By Beau Smith

Welcome back, amigos. This past week seemed to run by pretty quick. I guess that’s what happens as ya get older. Or if you’re busy.

Busy is what it’s been here at The Flying Fist Ranch. A large part of that comes from the fact that so many of ya responded to my Busted Knuckles column from two weeks ago called Have You Been Branded By Marvel And DC?

I’ve waited until the emails have died down before I decided to do this follow up on that topic. In the last couple of days they have started to slow down, so I’m here to give ya a report of what you, the readers, had to say.

First off I wanna thank all of ya that sent in emails and those of you that posted on the various message boards through out on the web. There were really good threads on the Geoff Johns, Mark Millar and of course the Silver Bullet message boards. I wanna thank all of you that posted.

The biggest thanks goes out to the little over 500 readers that emailed me here at the ranch. The total number as of today came in at 512. That’s a really good response. These weren’t just quick notes either. Each email was detailed and had length to it. It not only gave readers a chance to tell me what their very important buying habits were, but it also gave em’ a chance to rant a little on things that are important to them as comic book consumers and readers.

These emails came from the people that really matter when it comes to comics. It ain’t about the publishers, the distributors, the retailers or the comic book creators. Nope. It’s about the readers. Without the readers all of us in comics would be sellin’ insurance, flippin’ burgers, diggin’ ditches and doin’ other honest forms of employment. (I hope that day never comes)

The thing I enjoyed most about the response was that there was no hype, no polishin’ their own knob and no placin’ the blame of stuff on somebody else. It was just the facts. The facts from those that matter most.

Do you wanna wear the Beau Smith brand?

Now I’ve never been considered a math whiz or an accountant type. I doubt if I ever will this far into the game. I’m sorry that I don’t have itemized statistics for those of you that really seem to get off on em’. Flow charts and percentage pies are for those with better skills than me. I do better with tastier pies and my blood flowin’ to the just the right places, if ya know what I mean and I think ya do. What I do have are the facts as they were given to me. I have used statistics where I could, given the collective info received. I’ve broken them down into a question format so that you can read the tally with ease. Other information I gathered from the statements and content of the emails given. Example: When asked what were the sources/tools that they use to help determine what they will buy each reader listed a number of tools and resources that they use. So those I shoved into a capsule or a nutshell.

Before I give ya this information, please remember that it came to me via email. Meaning that these readers are regular users of the internet and read my Busted Knuckles via the internet. There are thousands of other readers that I didn’t hear from. The silent majority. But this will give ya a pretty good idea what most folks are thinkin’ when it comes to buyin’ comic books in this direct market of ours.

Here we go with the info as it came in from the 512 readers. Please remember, I did the best I could with these statistics. I had to count and track down the info in the emails. There was no set survey. Even I could make a mistake:

    Where do you get you get your news on comics?

    1. The comic book internet news sites. 408
    2. Comic book message boards. 62
    3. Word of mouth. 27
    4. Print magazines on comics. 15

    Where do you buy your comics?

    1. Local Comic book store. 468
    2. Online or mail order subscription service. 32
    3. Mass market stores. 12

    What Publisher do you buy the most comics from?

    1. Marvel Comics. 235
    2. DC Comics. 218
    3. Others. 59

    What genre do you buy the most of?

    1. Super-heroes. 458
    2. Action/Adventure. 24
    3. Horror. 12
    4. Crime. 10
    5. Others. 8

Tools and Resources Used In Buying:
One of the main topics folks brought up was the main sources/tools that help determine what they might buy. The one source/tool that almost all listed strongly was the Diamond Previews catalogue. They all commented that even though this is a big bulky thing, they pay attention to the art and most importantly the solicitations. The strong majority here commented they demand that the publisher give hard facts such as story content, creators, format and price. They said they don’t want hype, clichés and art that isn’t in the book.

Word of mouth from friends and other comic book readers was next in line. They mentioned that this carries the biggest amount of trust with them.

Message boards and comic book news sites are also used as well as the newsletters that some receive from their subscription service. Again print magazines were a small factor as a tools for buying.

