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DC Comics layoffs!

11 Aug 2020 14:02 #68814 by Markiehoe
DC Comics layoffs! was created by Markiehoe
And BOOM!
The hammer came down yesterday.
www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/dc...ajor-layoffs-1306743

What does this mean for the future of DC Comics and Comics in general?
We all know comics have been suffering a slow death for years.

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11 Aug 2020 14:19 #68815 by kikass2014
Replied by kikass2014 on topic DC Comics layoffs!
Quite a few people have called this happening for a while, myself included.

Like you say, mainstream comics has been dying a slow death for a long time now.  It was only a matter of time before this happened.

When you put out shit like this -

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- and no one is buying it, what did they really expect? (This is supposed to be Wonder Woman btw - an AMAZONIAN PRINCESS, and the PREMIER female superhero, not just of DC, but the WORLD!)

This does not come as a surprise to me at all.

Marvel Comics MIGHT be able to stave off this, due its "bigger brothers".  But as soon as AT&T entered the picture, the clock was ticking for DC.

Peace.

/K
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11 Aug 2020 18:24 #68819 by erikphandel
Replied by erikphandel on topic DC Comics layoffs!
DC gets what it fucking deserves. The sooner they and Marvel go under, the sooner the comics industry can recover. Marvel will follow suit in the next five years
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11 Aug 2020 20:18 #68821 by TwiceOnThursdays
Replied by TwiceOnThursdays on topic DC Comics layoffs!

kikass2014 wrote: Quite a few people have called this happening for a while, myself included.

Like you say, mainstream comics has been dying a slow death for a long time now.  It was only a matter of time before this happened.

When you put out shit like this -

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- and no one is buying it, what did they really expect? (This is supposed to be Wonder Woman btw - an AMAZONIAN PRINCESS, and the PREMIER female superhero, not just of DC, but the WORLD!)

This does not come as a surprise to me at all.

Marvel Comics MIGHT be able to stave off this, due its "bigger brothers".  But as soon as AT&T entered the picture, the clock was ticking for DC.

Peace.

/K


That is not Wonder Woman.  That is a character in the artist’s own style, inspired by Wonder Woman.  She made for something other than DC, but DC decided to use it as a variant cover.

Source (the artist herself):
  https://twitter.com/eisenbergrobin/status/1292537672984977409?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet

Variant covers often have nothing to do with the comic and often do feature non-comic book art styles.  This one isn’t for you. (Or for me, not my thing.). IT’s also the variant cover.  I think this is the normal cover to the book:



It’s also totally unlike any other DC variant cover this year so it makes a pretty lame example of anything.  I mean don’t take my word for it:   DC Variant Covers 2020

Did SJW comics and one variant WW movie adaptation cover cause the layoff at Warner brothers or HBO?  No?  Hm... perhaps the forces that drove THOSE drove the DC layoffs?  I mean it seems pretty reasonable.

DC Comics (and the comics industry) is having some trouble long term.  The real reason is “failure to attract new readers”  But they were making money (pre-2020 non-comic book problems).

Also, the problem with attracting new readers is precisely the comic book stores — they don’t do that.  They sell to collectors and long time fans.  So, as much as I love my local comic book store, if comics book live it’s not going to be due to my local store.  And it ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT BE KICKSTARTER.  If you think otherwise, you are deluded.  Stores had a long time to be the solution and they’ve not done it yet (instead they directly contributed to killing the comic book market in drug stores and grocery stores which is what killed the new readers.).

You absolutely ignore anything DC is doing to bring in new readers or improve itself. DC makes a great line of Young Adult GNs that sell well through book stores and garner some award attention and positive reviews?  What do you do.  YOu bring up only one of them, an, at the time, unreleased GN called Gotham High.  Mind: Unlreleased so NO ONE HAD READ IT. 

Please stop using such lame examples!  No one is going to buy the New Warriors book. Gotham High Seems like it’s not doing well or getting traction..  These lame examples undercut your thesis rather than support it because they’re so insignificant.

DC. Has many problems, this cover is a rounding error on that list.

PLEASE FIND BETTER EXAMPLES.   Something actually relevant. 

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11 Aug 2020 20:37 #68822 by ChaozCloud
Replied by ChaozCloud on topic DC Comics layoffs!
Obviously no one is buying WW 1984 comic, it's being released next month.

Anyways, DC Universe getting a staff cut was expected as it is being absorbed by HBO Max I think. And all I really want is to get one more season from Harley Quinn them.

After that it's mostly editors and VPs that are gone. Didn't see anything about writers and artists. Probably just going to get new VPs and maybe less editorial oversight on the writers?

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11 Aug 2020 20:43 #68823 by TwiceOnThursdays
Replied by TwiceOnThursdays on topic DC Comics layoffs!

