The Failure of Current Mainstream American Comics
Illustrations: Konstantinos Petrocheilos
Sales of Mainstream Comics compared to Manga is devastating. Now, imagine the sales for Manga if it was in colour, or able to be read right to left?
Comic Book writer, Gerry Conway tweets alot. Recently, after his opinions on why the Harley Quin live-action movie failed to garner huge box office success led him to go on an attack on the hugely successful Manga Industry. In which he tried to point out certain issues in the Japanese sequential artform:
I posted a response with a simple description of the various types of Manga that the Japanese, not including Doujinshi (Self-Published), which one commenter was kind enough to note, on 14th May 2021.
My response tweet to Gerry Conway bitching about manga, which to me seemed more about him not being able to stand the failure of Mainstream Comics, aka DC Comics & Marvel not being able to tell good escapist stories anymore in their comics, thus the loss of sales in the tens of millions last year alone, is still doing the rounds on Twitter every other day. And getting retweeted.
As much as I love comics I don't like seeing comic pros hiding their heads in the sand at the state of the American Comics Industry. Pretending there's nothing wrong and that all is fine in the industry and that sales of Manga is part of the comic book industry, despite the industries being as close to each other as oil is to water. Though they are both visual sequential artforms, they are vastly different and that has been lost on the Mainstream Comic Pros for a very long time.
However, DC Comics and Marvel hold the shelf space in every bookstore and comic store. Thus keeping any newcomers to the industry, especially the Independent Creators.
This space of course is due to their decades of goodwill, brand recognition and the fact majority of comic buyers aren't willing to seek out or walk away from their beloved titles because of the characters they have invested so much emotion, time and money into, no matter how terrible the story or if the character even is representative of why they started reading or collecting or buying in the first place.
Not to mention, the billions of dollars in their coffers to exploit the market in their best interests as any business would do having the money to do so.
Comic readers are mainly creatures of habit. And its this behaviour which keeps DC and Marvel believing no matter what they put out the comic buyer will continue to buy and so they believe there is no reason to not put out subpar comics.
This despite having a myriad of talented pool of quality talent with decades of experience just waiting to be able to write their best for their beloved characters.
Instead, they put people on titles and characters based on race, gender and ideology. And, not on their love of the character or even on quality of story.However, comic readers no longer satisfied with having subpar stories about their favourite characters are turn away in droves, if a little slowly.
Comic readers tired of the subpar comics are moving over to Independent, though slowly, comics and as we have seen manga titles instead. Cancelling subscriptions and instead buying direct from smaller outlets and comic creators.
However, this doesn't seem to scare the big 2, because they are banking on Hollywood. However, the Hollywood studios themselves are suffering from lack of quality stories including boring or tedious reboots or non-canon superhero movies which isn't bringing the boys to yard. After, the comics medium is a visual medium and males are inherently visual.
The sad thing is, all that's needed is a complete overhaul of the placeholder writers
they have now working for them, who they brought in to replace their career quality writers and creative teams in the past 7-10yrs.
This, especially at Marvel and most recently, DC, when they decided that the old guard needed to be overhauled and so brought in blog and book writers who had never read a comic or worked in the industry in any capacity.
There is a reason why the comics writers mainly write comics. Its an artform in and of itself. It takes a lot of time to hone one's skill in any artform. And it's especially important in comics or manga.
You can't write a character unless you feel a passion for it. But, if you're writing a legacy character you can not break the lore. Because if you do, you will drive away your reader.
So, to have decades of skilled writers replaced without a thought to what the outcome would be in making such a drastic choice, only serves that the same drastic removal of current writers be just as clear and precise.
The American Comic Industry is a ship out in the storm getting smashed by ginormous waves. If, and that's a big 'if' it is to weather the storm, it needs to be dragged back to port. Then, it need to make a clear break from the mistakes of the past decade. And, get back to telling stories loyal to the characters and to the creators of the past.
Otherwise, the ship will sink and like the Titanic there will be no saving it from the iceberg that is customer loyalty and buying power.
Hollywood won't save the comics industry as the big 2 are finding out. No matter how much you pander to the minority. The customer is not as stupid as the promotional teams would like everyone in the industry to believe.
They big 2 can continue doing what they are. It's their prerogative. They own the characters. They own the brand. But, if they want to pass clear of the iceberg they need to return to port. That is if they want to compete for those millions its losing to Manga.