#1 Posted by Rinjy (11 posts) - - Show Bio

What do you think is the current state of the Graphic Novel industry, and how do you think it could be improved?

Currently I am writing a paper of the state of the Graphic Novel industry in America, and I wanted to get other peoples opinions on the topic. I also wanted to know how others thought it could be improved.

Thank you.

#2 Posted by Decoy Elite (30041 posts) - - Show Bio

Why are you calling it the Graphic Novel industry?

Anyway the comics industry is all right, the big two have some crap, but there's still some solid books they're makin'. The third party guys(especially Valiant) seem to be doing pretty great so that's always nice.

#3 Posted by Rinjy (11 posts) - - Show Bio

@Decoy Elite: Its a habit I've developed from talking with people outside the united states. The english word "comic" doesn't usually translate well into other languages and so others get confused. xD

#4 Edited by Decoy Elite (30041 posts) - - Show Bio

@Rinjy: Ah, that makes sense.

Not gonna lie I was worried you were one of those hipster types that refuses to say they read comics. XP

#5 Posted by Rinjy (11 posts) - - Show Bio

@Decoy Elite: Not to worry, I read an unhealthy amount of Comics from the united States, japan, france, korea, and italy. it distracts me alot haha.

#6 Posted by Xwraith (18609 posts) - - Show Bio

I can't say for the other companies, but Marvel is definitely motivated more by money than telling a good story these days.

#7 Posted by Brazen_Intellect (1144 posts) - - Show Bio

Marvel - It has not been this bad since the 90's

DC - New 52 is hit and miss, still not a fan of the reboot

Independent - The quality continues to slowly climb overall since the original Image implosion

Overall - As a long time primarily Marvel reader I am really dissatisfied overall, but there still a handful of good reads out there, they are just no longer among the major franchises for the most part.

#8 Posted by Decoy Elite (30041 posts) - - Show Bio

@Xwraith said:

I can't say for the other companies, but Marvel is definitely motivated more by money than telling a good story these days.

It's a corporation one way or another, it's always about money.

Same thing with DC.

It's only the writers they employ that should care about making good stories, it's just sadly not always the case.

#9 Posted by The_Tree (7518 posts) - - Show Bio

Originality is at an all time low while cheap gimmicks are at an all time high. At least from the big two publishers, that is.

Online
#10 Edited by Reignmaker (2235 posts) - - Show Bio

Though some of the old-timers will complain about continuity and such, I truly think that we're entering a golden age for comics. The actual quality will always vary, but more importantly I think much of it comes down to accessibility...

  1. DC and Marvel comics are much more approachable than they've been in a long time. For the most part, the storytelling has been simplified. Stuff is generally easier to follow, without needing to buy 20+ books a month to understand the context. Marvel still has more work to do in this area, but the 'Now' initiative was a step in the right direction.
  2. Image has undergone a remarkable transformation and has become a hub for many quality non-traditional titles.
  3. The rebirth of Valiant comics has been nothing short of amazing.
  4. Self-published titles are much more prevalent than ever before.
  5. Digital comics. People without access to brick-and-mortar comic stores can now buy their comics along with their games and iTunes music. This is actually a huge victory for lesser-known titles.
  6. While I haven't seen the actual monetary numbers, I'm pretty sure Hollywood's successes has made a positive impact on the comic industry as a whole. We are witnessing a renaissance of comic book movies right now that shows no sign of slowing down.

Taking these things under consideration, there's no better time to be a comics fan. From my perspective, the industry is hopping.

#11 Posted by Rinjy (11 posts) - - Show Bio

@Reignmaker: When you talk about the accessibility of comics, I definitely agree. But what do you think of the physical accessibility of comics? The digital market is making it easier to allow people to gain access to comics even if they might not have a comic store in their city or town. But I still feel its highly lacking compared to when it was in the past. But I believe this is more contributed to the lack of people who read for pleasure in the United States then anything else.

@The_Tree: Why do you think the originality is lacking? Personally I believe its because of a more media wise problem then just comics. I used to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design for 3 years, after attending several seminars with editors and speaking one on one with some of them, the attitude I gathered was that they were steadily trying to hold onto concepts from the golden and silver ages, instead of moving on to something new. The only new concept that they had been concentrating was the idea of Comics breaking into the Digital spectrum for Tablets and Smart Phones.

