There's no question about it; publishing is struggling. That means books as well as graphic novels and comics have had a rough time over the last several years. Recently, an article at Publishers Weekly about the decline of the Borders bookstore got me thinking about the future of publishing, in general, and how a big chain like Borders could not only affect publishing as a whole- but it could also be viewed as representative of what is happening to the publishing industry.
The Borders Group has been struggling for the last several years; having suffered losses, being forced to refinance and struggling with changes in their management- the recent PW article cited yet another issue the company is facing- the suspension of shipments from publishers. So the question is, what does this have to do with the comic book industry?
Like many other industries, publishing has suffered the ramifications of a struggling economic climate- but the economy isn't the only thing they have had to combat. The release of the Apple iPad and the Amazon Kindle have led to reading books and graphic novels digitally- cutting out the private retailer. Companies like Comixology and Grapic.ly have created online applications that allow readers to download their comic books and graphic novels and read them on go. The advantage is that you don't have to carry the books around, and the quality of the art in a digital comic is of a higher resolution; which for many, makes for a more enjoyable experience. Not to mention, you can organize your comic library and collection digitally- much as you would with music. So, will the digital market monopolize the comics industry and eventually make print comics a commodity?
We first saw the collapse of the comics industry back in the 90's between 1993 and 1997. During that time, approximately 2/3 of comic book and specialty stores closed their doors to the public. Those comic shops that have stuck around, have struggled to compete with bigger stores and online distributors like Amazon, where readers can generally purchase the same graphic novel for considerably less money. However, as much as the comic shops across America have assisted publishers throughout the years, most publishers have seemed to embrace the idea of selling their comic books digitally. While you may not be able to get the latest issue of Batman on the DC Comics Comixology iTunes app, you only have to wait a couple of weeks--which for the not-so-avid-reader, isn't that big of a deal.
What does the future hold for print comics and books, in general? The easiest comparison to draw to the present state of comics is music. Music was first distributed through LP records, then tapes, then CD's. Now, music is distributed primarily digitally (which is partly attributed to Apple's monopolization of the music market- but that's another issue entirely). Yet, even though the digital age is changing the comic book industry, I do not believe that print comics will ever go out of style. Comic readers tend to be collectors, and many fans value the experience of holding their funnybooks, smelling the pages and curling up to read on the couch- something you just can't duplicate with the iPad; no matter how convenient it is. I for one hope that print comics continue to thrive, but what about you?
How do you think the digital age will affect the comics industry? Do you think that digital comics will eventually replace print comics? If so, what will happen to comic stores?
Archie comics have always sort of reminded me of what life would be in a perfect world. In this small, self contained universe, nothing "wrong" ever happens and Archie's most dire conflict is whether he wants to ask Veronica or Betty out on a date for Friday night. Recently, however, there seems to be a push to intertwine realism and realistic concepts and situations into Archie's world. By realism, I mean concepts that you and I are likely to deal with in our ordinary lives. The most recent example is the announcement of Geraldine Grundy's battle with cancer, and her subsequent death which will be featured in issue #6 of " Life With Archie."
Death in comic books is often used as a way to move a story. This year alone we've seen stories that revolve entirely around character deaths. In 2008, we witnessed the death of Batman and this year, DC comics spent the majority of the year telling stories which focused on his resurrection and return in the Return of Bruce Wayne.
At Marvel, we witnessed the death of the Sentry during SIEGE, and Cable during Second Coming. Each of these deaths were incredible, and occurred during fantastic circumstances. The Sentry's death, for example, was dealt by Thor who summoned all the power of Mjolnir to destroy the Sentry. Thor then proceeded to take Sentry's remains, and throw them into the sun. Sure, the death of the Sentry was interesting and exciting- but it's hard for readers to relate to. I mean, how often do the people you care about die by being thrown into the sun?
The death of Ms. Grundy comes at a time where there have been definite changes being made in Archie comics. More frequently we've seen new concepts that have changed the characters in the comics we've grown up with, and as a result, have modernized the publication. In an interview with the New York Times, co-chief executive of Archie Comics Jon Goldwater discussed the many recent changes that have been introduced to Archie comics. "“The goal was to tell stories with important, real-world issues that people deal with like death, financial hardship and marriage issues.” The idea of introducing real world concepts, hardships and struggles into Archie's "perfect" world is indeed a good idea; and the death of Ms. Grundy at the hand of cancer, a common killer, is actually a really good thing. So many of us have been touched by cancer and seen our loved ones pass as a result of the disease, that integrating it into Archie's life and forcing the character to deal with the hardship makes him more relatable and interesting to the reader.
Having grown up reading Archie comics, and frequently sneaking the comics into my Mom's grocery cart, it will be interesting to see how the classic character is affected by cancer and the passing of his former teacher. What do you think? Are you looking forward to the changes we are seeing in Archie?
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What makes your favorite character interesting? Does he or she personify the ideal qualities of the ultimate hero; or are they a tortured character that hide behind a mask; fearful of revealing who they truly are? Sometimes our favorite comic characters are the imperfect ones, flawed in the way they've reacted to life which in turn makes them interesting and beautifully complex; deep, dark and brooding. Love him or hate him, the reason that Jason Todd makes for such interesting stories is because he is such a complicated and intriguing character.
