Saturday, July 20, 2019

DC Comics going down

Now two former DC illustrators are predicting the near-term collapse of DC Comics, as Ethan van Sciver recently supported Rob Liefeld's controversial contention that "DC Comics is going to drive off a cliff" on a recent CAPS stream:
I'm a 26-year veteran of this crumbling comic book industry. World's most charming and disarming elegant and eloquent humble because occasionally I fumble man a great big star Wars fan, trusted member of the media, so you know, part of the commentary that I've been offering in on this channel for the past few months is that I fully expect at this point the comic book industry to collapse very soon. I mean you know in a matter of just a handful years it'll be gone, and it's gonna go with a whimper.

What will happen is that Warner Brothers initially will announce that they are shutting down their publishing arm of DC Comics. They will put everything on offer, they will offer all of their back catalogue, digitally they'll be producing, kind of, I don't know, you'll be able to buy a ticket to read all this stuff digitally. I think they already kind of do that, but there will be no more new DC Comics, not really. And then shortly after that, Marvel will linger, but not for very much longer. The comic book stores will further erode, they will go under. Marvel Comics will experiment with other means of distribution, maybe Walmart and Target and all these other things, they're gonna try to bring back the newsstand, but it's not going to work.

Marvel Comics eventually will also fold and that's it. Once DC Comics shutters its doors, that's the end of the comic book industry, and it's going to shut down with a whimper. Just like when Mad Magazine closed down, a few people will shed tears, but on a much bigger scale than Mad Magazine because a lot of people, a lot of creative people, are going to find themselves unemployed, and frankly,  unemployable. It's really bad that people just don't want to buy comics anymore, they don't want the low-quality and high prices. And the fact that these idiots are insulting them on social media and in the pages of the books themselves - when you pick up a copy of Captain America and you have the Red Skull mouthing very sensible Republican talking points, you know that the comic book industry is no longer for you - and you also make up 50% at least 50 percent of the comic buying audience, it's over. From there it's just over.
I think both Liefeld and EVS are correct. The unit sales decline I've been tracking has continued apace even though total reported dollar sales remain relatively flat. When unit sales fall and dollar sales remain flat, that is a reliable sign of an industry on the verge of collapse, as it means the companies are increasing the prices on their products to try to compensate for their lower sales. It also means that production costs are being cut, which indicates that the quality is in decline as well.

That decline is precisely why we chose to keep Arkhaven and Dark Legion comics out of the Diamond distribution system and the comic book stores. We are actively working on improving the quality of our comics, as those who have received the new standard-size comics have noted how much better they are than the similarly-sized DC and Marvel floppies. When the Alt-Hero Vols. 1-6 omnibus ships to backers in a week or two, people will see some of the fruits of that effort. What's interesting is that we haven't even begun exploring the very channels that Marvel is using to keep itself afloat, such as library sales. And beginning with our first foray into film, we're going to be contesting that area of the culture wars as well.

As I've mentioned, comics can be considered movie seeds. And since Disney and Warner a) already possess more seeds than they can possibly produce, b) recognize that the comics now being produced by Marvel and DC are markedly inferior to their predecessors, and, c) prefer to rewrite the stories and characters they are using in their films anyhow, neither conglomerate have much interest in subsidizing what from their perspective is an insignificant, shrinking, and unprofitable industry. The business logic therefore strongly suggests both Disney and Warner will shut down their new-comics-producing operations in the near future.

Speaking of comics, QUANTUM MORTIS: A Man Disrupted #4 is now available in a gold-logo print edition in our new standard size.

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Blogger weka July 20, 2019 6:27 AM  

For a movie company, story is the issue. They need universes they can control: if necessary they will wait until they go off copyright then exploit them (Disney, I'm looking at you: you ruined A A Milne and J B Barrie). Comic books are stories and universes and (less so) fan bases.

Without story, the movies will die.

And since the (((current executives))) cannot write stories, removing their access to new story is a simple and obvious tactic.

Blogger JAG July 20, 2019 6:27 AM  

The saddest part of all this is that it does not need to happen. Just drop the leftist narrative pushing, fire all the SJWs in the companies, and go back to simpler formats with cheaper paper so that the cost is reduced.

Easy prediction - neither Disney or Time Warner will be willing to license their characters and titles to wrongthinkers, thus cutting off yet another revenue stream.

On the plus side, the milkshake gang and other SJWs that trash talked their own customers will have to learn to code.

Blogger tublecane July 20, 2019 6:37 AM  

I don't know much about the comics world. How hard is it to come up with new characters people care about, really? Were they drinking a magical elixir from the 40s to 70s? I mean, even t.v. and movies still occasionally produce new popular characters.