Originality seems to show more face in smaller indie publishers then in Marvel or DC, but they have a huge problem with making their comics more accessible to the masses. It confuses me because I have visited publishers in France, of the Franco-Belgian Comic industry and they do not seem to have the same problem. I'm just trying to piece together some sort of correlation.

#12 Posted by Cavemold (1684 posts) - - Show Bio

Theres some good dc and marvel and valaint books out . The movie/videogame/ tv industry is rasing comic book popluarity! really recoverd from the 90@s

#13 Posted by Reignmaker (2235 posts) - - Show Bio

@Rinjy said:

@Reignmaker: When you talk about the accessibility of comics, I definitely agree. But what do you think of the physical accessibility of comics? The digital market is making it easier to allow people to gain access to comics even if they might not have a comic store in their city or town. But I still feel its highly lacking compared to when it was in the past. But I believe this is more contributed to the lack of people who read for pleasure in the United States then anything else.

Yeah, it could boil down to a lack of interest. God knows most kids would rather play Deadpool: The Video Game than read his comic book.

The decline of physical comic books doesn't bother me as long as they live on through some other medium - like digital. Obviously there's still the collectable aspect of it to consider. That's undoubtedly going to take a hit. Who knows though, that might actually increase the value if the physical copies become more rare.

However to me, digital is the slow, unstoppable transition which will eventually happen. I'm not saying physical copies will go away completely but it will likely follow the same path as today's bookstores. Not completely irrelevant like CD & DVD stores - but not far behind.

#14 Posted by Cavemold (1684 posts) - - Show Bio

i think if they lowered digtoal prices lcs would die out but that wont happen

#15 Posted by Rinjy (11 posts) - - Show Bio

@Cavemold: I think so too sometimes... but then I also wonder if movies and tv could be taking away from the comic industry as well? It makes the characters more popular and accessible but what about the actual comics. Growing up in the 90s, watching Batman the Animated Series and Batman Beyond didn't really make me want to go and buy some comics. Even though I did Love Batman.

#16 Posted by Cavemold (1684 posts) - - Show Bio

@Rinjy said:

@Cavemold: I think so too sometimes... but then I also wonder if movies and tv could be taking away from the comic industry as well? It makes the characters more popular and accessible but what about the actual comics. Growing up in the 90s, watching Batman the Animated Series and Batman Beyond didn't really make me want to go and buy some comics. Even though I did Love Batman.

ah true but aslong if they movies do well . the books will be around. once you lose a core fan base ie comic fans you lose at alot money.. WB and diseny are wise to know thats terrible idea

#17 Posted by Manbehindthewires (344 posts) - - Show Bio

I think the industry is struggling a lot less than it leads us to think...

#18 Posted by Rinjy (11 posts) - - Show Bio

@Manbehindthewires: But why do you think that? :)

#19 Posted by Imagine_Man15 (1801 posts) - - Show Bio

Marvel - Good as far as sales go, but in a severe rut when it comes to quality. As someone above me mentioned, profit is definitely valued over story these days. They have a few good titles coming out, but I'd be willing to say that the majority of it is crap.

DC - Honestly, I think they're doing pretty well right now. There are a lot of quality books coming from the relaunch (and a few bad ones, and some REALLY bad ones, but no one was expecting it to be perfect).

Independent - Better than it has ever been. Especially Image and Valiant, both are producing a lot of spectacular work lately. The Independent Comics scene is the place to be right now.

#20 Posted by minigunman123 (3116 posts) - - Show Bio

The current state is "booming".

I can't say for independent comics, but most will say they're doing fantastically; personally, I've never bought one. I never felt motivated to, I've always been a big DC fan.

Marvel - not very good. Avengers vs. X-men was a flop, and heralded a new age of awful from Marvel, that we are not seeing an immediate end to yet.

DC - Pretty good. There are many awful things about the reboot, in concept, but there are tons of great stories. While it is Bat-centric for the most part, the DCnU is doing quite well, with lots of new characters introduced and many titles and stories to choose from.

With the movies being made in the last 8 years or so, comics and comic book films and paraphernalia have become very popular, and are booming as a result of these movies. Iron Man and Batman Begins were just the beginning; The Dark Knight, Iron Man 2 and Captain America, showed that comic book movies were here to stay, at least for a while, and with The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, and the upcoming Man of Steel, things have never looked better.

#21 Posted by Crom-Cruach (8869 posts) - - Show Bio

Excellent every where except the U.S.

