By Carter Glace, Staff Writer
While reading the latest controversy of Marvel cutting books as the “anti-PC” crowd uses slumping sale numbers to probe that diversity isn’t selling, I prepared to go on another tirade about how the comic industry is a train wreck when it comes to selling its product. But instead, I thought I should try something more productive. Instead of flinging bile, I thought it might be worth talking about some productive solutions to help the comic industry find its legs again.
- Promote your damn digital stores.
The biggest hurdle when it comes to comic sales is the inaccessibility of physical comics. Let’s say you want Action Comics #34. To make sure you get it, you’d need to know the week its coming out, find your local comic store—because the sale of comics has been limited to a few niche stores—and hope they have it in stock because otherwise, your out of luck for a while. The easiest solution to this is for brands to make a digital store for their comics, and you know what? Both DC and Marvel have one. The fact that I genuinely didn’t know these existence of these store fronts says a lot. They need to push these services hard, and especially push older comics. Because the ability to have the entire history of Marvel or DC on a tablet is a hell of a sales pitch.
2. Create a streaming/monthly service.
Building off that point, you know what’s a big problem for retaining comic readership? Making it easier to get the latest and most important issues of an arc. In the age of Lootboxes, where you can have entire boxes of tat sent to you on a regular monthly schedule, why can we not have that service available for comics both physical and digital. Go online, fill out a checklist of what comics or arcs you want to be kept up to date on, and just get them. It is hard to overstate how much better it would be to the consumer to not have to keep track of weird comics schedules.
3. Stop spoiling plot points.
More than any industry, comics indulge in click-bait. Namely, super hero series will leak panels and story revelations to the public in an attempt to build publicity. With the super hero comics industry dependent on flashy, big moments, there is never a shortage of moments. But why? Why would you spoil critical plot points then get upset when people don’t pay to read? I am very much in the ‘it’s about the journey’ camp, but paying $4 for 30 pages when the ending is already know is a tough sell. Bring back and air of mystery and anticipation to comic books!
4. Promote somewhere other than other comic books.
Have you ever seen an ad for a comic book before? And I don’t mean seeing characters like Spider-Man on popsicle boxes, but ads for specific issues or stories? Exactly. If I can’t go three webpages or subway stops without seeing an ad for the film Black Panther, it shouldn’t be that hard to push for the comic books as well.
5. Find more stores in which to put your books.
I love comic book stores. But I also love comics and the various pop culture ephemera around them. For a more casual reader, I imagine comic book stores could be complicated, obtuse, overwhelming, or frustrating. We may never be able to return to the days of comics at every magazine stand, but why are they not regularly in book stores?
As I go over this list, there is a general theme that I think is important: Make it easier to enjoy comic books. There is an audience out there dying to read shorter, poppy fiction, but they can’t find it because its sources are so obtuse or confusing. If that process can be streamlined, comics can go from a niche branch of massive franchises to a thriving, mainstream medium again.