Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Customers have a choice, even if they are Fans too!

Buy the comics you like and ignore the rest.

I have noticed a few folks writing about this subject lately and thought I would just add my thoughts into the mix.

I think this is the only way to avoid a constant glut of below par material.

We hear all the time of folks buying all the titles of a particular character, whilst not enjoying the majority and yet doing so to avoid missing out on the continuity of the books. This is crazy when put into context.

If we were to buy one company’s food produce and yet didn’t eat some of it, because we didn’t like it – how long would this go on for, years? I doubt it…more likely we wouldn’t just buy that company’s other stuff, just because we thought “X” was delicious.

And yet year in year out we hear folks complaining about comic companies producing large quantities of below par comic books, in an attempt to control the market shelf space by forcing smaller companies off them, which can be done by the bigger publishers offering incentives and the like to distributors and retailers.

Rather than complain, wouldn’t it be better to abstain from buying the ones they didn’t like in favour of more that they do and ignoring this strange aberration called continuity.

That way the companies would be forced to get rid of those multiple titled runs for one single character or set of characters in the case of the team books.

It has always struck me as more than a little passing strange that companies allow their own products to compete with each other just to gain shelf space coverage, rather then have quality and cost effective sales for the consumer. Sure the companies wish to make as much revenue as possible, but at the expense of other titles under its banner and also at the risk of alienating folks from buying and collecting their other titles.

We all know that comic books are still and probably always will be a niche marketplace, and the fans have limited funds and so cannot follow, as they could in the past, every title put out by any individual company, due to the sixteen versions of that title’s hero per month, added to which are the multiple covers that occasionally adorn their inner pages.

In real terms this is how it works: Title “F” (I have used this moniker here so as to not find myself misconstrued and in court for libel) is the flagship and often the original version of the character(s). Then we are privy to the alternate titles of the same said character(s), “The incredible adventures of F”, “The wonderful “F”, The Return of F”, “The Mysterious F” and so on and so forth. Add to this, the crossovers between other titles published by the said company, trade paperback reprints, graphic novel one shots, specials and the like and suddenly the fan’s purse strings are struggling to keep up, that is if the fans need to eat and pay bills and keep a family, etc.

The trouble we see with this kind of bulk buying for the sake of it is that the comic companies continue to mass publish anything and everything, whether it sells or not to cover shelf space and in the midst of this many fans, feeling alienated by these actions, may decide to leave their reading and collecting days behind in lieu of pastures new, instead of missing the occasional gem in a sea of look-a-like titles.

If everyone votes by their buying habits, then this kind of marketing of quantity over quality will disappear and soon it will be easier to collect more varied works. As it stands, at present, until the consumer dictates what is published by only buying what is truly liked and not just buying all and sundry to fulfil continuity ideals then the market will remain glutted with below par comic books, and the gems will lie hidden amongst the look-a-likes.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…

February 27th 2007

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