#22 Edited by Rabbitearsblog (5893 posts) - - Show Bio

I do think that the comic book industry is starting to get more popular than it ever was before since now there are digital comics out right now. But the qualities of the stories over at Marvel and DC are suggestive at best since the changes to the stories are constant and some comic fans (like myself) are a bit angry at the lack of development to these stories. Independent comics however are having much better luck at providing more quality stories since the stories are self contained, which allows more room for the writers to write whatever they see fit.

#23 Posted by Billy Batson (58062 posts) - - Show Bio

USA's comic industry has been crap for a long time. Anyone thinking otherwise is deluded.

BB

#24 Posted by Manbehindthewires (344 posts) - - Show Bio

@Rinjy: sorry, was shattered yesterday and lacked the energy for a proper answer :p You frequently hear complaints from publishers and shop owners about costing and printing driving up costs etc and I just can't see it how that's justified. Take The Amazing Spider-Man #700, which I bought...twice...IIRC it was a $7.99 book...implying that they'd be at a loss selling this as a $2.99-$3.99 a copy. They already had a good idea of the figures that it'd sell (last I saw it, before reprints, it was sailing past the $2million mark), and also knew it'd mean reprinting back issues for the entire Dying Wish arc, each at $3.99 a pop on a book that has already, for the most part, been paid for.

I think the industry has a good hold on the reigns with regards to how a book will sell, how much they can make off it, how much they can get back in the first week etc, and has nothing to fear...but when a book becomes a $4 or $5 book they'll try to justify it by saying such a book needs extra financial backing, when in fact, it's often one of the more popular books. I find it more acceptable for indie and short-press comics however. I just picked up Dia de los Muertos and it's one of the most beautifully printed comics I've seen since Supermarket, and well worth the extra couple of dollars.

I do, however, still fear for the future of my local comic store (even though in Glasgow, there's at least 5 to choose from, which suggests the contrary). I'm amazed to see how many people on here are digital readers and it does have loads of benefits (AR, portability, vibrant and truer colours to name a few). A big part of the experience for me is seeing the rest of "The Wednesday Crowd" and although digital is the future, I hate to think of that element of comics disappearing altogether. I can only hope that riding on the coat tails of the toy collectors, Dr Who fans and other pop culturists that venture through the comic stores can keep them afloat.

#25 Edited by Rinjy (11 posts) - - Show Bio
@Rabbitearsblog: Do you think that lack of development is new?  I was happy with the "concept" of the new 52 for example, because it led younger audiences like some of my friends, have a fresh introduction to some of the characters they had only been introduced to before as pop culture icons. But yet at the same time I'm really concerned with the lack of "unfinished" stories. Each story arch seems to have a beginning and end but at some point it has to have a real end. Another thing I've never quite wrapped my head around is that American Comics do not seem to have the idea of Death anymore. I know why we don't anymore, and I thought it was stupid. But Characters that never age, and never die become icons instead of characters. If the character is stagnated in time, isn't the plot too? Again these are just questions that pop into my head.
 
@Manbehindthewires
No its fine its fine, I'm just creating a discussion and debate on the subject. :)  I'm using this as an example because out of all foreign markets I'm most familiar with it at this point: In the Franco Belgian Comic industry, they are also seeing a boom in internet sales, online copies that can be purchased through Tablets and Smart Phones. However while using this method they create bigger, collectible books (Not talking soft cover newsprint manga, but full page colored and hardcover copies) to create a market not only for Print but also Art. There Comics are seen as the 9th Art, as they refer to it as. The collectible books, made more popular from E-book sales has created an increase interest in it as an art form then it was previously. It allows Comics to be taken much more seriously on a country wide scale.
 
 @Billy Batson: Why do you think that is though? Personally I agree, and have been trying to research in some fundamental flaws the US industry might be having. Especially when it comes to the attitude that they have towards their own industry they've been working in.
#26 Posted by RideASpaceCowboy (527 posts) - - Show Bio

I prefer the term "sequential art" as it encompass the entire medium, not just the most commercially visible aspects of it.

The most important development going on currently is the expansion of the digital marketplace and the continued evolution of digital comics as a unique medium (for example, Marvel's Infinite Comics).

#27 Posted by krspaceT (1487 posts) - - Show Bio

@minigunman123 said:

The current state is "booming".

I can't say for independent comics, but most will say they're doing fantastically; personally, I've never bought one. I never felt motivated to, I've always been a big DC fan.

