CBR Article on comic industry 2015

http://www.comicbookresources.com/article/tilting-at-windmills-trouble-on-the-horizon

An interesting read and certainly very surprising coming from CBR. For what it’s worth, I applaud them on this one, despite the fact I will never really support the site given its current management/ownership. It’s nice to see honest to goodness opinion from experience. Good job by Mr. Hibbs.

While it is not really jarring to get some of this stuff, I do question a few of the points in the work and ultimately am not sure I agree with the whole picture of the “Why is this happening” suggested  by Hibbs in the write-up.

Further, I think Mr. Hibbs proposed solution is a bit of a fatalistic spire, which concerns me.

It’s a problem to have less inventory on the racks. From what I’ve seen, this can be one of the big problems of how buying comics in a direct only environment can go wrong. Thus, I don’t know about it being a solution to thrive instead of a way to, more or less, potentially survive. Yet it can also be the impetus for, as the writer says, consumers to “quit buying for good” and potentially go out of business as well. Dangerous ground.

Why would it have this effect? Well, outside of folks with subscriptions or pull lists, which are not for everyone, If “Joe new reader” doesn’t see their title on the shelf, odds are they may not ask the shop for a re-order…more often they just don’t buy it or walk out. This can kill building titles or slower-to-develop books that may have potential to someday build core audiences.

Simply put; when an industry is so reliant on potential sales, the fatal potential for a bottleneck in sales can happen. Digital sales could “feasibly” be a factor here, yet many folks are still wary. Worse, that may mean bad news for the LCS we all know and love.

For readers, not being able to get books off newsstands or book stores or needing to buy a 20.00 trade can be daunting and reduce folk’s impulse buying. I know Marvel was losing money on some of these markets, but part of me makes it think the exposure they give works in the big picture toward acquiring long-term readership. I will say, Marvel seems to have made some headway in the trade market.

Yet, part of me can’t fault the shops here. No one wants to see inventory “rot on the shelf” as he says either.  The so-called “long-game” is also difficult to swallow for shops who don’t have the backing of Disney/Marvel.

The writer gives a few solid tips to why this has gone wrong…but, IMO, they escape the main issue.

Dissing old core fans.

Old loyal readers don’t like seeing so many replacement heroes to the most popular characters. They want to feel like they can find stories of their favorite heroes. Which is not to say they won’t take new, inventive directions and titles in doses, but there has to be a happy median to attract new readers and not disenfranchise the past/ bite the hand that feeds you.

Literally, the Richard Rider/Sam Alexander case is a complete microcosm here. Maybe replacing Cap, Thor, Hulk was not such a good move. Richard Rider certainly fits here, because all of this began when Alonso took over and these kind of “en masse” changes happened. Rich Rider was quite literally the beginning of this mess. (Though I’d say the issue dated back to Ultimatum and Red Hulk, *clears throat* insert Loeb comment here))

Hickman’s odyssey was a long winded mess, but as the article suggests the tie ins were the big problem. The actual main series sold well, yet the spin offs were very zany titles that had nothing to do with prior history, prior alternate realities, and replaced fan-favorite characters. The tie-ins had a very disjointed feel nor did many of them segue into the new series and the all new. (BTW I agree with the numbering point and how the book disrupted some new titles)

Ignoring and getting sloppy with continuity is another factor.  Sure, Marvel brass often dismisses this as “internet white noise”. Yet, there’s evidence it has finally resonated. (Additionally this hits home with the new 52 stuff as well.) It’s not 2002 anymore, and some of the gripes online are legitimate.

To some extent, I see “Secret Wars” ET AL as the big test to our readers about ‘If 616 continuity matters’…and from the poor sales I do think the answer is yes.

What we have is an industry built on gimmicks, not loyal readership.

Hopefully, Marvel changes its tunes. Because despite my criticism, I really do love the company and want to support them and enjoy readership once more.