December 8, 2008

Stuck in 1986, part II: Form

The $3 22-28-page comic book.

Soon to be the $4 22-28 page comic book.

Remember when it was just $1? I do.

Am I waxing nostalgic about that? Heck no.


Because the 22-28 page comic is not dead. Not like people predicted. But it IS strangling the comic book industry. Just killing it. How?

Well, let's just get the whole "graphic novels are the wave of the future" thing that has been the mantra for years now.

And the whole "webcomics are the wave of the future" thing that has been the mantra for fewer years now, but still years none-the-less.

Those ideas are great in theory, but let's face facts. Theory is only good if it leads to some sort of action. And so, some people have been trying to ride those ideas, focusing on graphic novels and webcomics.

But the 22-28 page comic book format continually rears it's ugly head. Don't get me wrong, the format is not evil in and of itself. And it is a financial viable method for DC and Marvel and a few select others.


Because of that success, many, many people who would be able to produce a wonderful webcomic are focused on trying to be Marvel and DC. That's the way the big boys do it, that's the way it's gotta be done.

22-28 page comics aren't going anywhere. The comic industry is too dependent on them, comic shops rely on the comic collector who will come in every week to get the latest installment of whatever comic characters they follow, and it's worked great for the last 80 years. Why mess with a good thing?

Because it's not the ONLY thing. And it's not even the BEST thing.

Too many creators are stuck looking backward, at an outdated model of publishing that can only work if you have lots and lots of money to throw at it. And they get burned. It tears me up to see so many small start ups waste so much money. Some of us (yes, I say "us" because I've been involved in this) were able to dust ourselves off from the mistake, and try looking in other directions. Others of us just plain lose everything.

It's not pretty.

The sky is the limit these days, for anyone with an idea, some time, and some talent. So why are we getting so many people who are producing material that, if you overlook the glossy paper and the lack of comic want ads and Sea Monkey ads, looks just like something they were selling in 1986.

The difference? In 1986, people were buying.

Tomorrow, part III . . . probably the last part.

~ Ben

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