In my youth, I only remember two instances in which new comic material made it into mainstream culture. One was the Death of Superman, and which obviously dealt with an old property. The other was Spawn. Spawn was a bit of a pop culture Happening.

Before that, you pretty much have to go back to the 70s to find any big splashes. So what happened? Where were the Wolverines and Punishers of the 80s and beyond.

Blogger Sargent.matrim July 20, 2019 6:46 AM  

Didn't Marvel originally sell the rights of the X-Men, Spiderman, Fantastic Four and others to movie studios like Sony and Fox because their comics were in decline in the past and they were in the verge of bankruptcy?

Blogger Ingot9455 July 20, 2019 7:03 AM  

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is another example of a comic who broke into the mainstream. First got licensed for a role playing game, Then the roleplaying game owner introduced the artists of TMNT to the Hollywood industry people he knew and it took off.

It is not easy to go viral and hit mainstream with a character of lasting value, with a new archetype. We're still doing Shakespeare primarily because he added several new archetypal characters to the canon of drama.

I'm pulling for Roland Dane myself

Blogger God Emperor Memes July 20, 2019 7:46 AM  

I recall being alarmed in the late 90's, when women started getting put into management roles at DC. Then DC started pushing homosexual superheroes. - Coincidence?

Blogger Dirtnapninja July 20, 2019 7:46 AM  

Hire Jim Shooter, give him carte blanche and back him to the hilt.

Blogger Nostromo July 20, 2019 7:53 AM  

If the industry had wanted to remain relevant, the could have. Instead, they chose to promote the agenda. So now we have She-Thor, and niglet Irongrrl, and Aidsman. There's been no advance into villainy though. They're all still old white guys, and western civilization. These dick suckers can't die soon enough.

Blogger FUBARwest July 20, 2019 8:13 AM  

How many years was it going to take to get to number 3? Looks like the number 1 spot is about to have a vacancy.

Blogger Cataline Sergius July 20, 2019 8:19 AM  

As I've mentioned, comics can be considered movie seeds. And since Disney and Warner a) already possess more seeds than they can possibly produce...

I think you may have picked a good moment to get into films.

All of these mega-buyouts are going to reduce the number of films produced per year.

Granted Arkhaven can't field nine figure budgets but it doesn't really need to when the market is going to be getting pretty hungry, pretty quick.

Blogger Dave July 20, 2019 8:22 AM  

Speaking of comics, QUANTUM MORTIS: A Man Disrupted #4 is now available in a gold-logo print edition in our new standard size.


Also, are the $3.14 prices and now I see a $3.15 price, unavoidable due to the new standard comic book sizing? I know it's chump change, but it was really sweet to send people into shock with the $2.99 pricing.

Blogger Steve Johnson July 20, 2019 8:23 AM  

I don't know how widespread this is, but at least in the case of Wonder Woman, DC had to keep publishing the book or else the rights reverted to William Moulton's heirs. I seem to recall other comics titles which had to keep in print to retain the rights, although nothing said they had to be any good. Although licensing the character to an outside studio (like IDW is doing with Marvel) would probably satisfy that requirement. An Arkhaven version of Batman or Captain America would be something to see!

Blogger VD July 20, 2019 9:09 AM  

Also, are the $3.14 prices and now I see a $3.15 price, unavoidable due to the new standard comic book sizing?

Yes. We can't hit $2.99 retail price with the standard size.

Blogger Mad Italian July 20, 2019 9:11 AM  

A little off topic, any update on the Swan Knight's Son Saga series? Or a pointer to where the regular updates might be posted?

Blogger [Redacted] July 20, 2019 9:11 AM  

The collapse is the most entertaining thing the comic and movie industry has done in a quarter of a century. With Arkhaven #1 sooner rather than later, will you publish a history of the fall? "What not to do in comics", as a comic, with highlights of comic authors insulting their readers, would be fun.

Blogger VD July 20, 2019 9:21 AM  

any update on the Swan Knight's Son Saga series?

Several issues are done. We need to get them lettered.

Blogger Mad Italian July 20, 2019 9:27 AM  

Excellent, looking forward to it. My youngest boys are just getting to the comic book stage.

Blogger Martin Marprelate July 20, 2019 9:34 AM  

I used to love comics when I was younger. Now the only cool comics that come out are the ones from Arkhaven and Manga. (Dr.Stone and my Hero Acadamia being more recent examples.) such a shame but get woke go broke.

Blogger flyingtiger July 20, 2019 10:21 AM  

#7 I second that.

Blogger Rake Johnson July 20, 2019 10:22 AM  

Z-man and Two-Face should get together some evening and massage each other's Darklord butthurt.