Markiehoe wrote: And BOOM!
The hammer came down yesterday.
www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/dc...ajor-layoffs-1306743

What does this mean for the future of DC Comics and Comics in general?
We all know comics have been suffering a slow death for years.


specifically this has nothing to do with any other comic company, so it wont’ have much to do with the future of comics right now. If (and it’s still IF) DC comics folds (or stops making monthly comic books), that will probably reduce sales at comic book stores, and that won’t be a good thing.  People might just buy other comics with that money, but I’m skeptical of that.  I buy a lot of comics (There are more out than I want to buy), Reducing titles means I spend less.  The eventual chain reaction might doom the Local Comic Book Store — but we aren’t there yet.  Still, not great news.

It’s also fair to note that giant layoffs have happened at Marvel and DC in the past.

Trade sales, esp at stores that embrace them, are doing fairly well.  I don’t think they’ll sustain the same amount of content.  And DC laying off 1/3 of the editors seems to imply that a 1/3 reduction in content is coming. OTH, that might mean that the remaining comics go up in quality as they get more focus.  Better books sell better.  And DC is using that content to chase new readers and expand it’s market. (It’s young adult GN line is doing fairly well for example.)

DC had already stated that they intended to chase the scholastic market and the bookstore market with graphic novels and what little we know about what is going on, it seems that is still the course.  Monthly comics fund creating new Trades.  If DC can make a strong trade market, and the monthly titles break even, they’ll be a great way to create trades.  But.. I’ve heard said (by comic pros and by the business staff) that the rat race of making monthly comics is a bit ... inhuman and hard to manage.  Doing the same work to go right to a Graphic NOvel is *much* easier to manage — it’s also a bigger thump so a higher risk. Though... normally a six issue mini-series is all sold before they can adjust anything, so it’s not that big of.a change.

And I won’t miss most event books and forced tie-ins. ;-)

Trades also sell for longer than a month ... so it’s easier to release a trade and have it pull in sales for 1-6 months instead of trying to get it all at once.  IT’s also much friendlier to new readers.  If you missed the first 4 issues of Jimmy Olson, it’s a pain to find them.  Why not wait for the trade?  So I can see this driving what DC wants to go.  Still, no sign they are going to stop making comics currently.  (More details need to come out about what is going on.)

The loss of DC Universe was already written on the wall (as the article said).  New shows were split (Stargirl was also on CW, other new shows were split to HBO Max and the newest in development shows were sent to HBO Max).  DC Universe was ALREADY dead. This is just calling the time of death.

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11 Aug 2020 20:53 #68824 by kikass2014
Replied by kikass2014 on topic DC Comics layoffs!
Ah Twice, the white knight of the comics industry.

I am well aware of the story behind the cover, and actually, it says "Wonder Woman 1984" right ABOVE the picture.  So, if I were a layman, I would naturally assume, that the picture is indeed Wonder Woman.

DC. Has many problems, this cover is a rounding error on that list.


Yes, that is exactly the reason I used that image as an example.  It is the latest in a long line of problems with the industry.

Look, we've been through this with each other before.  You think the comics industry is fine, yet actions recently seem to show the opposite.

You say the industry is doing fine, yet indicators show that this is not the case.  They bundle in scholastic with regular floppies to inflate the amount of revenue generated.  But sales of major titles are down, and have been on a downward trend, for a while now.

You say comics are not attracting new readers.  Ok, why?  I, and I assume others here, point to the fact that the stories in them are SJW drivel, filled with identity politics and agenda driven.  People don't want that in their entertainment.  They want escapism form the real world.

What is your reasoning for the collapse then?

You say Kickstarter (or to be more specific, crowd-funded) comics aren't the future.  Yet sales of crowd-funded comics are up by 25% on last year.  And while it may not be the savior of the industry, at least comic book readers can find books that don't shit on them.  Instead, they can find stories that entertain.  Manga sales are also up, showing, again, that people want to be entertained, not given sjw propaganda.

So I ask again, what do you see as the problem with the mainstream comic industry? Why is it having a hard time, not only pulling new readers (as you state), but also holding onto existing ones (as sales figures show)?

Peace.

/K
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11 Aug 2020 23:04 #68828 by TwiceOnThursdays
Replied by TwiceOnThursdays on topic DC Comics layoffs!

kikass2014 wrote: Ah Twice, the white knight of the comics industry.

I am well aware of the story behind the cover, and actually, it says "Wonder Woman 1984" right ABOVE the picture.  So, if I were a layman, I would naturally assume, that the picture is indeed Wonder Woman.


So you knew the story and decided to purposely lie about it?  Dude not a good look. I mean you said "IT IS WONDER WOMAN" and _it is not_.  If you knew the story like you said you did, you flat out just lied to everyone.

Also, _laymen do not walk into comic book stores_.  That is the problem.

So, everyone in a comic book store will go "oh, that's a weird variant to this comic SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO IT that also says Wonder Woman 1984".

You're literally just making shit up that has no basis in any reality.

