Tuesday, July 13, 2004


I recently finished reading The Shape of the Signifier: 1967 to the End of History by Walter Benn Michaels. As I was reading it, I realized that this was the first piece of non-fiction I'd read in a long time that engaged me intellectually (as opposed to just saying to myself "that's interesting," or nodding my head in agreement). Why this is, I don't know; but it also made me realize that I waste a lot of time reading stuff I don't really enjoy, just because I started it and am too wishy-washy to decide it's not worth finishing, or because I feel I should "give it a chance."

I'll wait to comment on the book itself until I've reread it, as it's a complex and difficult argument, and one which a careless summary is likely to misrepresent.


Via Fanboy Rampage, Marc-Oliver Frisch analyzes DC's monthly sales figures for the past twelve months. Only four titles broke the 50,000 mark for May (the most recent month), though two of them had two issues out. To be fair, though, three other titles were just below 50,000, and taking into account future reorders and the fact that ICv2's sales estimates are reputedly low, their true levels are probably over 50,000. Still jericho1368 in the subsequent thread gets it about right: "Sorry guys, these figures are absolutely embarrassing and disgusting."

To be sure, there has been an uptick in overall sales recently, for both Marvel and DC. But there's no indication that this is due to attracting any new fans to the direct market, something that Marvel has given up on from what I gather, and that DC's efforts to do have consistently failed. Rather, Marvel and DC seem to have returned to milking existing fans for maximum short-term profits, through such devices as shuffling a few hot creators from title to title, massively hyped "events," and variant covers. If the rise in sales is indeed due to Marvel and DC choosing to maximize short-term profits rather than grow their audience for the long term, then it's a bad sign, not a good one.

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