Monday, July 31, 2006


Here's a very interesting comment thread to a post on Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin on the subject of how "readers of superhero comics tend to be a little more patient, a little more likely to 'ride out the rough spots,' of titles they're not enjoying, particuarly if they've been following the character for quite some time." And it occurred to me that the thread suggests, by implication, another reason why the audience for superhero comics has shrunk to hardcore fans. Casual readers, almost by definition, will not buy twenty issues of a comic they don't like simply because they're devoted to the character: they're likely to give up after two or three bad issues. Nor will they keep watching a title or character they've dropped to see if it has recovered. Instead, they'll make a mental note that "Batman comics (for example) used to be good, but now they suck," and forget about it. And once all the comics they used to like have been placed in the "now they suck" category, they're likely to forget about comics altogether.

This also suggests to me that if Marvel and DC ever get serious about attracting casual readers, they should, among other things, try to make their titles more consistent in quality by keeping creative teams as stable as possible, instead of shuffling hot creators from title to title to give a temporary boost to each in turn. (Producing fewer comics that suck would also help.)

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