The State of the Comic Book Industry Part 1: Origins
From Kingdom Come, to Kingdom Fall
The shape that the comic book industry is in right now has some pros and some cons to it, but to talk about any of them we have to go over its origin story which started all the way back in the 90s with two important major events that still have an effect on the industry as a whole today!
The first is Image Comics, founded in 1992 by seven Marvel Comics Studio artists who quit and decided to start their own company. Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Whilce Portacio, Marc Silvestri, Erik Larsen, Jim Valentino, and Rob Liefeld all decided to quit Marvel after they weren't being treated fairly, and decided to their own company where they could be in control of what they create. This was a big deal at the time because before this Marvel and DC were the only comic book companies to work for, and if you weren't working for them than you just weren't working. This opened up and started a new age in comics where creators could go out and start their own comics and be in control of their own careers and own all the profits. After this and till this day the market is flooded with indie titles and some have had a huge success such as TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and The Walking Dead.
The second event that shaped the way that the industry is today is the comic book crash of 1996. This is when interest in comic books and the market fell heavily and people stopped buying comic books. Most comic book shops lost all their money and were forced to close. Marvel and DC almost went bankrupt and went into partnerships with larger companies to survive. This is why Marvel is owned by Disney and DC is owned by Warner Brothers today. What caused this crash was the belief from customers that if they horde as many comic books as possible and then trade them in 20 to 30 years later they will have enough money to buy a new car or house. When it became clear that this wasn't the case the interest in the market paid the price.
Now that we have gone over its origin story, we can talk about how the industry is today. Comic books struggle to survive in keeping interest with current fans and attracting new ones. Fans spending their money on comic books is what keeps Marvel, DC, and the few comic book shops that are left afloat. Now the recent superhero movies might help with that interest but not as much as you think. Interest in comics have only shown a two percent spike increase since superhero movies have hit theaters and the only companies who have really benefit from it are Marvel and DC. While those two main powerhouses still sit on the throne there is a rebellion building within the comic book kingdom.
There is a slow push towards indie comics and other titles that are not so main stream. Even Hollywood is noticing this trend and is cashing in with TV-shows such as The Walking Dead and the soon to be released SyFy show, Deadly Class. Indie comics have never been more popular than they are now and indie creators are taking advantage because let's be honest, who knows how long this will really last. I think the main reason for this shift is because fans want something different. Everyone knows Batman's origins and his stories, same goes for Spiderman. Fans want to see new heroes and new stories. Characters they don't know and have never met before. They want to travel in new unexplained and uncharted worlds. This feeling of the unknown gives a sense of adventure that comic books are supposed to be delivering to the fans in those 22-24 pages in the first place.
That's all I have for today, comeback later for Part 2 of this article. If you agree with me on this subject leave a tip and share this story. Please also send me a message if there are any subject in the comic book industry you would like for me to cover!