Blogger J Melcher July 20, 2019 10:25 AM  

There's an analogy to "singles" versus "albums" in the music industry, and "novels" versus "serials" in traditional publishing. Apple iTunes killed the album when youngsters could cherry pick "best of" play lists and put together their own albums, at 99 cents per song, cheaper than they could buy a published album. With serials -- whether Dickens or Conan Doyle or Larry Corriea -- the advantage to publishers of a locked in fan base are overwhelming. But the advantage to a new reader of trying to pick out the singles, the best of, the real hook that makes the whole thing worthwhile, is the opposite of an advantage.

Both DC and Marvel offer Graphic Novels, put together from runs of the serials. But reading the things is jumping into the middle and being left dangling at the end. They are NOT novels. Exceptions, like "Superman For All Seasons", exist. But if the industry is to survive then the very old DC model of publishing a cheap book, of about 20-some pages, that tells a complete story beginning to end, must be resurrected. Soap opera and never-ending-story, and plot hooks that never catch on, are no way to build a fan base.

Blogger Brick Hardslab July 20, 2019 11:00 AM  

Teenage mutant Ninja turtles, 80's. Carnage, venom, late eighties early nineties, there's been more characters but few got the push they needed. I think business shenanigans killed spawn.

Blogger Ariadne Umbrella July 20, 2019 11:16 AM  

Just a note: the first comics you made were delightful Christmas presents for a young man. That you are increasing the quality is terrific. but even your first efforts were miles above what I'd seen in conventional comics.

Blogger binks webelf July 20, 2019 11:47 AM  

Amazing Business Tip #334 -- When in doubt, crush the talent's spirit. Then wonder why people don't buy the product as much any more.. but it's probably the whiny talent's fault, so don't worry about it.
George Perez’s Corporate Clash over Superman: “They Made Me Not Care”

Blogger Killua July 20, 2019 12:07 PM  

Sad for the industry, but it may give new media (such as webcomics) the boost they deserve.

Blogger OvergrownHobbit July 20, 2019 2:33 PM  

Many libraries can purchase Indy comics, as long as they're in graphic novel format.

Blogger Doom July 20, 2019 3:47 PM  

Red Skull mouthing Republican talking points? Anyone got a link to the actual comic panels? My Google-fu is weak, though I found references to it so it's not mere hyperbole.

Blogger Doom July 20, 2019 3:54 PM  

Apologies for my laziness. Here it is so you can see with your own eyes:

Blogger Snidely Whiplash July 20, 2019 6:35 PM  

tublecane wrote:I don't know much about the comics world. How hard is it to come up with new characters people care about, really?
First you have to actually like and relate to normal people, not hate them and want to force them to be someone they are not. Then you have to understand normal human motivation, weaknesses, doubt and most of all, courage and nobility.
So for SJWs and other Commies, it's essentially impossible.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan July 20, 2019 10:13 PM  

MCU boring us with lesbian Valkyrie

Blogger MATT July 21, 2019 12:36 AM  

Real comic fans bought the singles and then the trades. The problem is, the comics are awful. Plain and simple.

Blogger Daniel July 21, 2019 11:02 AM  

For a factor playing it's hand here, just check how many likes the popular comics in have. 99999+. Around 10k comments per issue. Compare with traditional sales.
GenZ reads comics there.
Traditional format is shrinking, but our host knows that. And acts accordingly I suppose

Blogger Daniel July 21, 2019 11:14 AM  

So the villains are the good ones now?

Blogger Jack Amok July 21, 2019 2:23 PM  

Apple iTunes killed the album when youngsters could cherry pick "best of" play lists and put together their own albums, at 99 cents per song, cheaper than they could buy a published album.

Albums were an artificial construct imposed by physical limitations. Getting up to change the record every four or five minutes wasn't fun, and reliable record changers were too expensive for home use. Albums had an inherent flaw in that a band had to fill both sides of the album, and few of them could maintain quality for every song.

Some bands tried to make a virtue out of it with concept albums, but popular music ain't opera, people just want to listen to a song. K-Tel had the best solution to this, and made a lot of money with compilation albums. It's odd that a company selling "as seen on TV" kitchen gadgets figured this out and the actual music producers couldn't. I suspect it was due to how the moneymen got their cut - they were set up to exploit the album mechanic and couldn't see past that.

When you realize the comic book industry is now basically a minor subsidiary of the film industry, and the film and music industry merged some time back...

Blogger Vulgar_Display July 23, 2019 1:41 AM  

The DC and Marvel comics are too confusing for potential new readers to get into. I don't have the time or patience to figure out where a characters story begins and they constantly change the issue numbers.

I am seriously considering the arkhaven stuff as the first comics I have ever read. Love a lot of the fiction on castalia so far.

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