Yes, if you stopped a guy on the street and showed him that, he'd probably THINK that was supposed to be the content of the comic book and that was Wonder Woman,  BUT THAT DOESN'T HAPPEN.  And anyone shown this outside a comic book store _wasn't going to go buy any comics anyway_.  So sure, some snowflakes were trigged on Twitter over this cover, just like you tried to do by lying about it here too.

Of course, it generally helps if someone doesn't lie about what it is.  And the people triggering snowflakes are a bigger danger to comics than this cover.

kikass2014 wrote:

DC. Has many problems, this cover is a rounding error on that list

Yes, that is exactly the reason I used that image as an example.  It is the latest in a long line of problems with the industry.

Look, we've been through this with each other before.  You think the comics industry is fine, yet actions recently seem to show the opposite.



No, the problem is ALL of your examples are shitty ones like this.

If you are right, you can find better examples.



kikass2014 wrote: You say the industry is doing fine, yet indicators show that this is not the case.  They bundle in scholastic with regular floppies to inflate the amount of revenue generated.  But sales of major titles are down, and have been on a downward trend, for a while now.



I'm NOT saying the industry is FINE.  It's like tilting at a windmill. Just because I think your examples are shit, and that most of what you say doesn't reflect reality in the comic book world DOES NOT MEAN I THINK IT'S FINE and nothing has to change.  I DID claim (and back it up with #'s) that 2019 was healthier (more sales to Local Stores) than 2009 (adjusted for inflation).  So, if the industry was NOT in a state to almost collapse (pre-covid), which was a specific claim you made that was again, not backed up by any reality or source that you could find and refuted by info I posted.  (That is if covid had happend in 2010 the industry would have been in the exact same state as 2020.)

Stop making shit up. Comicchron ABSOLUTELY does not mingle scholastic sales with regular floppies they are explicitly listed separately. I've posted them before, and this is from their front page:


source:  comichron.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/20...n-2019-channel-1.jpg

DC might do this press releases or something but meh.  (So if you have a source for that claim, as always and never actually do, FEEL FREE TO POST IT.)

Also, you just say things like "sales of major titles are down and have been on a downward trend for awhile now".

PUT UP or SHUT UP.  You've been wrong about everything you've talked about sales before.  Including your last statement.

Comichron is there.  Take some major titles (X-Men, Avengers, JLA, Superman, Amazing Spider-Man) and chart them over the last decade (if you want to be advanced go back until the #'s go out).  I have no idea what we'll find, as I've not done it.  I do know one thing: YOU HAVE NOT.  I do not have the time to waste on it, esp since you'll just ignore it.  Do not do one title, take some top titles still around 

Or, at least cite a good journalistic source for that.  Some yahoo on YouTube is not a "good journalistic source". 

So, frankly, even if that statement pans out to be true: at this moment you're just making shit up because you FEEL it to be true.



kikass2014 wrote: You say comics are not attracting new readers.  Ok, why?  I, and I assume others here, point to the fact that the stories in them are SJW drivel, filled with identity politics and agenda driven.  People don't want that in their entertainment.  They want escapism form the real world.

What is your reasoning for the collapse then?



WTF? I put this in my last reply.

Ok, let me spell this out for you.  This is comic book history.  The opening of the direct market in the late 70's led to direct market stores blooming in the 80's.   All the collectors moved to buy comics from comic book stores (better condition and environment) and not from grocery stores or book stores.  This lead to a spike in collecting for a while and almost deadly speculation in the comic book market (a collapse that took out a lot of stores in the early 90's).  But that drive of those sales to the comic book store results in the collapse of the local grocery store, book store, and drug store selling comics.  Since then, readership has steadily dropped because you have to find a specialty shop to buy comic books.  Little Johnny can't run down to the Stop and Go and pick up a comic.

This has roots back to the 90's, it's not SJW comics.  And, a lot of those "record breaking sales" you see in the 90's?  Comic book speculation.  I need to buy 10 copies of X-Men #1!  (A comic book that will never ever have any value due to that.)    Those are not READERS they're collectors buying too many copies of a comic book.  And as I said, it led to a collapse that took out a bunch of stores.

I've only said this in at least one other thread AND in my last post.  In the last thread I posted two books you could use as sources to confirm the history.  I ain't gonna do that work again as you didn't read it then.



kikass2014 wrote: You say Kickstarter (or to be more specific, crowd-funded) comics aren't the future.  Yet sales of crowd-funded comics are up by 25% on last year.  And while it may not be the savior of the industry, at least comic book readers can find books that don't shit on them.  Instead, they can find stories that entertain.  Manga sales are also up, showing, again, that people want to be entertained, not given sjw propaganda.



I thought this was obvious too given the context.  I'll spell this one out for you, with #'s to prove what I'm saying.  Please correct where I'm wrong (I don't follow all EVS stuff so I could miss other venues etc, I just did a quick google search).

It's NOT the sales, it's the READERS.  We're talking "Bringing new readers to comics" because it's the real problem.

