Searching For Readers

Inked / Comic book artist Chris Bachalo in his Coto De Caza, Calif. home studio, with a rack of comics he has worked on, including Spiderman, The Uncanny X-Men and Steampunk. / Miguel Vasconcellos / TNS

Stagnant sales for comics stems from alienating potential new fans

By Juan Avila

Every year people flock to theaters to see the latest superhero film, but the same can’t be said for the source material: comic books.

Part of the problem is the print-is-dead issue, which affects the comic book industry.

Since the 1930s, comics have captivated readers with tales of heroism, suspense, and flights of the imagination.

In the early years, also known as the Golden and Silver Ages of comic books, you could buy them alongside your morning newspaper, directly from the newsstand.

Now they are no longer sold in the few newsstands that still exist, but are found mainly in comic book stores.

It makes sense that comics are sold in specialty stores, but the larger issue is that like comics, the comic book stores are seeing a decline, and a drop only due in part to online sellers.

Hector Cassanova / TNS

However, the limited number of comic book stores is only part of the problem.

A common element in superhero films is the origin story; in other words, how the character is transformed from everyman into an invincible hero. In modern comics, this is an established story and one, it is assumed, that everyone knows. The comic book fan knows the details, but the new or casual reader may not.

This established continuity alienates new readers of comics when they are bombarded with five different Batman comics or three different Spider-Man editions.

A loss of interest happens when a new reader doesn’t know where to start.

The industry has lasted a long time, but comic book publishing needs to attract and keep new fans, not likely to happen the way things are going so far.