Only 30 percent of news on comics sites is about the actual medium
Months ago, a comic book publicist and I were chatting about this and that and he suggested, rather ominously, “Have you ever tried counting how many stories on comics news sites are actually about comics? You’d be surprised.”Now MacDonald may admit her own site's contributors - not the least being she herself - have contributed to the decline of coverage for zygote. But there's something else she hasn't admitted: they've long let their political leanings get the better of them, or, they otherwise refuse to call out superhero publishers and others for leading the way in flooding their products with a torrent of ultra-leftist tirades that drained the entertainment value from the comics. Nor do they make any serious effort to clamor for publishers to adapt to better publication formats, let alone anything else that might help comicdom emerge from the self-imposed ghetto they put themselves into nearly a quarter century ago, and are apparently uninterested in getting out of.
The idea percolated in my head for a while. And it took a while to do it. But I did. And the answer probably won’t surprise you a bit. Only about 30% of the stories on the top 6 comics news sites – CBR, ComicBook.Com, Bleeding Cool, Newsarama, Comics Alliance and this very site – are about comic book news. More than half – 54% – are movie, TV or nerdlebrity news. The rest is a melange of toys, wrestling, video games and what I’d call “related business news” like conventions, collectibles and human interest.
And they're surprised if public interest in a comics news site plummeted? The reason they're turning to movie, toys and TV news is because the traditional audience they once had lost interest as they aligned themselves solidly with the publishers, never objectively covering anything they did. It's a mindset that may have begun with the now defunct Wizard, which surely led to a lot of the problems now littering the medium, and has gotten considerably worse since. Yet nobody's willing to admit their politics or un-objective approach to coverage led anyone to abandon their news sites.
While we're on the subject, Augie deBlieck, long a contributor to CBR, wrote a similar topic several months ago on Pipeline where he states that comics journalism is dead in the water:
It pains me to write this, but it’s just too obvious to ignore now.Or worse, third and fourth. Interestingly enough, CBR doesn't seem to turn up much in the news page results of the major search motors, if at all. Not that it matters, because the site is so pathetic now, and I wouldn't recommend such a leftist site to anyone.
Big Web Comic Book Journalism is dead as an institution. It can no longer support itself. We can all proclaim that “We’ve won!” because superheroes have “gone mainstream” and dominate the box office ticket sales every year. We can wallow in the glory that Old Navy and Target will sell you a t-shirt with Captain America’s shield on in, just like you’ve seen 20 people wearing in the last week. And we can eat it up when a television network has devoted most of its weekly programming to superhero series from a shared universe.
But none of that is comic books. Books. The things you read. Those are still dead in the water. Those are still the things the “mainstream” press writes about with headlines that boldly proclaim “Bam! Pow! Zap!” before writing about how these aren’t your father’s comics anymore, or how these are the comics that have gone to Hollywood. Those are the things that people on the street will look at you and quizzically ask, “Oh, they still print those?” Comic books are the things that are worth money, right? Because didn’t CNBC do a piece about their investment value?
We’ve won? Pshaw!
As further proof that the fight is over, I submit to you this week’s redesign of ComicBookResources.com. Or, as it is now known, CBR.com. Like KFC, it’s now removed that pesky unhealthy “Fried Chicken” part of its name from the title. Let’s not mention “comic books” anymore, people. Those are secondary.
Marvel and DC bust their humps to figure out a way to sell 300,000 copies of a comic, and it’s never by building a bigger audience. It’s always through sales tricks like exclusive covers and variants and all the rest.Their vehement refusal to abandon the pamphlet format only compounds their insular, self-imposed ghettoization, as do their politics. I'll give credit to deBlieck for covering this too and admitting CBR's a sellout coverage-wise, but if he won't admit ultra-leftism's proven toxic for comicdom too, then he's not much better than Comics Beat's staff. Journalism is collapsing along with the medium, but that's because nobody's willing to admit there's more to it than meets the eye.