Look at the individual backers of those huge crowd funded comics.  That's the number of READERS those comics have.  In order to grow the market, you need to grow the # of people READING COMICS.

Ethan Van Shriver's Cyberfrog comic was widely reported to break records and have totally awesome sales so let's use it.   Here's the stats:

#1 July 20, 2018 8,566 backers (read: readers)
#2 May 15, 2020  9,349 backers

www.indiegogo.com/projects/ethan-van-sci...odhoney-comic-book#/
www.indiegogo.com/projects/ethan-van-sci...frog-2-rekt-planet#/

So HOLY SHIT, in TWO YEARS EVS brought in < 1,000 new readers for a comic book!  THAT is gonna save the industry!  

Uh. No.

Also comic books are too expensive.  Except it seems like the comic book tiers on the thing are like $20+!

THAT IS NOT THE FUTURE.  Or at least it's not one that is going to save comics in any meaningful sense.  (and I love kickstarter comics)

Mind: EVS is getting some nice $$, and I'm really happy for him. (That is the absolute truth.) But this ain't saving comics.  You are deluded if you look at those #'s and think it'll save comics.

Meanwhile, let's look at Chomicchron for January 2020.  The industry is "dying" and having a really hard time, and it's #1 problem is "attracting new readers".

Due to the shutdown and DC ditching diamond, all the #'s don't seem to be off on the recent months so I'm using Jan 2020 (I could also use June 2018 too).  Because it's not worth actually doing more than that, as it'll make my point:

www.comichron.com/monthlycomicssales/2020/2020-01.html

A comic that sold 9349 would be #199 on the MONTHLY Sales chart. EVS put out TWO comics in two years.   That was #199 of MONTHLY COMIC SALES.  People think DC and Marvel should cancel titles that sell that poorly.  (The $ numbers for the campaign also included all merchandise sales and I can assure you that DC laughs at $1M of merchandise sales.  (Ok, I took the 30 second effort and googled, DC had $4.5 BILLION in merchandise sales in 2017 . )

You can grow crowdfunded comics by 25% a year for a LONG TIME before you get relevant.

Talk about rounding errors.

Manga sales are up as they embraced the book store and trades as a way to sell comics.  They put entertaining titles where people could find them and read them. That makes sales. They sell well to women (because manga encompass more than you think they do if you do not read them which I'm gonna guess is "not at all").  Also, anime has been on the rise, which also leads to people looking for source material.  That comic book movies do not do this is the largest crime -- but that's because the book market is an afterthought to Marvel and DC not the first thought.  (DC wants to change that, and this is the reason why.)

Lastly, Anime tend to be a better value (black and white is cheaper to print, so you get more pages/$ than buying American Trades.  $$ counts for a lot here.

To reduce this down to one variable is just simplistic.  To ignore the historical factors driving these things is also a mistake.

And man, I want to tell all of comicsgate to stop being such snowflakes. 

Buy comics you like. Talk about the comics you like.  Don't spend all your effort bagging on the comics you hate.  That ain't no fun and it ain't no way to live.

And I fully support them kickstartering their own ideas and selling them to the people who like it.  More power to them. The more stories and viewpoints the better.  



kikass2014 wrote: So I ask again, what do you see as the problem with the mainstream comic industry? Why is it having a hard time, not only pulling new readers (as you state), but also holding onto existing ones (as sales figures show)?

Peace.

/K


I ain't answering that again. I have in at least two other threads.  And I iterated the #1 reason above (and in the last post I made!)

Also: sales figures DO NOT SHOW that sales are declining (if we ignore 2020 as this year has other problems going on). I proved that in another thread, and you blatantly just ignore that and keep stating it.  So that's why I'm not gonna bother to restate it here/disprove it.  Been there, done that.

I know it's difficult when your examples are all shit and your belief in the actual sales #'s do not match reality, and when the #'s of crowdfunding comics is shown to be a drop of piss in an ocean it's really hard on that cognitive dissonance, but one of these days I'll get through to you.  I know you really FEEL that all this stuff is true and the SJW and politics in comics really gets to you .... but what you feel isn't reality.  If you are right, you should be able to find some actual great examples and numbers to back you up.  (I'm still waiting. Meanwhile, I post the reasons why I say/think what I do.)

I've been reading comics a LONG TIME and I know all about current readers leaving.  Readers left in the 80's over Crisis on Infinite Earths!  People stop reading comics ALL THE TIME. sometimes they come back. Sometimes not.  But SJW comics ("read: badly written comics") are NOT NEW.  And I while I haven't tried to objectively count the non-objective question of "proportion of badly written comics", It doesn't really seem like it's much out of whack from before.  I mean.. there were GREAT comics in the 90's and A SHITLOAD of horrible ones.  (Though often it seems the people telling me about how great the 90's were are talking about the shit ones.)

But I've said all this before.  No reason to hash it again.

