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Sunday, June 16, 2013 

NY Post also wonders why comic movies don't help book sales

The New York Post's written about what they consider the mystery of Hollywood's inability to encourage more moviegoers to try out the comics their adaptations are based on:
It’s a frustrating paradox that we’ve seen over and over again, going back a decade or so since superheroes began taking over Hollywood. Why doesn’t the massive popularity of movies featuring comic book characters translate into increased sales of comic books? [...]

It didn’t happen. Look at sales of Marvel’s “Avengers Assemble,” a title specifically designed to capitalize on the movie, featuring the same line-up as what was on the big screen. It launched last year with reportedly around 100,000 in sales, though it’s now down to about 30,000.
If they'd do their research right, they'd see the answers sitting there right under their very noses: crossovers with nearly every other book, prices of 4 dollars or more, protracted and dreary storylines, to say nothing of repellant violence and intrusive left-wing politics. Last's year's Avengers vs. X-Men, which even saw the Earth's Mightiest Heroes in a state of defeat written just to make the X-Men look better for the sake of it, serves as a pretty obvious example for why comics aren't doing well: because instead of fighting real supervillains, they're fighting among themselves. That's not what the moviegoing audience expected.
A former DC editor, speaking anonymously, says that the problem wasn’t really discussed in the halls of the publishing company.

“There were no orders that I knew of to make [the Batman books] more like the [Chris] Nolan films or anything like that,” the editor says. “We just tried to make the best books we could and hope that those would be accessible to as many readers as possible.”
Uh uh, they haven't. At worst, they've been doing their darndest to retcon quite a bit about the Batbooks, like rewriting Tim Drake's history as Robin, to the point where the name may not even be his real one.
And therein lies the main sticking point: accessibility. Where does a film viewer even start in the comic book world?

“The worlds we’ve created over the past 80 or so years have become so complex that they are nearly impenetrable for new readers,” the editor says. “Leaving the comic book store experience aside, even walking into Barnes & Noble, you face an entire shelf or two or three of “Batman” books, for instance, with no sense that ‘the story starts here.’ OK, if ‘Year One’ is in the store I guess you can start there, but you get my meaning. For the DC and Marvel lines, it’s like you’ve acquired a taste for tuna, then someone dumps you in the middle of the ocean and expects you to catch your own dinner.”
I think that's too easy an explanation. If the stories are self-contained, then the only query remaining is which ones are the best? The answer would have to be almost anything, if not everything, coming before 2000. But a lot of Batman stories coming afterwards, like Bruce Wayne: Murderer/Fugitive, are worthless and as crossovers they only take up too much space everywhere.

The most accessible parts of the comics world would have to be the zygotes: the Golden Age material, for example, to learn how ideas began. Superman, Batman and Captain America's original GA tales could be a good source to try out, and it's a good thing that there are archives that can be bought either in bookstores or online. But the big two almost never recommend and promote those classic stories, if at all. Obviously, they must think nobody in modern times could possibly have a care about history, and that's troubling. No wonder they can't cash in on the success of the movies. It's because they simply won't make their comics accessible and affordable to new audiences.

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I agree that pricing, the impenetrable nature, and the "write for the trade" issues are there, but I think the Direct Market is another big one.

If you aren't already buying comics, where would you go to get them?

Sure, Borders, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble have trades, but where would you go to get floppies if you didn't already know?

They aren't on spinner racks at supermarkets, pharmacies, and toy stores any more. That's another problem, physical accessibility.

Great read, thanks for posting!

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