Customers do not engage […] with comics news sites

Brian Hibbs has his latest Tilting At Windmills column up at CBR and while it’s a discussion of DC’s Villains month he dedicates the first half of the article to discussing customers and their buying habits. It’s an interesting read but I wanted to focus on one portion.

4117633014Yet, to the best of my ability to tell, the large majority of my customers do not engage daily with comics news sites, with the larger “comics culture” on the internet — in fact, the majority of their regular interactions with comics are coming into my store and seeing what is there on the rack that week. They may have some vague awareness of major events, or what the market has judged “hot,” but not in the way that you or I do — but, more importantly, I don’t see any particular evidence that they need or want to be any more engaged than they are. They come in, they buy their comics, they enjoy their comics, they come back in next time, that’s the end of it. That’s fine and noble. Honestly, it is probably a better way to enjoy comics than the obsessive living with it that you and I do, y’know?

And that nails it right on the head: the average comics customer who buys “overground” or mainstream comics decides what to buy based on existing buying habits and what looks good on the rack that day. You’re not going to convert them to underground comics, small publishers or foreign graphic novels. They stop by every so often, scan the books and get what they’ve come to get.

To me that means the comics news sites should dedicate themselves to promoting smaller publishers and their works, since those who read these sites are deep into the culture and already know what Marvel and DC are up to but perhaps don’t realize what Humanoids or Fantagraphics are publishing. In other words mainstream comics don’t need reviews: regulars are buying them anyway and people know what to expect.

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Scott VanderPloeg
Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at AE Index and eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans.
Articles: 1230

15 Comments

  1. I’ve seen a lot of evidence of this and right now I’m also buying primarily independents. I’m also working on a character of my own which I hope to sell to an independent. I also buy what I like; sometimes I don’t care what it might be “worth” …and the last item on my list is anything graded by CGC since it is usually overpriced.

  2. I think to limit a comic-culture blog site to covering independent/secret books *only* could be disastrous. How can you talk about comics without talking about Marvel and DC in some way?

    Nothings ‘needs’ a review. A review is simply a person’s reaction to a subjective creation. People consume reviews to find similar or contrasting opinions – and they do that to either debate it or to discover the collective opinion. I suppose mainstream movies need not reviews either?

    “regulars are buying them anyway and people know what to expect.”

    This is everything that’s wrong with the industry as it exists today. The idea that, we don’t need to make different or better books because the regulars will buy them anyway and that… those regulars know what to expect, meaning all the mainstream books are the same anyway. That’s not ok. They should all be very different.

    Instead of keeping the regulars happy, the big publishers’ primary concerns should be with the new reader, the use of digital going forward and the integration of the local shop.

    Consumers of online content want to have a finger on the pulse I think. What’s the Buzz about right now? And where can I tell people what I think about it?

    Small independent books are only cool if they are actually cool.

    Danny

  3. Did you read the article from Brian Hibbs that was quoted from? It’s nice you’ve picked a third username and email to comment from and have a nice rant but the point of the piece was that comic shop regulars don’t read comic sites.

    Mainstream comics are designed to entertain for a few years. Characters don’t change, story lines get rehashed. They were designed to entertain adolescents.

  4. I read some of it. It’s far too long and mechanical for my liking.

    I thought it was your view –

    “In other words mainstream comics don’t need reviews: regulars are buying them anyway and people know what to expect.”

  5. Two quotes from George Perez from an interview about his signing with Boom that go to my statements.

    Well, while I have enjoyed considerable professional and personal success with both Marvel and DC, it was becoming all too evident that many of the books being produced by both companies seem to be getting more and more corporate driven. Many of the characters I grew up with were turning into strangers whose adventures were determined by factors that had less and less to do with what made a good comic story and more to do with how these properties can be exploited for other purposes.

    …especially regarding DC and Marvel. From what I can see, it’s not the new that either company wants now, it’s the familiar. Why gamble with an unknown property when another Batman or Avengers title might be more of a sure thing? Fewer and fewer final decisions are made at the editorial level. Warner and Disney think they can do it all better — and they’re the ones with control and money.

  6. I read the piece until I got bored and then I stopped reading the piece.

    I’ll basically use whatever email address I want and when I visit a blog site with available commenting and I’m loaded with an opinion, I’ll share it. “Nice ranting” is what the internet is built upon. Would you rather we all shut up?

    By the way, it’s nice you’ve adjusted an existing comment as opposed to simply replying in sequence.

    Why does it matter what regular visitors to a comic store read online? If they’re regular visitors, the store’s only interest should be

    “how do I keep these people happy?”

    not “why the hell do these idiots not know what’s coming up?”.

    You can consider yourself a fan of something and actually hate it all at once. Any hard-core Sports fan is a fine example of that.