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12 Aug 2020 01:53 #68831 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic DC Comics layoffs!
I'm not an expert in this area like Twice, but here's my thoughts from having resurrected some businesses and holding various executive jobs when I was working:

1) Every business has to know who their customers are now and who they will be in 5 years, 10 years, even longer. Then you form your business plan around the future customers.. . 

Today, that means your long-term customers are Millennials and everyone who follows them. Beyond the short term, it doesn't matter who is buying comics now. They aren't sustaining the company now and they will become less important over time. 

2) A 30% reduction in editorial staff is nothing. Probably should have gone deeper. You need to get new people who can speak to the people you want as long-term customers, and then focus your content on them. You'll piss of many of your historical customers, but from the perspective of building an ongoing business, its vital that you are serving the generations that will sustain you in the future. 

3) So what are Millennials and their younger cohorts likely most interested in (my guesses anyway):
Climate Change
Artificial Intelligence
Social Media opportunities for expression with future tech, maybe brain/tech interfaces, etc.
Education
Social and racial justice
More fluid gender roles
Strengthened global communities
Space travel, living off-planet, etc.

4) So you focus your heroes and heroines on solving problems associated with those topics in fantastical comic-book ways, and your villains are obviously going to be opposed.. That takes new writers and redefined characters and different content. 

Like any business, they they can either find new ways to market (not through shops, apparently) more interesting content to the customers they want to develop for the long-term, or they can ultimately shrink and go out of business. 

Either way, many of us here won't be their target audience. It's one of the worst things about getting a bit older -- not being the target audience for something you love.

Shadar
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12 Aug 2020 02:42 - 12 Aug 2020 02:42 #68832 by TwiceOnThursdays
Replied by TwiceOnThursdays on topic DC Comics layoffs!

shadar wrote:
Like any business, they they can either find new ways to market (not through shops, apparently) more interesting content to the customers they want to develop for the long-term, or they can ultimately shrink and go out of business. 

Either way, many of us here won't be their target audience. It's one of the worst things about getting a bit older -- not being the target audience for something you love.

Shadar


I just wanted to say thanks for this post. It’s exactly the kind of thing I value.  You side stepped the other discussion, got back to the original topic and reframed it all in a great way.  Thanks for your insight and comparing it to normal business practices (as that is what AT&T is doing/thinking).

Frankly, I dont know enough about DC Editorial to know how deep the cuts should be ... I just know that some of the names I saw (Bob Harras) are so old school that I think they fit your analysis.  Get rid of the people that can’t take you to the future, the past will not save DC, it can only spell off doom for awhile. If you want to survive long term, you need a different plan.  Going backwards is death.

I did read at one point that if editorial didn’t have to prep a book each month, and rather went through that for a six issue Trade, it’s a lot less work on them, and an easier pace for the writer and artist.  So I wondered if part of the cuts were geared towards that (“work smarter”).   It matters less for a trade if you’re a few weeks late, the comic HAS to hit it’s publishing deadlines, and it’ll have six of them.  It’s continual crisis mode and that’s not healthy.

(Now short term, take advantage of the long time readers? ABSOLUTELY.  And by “Take Advantage” I mean, “you know them well, so sell them things they’ll want/enjoy.  How about some “Superman he reveals he’s Clark Kent?!”)

I see DC and Marvel trying different things to survive.  Some of it will work, some won’t.  Some things might need time to develop.  But I’m pretty sure that unless it finds some way to adapt, the local comic book store is probably not going to be  it (it might be a piece of it).  It will also be good if the market diversifies (more content made by more people).  I do see Kickstarter as a positive force here (comics I supported end up in my comic book store and on Comixology., not to hard to imagine that they might end up in the bookstore too.)  (I love my store, and I have faith in them, I just think that a company can’t bet only on the stores for survival.)

The future is going to look more like  Raina Telgemeier.  I remembered a quote (that I just googled) that in 2016 her multiple GNs sold 5% of ALL Graphic Novels.  She’s a power house that probably most here have never heard of.

 https://www.cbr.com/raina-telgemeier-2016-graphic-novels/

Seriously some of the DC Young Adult line seem very much to me like “What would a now older person who read Raina Telgemeier want to read now?”  Not sure if that’s what DC ‘s is thinking like, but if they are it’s the right track.  Also, she’s selling GN to young girls, which the DC Young Adult line looks like geared to do.

Anyway, thanks.  I love getting the new viewpoint.

Also, I’m currently at the spot of being old where I’m still fascinated by the new stuff coming along. I can sort of smell the wind that it might not last forever.  :-). I’m ok with that.  I guess I’m helped along by globalization.  It’s nice to see comics from Europe, Korea, and Japan as alternatives.  At the very least the different cultures and viewpoints are fascinating.

Currently there is more stuff available than I can consume.  Even if it peters out and I only get 5% of what I want.. that’s still a lot of stuff!

.
Last edit: 12 Aug 2020 02:42 by TwiceOnThursdays. Reason: Fixed typo. Only one, I ‘m sure there are zillions more!

