This is Tuesday. It’s 7 am and I’m tired. But hey, let’s share my two cents on the comics industry. As everyone knows, every comic book fan, every comic book creator and every retailer, knows better. We all know how to fix things, right? Except… We don’t. Because we’re not in charge. Because there’s a tendency to say some things and then act differently. I’ve been touring a lot recently (check here if you want to meet me in person) and I hear every possible theory on “fixing comics”. Yep, I put quotes in that. Because, let’s face it, I’d rather be humble on the subject.
Anyhow, I always get up early to work with clients and collaborators across the pond. Yesterday, I visited my Local Comic Shop, Anyone Comics (on Union St Brooklyn, which, of course I recommend because they’re awesome). I had a conversation with owner Dimitrios who just came back from the Diamond Retailer Summit (for the neophytes, Diamond Comics is the biggest comic book distributor in the US, almost a monopoly). It was an interesting conversation. Then I went online and saw all the ranting about the event. And this morning I thought: “Hey, people are making simple (simplistic?) theories about comics, let’s try that too, but my own way”.
PROBLEM: “MONTHLY COMICS ARE NOT WORKING ANYMORE!”
SIMPLE SOLUTION#1: Let’s scrap monthlies! Graphic Novels for everyone, folks. Well… Wait. Not so fast. Some people like the format. It’s an American tradition. Why would we ditch it? “Because there are too many and it’s impossible to collect them all properly. Plus, they die young with their poor quality.” Have you thought about all the people who just want to try a series/an issue for a limited price (less than $4) before spending 10 or 15 or 20 dollars on a graphic novel they’ll hate?
SAPOLSKY’S SIMPLISTIC PROPOSAL: Why don’t we just make samplers. Label it #1 (because it’s always cool on a cover) THEN, release the Graphic Novel a few weeks after. That way, people can try the series, then buy the whole thing. I noticed that when I see people at conventions or store signings, they ask about my books, I pitch them. Then they say: “Okay, I’ll try issue #1”. Not that I don’t like that. But I always end saying: “If you like it, come back and buy the rest”. Usually, it works. They do come back. But even if they don’t, that proves my point. People are curious. They like great concepts. Great stories. Interesting characters. But there are so many cool comics out there. So many talented creators that they can’t buy everything. Having a paid sampler would help the creators/publishers/retailers and would be a launchpad for the Graphic Novel to come. How about that?
THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE DISAGREES: Evil Sapolsky in the house! That idea’s great. BUT, with capital letters, BUT… Why don’t we offer the sampler for free? Or just offer it digitally for free and for a limited price in stores? After all it’s promotion.
Realistic Sapolsky answers: “Why not. But as I often say, it’s not because it’s free that it costs nothing.” Free is always nice, but the industry has to work on two legs, just like now. I think readers can understand that creators spent hours on those books. Poured heard, sweat, blood, tears into it. And that a little contribution would be greatly appreciated. PLUS, that solution would simplify things for retailers. Instead of having to deal with X times monthlies, they would only have the samplers/issue#1 then the graphic novels. And, when ordering in the catalog (the Previews Catalog), they would spend a bit more seconds to check talents, concepts, stories, because there would be less books every month.
You find this simple? React! Comment!
The idea is to talk about issues and find solutions that will ensure the comic book industry is still there 100 years from now. What? I’ll be dead? Hell No! In comics, you never die, kiddos.
To be continued,