I had breakfast with a friend yesterday, someone who it is always a pleasure to see.
We spent a long time talking about the range and reach of comic book creators.
The industry wide slump has everyone navel gazing, looking for causes, finger pointing and the problems - distribution, creators, fans, pirates, etc.
One thing we did talk about was to speculate on what the actual number of comic book fans there were out there.
If the top selling book on Diamond at the moment is around 150,000-200,000 (it's hard to pinpoint exactly because return numbers are hard to factor in) does that mean there are that many "fans"?
Are books shared? One report years ago suggested each book was seen by at least three sets of eyes - so half a million fans?
But most books sell way below that. Most are lucky to hit the low teens to mid twenty's range - something which could sustain a book for years!
So who are we aiming the books at? In the past writers created great stories which elevated the reader, made them think, brought new ideas to the fresh, and lifted the medium. Artists matched their writers.
Now books feel more and more disposable, but costs are at the luxury point. My wife, a most-definite non-comic book fan commented the other night "they are awfully short, aren't they - a few pages and then a lot of ads!" - and the costs keep rising.
Are books aimed at the small group of readers who obviously aren't buying much of anything? (the drop off from top selling books to medium is sharp, fast and hard). Are books aimed at the group of store owners who obviously are not taking time to stay abreast of their product (apart from Marvel and DC, most stores could care less about titles new, creators interesting, books with buzz)?
Are we, the creators, not doing our part to lift the books up in quality - not just physical quality, but creative quality - and elevate the medium?
Why are we writing for this fickle group who seem intent to ignore our work?
Should we all be striving to create for the rest of the fans?