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12 Aug 2020 15:46 #68836 by lojack
Replied by lojack on topic DC Comics layoffs!
I’m not saying DC/WB are blameless, but AT&T is super greedy, which is what brought this all about starting with them bleeding cash since the DirecTV purchase, the whole Time Warner debacle, to now. They think they can reduce expenses, but the various divisions seem to be losing customers (income) faster. But through the perversion of modern business, I’m sure the C-suite will get bonuses.

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15 Aug 2020 06:24 #68876 by TwiceOnThursdays
Replied by TwiceOnThursdays on topic DC Comics layoffs!
Here’s an interview with Jim Lee over what is happening at DC.   He gets at a lot of the basic questions people had and what the stated plans are for DC in the future.  (Of course, what they say they’re going to do and what they actually do might not be the same.)

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/dcs-jim-lee-companys-future-we-are-still-business-publishing-comics-1307413

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15 Aug 2020 16:27 - 15 Aug 2020 16:30 #68877 by oogber
Replied by oogber on topic DC Comics layoffs!
Speaking from the fringe, and note that I am not a heavy reader of neither comics nor manga...

I tried a little to get into comics after I discovered shadar's (at the time, Sharon Best) writing. I really could not get into it. The stories, if you can call it that, were really poorly written, a villain du jour would pop up and get resolved unsatisfyingly in three issues, they did crossovers that I did not give a shit about...

It really strikes me as a huge difference to the storytelling in manga. There, we have huge arcs with what feels like much more organic pacing and movement and growth. I suppose graphic novels are more like the counterpart to manga than comics. I don't know where to put comics then. Just... junk food storytelling with (sometimes) pretty pictures?

I know I am definitely not the target audience, but I'm even the kind of guy who doesn't quite understand who the target audience is.

To be clear, I have no stake in the matter and am definitely not looking to argue or start a stupid flame war :P Just that the comic storytelling has always genuinely confounded me.
Last edit: 15 Aug 2020 16:30 by oogber.
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15 Aug 2020 22:38 #68879 by TwiceOnThursdays
Replied by TwiceOnThursdays on topic DC Comics layoffs!

oogber wrote: Speaking from the fringe, and note that I am not a heavy reader of neither comics nor manga...

I tried a little to get into comics after I discovered shadar's (at the time, Sharon Best) writing. I really could not get into it. The stories, if you can call it that, were really poorly written, a villain du jour would pop up and get resolved unsatisfyingly in three issues, they did crossovers that I did not give a shit about...

It really strikes me as a huge difference to the storytelling in manga. There, we have huge arcs with what feels like much more organic pacing and movement and growth. I suppose graphic novels are more like the counterpart to manga than comics. I don't know where to put comics then. Just... junk food storytelling with (sometimes) pretty pictures?

I know I am definitely not the target audience, but I'm even the kind of guy who doesn't quite understand who the target audience is.

To be clear, I have no stake in the matter and am definitely not looking to argue or start a stupid flame war :P Just that the comic storytelling has always genuinely confounded me.


One is never wrong about what they like or do not like. I sometimes find that people go looking for reasons WHY and create one when it was simply "I didn't like it". But you're just giving an honest reaction. I'm all for that! 

I happen to like a bunch of the comics you didn't, but it's all good. ;-)

I do find this topic fascinating: Manga vs the American Comics market, esp since I've been reading more manga. I could never get over the "wrong way around" reading format. Now I read ALL my manga on my iPad and it takes care of that for me.  So, I only read Manga found on Comixology.

But I read almost all my American comics as physical copies and tend to also buy large collections.  (might change one day, the sheer volume of comics I have is insane.)

I will make one aside to the flame war, and note that your objections to comic books were based on storytelling.

(Feel free to elaborate if you want, but I also don't want to yank you into a flame fest, when I'd rather discuss the differences and what you like as that's far more interesting to me)

I'm not a HUGE reader of manga, as I said I couldn't get over the physical layout until I read them electronically. I have read a bunch in the last few years and i'm buying more now.

To me the differences are:

- most manga stories have an end.  Sure there are long-running ones (Fairy Tale, Naruto, One Piece) but most of them END.  Or END, and later the writer makes a sequel. But it feels more like a book sequel than an ongoing comic.  Spider-Man never ends.

But I think this changes the pacing and format too. There is a story that NEEDS to be told and the writer is going to get to it and keep on track.  And it makes it much easier to start a story knowing it ends.

A few exceptions here: Cerebus, Sandman, Strangers in Paradise, Starman, Invincible. But exceptions not the rule.

- stories are independent. This makes it easy to pick up a new story.  No 50 years of complex X-Men history, and you might need to know about Spider-Man, the Avengers, and other misc stuff.  Also no stupid events or crossovers.  Unless the entire book is a stupid crossover for fun and you can ignore it as it will have NO BEARING on the main manga the characters come from, it's just something done for fun.

