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by Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley

I thought I would take a moment this time out to look at the comic industry as a whole. There are a lot of changes going on and as with any change, there are good and bad aspects of it. This is a lot more of a look at the service in general even though there will be certain books mentioned. This will also be a lot more of a checklist instead of my standard blog.

Good – DC has announced that they are cutting a number of titles over the coming months. This is a good thing. It is like pruning a true so it can grow back fuller and plusher. As I have said in the past, it is better to have one book that sells terrific than have six or seven books that feature the same character and weaken the brand.

Mighty Thor #1

Bad – DC and marvel are once again going to the gimmick of primary issues. DC has been doing this recently with all of the Bat books, and now they are canceling Flash with Flashpoint. Does any individual really believe Flash will not be back again with a new primary down the line? marvel is even worse in that they went through all the trouble and hype to re-number their books to match the original numbering from when the books launched – Iron man #500, Captain America #500, Spider-Man #600, etc. now they are relaunching these books with primary issues. So far they have said Thor, FF, and Captain America all will have new number ones. I know the Thor and Captain America re-launches are driven by the new motion pictures coming out and a hope to capture some of the motion picture viewers. A book with 50 years of back issues can put off a lot of new readers, but this still bugs me. and with the FF, the book is now different enough I can see why they re-started it.

Batman & Robin #23

Ugly -Batman. Not the character of Batman, but how convoluted and messed up the whole line of books is. While there are some gems in this pile, such as Batman and Robin, and DC has recently canceled at least three of the Bat books. The whole line is still all over the map and really needs an overhaul. In fact, what got me thinking about this was we had a customer come into our retail shop and tell me he had read Batman considering that 1955 (with the odd aliens and Batmite) and now, in 2011, he is dropping Batman because he cannot take the crazed storylines anymore. and over the last fifty years there have been a lot of bad periods which he stuck through, but now he has reached his breaking point. Hopefully, DC recently hiring Bobbie Chase will help clean up this mess.

Good -There are a number of really good books out there that you cannot get through your local comic store. That is a shame. but if you want to take the effort and have the money, there are some undiscovered gems out there. A couple that come to mind ideal away are the Cinebooks line. These are color reprints of European albums and the topics range from books for young readers to the exceptional spy series XIII. To be fair, these books have been used to the direct market in the past but their sales have never been large enough for the comic distribution chain to keep using them. Also, another very good book that comic stores were never used the chance to get was Trickster, native American Tales. This is a very great graphic novel with different creators telling stores of the native American mythology of the trickster. Plus, there are other treasures out there if you want to look for them.

Brightest Day

Bad – Epics. No, not the comic line from the 80 from Marvel, but these epic storylines that go on forever and really are not all that good. In the past you have had many crisis and Wars (Secret, Civil, WWHulk), and forthcoming you have concern Itself and Flashpoint. My question is why? These have been done to death and both companies must take a stand and only do an epic story once every few years and then when it is a genuinely epic story. I would extend this problem to DCs bi-weekly books, Brightest Day and Justice League: Generation Lost. I have read both books for nearly a year and now they are wrapping up and what has happened? A lot of padding. They are like enjoying a bad serial from the 40s where every episode ends with a cliffhanger just to get you to come back the next week, but the underlying story which must be the driving force to make you want to come back is not there. I personally love a terrific epic story, but only when it is a story that should have to be told and is not just a gimmick to try and get people to get a lot more books.

Ugly – Distribution. distribution is something that the average comic book fan probably never thinks about, but it is a linchpin of what your comic book store gets and what you have the opportunity to buy. distribution depends on volume to survive. If sales drop, the potential profit for the distributor drops and then thedistributor is forced to tighten their belt. They cut what they are using the stores and take less risk on smaller or unproven titles until all you have is a handful of superheroes. and with the recent finical troubles of Borders, it only makes things harder for books to find an audience and puts even greater pressure on publishers who are owed money by Borders. Do not be shocked to see some once major publishers close their doors do to the borders situation.

Prince Valiant Vol. 3

These are just a few of the things that pertained to mind when thinking about the current state of comics. There are lots of other topics I could point out, be them good, bad, or ugly, but I think this is enough for this time out. I would like to once again recommend Fantagraphics’ prince Valiant HC series. The third volume recently came out and it is as stunning and entertaining as the first two. In fact, they are better than a lot of modern comics. They are well worth your time to seek them out. As always, anything written here is my opinion and do not reflect the Westfield company or their employees. feel complimentary to contact me at MFBWAY@AOL.COM with any comments, ideas or complaints.

Thank you.

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