Marvel - not very good. Avengers vs. X-men was a flop, and heralded a new age of awful from Marvel, that we are not seeing an immediate end to yet.

DC - Pretty good. There are many awful things about the reboot, in concept, but there are tons of great stories. While it is Bat-centric for the most part, the DCnU is doing quite well, with lots of new characters introduced and many titles and stories to choose from.

With the movies being made in the last 8 years or so, comics and comic book films and paraphernalia have become very popular, and are booming as a result of these movies. Iron Man and Batman Begins were just the beginning; The Dark Knight, Iron Man 2 and Captain America, showed that comic book movies were here to stay, at least for a while, and with The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, and the upcoming Man of Steel, things have never looked better.

Amen, and I'm not a fan of said word

#28 Posted by Rinjy (11 posts) - - Show Bio
@RideASpaceCowboy: When I attended SCAD we referred to it as Sequential Art as well. However again, although it is a better word to use by definition, most people do not know its meaning, especially within the United States. 
 
@Crom-Cruach: I agree in certain aspects. But why? Why is the US market so different. Each market was born in a different way and yet ours seems to be falling behind in comparison. Their are social factors, like the decline in the average american reading and the misconception of Comics in the term of "newspaper funnies" but it can't be only that. I've been trying to delve deeper to really figure out the fundamental problems of the industry. Regardless of whether it appears to be "booming" or not is irrelavent. On a global stage and even in the US (Literature Sales) we are really lacking. Even with this new boost and expansion across several medias. We still seem to be missing something.
#29 Posted by akbogert (3224 posts) - - Show Bio

Phew. Got carried away with my response. It's now a blog. Hope it helps ^_^

#30 Posted by Rinjy (11 posts) - - Show Bio
@akbogert:  
Thank you so much for putting together such a detailed response. I highly appreciate your time :) Its a huge help. 
 
I also wanted to ask the question as well. This is also directed to everyone: When your forming your opinions about the US comic industry, have you ever delved into or been curious about comic industries outside the US (Besides Japan's Manga craze)?
#31 Edited by akbogert (3224 posts) - - Show Bio

@Rinjy: Well, you're asking everyone, so hopefully you get some good answers; for myself, as I mentioned, I'm pretty new to comics (just got back into it around New Years'), and my focus has been exclusively on American comics and, quite frankly, just on Big Two (I've read some free issues from indie publishers but don't actually think I've bought any indie stuff yet). The only foreign comics knowledge I have is just what you didn't want: manga. Haha. As one who has taken six years of French and is slowly trying to get back what he knew and surpass it, I know at the very least that I want to read Persepolis, and along the same line my grade school French teacher talked quite favorably about Asterix.

And then there's Kick-Ass, which I don't read but with which I am familiar. I know Millar is Scottish; I don't know if his work is therefore considered "international;" I believe he still publishes under Marvel but I may be wrong. EDIT: And come to think of it, I believe at least Kick-Ass 2, and maybe the first book, were originally published at least in part in CLiNT, which is not an American publication, so maybe that does count...but it's still in English, so maybe it counts less.

#32 Posted by Crom-Cruach (8869 posts) - - Show Bio

@Rinjy said:

@Crom-Cruach: I agree in certain aspects. But why? Why is the US market so different. Each market was born in a different way and yet ours seems to be falling behind in comparison. Their are social factors, like the decline in the average american reading and the misconception of Comics in the term of "newspaper funnies" but it can't be only that. I've been trying to delve deeper to really figure out the fundamental problems of the industry. Regardless of whether it appears to be "booming" or not is irrelavent. On a global stage and even in the US (Literature Sales) we are really lacking.

I'm likely not going to be able to give you the answer you're looking for because, this is my personal experience shaping my opinion, and there might be some bias in there. But to give you an example of what is going on in Europe with comics, you have series that are officially endorsed by renowned university professors for the content they have. The historical fiction series "The shields of Mars" published by Glenat is endorsed and reviewed by the Historia magazine, a monthly publishing of various works of mostly belgian and french professors who show their current studies and keep up with the current state of various topics.

Glenat publishes a wide variety of comic styles including New Manga (manga style comics but written by Europeans), sci-fi, fantasy etc. The thing that amazes me in the European market is the variety. You find so many different genres of literature companies will publish series running from pure romance to humor to adventure and fantasy. And all of these are equally accessible to the new reader.

