McGee on October 20, 2010 at 6:06 PM · Report this
McGee 12
Also #7 Try Love and Rockets and look up Richard Sala for Judy Drood Girl Detective and Jessica Abel.
Posted by McGee on October 20, 2010 at 6:07 PM · Report this
DeaconBlues 13
Comic sales are down because Marvel just did an ill-advised price hike right in the middle of a recession. They're rolling it back as we speak.

Also, Paul, there are lots of good comics right now. Anything written by Matt Fraction (Invincible Iron Man) or Peter David (X-Factor and The Dark Tower) is good, as well as Ultimate Spider-Man. I've also heard really good things about the cosmic Marvel stuff. Brightest Day pretty much sucks but it's finally winding down. DC is really in a big dip right now, there's almost nothing worth reading as far as their main books go, but Batgirl and Red Robin are both surprisingly good.

Hellblazer has been consistently good for over two hundred issues.

There's a comic written by Brian Clevinger called Atomic Robo which is essentially a humor-focused version of Hellboy. It's excellent.

But really, I get the impression that maybe you just don't like superhero comics, in which case, why even bring up Marvel or DC?
Posted by DeaconBlues on October 20, 2010 at 6:20 PM · Report this
I think part of the problem with catering to a small, aging audience is that at some point, those buyers just don't feel a need for more comics. I've been buying comics for almost 20 years, and I have a great run of just about any character I care about at all. I just don't have a need to get anything but the absolute best independent and Vertigo titles and then only when they come out in trade. Comic shops just don't enter the equation any more. I've bought about 20 trades this year, but all but one were second hand for $5 or less. (Looking quick at the prices, I've spent well under $100, which is what I spent in one month in high school). Money's tight, and prices long, long ago left the point where I was willing to buy month to month. I gave up when comics went past $2.50 each, and $2.50 itself seemed high.
Posted by Ant on October 20, 2010 at 6:38 PM · Report this
I only buy a handful of titles on a regular basis, and none of them fit into the traditional Marvel/DC "spandex perverts" genre. Even then, I think once Darkhorse's "Buffy: Season Eight" arc is concluded, I'll probably drop that, and pretty much everything else I currently buy (Fraction's "Casanova", the two "Do Androids Dream..." titles, and whatever Ellis splatters onto the pages at Image or Avatar) are just enough outside of the mainstream that I won't be crying any tears for either of the "Big Two" if they have to make drastic cuts to their lines or prices.

They're not getting any of my $$ now as it is, and I don't see that changing, regardless of what they do.
Posted by COMTE on October 20, 2010 at 7:41 PM · Report this

Too much free stuff on the web.

No one buys anything or will not in the future.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on October 20, 2010 at 8:00 PM · Report this
My local comic shop just instituted a $10 minimum for debit and credit card purchases, maybe that's the cause of this whole mess!
Posted by Brandon J. on October 20, 2010 at 11:53 PM · Report this
gember 18
@7: Skip Marvel and DC and look for "independent" publishers. Dark Horse and Drawn & Quarterly are some of the bigger ones, but there's nothing like a good independent/alternative press expo (isn't the one in San Francisco coming up very soon?) to show you what else is out there.

There are good comic book shops that carry a nice independent press selection, and once you know what to look for they're easy to find. If you happen to be in English-speaking parts of Asia, large regular bookstores are also good sources.

As far as sales being down, IMO people who run comic book stores need to realize that the things they sell can be had easily and cheaply on the internet, and like every other media store they need to adapt and offer something different. They're particularly bad about things they don't have in stock. I try to support my local stores, but I like to read series in order and not collect them by happenstance. Here I am, primed to special order something and instead they're all "we can take your number and call you when it gets in." And then I give them my number and never hear back and eventually give up and order it on Amazon.
Posted by gember on October 21, 2010 at 3:55 AM · Report this
Timmytee 19
I don't buy comics any more because the only place they're sold is comics shops.
Posted by Timmytee on October 21, 2010 at 6:30 AM · Report this
Rotten666 20
Don't complain about the quality of comics if you only read marvel or dc. And quite bitching about continuity porn; there are plenty of simple non superhero titles out there that kick ass.

If you can't afford the individual issues, stick to the trades. I just bought From Hell and the first volume of Justice League International for 20 bucks on amazon. That's like 75 cents an issue. It's 1988 all over again!

Posted by Rotten666 on October 21, 2010 at 9:08 AM · Report this
piojin 21
There are some great ones out there right now. My list: Buffy, Walking Dead, Stumptown, Black Hole... And I'm constantly finding new treasures in the Fantagraphic/Oni/Dark Horse sections.

I guess I'm just the exception, seeing that I've spent more on comics in the last 2 months than I ever have. Thanks to having a full time job again.
Posted by piojin on October 21, 2010 at 10:25 AM · Report this
John Scott Tynes 22
Comics are also widely pirated. You can get all the new relases on BitTorrent every week, and basically any comic ever published as well. See: music industry.
Posted by John Scott Tynes on October 21, 2010 at 11:29 AM · Report this
Fenrox 23
Once the comic industry fails (Like it needed to 12 years ago) It can be reborn into a more sustainable model.

Digital comics are easily the future of comics, once they make them seamless and as easy as reading a comic they will start back up again.

I think a machine that can make comics (Like that machine at Third Place) would be awesome. Some of comic fans are really just collectors. I think they have no interest in collecting things digitally.

Another boon to the companies collapsing would be less episodic comics and more graphic novels. Comics can come out every 6 months in bigger story collections and gain readers. Comics are below cartoons for being one of the most expressive story telling mediums, They should never die.
Posted by Fenrox on October 21, 2010 at 2:03 PM · Report this
Vampireseal 24
I actually check out most graphic novels from the library. It's a recession thing, and a lack-of-room to stash multiple volumes of issue. I only buy comics that I am deeply in love with, such as Chynna Clugston's Blue Monday, or certain precious manga series such as anything by Kaori Yuki.

It's a shame that comics are still considered lowly stepchildren upside novels. I'll take Neil Gaiman over any idiot Dean Koontz novel any day of the week. Some of the best literature is in illustrated form.
Posted by Vampireseal on October 21, 2010 at 10:14 PM · Report this

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