Sequential Underground #44 – What Should Change?

Sequential Underground

Shawn Atkins and Nick Marino rant about the comic book business, as inspired by a blog post by Pittsburgh comics creator and retailer, Wayne Wise (which was in turn inspired by a discussion from the mysterious and elusive Pittsburgh Comic Talk Facebook group).

Shawn thinks that the big corporate publishers need to produce more works in varying genres to reinvigorate the comic book industry. He also wants new characters getting the spotlight in their superhero continuities.

But Nick says “fuck new readers!” and holds creators accountable for making the most compelling and exciting comics that they can regardless of how new reader friendly a story appears on the surface.

This episode also builds on something we discussed back in Sequential Underground #9 — diversity of genre and digital content.

6 Responses to “Sequential Underground #44 – What Should Change?”

  1. 1 Smars

    i agree with nick on this.
    screw trying to pull in new readers.
    it’s a lot of effort and energy put into something that may not work.

    if they’re interested they will come to it of their own free will.
    i don’t think the big two eclipse all the other variety out there, anyone who is curious enough will explore the possible options of stuff beyond superheros, or beyond comics that don’t do anything new.

  2. 2 nick marino

    @Smars: YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS. Well said.

  3. 3 Paul

    “New reader friendly” has become a big obsession among some reviewers. It’s been decades since I was a new reader, but when I was a kid and discovering comics, I rarely had the chance to start at a #1 or at a clean entry-point. I just picked up stuff that looked exciting, and if it was written even half-way confidently, I could follow the story.

  4. AudioShocker Shoutouts!

    VACANT webcomics

  5. 4 nick marino

    @Paul: THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!!! I think this obsession with “new read friendly” is totally insane because the big myth and larger picture is always intriguing. And like you said, it comes down to how well written an individual story is — if the story is compelling, then a new reader will want to take the effort to understand the bigger picture.

  6. 5 Paul

    As for why publishers don’t put more effort into new characters, I think there are a few reasons for that.

    The direct market is built on a core of dependable, week-to-week customers. Those customers, for whatever reason, are primarily interested in long-established superheroes. Publishers can count on those customers to show up and buy comics featuring those characters, so that’s what they focus on. Those customers have proven to be fairly unreceptive to new characters and genres, at least as compared to their interest in Batman and Spider-man.

    For DC and (especially) Marvel, there’s a strong sense that their job is to manage and promote the intellectual property they already own. It’s different from the newstand days, when the aim was to move copies in whatever genre happened to be selling best at the time.

    When comics were more widely available, and there were more casual, occasional readers, and merchandizing/licensing wasn’t the huge thing it is now, publishers were encouraged by their customers and their market to try new things. If the zombie craze had happened during the 70s, I bet that Marvel would have done a straight-up zombie series, not a superheroes-turning-into-zombies series. Because there would have been an audience for it, who didn’t have the idea that every comic with a Marvel logo on it had to be part of the Marvel Universe. And nobody at the corporate management level would have said “why are we wasting resources on this zombie thing when we ought to be busy elevating our Iron Fist brand so we can make a movie out of it?”

  7. 6 nick marino

    @Paul: Well said. It’s a really odd business model. I mean, I don’t hate the way the business is now… but I do see how unusual and niche it is.

  8. AudioShocker Shoutouts!

    The Illiterate Badger webcomics

  1. 1 The Comics Podcast Network » Sequential Underground #44
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