Our fine entertainment conglomerates have scooped up super heroes wherever and whenever the well-muscled enforcers are available. Time-Warner owns D.C., and Disney, of course, gobbled up Marvel a year ago. So this has got to be alarming:
... Comic-book stores have become increasingly barren, with sales dropping consistently over the last three years and down an additional 7% so far in 2011. ... “The walk-in, casual fans have gotten away from us.” ... “We are down to just the die-hard buyers.”
Some blame convoluted story lines, while others point to cynical publicity stunts like killing key characters only to bring them back a few months later. But the main culprit more likely lies beyond the page: Today’s youth is far more interested in spending its leisure hours in the digital worlds of YouTube, Xbox and Twitter. ...
Comic books, like everything else, are not immune to technological change. Movies, books, and music, have been chewed up by the digital juggernaut. What makes four-color graphic novels so special? Rights holders can cling to old formats with grips strong enough to turn coal to diamonds, but they can't make fifteen-year-olds purchase slick covers and paper when the teenagers can easily goggle at the color layouts and dialogue balloons on iPads and Androids.
One of the problems is that comics/graphic novels are the drivers for movies, animated features and tv series, for video games and action figures and licensed pictures on cereal boxes.
Big business. Large cash flows.
So it's kind of important that the comic books, where most of the action starts, get embraced by the core fans who talk the product up and leverage the excitement and (dare we say it?) sales. D.C. has made the decision to shift to digital formats, believing they're the logical and inevitable next step.
... "The truth is people are leaving anyway, they’re just doing it quietly, and we have been papering it over with increased prices. ... We didn’t want to wake up one day and find we had a bunch of $20 books that 10,000 people are buying.”
Like music and movies, the Super Hero business is looking for salvation. Maybe digital will help them find it.