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REPORT: Comics Industry Bucked Digital Cannibalization Trend By Cannibalizing Self Long Before Digital

Written by Jude Terror on Monday, June 06 2016 and posted in News with Benefits

REPORT: Comics Industry Bucked Digital Cannibalization Trend By Cannibalizing Self Long Before Digital

With so few readers to cannibalize, the comics industry couldn't possibly sink any lower!


Source: CNBC

A new report from CNBC notes that the growth of digital comics sales has failed to cannibalize print comic book sales, as both have "flourished" in recent years. Digital sales grew from $1 million to $100 million in seven years, while the print comics market has grown from $700 million to $835 million since 2009. CNBC spends a lot of time trying to figure out how this has happened when the advent of digital has "wreaked havoc" on sectors like music and print media, but The Outhouse spoke with top comics industry executives to find out the answer.

"The comics industry is known for being home to visionary writers and artists, but what a lot of people don't know is that it's also home to visionary executives," explained Bill Jemas, current head of publisher Double Take and former Publisher of Marvel. "The fact is, we saw this coming a long time ago, as far back as the 80s, and we worked hard to make sure that our sales completely bottomed out long before digital comics became popular. That way, we had nowhere to go but up!"

The brilliant strategy outlined by Jemas was affirmed by DC Comics Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras, who says he personally oversaw the tanking of the comics industry in the 1990s when he was Editor-in-Chief of Marvel. "I did such a good job preparing the industry for the future, Marvel nearly went out of business," Harras bragged. In addition to building on the work of previous industry executives in creating the Direct Market, a system of specialty comic book shops that made a higher profit margin for publishers but completely eliminated the industry's ability to attract new readers by making it so that only people who already read comics would ever have reason to go to a store that sol them, Harras pioneered the endless gimmicks, super-mega-crossover events, and #1 issues strategy that the industry still uses to ward off large and dangerous readerships today. "We're still using that same strategy today, and it hasn't failed to keep the core comics reading audience under 100,000 people across the entire country. Huzzah!"

According to Harras, Jemas, and other notable industry executives like Dan Didio, Jim Lee, Axel Alonso, and Joe Quesada, the current comics reading audience is so hopelessly addicted to comics that they'll never stop buying them, no matter how crappy they are, and how disproportionately expensive they are compared to their quality and value. "We literally just sold the number one issue of a comic rehashing a different comic we made over ten years ago for $5.99 an issue," chirped Alonso, Marvel's Editor-in-Chief. "I mean, they will literally buy anything we put out there. This was peak Bendis, and it sold like crazy."

Over at DC, Harras and his co-workers have orchestrated a line-wide reboot that brings the characters from the critically acclaimed Watchmen universe into DC's superhero comics. "We were concerned that there might still be casual readers of more literary comics like Watchmen, which could lead to digital sale cannibalization down the line, so we figure we'd take care of that by ruining those characters too," Harras explained proudly.

But with actual readership so low, how does the industry continue to see sales growth? "We just sell more comics to the same people for higher prices," Alonso answered. "We trick them into thinking the comics are more important because they tie into a super-mega-crossover event that will change the landscape of comics until the next super-mega-crossover event, or because they're new number one issues in a series that barely made it to 12 issues before being rebooted, or because they have the characters featured as babies on a variant cover. And we keep bumping up the price. It turns out that there's no price too offensively high to keep these people from buying these things, no matter how much they complain."

At press time, Marvel was planning a pre-emptive line-wide reboot of their own for the fall, despite just doing a line-wide reboot at the end of last year. "You never know what future technologies might potentially take away from print comics sales," Alonso pointed out," so it's best to constantly be vigilant, looking for new ways to drive off anyone who isn't a longtime comics addict... er, I mean collector so that those future technologies have no potential customer base to cannibalize."

It's a sound strategy, and one that appears to be working. Go team comics!





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About the Author - Jude Terror


Jude Terror is the Webmaster Supreme of The Outhouse and a sarcastic ace reporter dedicated to delivering irreverent comics and entertainment news to The Outhouse's dozens of loyal readers. Driven by a quest for vengeance, Jude Terror taught himself to program and joined The Outhouse. He instantly began working toward his goal of forcing the internet comics community to take itself less seriously and failing miserably. A certified trash eater ruining the pristine field of comics journalism with his sarcasm and goofiness, Jude Terror is secretly friendly and congenial, so if you've got a complaint, why not just bring it up to him instead of subtweeting like a jackass, jackass? You can find him on Twitter or try your luck with an email, but keep in mind that he is notoriously unreliable and may not get back to you right away. Unless you want to send him free stuff, in which case he'll get back to you immediately.


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