Monday, May 03, 2010

Comic Book Stores Struggle, But Hang On

May 1, was supposed to be the biggest day of the year for comic book retailers, with Comic Book Day. And despite the lure of free comics or discounts up to 50% on some merchandise, the public largely could care less. Such is the struggle of those in comic book business. Like all print media, the comic business has been in a decline for many decades now.

In the 1960's, comic book producers such as Dell, DC, Marvel and others once competed for space at supermarkets to sell titles for 10-15cents each to kids. Now for many years, comics are largely missing from the supermarkets as kids found other interests and prices went crazy for printed products.

Part of the problems with the comic industry were self-inflicted as well. Dell introduced a poorly conceived line of comics recasting Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolfman as some sort of superheros from 1966-67 that quickly died out. ARCHIE Comics made an attempt at their own version of MAD with ARCHIE's MADHOUSE, which quickly failed.

DC Comics slowly were upended by Marvel, where the characters Spiderman and Iron Man have both proven themselves to be huge movie hits, replacing the older generation of DC characters, Superman and Batman.

Do comics have a future? Certainly. There will always be a market for this talent and creativity. But, the comic book store struggles to stay afloat in an environment of changing tastes where kids would rather watch Iron Man fight the bad guys on the big screen, than read about it in the comics.

Comic book stores aren't likely any great path to wealth paved with gold. They have to be a labor of love for the owners.


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