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Are Fewer Comic Book Titles the Answer?

February 12, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Marvel Comics 2020 Announcements

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

Last week we discussed Defunct Marvel & DC Publishing Lines. Here’s what some of you had to say:

Dexter Plisskin: “Groo the Wanderer… Epic Comics… ’nuff said.”

Prez Gar: “Definitely Star Comics. So many great licensed series. very few of which have been reprinted. The only two I can think of are Droids and Ewoks, which were reprinted when Dark Horse still had the Star Wars license. Ive been wanting a collected edition of the Star He-Man series for years. Not to mention Thundercats, Silverhawks, Madballs, Visionaries, Alf, Rocky and Bullwinkle, etc. Marvel has started releasing collections of their original Star series. I picked up the collected Spider-Ham last year.”

lorddarias: “Marvel MAX gave us Alias & some decent Foolkiller stories.”

WrestleMania35HoursLong: “Loved me some Blood Syndicate when I was a kid… Doom 2099 and Ghost Rider 2099 I thought were cool too.”

mcdropkick: “I might be wrong, but I believe there is something in the Malibu/Ultraverse contracts that heavily favors the character creators, to the point that it’s not worth it financially to bring those characters back. (Why make a Prime comic when you can make another X-Men and make more money on it?) Just a rumor but it always made sense to me, there have been so many multiverse-type stories since then, odds alone the Ultraverse characters would pop up again at least once.

Strangers was my favorite book from the line, and I really enjoyed Exiles too.”

D2Kvirus: “For me there’s only one answer: Vertigo, which officially shuttered last month after DC announced it would be put out to pasture last year, as any imprint whose catalogue includes Preacher, Y: The Last Man, Fables, The Sandman, Hellblazer etc etc etc is going to leave one hell of an indelible mark when it’s open, and a gaping hole when it’s gone.”

Gil: “I remember picking up Prime from the Ultraverse and various Wildstorm books back when they were with their original publishers. I seriously don’t remember anything about the Ultraverse when it became a Marvel line. I remember seeing Grifter in a DC book, but the Wildcats just looks out of place next to DC characters.

I was also a fan of the 2099 line. Mainly Spider-Man 2099. I say I was a fan but I can’t remember specifics even if I know for a fact I bought a bunch of 2099 comics. I remember Hulk 2099 having a sick design but other than that, I don’t remember anything else about him. I also remember buying Ravage 2099 because it was written by Stan Lee. But that’s all I remember about him!”

El Atomico: “Was the New Universe the one with Kickers, Inc., and Speedball? I thought those were okay.”

sutekhsgift: “Marvel UK. Marvel was reintroducing Death’s Head and started a mythology dealing with mysticism as well as high technology. Some of the characters were off the wall ( one was a time/dimension hopping band of mercenaries, another one was a take on the premise of the sci-fi show VR.5 ) I really would not mind seeing some of those characters in the regular Marvel universe.”
Too many great comments to share. Go back and see for yourself. Also, as always, thanks for the input!

This week we ask…

Are Fewer Comic Book Titles the Answer?

You might have missed a little discussion that’s been going on in the comic book industry so please allow me to fill you in  It started about 3 weeks ago. It’s no secret that publishers have been grappling with the challenge of sales and engaging new fans. One of the big problems facing the comic industry is “way too many books,” according to Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson.

“Comic book stores can’t keep up with ordering them, there’s just too much to keep track of, and if a specialty market catering to this specific type of content is overwhelmed by the amount of books being published, that’s definitely going to be an issue for other sales channels,” Stephenson said. “Worse, it’s going to trickle down to readers – because at $4 and $5 an issue, that limits the number of comics someone can reasonably afford within a single month. Or every month.”

“Every publisher – and I want to be clear that I absolutely include Image in this – could do a better job of curating their content instead of constantly flooding the market with books that may not have an actual audience,” Stephenson went on to say.

If you’re about to comment on the number of titles Image puts out, hold off on that. “Over the course of 2019, we’ve launched fewer books. Like a third less,” Stephenson explained. “We’re planning to continue that going into next year, because we saw positive results from thinning the line over the course of this year.”

In a bit of a surprise, Boom founder and CEO Ross Richie agrees with Stephenson. 

What do you think? Would fewer titles be a good thing for the industry? Would it allow for a more focused line with higher quality creative teams?

That’s all the time I have. Check out our Comic Book Reviews tomorrow and see you next week!