A year ago, two major events happened in the world of comics -– it was dubbed The 10 Days That Shook the World. On August 29, 2009 it was announced that Marvel was being acquired by Disney. A few short days later on September 9, DC Comics became DC Entertainment. It was also announced that Paul Levitz -– who had been at DC for some 37 years — would be stepping down. The world held its breath to see what would happen next. There were big changes brewing at the big two. How would Disney and Warner Bros. change the face of comic book publishing as we know it?
San Diego Comic-Con is over and done, the streets have been cleaned and many words have been written about the convention; Hollywood has taken over, comics are not the focus, too much, too crazy. Let’s not forget that this focus from Hollywood is because of comics and the passion of the fans. This year it seemed that Hollywood was determined to take over the show – it has become the Cannes of cons. The money they spend is insane – so as a comic book publisher, how do you compete with displays that look like a theme park has been built in the middle of the convention floor? How do publishers and their comics get anyone to pay attention to them?
What a difference a few years can make. Not so long ago, some people believed that manga was poised to take over the world, and with reason; it dominated the BookScan charts, gobbled up bookstore shelf space, and became an important part of the graphic novel landscape. Over the past two years, however, overall manga sales in the U.S. have been reported to be down by one- third, eight manga publishers have gone out of business, while the two biggest players TokyoPop and Viz have shrunk as Shojo Beat and Yen Plus turn to digital publishing. What the hell happened?
That sound you heard recently was the iPad landing in America and thousands of bookstores and comic book shops across the country closing and locking their doors for the last time. That’s what happened – right? The world changed overnight and everyone is reading all their books, magazines, comics and newspapers on a digital devices.
So, wait – that didn’t happen? I can still walk into a bookstore and pick up a chunk of dead tree and enjoy a good read? Cool. The world of publishing is changing – just not as fast as everyone thinks.
The biggest change is that for the first time in publishing history consumers are being asked to invest in an expensive piece of hardware to allow them to read a book. Yes, audio books require either a cassette or CD player, but those were devices that most people already owned. To read an e-book you need a new device to view the books. Reading a book on a computer just doesn’t cut it. A book is easily portable so the device also needs to be portable.
I was moving an exercise machine – The Total Gym -down to the basement on the sly. My wife and I had discussed moving it from our bedroom – she wanted to keep it there and I wanted to move it to the basement. So, of course I moved the machine behind her back.
Now, the thing weighs about 90 pounds and has ropes and pulleys so it’s awkward to carry. As I wrestled with it coming down the stairs, I missed the last step, and landed on my left ankle. As I went crashing to the ground, the Total Gym followed and came down on my chest…just as my wife was turning the corner. She screamed thinking I had died. When she realized that her idiot of a husband was alive, she started yelling at me for being an ass for carrying it down on my own and reminded me she didn’t want it moved at all. Even though the machine was still on my chest, my wife was crying and yelling, and my ankle hurt like hell and was ballooning up to the size of Schwarzenegger’s bicep, all I could think was; “Shit, the Neil Gaiman book is coming out soon – I have too much to do.” Then I asked my wife for an Advil.
2003 turned out to be an important year, for me and for graphic novels. DC Comics was publishing a BIG book, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman: Endless Nights. It was Neil’s return to Sandman comics and it was not a collection of comics, but an original graphic novel. There was the idea floating around the office that maybe, with Neil’s success with his novels and the fact that American Gods had hit the New York Times Bestseller List, we could have a bestseller on our hands. It was of a dream of mine, to have one of our graphic novels become a best seller.
I have been writing these in chronological order, but from now on I’m going to channel Lost by doing a flash forward, a flash sideways, a flashback or maybe even a flash dance – whatever suits me. By their sheer brilliance The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen and Maus all pushed the potential and the acceptance […]