As everyone has noticed, the comic industry has been on a steady decline for a very long time. It’s hard to exactly pin point when, and it’s even harder to describe why it has been so, but the average person would tell you that once people began making comics available via digital downloads, for free, that’s when the comic industry began to steadily decline, and I would agree, who wants to buy a 24 paged magazine (not including ads) when you can get said magazine online for free. It’s inefficient, especially when the world economy is spiraling downwards at an unbelievable rate.
It’s hard to deny that kind of logic, when you could go and Google the latest issue of Wolverine, and have it on your computer within about, a minute. But, logically, this can’t be the only reason as to why the comic industry is declining, the music industry is still striving and people can go download every single Rolling Stones song since the 1970’s, all without leaving their computer seats.
Now, for me, I’ve pinpointed four things about the comic industry that has turned me away from superhero comics in general. I still read comics, obviously or I wouldn’t still be on this site, but I don’t read half as much as I used to. Before I would try and read every single Wolverine comic that came out each month, now I can’t read Marvel in general, nor can I stand DC.
Problem #1 – The Comic Publishers are to Concerned with Money:
This is true for any and everything thing retail wise. Theres the saying “Money talks”, and anyone who has money understands this well. A rich, famous man can get into the hottest restaurant without even waiting in line, while working class people have to wait two hours just to get into Red Lobster. It’s true, money talks, you can’t deny that, but in the words of Richard Armour, “That money talks, I'll not deny, I heard it once: It said, "Goodbye."
Money doesn’t last, which is why big name publishers, DC and Marvel specifically, keep grabbing and grabbing for all the money they can possibly get. Why is it that every 3 months, Marvel has some new big event that’ll “Change the entire workings of the Universe”? It’s because they understand that these events attract curious people who read this line and think, “Oh my, if I read this, I could possibly reading history in the making” and they are, they’re reading this history that has been continuing for 3 to 4 decades now, it’s the history of these big name companies sacrificing quality over quantity, and to this day, it still goes on.
This is why characters like Batman and Wolverine get about 8 series per year, because they sell, and they sell unbelievably well. With how much they sell, you’d think that these characters were actually real and we could go and meet them down in California. What’s sad about this is that by over saturating these characters like the way they are, they’ll soon turn away the fan base these characters had created, and when that time comes, they’ll sooner kill off these characters instead of trying to get the fan base back, and it’s sad.
These big name publishing companies don’t understand that if they focus on writing great stories, the money itself will come in turn, and it’s this stubborn-mindedness that turns away many readers today. Instead of mindlessly pumping out events each and every years for the sake of making money, they should focus on the quality of their stories instead of the number of characters they can throw in our faces.
Problem #2 – Comics Today Lack a Singular Vision for the Future:
Why is it that Japanese comics completely out sell and destroy the comic industry in retail value and in sell ability? It’s because with a manga, I never have to worry about some no-name writer coming out of nowhere to ruin the characters I love. On the covers of manga there’s usually one name, and one alone. On One Piece the name on the cover is Eichiro Oda, the author, and artist on the series. But on Green Arrow #12, there was four names on the cover, J.T. Krul, Diogenes Neves, Vincente Cifuentes, and Oclair Albert. Worst yet, in the very next issue most of those people aren’t even on the cover, heck, on the wiki for Green Arrow #12, there are 12 people given credit for this issue, and not a single one of them own the copyright to any of the characters that appeared in the issue.
In February of this year, Green Lantern was the highest selling comic out that month, selling over 71,500 copies of the issue. In Japan however, this May the 62 volume
of One Piece sold over 1,788,455 copies in 6 days, May 2 to May 8. Why is that, especially since that very volume is online for free? It’s because, since 1997 One Piece has been under the regulation of a single author who has control over all the events and has a sound plan for the future of the story. When I read One Piece, I never have to worry about any of my favorite characters being portrayed incorrectly, yet whenever I read a comic where Captain Marvel appears in, there always seems to be some incorrect portrayal of him that makes me stop reading the issue all together.
If the comics industry was to just let singular writers take control of a series for a prolonged period of time, let’s say 3 years, and if they do unbelievable at it, I can say with much confidence that for those 3 years, they would have a lot more happy readers.
Problem #3 – Comics Simply, aren’t Fun Anymore:
It’s true, when I read a comic, there’s always some unneeded drama, and some pointless killings for the sake of making a story awesome, which, unfortunately, it isn’t. Heck, Alan Moore himself even said that:
“If I were, god forbid, still doing superhero comics today, just like my ABC work from a couple of years ago, they’d be very very different from the Watchmen or Marvelman template. They’d be much more about having fun—whether that be intellectual fun or just plain fun—much more about that than doing any revisions.”
