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Subj: Re: Still not Clear on Early 90's Bubble v. Today
Posted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 at 06:47:38 pm EST (Viewed 144 times)
Reply Subj: Re: Still not Clear on Early 90's Bubble v. Today
Posted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 at 04:45:06 am EST (Viewed 189 times)

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    Hey all. Sorry this turned into a rather meandering way to get my thoughts/questions out there.

    Back in the 3rd grade, I got hooked on Marvel. The Marvel Universe Series 2 Trading Cards suckered me in, and Fantastic Four 358 finally sucked me in.

    I was the standard 90's comic fan (an I think I've posted a question or 2 about the 90's in the past). I snatched up as many comics as I could with my allowance, loved the special covers..and had to have every collector's edition available. The die-cut FF4 and Batman 500. The foil editions of Punisher's Suicide run. The holgrams on Fatal Attractions. The all white FF Torch cover. The 2099 Fall of the Hammer connecting covers...even the Superman World;s Collide "Color Form" cover (that was an odd one). But then, apparently something happened apparently in the industry, and I don't get what happened...

    Anyway, I was thinking through the early 90's and today's Marvel...and I'm trying to figure out the differences in the climate. Part if it might be that for a kid, the Mrvelverse just seems huge in general...but...

Assuming we are just talking about Marvel's direct market sales. Some of this stuff is going to be be hard to find since some of it isn't public, there was also Marvel's use of Heroes's World as a distributer, etc.

For most of my examples I'll compare Uncanny X-Men 301 (June 1993) and UXM 529 (December 2010).

1)Are there more comics being sold today then there were then? Did the variants end up killing sales?

Since the 90s, per issue sales have dropped. It wasn't any one issue that has led to the loss of comic readers and sales. The biggest problem with comics now compared to previous decades is the huge increase in relative price and the limitation of distribution. Prices have increased dramatically on a per issue basis (1.25 vs 3.99). This is most important in terms of relative price, where there are simply cheaper forms of entertainment out there ($1 for a Redbox movie). Another huge factor is that sales have gone done dramatically, so they are no longer able to take advantage of economies of scale. Comics would be cheaper if more people bought them. Distribution is also a key component, the number of comic shops are much less and monthly comics are mostly bough through the direct market there. Collections are also a much bigger part of comic sales today. Alternative methods of distribution are catching up, such as digital downloads and internet ordering, but each have their problems.

It's hard to see the current method of comics lasting much longer. Something will happen to comics that changes the overall system which will allow it to continue. In less than 5 years I'd wager more people will be reading their comics digitally for a much lower per issue price compared to the traditional method.

Per issue sales in the direct market, ASM #386/Feb 1993 sold 561,683 while ASM #574/Dec 2008 sold 105,948.

2) Are more books being published today than back then?

Overall marketwise it's hard to say. In the early 90s you probably had many more publishers around.

For Marvel it's 91 vs 73. I'd probably say overall it's pretty much the same.

3) Are there less characters getting attention today than back then? It seems there are...if we look at it...

Yeah. There are less solo ongoing characters that can hold a book today then did back in 1993. Most of the popular character are supporting more than one book. The particular character that is popular will depend on the cycle. Deadpool was regularly supporting 3 or 4 books a few months ago, but is down now to just 2. Movies play a big part now where a couple of months before a movie comes out the character will have alot of titles out (Thor, Cap). A bigger factor is that now miniseries are common place, where they were rarely used in the 90s.

A) The X-verse has managed to increase # of books

Probably the same excluding solo titles. In the 90s the main X-Books were UXM, X-Men, X-Factor, X-Force, Excalibur and Generation X. Today UXM, X-Men, X-Factor and X-Force are the same, but we still have a teenage mutant title in Generation Hope, and also the New Mutants. Then again while the 90s only had Cable, Wolverine, and sometimes Gambit as solo series, today we have two Wolverine titles, X-23, Daken, two Deadpool titles, etc.

B) The Spider-verse has decreased quite a it in monthly output

Yes for now. I think it just has to do with the character just having a downward cycle now in terms of popularity.

C) The Hulkverse has increased in #

Not dramatically in terms of ongoings since there just one more (Hulk and Incredible Hulk). But now the character is more popular in terms of having tie ins and miniseries to himself. That's more of an indication of how the market has changed than anything else.

D) The Avengers-verse have swelled (with Thor and Iron Man almost being their own categories)

Same. Has more to do with the general trend of heavily promoting these characters with their movies.

    4) Are writers making a ton more now? Or are they selling so few books that they have to charge $4 a pop?
    5) Is it basically now standard that can only create a consistent long term on-going series if you connect the character to an existing "house" (Avengers, X-Men, etc)?

Hard to really say once we include things like royalties. For straight salaries and one a per page basis it would have increased simply because of the overall rise in job earnings. But comics publishers today have to compete for getting the top talent in the industry, ultimately creating more competition inside and outside the industry. There's no way Marvel can compete with television producers over BKV or with movie producers over Mark Millar. Today writers are much more important to sales, so that's going to cause an increase in their income. In the 90s you could bring in a completely unknown writer for your most popular title (Lobdell with the X-Men), and not have it effect sales. Today that type of move wouldn't happen.

Thanks man, that was super helpful

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