Sunday, May 8, 2011

Something You Don't Hear on the Radio: Good News About Comics

On the way home from work on Friday, I heard something on the radio that I've never heard before: people talking about comic books. I'm not talking about a geeky satellite radio station, or a podcast, or the voices in my head--a regular, local radio station was discussing Free Comic Book Day.

I was pleased and impressed that FCBD was being discussed as though it were any other community event, and not as the kind of day "normal" people should stay inside for, because the weirdos will be out in force. Comics and comics fans don't seem to get good press unless an important character is killed off, presumably because that's one step closer to killing this fandom whose allure and respectability elude so many people.

The report covered not only the giving away of free comics, but the impact on comic shop owners, and the business aspect of the day. The competition between Marvel and DC was brought up, focusing especially on the glut of comic book movies this summer. Thor is already in theaters, and I got home before they had a chance to review the film.

Before that, however, the report touched on the changing landscape of comics distribution, with a comic shop owner in Michigan pointing out how his store needs to adapt to the times to stay in business. Apparently, as digital comics distribution grows, comic shops will have an exclusive 30-day distribution window for each new release, where readers will have to go into a brick-and-mortar store to obtain the code for any new digital comic release.

Whether this helps keep physical store locations stay in business, or whether this backfires and damages digital download profits, I see it as a sign that somebody out there is at least attempting to feel the pulse of the industry. Raising prices to get more money out of the few customers you have left isn't going to keep anyone happy or financially stable.

No matter what business is like today, or how the capes and tights fare in the theaters this summer, it seems like things are looking up for the first time in a long time.

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