- most stories seem to be from the creator (not IP from some large publishing house). I could be wrong here, but that's how it seems. You get this from independent comics (and kickstarter) in America too.  It often seems some writers are constrained by editorial or IP decisions and that leads to good writers writing crap books. THat can just happen anyway, but generally, it seems the writer got edicts  and that messed with the story.  (This has ALWAYS happened at DC and Marvel BTW.)

- strong characters  The characters might be tropes, but they are well defined.  They also tend to stay true to that due to a story with an end and it mostly coming from the creator.  Now mind you sometimes the characters are over the top and ridiculous, but they're still well defined.

- diverse genres This is one of the most diverse times for genre, tone, and voice in American comics, but the genres in Manga make it look tame.  romance, fantasy, sci-fi. You want girl on girl romance?  How bout boy on boy?  High school drama?  High School Drama w/ undead/assassination/magic/etc?  Want a story about a single dad learning to cook for his daughter?  About playing sports?  Hey you died and woke up in another world/video game! oh, wait, and you are a SLIME!  No a giant spider! That's just the tip.

- a lot of manga come out in cheap anthologies.  The best of those are collected into solo collections. coupled with the diversity, there is a large pool of natural selection going before readers to find out what resonates.

I don't know, but I suspect only the winners get translated and published in the US (i.e. the books that won solo collections).  So we already have a better overall quality level. Currently just about every comic gets a six issue trade and put on the shelf. Which is the good Batman story?  and if you pick up a monthly comic, who knows if it's one of the shit stories or not?

I guess the US equivalent would be looking at Absolute/Omnibus editions as they don't generally bother to do that for the Average stuff.  My Omnibus collection if filled with awesome comics: Planetary, Starman, Sandman, Strangers in Paradise, Rachel Rising, Perez Wonder Woman, Invincible, Umbrella Academy, Y The Last Man (etc).  At one time those were comics lost on the shelf with 100's of other titles.  

But man those are like $70-$150 apiece (order from instockstrades!).  You can pick up the first manga collection for $13 and it's got like 50% more pages than an american trade and is $0-$10 cheaper! (even cheaper if you go electronic!)  Then you know if you like it and can buy the others.

And I found it was pretty easy to guess if I liked something based on seeing a few pages.  Even after a long time reading comics, I think my accuracy level here is lower.  I think manga are more visual?  fewer words and more is conveyed visually so it's easier to pick up if you like what is going on.

I suspect there are lot of tropes I do not know about being leveraged (not enough experience and not my culture), but it does lead to some clear storytelling.
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16 Aug 2020 22:12 #68887 by oogber
Replied by oogber on topic DC Comics layoffs!
Thanks, you are very wise and knowledgeable :D
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17 Aug 2020 22:33 #68891 by Agent00Soul
Replied by Agent00Soul on topic DC Comics layoffs!

TwiceOnThursdays wrote: Here’s an interview with Jim Lee over what is happening at DC.   He gets at a lot of the basic questions people had and what the stated plans are for DC in the future.  (Of course, what they say they’re going to do and what they actually do might not be the same.)

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/dcs-jim-lee-companys-future-we-are-still-business-publishing-comics-1307413


The loneliness of command.  I wonder if he had flashbacks to the end of Gen13 and the rest of the Wildstorm line?

He did seem to admit that the main purpose of the comics was as a support mechanism to the live-action stuff at this point.

Does anyone know why local variety shops stopped being the main place kids bought comics from 1930s-1980s?  I have't seen them in those places in decades.  It all goes to comic book and other specialty stores.

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18 Aug 2020 00:52 #68892 by TwiceOnThursdays
Replied by TwiceOnThursdays on topic DC Comics layoffs!

Agent00Soul wrote:
Does anyone know why local variety shops stopped being the main place kids bought comics from 1930s-1980s?  I have't seen them in those places in decades.  It all goes to comic book and other specialty stores.


Comics went away from the newstand (newstands, bookstores, walmart, grocery stories, etc) organically during the 90's.  

There is a nice book that details on all that is on my read list (i've read interviews where it's sourced): but I can't find it on my amazon wish list now.  Grr.  I'll try to find it, but I can't. I though ti posted it here to another thread and i can't find it either.   Sorry!

Here's the TL;DR version, with more detail below.

- retailers found it not worth the space (they could make more money using the comic book space to sell something else)
- marvel/dc didn't really fight for the newstand market as they had to take returns from it and the direct market was in the middle of a HUGE BOOM and they can't return comics. They focused on the new market and ignored the death of the longstanding newstand market.
- the huge boom of the Direct Market contributed to the decline in the profitability to the newstand market as it pulled sales away from them.
- and then the BOOM ended and a bunch of direct market stores BUSTED out (10k -> 3500 today)  (And the distributors busted out too, failing down to one, Diamond.)  There are now areas of the country where you have to travel a considerable distance to get to a comic book store.  So it's mail order only ... and now digital.   Those areas it's hard to generate new readers!

