(1) The Comic Book Sales Charts
Heidi MacDonald at the Beat wrote this the other day when discussing the monthly sales charts:
a pretty strong faction of folks associated with the Big Two think that the Marvel and DC Sales Charts are gradually killing periodical sales . . . . I wanted to make sure that running an Indie Sales Chart wasn’t going to strangle a bunch of titles in their crib.Really? Sales charts published on the Beat are gradually killing periodical sales? I guess the idea is that people never like buy a book that isn't selling like gangbusters because they know it will fade away quickly, but do the sales charts really hold that much sway over the buying public?
In any event, I've often thought that the sales charts on the Beat might make a person who cares about periodical comic book sales depressed, since after those first few big-selling titles, the chart is basically a list of book after book that is slowly losing sales on a month-to-month basis, and the bottom third of the chart tends to be books with teeny-tiny sales that aren't long for this world.
Here's my grand, thinking-outside-the-box suggestion to help people feel better: Reverse the order of the sales charts so that the lowest-selling books comes first, counting down to the top-selling books. I think this change will make people feel happier about the charts, because it will place more importance on the top-sellers and because the top-selling books will be the last thing that people read about, so they'll finish reading and feel good. Maybe then they'll go out and buy those floppy comics 'cause they feel so optimistic about the state of the industry.
(2) Weekly Comics
I think comic book publishers should release more comic books on a weekly, rather than monthly basis. And I'm not talking about doing more year-long series like 52, Countdown, and Trinity. Instead, I think the big-time summer crossover mini-series like Secret Invasion and Final Crisis should be released on a weekly basis. This change would address two of the biggest complaints that I've read about the summer crossovers.
First, it would fix pacing problems. Secret Invasion was criticized for moving very slowly through a very simple plot. If it came out on a weekly basis, people wouldn't have to wait very long for the next installment and the plot would feel like it's moving along at a faster pace.
Second, it would fix the problem that occurs when the big events for a comic book universe all have to happen in the main mini-series, forcing all of the other books to wait until those events happen. Now, the other books wouldn't need to tread water for months.
Finally, I think it just makes more sense to have the "summer crossover" mini-series begin AND end in the summer, rather than begin with a bang in the summer and end with a whimper in the dead of winter.
In addition to mini-series, this might work for ongoing comic books, with a series running more like TV seasons: a bunch of issues in a row, followed by a pre-determined break period (along with a release of a collected edition of those issues). This might help certain books build buzz so that when they return for their next "season" they've picked up new readers.
(3) Paper or digital?
I think many people assume that, like newspapers, magazines, and books, paper comics will eventually be replaced by digital comics; the only real question is how quickly it will happen.
I'd like to suggest that the digital revolution will take longer than most people believe, for the simple reason that comic books are composed of both words and pictures.
While literature is certainly making the jump from print to digital, I think that the transition will be much slower for fine, visual art. The method of presenting words on a page matters much less than the method of presenting a piece of art. Don't forget that comics are both literature and art, which I think means that paper comics will be around for a while yet.