    Anyone whom reads comics is an adolescent. To consider the promotion from adolescence is to no longer consume art and story… I’m quite happy to remain an adolescent forever.

    The characters don’t change because the good ones are firmly 2 dimensional. Superman, Spider-man, Batman they’re all missing a vital component in their design in that… they don’t evolve. They don’t experience something, learn from it and become something new. These characters last so long because we all love the ‘idea’ of them. The scenario.

    Take James Bond for example, if he were to realise that… he can’t actually live that life forever and he must settle down and have a family, he’s no longer James Bond. But while that would make him a 3 dimensional character… we really want the ‘idea’ of him, the scenario.

    Now tell me I’m missing the point.

    George Perez must understand that it’s always been that way. When he fell in love with comics, it was all new to him, some of it may have been completely new altogether. As a creator he should understand the character restrictions in the long term.

    I personally believe in art over business every time and support George’s decision to go be creative again… but don’t be so cynical RE: the spinal cord of the industry.

  7. “Nice ranting” is what the internet is built upon. Would you rather we all shut up?

    CafComics, CBD is basically an open Facebook account. I made the mistake of thinking this site was a blog too but based on the behaviour, I’ve concluded it’s more of a playground for the contributors and their friends. Any momentum to a discussion is considered “hijacking”.

    You can consider yourself a fan of something and actually hate it all at once. Any hard-core Sports fan is a fine example of that.

    Can you say this a little louder so that Anthony can hear.

    Small independent books are only cool if they are actually cool.

    Ha. Totally agree. That’s why they are “independent”. If they had mass appeal (which most want) they’d be commercial and “mainstream”. Seems logical enough and yet… oops… I think I might be ranting as well.

  8. Yet this is your 480th comment Charlie. What is it you’re looking for? We post an article, someone posts a comment, we provide a rebuttal, and so forth. Would you prefer we don’t defend our position? I don’t believe CBD falls under the definition of a blog.

    CafComics is Danny Champion using a new profile so he knows his way around the website.

  9. Scott, I think many people feel incomplete… and so people look for meaning in different ways. One thing for sure, that meaning is not in a dictionary. My comment was not meant to be a criticism, it was an observation. There’s nothing wrong with having your own online playground.

    I suspected it was Danny Champ as he signed off (although I suppose it could have been Danny anybody). But what’s interesting to me is how you attempt to expose him, and now you confirm his identity. Do peoples identity get publicly exposed on “blogs” very often?

  10. I didn’t think it was exposure since he’s a contributor to the site and has referenced CandyAppleFox a lot. He also signed the comment Danny. His profile doesn’t list a name but it wasn’t hard to put together, and I could be mistaken. It struck me as odd to switch names on a website they frequently comment on
    unless the intention was to distance oneself from previous comments.

  11. Dudes. I just killed my HotMail account because… HotMail is rubbish. I opted to use my own email address (that’s connected to my personal project) to further shout about my WebComic.

    Which, of course I’m interested in promoting http://www.candyapplefox.com 😉

    Charlie, I often agree with some of your ideas and comments and respect your dedication to the cause. But I find it hard to back you up sometimes because your tone is often aggressively personal. Which is fine… it’s your thing. Don’t stop 🙂

    If there is ever an exchange between myself and Scott (or whomever) in the comments, it’s always passionate, but it’s also playful. We clash sometimes, sure… but I respect his opinions greatly.

    PS: I love this site. It’s one of 5 or 6 sites I visit every day.

    It’s true.

    Love From Danny Champion (the one and only).

  12. Yes, I get that… thus my “playground” analogy.

    I just wanna clarify 2 things. Directness should not be mistaken for getting personal. If the reader happens to interpret my ramblings that way… well, you know well as I do that you can’t make everyone happy.

    The second point is, I have no “cause”. I’m not interested in becoming an artist or writer, I have nothing to promote and whether the industry survives or not has little to do with me. This is one area of my life where I can exercise some freedom.

    Compare Andy’s write ups to others. Andy never makes blanket statements so there’s nothing to challenge him on. He is organized with his thoughts and flexible in temperament. In other words, he doesn’t set himself up.

  13. I don’t think that I’ve ever said that I didn’t think someone could be a fan and hate it all at once. I actually think that the sports fan analogy is quite appropriate. I totally get that someone can love comics but hate what the company is doing at that time and therefore want to stick with it just like their favourite losing team year after year. I personally think that people should drop things that they hate, but I get why they don’t. I tend to voice my concerns primarily with my dollars so if I hate something I don’t buy it. But I have the luxury of not ever hating my favourite book: Spider-Man. So I’ve collected ASM though clone sagas, spider-totems, brand new days, and superior shenanigans. But if I hated it so much that I didn’t enjoy it at all would I drop it? You’ve made me stop and think on that one.

    I’ve always thought of this website like a giant formspring account where I can discuss my shared love of the medium with my enemies.

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