And that’s the thing, there’s just nothing fun about comics anymore. The last comic I read that actually made the act of reading the comic itself fun was Formerly Known as the Justice League. The whole series itself was great to read, from the silly interactions of the naïve Mary Marvel with the other characters, to the funny back and forth between Ted Kord and Booster Gold. What wasn’t to like about that, but despite how good it was, you don’t see many of these types of stories anymore. Why is that?
Well, let’s put it into terms of art for a second. David Finch himself said that, when you draw a person smiling it’s a lot harder than drawing
someone angry. With an angry person all you have to do is draw an upwards arc for a mouth, furrow the brows, and add some lines on the forehead, boom angry. With a person grinning though, you have to draw the cheeks puffed out, you have to thin out the upper and lower lips, you have to make the eyes smaller, and then you have to draw the teeth. It’s a lot more work to draw someone who is happy than it is to draw someone who is angry, and in terms of comics, it’s basically like this:
It’s a lot harder to write a fun story that is still well written and doesn’t make little of its intelligent readers, than it is to write a story about angry characters with wrathful things in it. Because a story focused on angry characters seems much more serious than one about happier things, and it’s this thought of mind that puts comics way behind manga.
But the thing is, making a fun story that is still well thought out and developed isn’t impossible, just look at One Piece. Even though some of the things in the story are just silly, I mean, the main character Monkey D. Luffy is a rubber man, and he fights with an array of attacks taking advantage of that rubber-ness, but still, the story is great. At
one point, when Kizaru is about to attack someone with his light powers he says “Light is… weight.” And if you don’t have any understanding of Einstein’s theory of Relativity, you’d have no idea what he is talking about, but that’s what we call fun on an intellectual level. Even while reading that, you don’t have to understand what he is talking about, to still enjoy reading it. Heck, even the TvTropes Page talks about this, they call it Fridge Brilliance, and One Piece has a lot of it.
When I was reading the Skypedia arc of One Piece, at the end when Luffy achieves the dreams of all the lands people by getting the bell to ring for the first time in 400 years, there was nothing that ever put such a wider smile on my face than that one scene, and even after reading it over and over for an unbelievable amount of time, I still have yet to not smile at that same scene, and that’s what comics need. They need to make people smile again, comics should be about heroic characters doing heroic things, not dark characters doing dark things, because the world is horrible enough. Every day hundreds to thousands of people die and me and you won’t even know, because it happens so much it becomes common place. Comics should be a place to turn to when the world is giving you so much crap, you need a break.
I’m not saying get rid of all things dark, because that’s unnecessary. We need characters like Batman and Wolverine to serve as foil to characters like Billy Batson and Peter Parker, but when every, single character seems to be dark and angsty, that’s when things are getting out of hand.
Problem #4 – Comic Books Lack Variety as a Genre:
If I were to ask the average superhero comic reader, “What type of genre are there in superhero comics?” And they’ll say, superhero comics are a genre, there’s no other type of genre in superhero comics beside superhero comics. Okay, that makes sense right? When you go to read a book, libraries have them separated into differing genres, giving readers a wide array of books to choose from, so even if you don’t like science fiction, you could go and read historical fiction and etcetera, but with Superhero comics, not only are they a genre in themselves, they take up the vast majority of all comics that are out there today, and honestly not all readers want to read about angst.
In manga’s though, you have an entire industry based on telling a wide array of stories. You have 4-Koma (Comedy Manga), you have Seinen (Young Adult), you have Shounen (Young Boys), and even Shoujo (Young Girl), and then the sub genres within these sects of manga. With comics everyone associates superhero comics as the only form of comics out there, and even though it’s not true, superhero comics make up about 75, maybe 80% of the entire comic book industry.
The comic book industry as a whole has so many things it’s lacking. There’s a reason why, here on the Vine, people like me, TurokofStone, Silkcuts, and so many others constantly view the comic book industry as a whole in such a negative light. It’s because the heads of these companies just don’t understand what they’re doing. Turok will tell you that that pushing away the older audience who’s been reading for ages, for a younger audience that is virtually non-existent is a moronic thing to do. Silk will tell you how trying to destroy creator owned imprints like Vertigo for the sake of making money is an even more moronic thing to do. And it’s all true.
The industry has so many problems right now, to many to address. Though, for me, these 4 problems are some of the things that keep turning me away from comics as a whole.