When Jason Todd was first created by DC Comics, he was a virtual clone of the former Boy Wonder, Dick Grayson. Pre-Crisis Jason Todd, like Dick Grayson, was born to a family of acrobats who died tragically. Following their death, Bruce Wayne adopted Jason Todd and he became the new Robin. However, comic fans struggled to associate with Jason Todd and as a result, following DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths, Jason Todd's origin story changed. His father became a petty crook, and the woman who he originally believed to be his mother, died of a drug overdose. Bruce Wayne virtually scooped Jason up off of the rough Gotham streets and offered him a chance to be the new Robin. During his tenure as Robin, Jason Todd struggled to realize his own identity and was often extremely reckless and temperamental as a result. Much of Jason's anger stemmed from his past as a troubled kid, his unhappy childhood, and his constant struggle to stay out of Dick Grayson's shadow. Jason seemed to personify the "middle child syndrome," constantly living in the shadow of Dick Grayson when he was Robin, and following his resurrection, struggling with his feelings of being replaced by Tim Drake. This feeling of being displaced that Jason experiences throughout his history is something that remains constant- but it's also what makes him so intriguing. It not only serves to create an interesting dynamic between Jason and the other Robin's; but also serves as a reminder to Bruce Wayne of his failures. Even in death, Jason Todd was a force to be reckoned with.
In his own eyes, Jason Todd never could measure up to the standards that his predecessor Dick Grayson had set, and this would lead to his inner turmoil. Batman eventually realized that Jason is too reckless for the responsibilities that being Batman's partner in crime entailed; something that eventually led to Jason's demise in Batman #428 the Batman: A Death in the Family story arc. It is in this story, that Jason not only discovers the true identity of his mother -who turns on him, sacrificing him to the Joker in order to save herself- but he suffers at the hand of the Joker and his infamous crowbar. The scenes that capture the young boy who wants nothing more than to be accepted by his biological Mother and the only family he has left is sad- but it is these scenes that allow Judd Winick to later draw the anger, resentment and hopelessness of Jason Todd as the lost son of the Bat-family in his Under The Red Hood story arc.
The Red Hood returns in The Red Hood, and Jason Todd came into his own. His feelings of resentment against Bruce as well as Dick and Tim flourishes in this series, and it becomes evident that Jason's death will not go unavenged. Embracing the idea that the only way to fight crime is to control it, and coming face to face with Bruce reminding him of his failures as a father.
The most recent appearance of Jason Todd was earlier this year in Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin. It is in the final scene of the sixth issue that we see the rivalry between the two brothers once again take center stage. The new Batman; Dick Grayson; Bruce Wayne's "golden child" and "Boy Wonder," faces against Jason Todd, the broken son, who in all his fervor struggled to be Dick and never could. The ultimate slap in the face for Jason is the scene where he is being arrested and Dick says "Look at yourself, Jason. You're a mess. Everything's a mess. Stop all this...and let us help you." The statement is rhetorical. There is no way Jason Todd would accept help from Dick Grayson of all people, the one person who has overshadowed Jason's entire existence.
More recently we've seen Jason attempt to take on the role of cape and cowl in Battle for the Cowl following Bruce's death, and appear as Red Hood again in Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin before being taken away by Commissioner Gordon. Since his arrest in issue 6 of Batman and Robin, I've wondered when readers will catch another glimpse of Jason Todd. How will Jason deal with the fact that the only father figure he's ever had has returned from the dead? What will he think when he realized that the role of Batman is now shared between both Dick and Bruce?
While I may not find him to be the best Robin (his character flourished after his death,) I do think he is one of the more interesting characters in the Batman universe, what do you think?
Can you believe New York Comic-Con is here, already? It feels like the big event just snuck up on me! Crazy! So, since so many of you announced that you will indeed be in attendance, I figured it would be cool to do a meet up with all the cool people that visit and support Comicvine. I was a little torn about the location of where to meet up. Since Times Square isn't that far from the Jacob Javits Center, I thought the Hard Rock would be a perfect place for everyone to get together. Then I thought to myself, the Hard Rock Cafe on a Friday night in Times Square? No, thanks. I'd rather be forced to wear a Power Girl costume for 9 hours. So I decided on this cool pizza place near the convention center called Ovest Pizzoteca. It's a really cool brick oven pizza place not far from where the show will be held, and it will probably be a little bit more quiet. So, if you want to meet me and talk comics, here are the details.
What: Meet up! Where: Ovest Pizzoteca, 513 West 27th St When: Friday, October 8th at 6:30 PM
Feels like only yesterday that I attended my very first Comic Convention- I can hardly believe that was over a year ago. New York Comic-Con is quite possibly, my favorite of all the shows. Why? 'Cause it's being held in the greatest City, EVER! And you can bet I am beyond excited about taking a trip back to my home town!
I don't think there are enough exclamatory words in the English language to describe how excited I am. Okay, maybe there are, but I digress. Enough about the excitement, here's what we'll be doing!
Comic-Con wouldn't be complete without interviews, AMIRIGHT? I've already scheduled some interviews with some VERY cool Batman creators, so stay tuned for those!
I plan on doing a MEET + GREET after the show, so if you'll be in attendance (or just live in the area and won't be hitting the show) and you want to meet up, let me know what day works best for you.
COSPLAY COSPLAY COSPLAY! Although I won't be dressing up, I am super excited to see you in your amazing costumes!
NYCC meets NY Anime Festival. Comics meet Manga in one MASSIVE Geek-tastic experience. What's not to love?
If you're going to be at the show, let me know! I would love to meet you guys! If you aren't going, stay tuned to the news page and my blog all weekend for updates.
Join me and the rest of the Whiskey Media family as we supply all you wonderful people with 7 hours of non-stop entertainment! That's right! Prepare yourself for comedy, tragedy and watch us embarrass ourselves for a good cause, i.e., your entertainment. Why? Because we love you!
The live show will stream online between 10 AM and 5 PM which you'll be able to watch even if you live in Tanzania. All you need is access to a computer ...
BUT THAT'S ONLY THE BEGINNING! If you are in the Bay area, then come down to our office across from ABS Studios in downtown San Francisco for our block party between 5 PM and 9PM.