However and this might by my own skewed perception. You don't get the depth and variety in american comics. It's super-heroes and humor mostly (weekly strips like garfield). Everything else is either underground and indie or not easily accessible. Not saying you can't find or they don't exist in sufficient numbers to keep an avid fan reading. But the American comic medium is exceptionally focused on these two styles and the rest takes a far back seat, especially in terms of publicity.

Personally, I think the reason the U.S comic medium is suffering is that it's not as easily accessible to someone who doesn't like super-heroes or doesn't want a four panel humor strip. The two biggest comic companies, publish almost nothing but Super-Hero comics. Finding something outside the super-hero is a lot more difficult. Add in the very American perception that it's "kid's stuff" and "for nerds" along with no publicity or widespread information distribution of what else is out there and you have a recipe for entropy.

#33 Posted by akbogert (3224 posts) - - Show Bio

@Crom-Cruach said:

However and this might by my own skewed perception. You don't get the depth and variety in american comics. It's super-heroes and humor mostly (weekly strips like garfield). Everything else is either underground and indie or not easily accessible. Not saying you can't find or they don't exist in sufficient numbers to keep an avid fan reading. But the American comic medium is exceptionally focused on these two styles and the rest takes a far back seat, especially in terms of publicity.

Personally, I think the reason the U.S comic medium is suffering is that it's not as easily accessible to someone who doesn't like super-heroes or doesn't want a four panel humor strip. The two biggest comic companies, publish almost nothing but Super-Hero comics. Finding something outside the super-hero is a lot more difficult. Add in the very American perception that it's "kid's stuff" and "for nerds" along with no publicity or widespread information distribution of what else is out there and you have a recipe for entropy.

If your perception is skewed, then so is mine. These two paragraphs strike me as exceptionally true.

#34 Posted by Yai_Inn (352 posts) - - Show Bio

I think it's hurting.

  1. Sales are down. The early 90s was the boom and the market was flooded which ultimately led to its collapse.
  2. Youth don't read.
  3. Paper has continued to improve which has jacked prices way up.
  4. As the medium moves digital the costs (mostly justified by raw materials) will have to decrease leaving LCS in the cold.
  5. Piracy has the industry on life support.
  6. There has been little effort in finding a pulp hero for the next generation. The major players continue to force the same heroes they've used for decades. Teens don't really want to like the same things their parents do. If you looked back at the last decade who would you consider to be a pulp hero that's a major house hold name? Harry Potter. Maybe something like Pikachu? Not much done by comics.
#35 Posted by Rinjy (11 posts) - - Show Bio
@Crom-Cruach: Actually thats something new, I never knew that about the Franco-Belgian Comic industry. its interesting that research and professors endorse comics in a particular way too.  
@Yai_Inn:  
 
2. Youth don't read. 
Forget about what a huge problem this is even at its core but I've realized from watching my younger brother, he is 3 years younger then me. Grow up and go through school, What the hell did they even read? I remember having to read 3 novels every year I had Language Arts or English Class. He had maybe, half that? Maybe a quarter actually? Its sad that Youth don't read, but I have a feeling its also because they aren't introduced to it from an early age. And when they are, all they see it is, as a chore. Nothing of interest or the pursuit of knowledge. Another thing most Americans seem to be lacking, is the pursuit of knowledge or furthering education. Yea more of us go to college now, but Im sure the vast majority hate it or just see it as another requirement in life? 
 
3. Paper has continued to improve which has jacked prices way up.  
While that is definitely true, American Comics still don't feel something very collectible. Why are we paying all this extra money for better paper and ink when its still only stitched together with a couple of staples or Perma binding glue? 
 
6.  There has been little effort in finding a pulp hero for the next generation. The major players continue to force the same heroes they've used for decades. Teens don't really want to like the same things their parents do. If you looked back at the last decade who would you consider to be a pulp  hero that's a major house hold name? Harry Potter. Maybe something like Pikachu? Not much done by comics. 
 
Isn't this the truth as well. I feel like one of the only heroes I had growing up was Batman, and he wasn't even apart of my generation, not nearly. Harry Potter sparked alot of young kids to read, in fact it got me into reading but I wouldn't really consider him a pulp hero. And like you said, nothing in comics. 
#36 Posted by Rinjy (11 posts) - - Show Bio

I was also curious if anyone knows of monthly subscriptions or magazines that have anything to do with the Comic Industry? Like Game Informer is to Video Games.