Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Times They Are A Changing...


Well, a lot has changed since last I wrote.

I'm currently recouping from surgery - double bi-lateral hernia. Not a totally terrible thing, but not a pleasant ordeal just yet. If the pain abates to a stage which is less than the discomfort of the actual hernias, I will be happy.

My day job went away. Often this is used in my industry as a euphemism to someone else getting the job. I feel this is the case, as I directly wasn't fired or let go, someone else simply got my job.

It's a strange place to be, feeling physically and mentally weak at a time when I feel I need to be strong and ready to go. This, however, is where I am.

Hero Code is coming along. Issue one is 15 pages of art completed. I need to rework the first and last pages, and the book needs to be lettered, but it is coming along nicely. Every moment it wasn't released, I wonder when would be a good time to get the book out there. Now, I wonder when I can continue with the story. I will. I am sure.

Control, Alt, Delete...

DC comics recently announced plans to "reboot" it's entire book line. Restarting the DCU with 52 issue one releases this September, 2011. Rebooting an 80+ year old franchise, effectively.

It's a decision which could only come from a company caught up by a larger corporation. Re-imaginings seem cool, lets do it! Is this reaction born from past experience, the company has seen quite a few restarts over the years, or is this too cynical for what is actually a new and interesting attack on a market wide problem?

Some of the books are of interest, new creators, new takes, new stories. A lot are just part of a big reshuffle. Some seem to be dripping in the comic-gunk of news-grabbing change-for-chage's-sake.

A bigger problem is faced by companies like DC and their main rivals, Marvel. Both are owned by big corporations, and are run as IP farms, shadows of their former selves, but holding rich merchandising properties of much greater interest than the funny monthly floppies put out to a limited and shrinking market.

For comics to survive, they need to grow. The Direct Market has created a strange strangled and straggling market place which is killing dealer and supplier.

Stores order 3 months in advance, based on what they think will sell. Customers buy from a selection made by people based on what they think will sell. Publishers provide titles which they think will be ordered, based on what is selling currently, and speculatively.

It shrinks, feeds itself, pushes away from difference.

The readership has steadily been declining for some time now - and the loop has no way of letting in new readers to break the decline.

Digital distribution has a way of breaking this, but at the cost of the Direct Market and the store front. Marvel and DC, as companies looking at numbers and legalities, are looking to make money from this. However, the most effective models of digital markets seem to utilize the "freemium" model. These companies would do well to read some Chris Anderson.

New readers, diverse readers, younger readers, loyal readers are out there. I fear that the big two are more interested in making hay while the sunshines than looking at new agricultural methods though.

A Brande Apart

My friend, and fellow blogger, Invisibleinkdigital, posted this rather interesting piece about the changing landscape of brand advertising and storytelling. It works across platforms, and is something to think about for creators looking to respond to their market.

Is it a good idea to appeal to your established market, or to challenge them?

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