5 Reasons Monthly Comic Book Sales Will NEVER Recover
There are so many reasons that practical monthly comic book sales (I mean of the physical object) will never rebound back to their levels of yesteryear that it’s hard to know where to start. As an old-fashioned comic geek, I’ll just stick to the things the industry is doing to themselves rather than factors Marvel and DC can’t control, like the advent of video games and other home entertainment options.
1. The endless cycle of yearly events is killing everything
This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about Event Fatigue, but it’ll probably be the last. See, once a year, all the comic book characters get together, throw a big party and wreck the place. After that, it’s clean up time – gotta get those beer bottles off the lawn and into the recycling can, clean the puke out of the bathroom sink and get Iron Man off your couch. (Keeps making the, “People always ask me: how do you go the bathroom in the suit? … Just like that!” joke.) Anyway, these yearly events destroy the narrative structure in nearly ever book – and it’s already inherently broken anyway (see the next topic), but this just makes it worse because the events tend to pull the rug out from the universe – and they’re usually lame, anyway.
2. The graphic novel package
For some reason, the comic industry decided that every six or so issues, they should bundle those comics up into a graphic novel and sell that. This, then, demands a narrative structure of the aforementioned length, which means that doing a story longer than that is impossible. I guess I just long for the epic Captain America 281 through 301 story arcs.
3. The decrease in quality of product
Between the events and the graphic novel culture, the product is suffering. And there are so many titles that are too similar – check out how many Batman titles there are, for example. You end up with a ton of crap – but it’s all the same crap! I never thought I could get tired of Batman or the Batman universe, but DC made it easy. Spider-Man has a similar problem.
4. The price of monthly books and the associated hassle vs the convenience of digital comics
Comic prices are really out of hand; $2.99, $3.99 or even $4.99 an issue is getting out of hand and, after citing the quality issues above, it gets more and more difficult to justify the expense. Then, when you couple the fact that digital comics are cheaper and digital graphic novels are cheaper than buying the individual issue counterpart, the math becomes easy. Plus, you don’t have to deal with storage or going to the store or missing a sold out book.
5. Comics aren’t worth anything anymore – and The Cover Game is making it even worse
No matter how bad your favorite comics got, you could always console yourself with the idea that buying a comic was an investment – someday, it could be worth something significant, or it would at least appreciate in value a little bit… yeah, those days are over. Trying selling a comic book from the 1990s; you’re better off using it to line your bird’s cage. And, just to make things more annoying, they’ll do this Variant Cover thing where they’ll release the same issue with 10 covers – the “completest” collectors will buy all of them, but most of us just shrug and pick one. The bottom line is what used to make for a valuable comic was a good story, and almost nobody seems to care about that anymore.
If it doesn’t go without saying, I stopped buying monthly comics for several reasons, including all of the above and the fact that my read pile just wasn’t shrinking at a rate that could keep up with the new comics coming in. This was in part due to a lack of free time and a lack of interest, but a decision had to be made, and I think I’m better off for it. Whenever I finally finish my pile, I’ll just buy a digital graphic novel and save myself the expense and hassle.
So long, monthly comics – I’ll miss ya.