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Friday, June 23, 2017 

Yes, there's potential for kids comics out there, but how are they marketed?

NY Vulture says that there's a whole industry for kids comics out there today. While this is correct, the question is just how they're being marketed, and advertised. And, they also miss some key issues as to why the medium's lost so much audience:
Indeed, there’s a whole new influx of those connoisseurs into the family of comic-book readers, and they all look like my sibling. Although the medium began as a killer app marketed to young folks in the 1930s and continued to appeal primarily to folks under 18 for a half-century afterward, comics publishers like Marvel, DC, and an array of smaller firms took a turn toward darker, more adult-oriented material in the mid-1980s. At the time, it was a wise decision: It reduced turnover by holding on to children of the Baby Boom after they might have otherwise tossed the habit aside.

However, by the turn of the millennium, that shift toward the mature became a demographic time bomb. The intended readership was getting older and older, and few young people were replacing them. As Telgemeier put it to me, “You have this industry, comics, that has spent the past few decades fighting so hard to say, ‘We’re not just for kids,’ and it overcorrected to the point where there really wasn’t anything for kids.”
The above has no mention of how company wide crossovers were a major factor in driving away audiences from the Big Two's titles since the mid-80s. True, the superhero publishers in particular went way too far in trying to prove themselves "adult" to an audience that never asked nor cared, but crossovers and limiting sales to specialty stores for many years also had a devastating effect.

And then there's the question of how they're selling those children's comics, let alone pricing them. If they're selling them as monthly pamphlets for 3-4 dollars, that's one mistake. What they should really do is publish their stores in paperbacks; why flood the bargain bins with something that might otherwise flop when it matters? They even cite at least one product that's propaganda:
As a result, supply is rapidly rising to meet seemingly insatiable demand. DC is hiring for a new division targeted at young readers, and has already done a bit of a stealth launch by publishing youth-friendly takes on their fabled characters like Supergirl: Being Super and DC Super Hero Girls: Finals Crisis. Marvel has built on the surprise mainstream-bookstore success of their young-adult comic Ms. Marvel by introducing more series in that vein, such as The Unstoppable Wasp and Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Conventional book publishers are growing their youth-comics investments, comics publishers are doubling down on their production for youths (BOOM! Studios is relishing the ongoing success of its all-ages KaBOOM! line, for example), and kid-specific comics firms are expanding (youth-oriented publisher Papercutz just opened up an imprint for tweens called Charmz).
Again, they bring up Marvel's blatant Islamic propaganda vehicle, which as of recent has been tanking deservedly, particularly ever since the election issue. And which wasn't an exception to some of their crossovers either. In fact, none of the other titles above have been selling in millions either, so Vulture's fawning article is just more unintentional comedy.

The biggest mistake, IMHO, is the continued reliance on monthly pamphlets instead of going straight for trade paperbacks. Yet even if they did change their approach, something tells me the press would still sugarcoat their sales if they didn't do wonders and the writing/art was otherwise bad. There is, to be sure, a whole new market out there for kids, but not only are the Big Two not cashing in on it properly, none of the medium seems to be doing any better.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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