Now the (way too) long version:

From the retailer perspective retailers found that the area devoted to comics didn't get their return on investment for them.  They could make more by stocking other things.  

Here's a half ass source for that from Marvel:

https://www.cbr.com/marvels-talk-to-the-hat-fantastic-deaths-kids-comics/

Here's the quote:

I think those are the real gateways for younger readers now. I could spend a tremendous amount of time, effort and energy trying to get comics back onto spinner racks in 7-Elevens. But that would be a waste of resources because the reason there aren't any spinner racks in 7-Elevens anymore is because they were no longer fiscally feasible. The amount of money those racks generated for the amount of space and maintenance they required was not worthwhile for that organization. All the wishing in the world on my part is not going to change that. I think it's imperative for us to reach out to the youngest possible demographic and appeal to their sensibilities to draw them into this world, but I think you're going to see that through digital and animation more than traditional comic book publishing

From the publisher perspective (Marvel and DC), there is an elemental difference between the direct market and the newstand market:  The newsstand market could return comic books, the direct market can't.  (The direct market got  discount for doing that.)

BTW, if you remember marvel (and later DC) taking the barcode off comic books and putting a picture where the barcode was?  That's because some unscrupulous direct market stores were taking their unsold stock and using newstand stores to funnel them back to DC/Marvel for refunds.  So they started to make "Direct Market" editions of comics that had no barcode so it was visibly distinct and you could no longer do that.
   
Wikipedia has a good overview of the formation of the direct Market:   en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_market

Zip down to the 90's and you can see mention of the speculation crash.  That took the direct market from 10k stores to about 3500 today.  But you have to keep that speculation crash/book in mind when you see "record-breaking sales!"

If you want the entire history of the direct market in detail a GREAT book is "Comic Shop: The retail Mavericks who Gave us Geek Culture".

smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B076FVWM5N/ref=kinw_myk_ro_title

The direct market was born in the late 70's, and steadily grew through the 80's and BOOMED after the Batman Movie (89) and was killed back down by the Death of Superman (and some other things happening at the time).  Shortly after all the distributors failed down into one: Diamond. 

But that several year surge kept pulling sales from the newsstand market which contributed to the the newsstand market starting to cut out comics because they weren't worth the retail space.

Marvel and DC had a long problematic history with returns -- if you were the publisher you had to take a lot of risk to publish a set # of books and ship them out as if they didn't sell you had to buy them back.  All the risk was on the publisher, not the store.   There were no computers either, so you didn't know if something sold well until you got the returns later.  It was a nightmare.

They were staring at this goldmine of the direct market that was delivering a feeding frenzy of dedicated readers and collectors, and it was all ZERO risk to them.  Plus they had sales info upfront (it was the store's problem to determine what to buy/sell). So, why fight for the newstand market?  It was a hassle.  No one was thinking "that's where new readers come from".

The Wikipedia page has a great section on why the specialty shops grew and pulled in the collectors (and a lot of readers).  For a reader, one of the benefits of "no returns" was the stores got the comics at a discount and therefore could sell them to a discount.  Comics were cheaper at a direct market shop than a bookstore/grocery store/stop and go. So if you were a dedicated fan (a reader or a collector) you went to a store to save money. 

Marvel and DC didn't really fight for the newstand market when they needed to.  I'm not sure they could have saved it, but it's for sure they weren't too worried about it at the time.

Lastly, as comics became "more mature" there was some problems with content. I  recall a Walmart scare that led them to stop carrying comics.  Someone bought a 3 pack comics and it had something "not suitable for a child!" and complained, and Walmart was then done because it wasn't worth it to them.

I can find some mention of this online, but nothing that I think is official, so ... it might just be one of those internet stories.  So take that with a grain of salt. Comic did become more mature and there is still a "comic books are for kids" impression in a lot of people so some wig out when they see things that are ok for a high school kid in a comic.

Anyway, I don't have sources for ALL of that, but I think there is enough to lay down the framework of what happened.  It was an organic thing that was from both ends.  Stores were selling less so couldn't justify the space and marvel and DC were focused on the direct market and didn't really fight for it.

Still wish I could find that damn book. ;-)
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18 Aug 2020 13:35 #68893 by Agent00Soul
Replied by Agent00Soul on topic DC Comics layoffs!
Thanks for the detailed answer!

i remember that period too and you brought back a lot of memories. In actually had a lot of friends who worked at Marvel and DC at the time and heard similar tales from them as it was happening. 

To be honest, I’m not that unsympathetic. The market was radically changing towards direct and I can’t remember being too worried at the loss of newsstands. Delivery mechanisms change with the times. Heck I never thought there would be a point where I read 99% of my mags digitally but here we are. 

The over saturated amount of comic book stores I do remember as being obvious to all in the 90s, but not sure a return to the newsstand was a reasonable solution then or now. The MCU and DCU probably serve as the gateway to comics these days anyway, much as the animated stuff  has been doing since the 60s .
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