If it’s good enough for Grandad does this really mean it’s good enough for me?

The convention ended about an hour and a half previous to the writing of this post. On the whole, I enjoyed myself thoroughly; I’d go so far as to say that this statement is true for the majority of the people in attendance this weekend. Vendors, pro’s, fans, everyone seemed to be content, if not tired, at the end of the day.

So after a good meal and a chance to decompress, here are a couple of final thoughts on the weekend.

0. The nice thing about not having to fill holes in my collection is that I’m free to find things. I can flip through a box and discover a ridiculous amount books I’ve read about or heard good things about. I can also feel more free to take a chance on things just because… It was surprisingly fun to look aimlessly with no goal in mind.

1. To quote Mark Waid, “There are a lot of genuinely good people in the comic industry, but there are also a lot of lazy people in the industry.” Mr. Waid said this during the Family Friendly Comics panel. It was in reference to the current over reliance on explicit violence and gore in mainstream comics. As always though, it’s what happens to be selling. Aggravating.

2. DC does not, and for the foreseeable future will not stand for Digital Comics. Odds are they’ll stand for Dad’s Comics. They’re going to be playing catch-up and it’s going to hurt. Digicomics came up again and again in panels  across the board. But, according to Ian Sattler of DC, the company is only merely looking into the possibility. Marvel has already dabbled in this and is getting much more serious about the form. The Iron-Man annual will be released on the same day in both pamphlet and digital format. Further, Mark Waid, Editor-in-Chief of BOOM!, has many of their titles online and speaks positively of it as augmenting, if not changing, the face of comics.

Success in this experiment should mean a couple of things…some obvious, some not so much:

a. The worry of the price-point might be a thing of the past…hopefully,

b. A wider audience can be reached. As Jeff Parker pointed out today in a panel, web-content of all sorts will be able to link to downloadable content. Mentioning that interviews and news stories that catch a reader’s interest could offer instant contact with content,

c. With lower overhead, companies might be more willing to experiment with content. They might also offer content that wouldn’t sell as well in paper form… a return of US1? Maybe…hmmm?

In regards to digital comics the next six months to a year will be telling.

3. Readership needs to grow or prices will continue to rise and content will continue to stay at this level of quality(?).

It could be a brave new world that we stand before, or it could be business as usual with dwindling readership.

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4 comments on “If it’s good enough for Grandad does this really mean it’s good enough for me?

  1. Jesse says:

    Sounds like a killer weekend!

    Do 2a and 3 contradict each other? I’m very interested in how going digital will keep prices stable.

    I don’t think readership will grow unless prices become more reasonable. We’re both pretty good examples that we’ll try almost anything if the price is low enough. And I think escalating prices are keeping kids (ie: new blood) from picking up the habit and turning into lifelong readers.

    • Matt says:

      No, they don’t contradict when they are dealing with two separate and completely speculative issues.

      The ideas under topic 2 are speculating how digital comics will affect the readership.

      3 is a statement of consequences of a business with an ever dwindling readership.

      As to why a digital format would keep prices stable, the format itself is not reliant as many outside economic factors.

      Pamplets rely on increased paper/ production cost as well as ever increasing shipping/distribution cost.
      You may counter that the tech (storage space, servers for distribution to readers on the net, etc…) is not cheap. True. The start up cost is high to do it on a comparable level. On the other hand, you’re not having to buy new servers every week for every single book.

      Does it mean a lowering of prices? Probably not: who doesn’t want to make money? It will always be priced at the greatest that the market will bear. Without so many outside factors though, it should mean stabilization.

      It’s not just the price keeping new (read: young) readers out. Availability is a big deal too. There aren’t nearly as many spinner racks in grocery or drug stores as there used to be. There also aren’t so many parents eager to take an 8 year old kid to a comic book store. I can’t blame them in most cases. The majority are not new user friendly.

      • Jesse says:

        Gotcha.

        I wouldn’t argue that digital is more expensive than paper, though. Servers are expensive, but I imagine printing on paper is more so, so there’s more profit to be had. I should look into the cost for the Iron Man annual in both formats.

        I don’t know if there’s currently a good example of digital distribution that we can compare it to (ie: the publisher controls all pricing and output), so I think we’re in uncharted waters here. I do know that Apple is continually fighting with the record labels to keep prices in iTunes at $.99, and they’ve already had to concede some already.

        I completely agree with everything in your last paragraph, I just think cover prices being what they are aren’t doing sales any favors.

        It seems like FCBD is doing great things to get kids into comic shops, but what’s being done to keep them coming back the other 51 weeks of the year?

  2. […] mentioned in his report from HeroesCon that Ian Sattler is pretty adamant that most DC titles are still $2.99, and that any $3.99 title […]

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