Age And Sex:
Not all gave their age and sex, but most did in the general content of the email. The majority was male ages 21 through 52. There were 27 that said they were female. None gave an age. Just like a woman? I bet they would never give up their weight either? (Kiddin’? I’m just kiddin’? geez!)

Matters Of Importance:
Here are some of the things that the readers said were most important to them when buying comics. They are in no particular order. All were mentioned in most emails.

  • Characters
  • Good story and art
  • Price
  • Quality
  • Creative team
  • On time

General and Majority Comments:
There were lots of facts thrown at me in these emails. Like I said, most were long rants and essays on everything that the reader thinks of when it comes to buying comics. I’ll list a few of the topics and comments that were of the majority of the readers. I broke these down to the ones that were mentioned the most in each email.

Most Said:
They wouldn’t call themselves totally “branded” by either Marvel or DC, but they are the prettiest girls that are puttin’ out at the dance right now.

They do not follow creators from publisher to publisher unless it’s from Marvel to DC or DC to Marvel.

What attracts them to buy more Marvel and DC comics are the characters.

The writing of a comic is more important than the art.

Marvel Comics are the hardest to jump into from scratch. Most of the older readers were Marvel readers. Most said that they have been reading Marvel for over 10 years. Followed by DC.

The youngest readers bought the bulk of their books from mid-sized to smaller publishers. Ones mentioned most were Image Comics, IDW Publishing and Oni Press. Most of these readers were college age.

They are having a problem with the high cost of comics now. They have mentioned that they have cut back in big numbers on what they buy. They said that this limits them to trying out new comics as well and non-Marvel and DC comics.

They would like to see less long drawn out story lines and theme stories. They mentioned that this is why they are now cutting back on these types of books and waiting until they are collected. There were many emails that said they have become a “Wait For The Trade” Buyer do to limited buying budget. They said they would be more apt to buy the single issues if they were standalone stories.

They think publishers should put up more exclusive previews on their own websites instead of the news sites. They feel that this would draw them more to the publisher’s home site and make them feel more a part of the family.

There was a strong feeling to be a part of the family. They felt that the publishers don’t do enough to really talk to the readers. Most said that this could be fixed if publishers would interact more with the readers on their sites and at conventions. They feel that the publishers are more interested in the retailers than the consumers. They feel that their words and wants should be closer to the publisher’s ear than they are. They mentioned that if the publisher listened more to the consumer they would have an easier time making books that sell. Good points were brought up that publishers should be more like mass market consumer companies and get in touch with the consumers wants and needs.

They go to Marvel and DC for super heroes because smaller publishers have yet to prove that they can get this genre right. They go to smaller publishers for non-super hero genres because Marvel can’t seem to get it right. DC does a little better job. Most mentioned that they wished CrossGen would have tried super hero books. They felt if they would have at the start they could have given Marvel and DC a real run for their money. Having money seems to be the key word.

Getting an in-store or online discount from their retail or subscription service is key. Buying budget means more today than ever before.

Image Comics lacks just that? an Image. Lateness and lack of a brand feel has caused many readers to leave Image. Some mention that there is a real scatter shot marketing and publishing plan at Image that hurts them.

Dark Horse Comics gets less interesting with every month. Too much Star Wars and not enough Goon and Hellboy types of comics. They wish the writing and art were up to the printing quality.

They would like to see less books of the same character(s) and more introductions of new characters within the books that are already hits. They said that they would then be more apt to buy a new mini-series on one of these pre-introduced characters.

They wanna be comic book writers.

That Diamond Previews is where they learn about smaller publishers and other books to take a chance on.

They really enjoy the relationship that they have with their local comic book shop, but would like to see less of the gamers in there.

That readers of manga are not the same as comic book readers. The two rarely cross over.

Data Roundup:
Well, that about does it for the information that I got from the readers. I hope you found it of interest. Remember? I was just the messenger here. Although I agree with a lot of the thoughts here, they are not my own.

Ya know, I can’t remember when the last time, if ever, we really heard like this directly from the readers in some what mass. I think it’s a really good thing. I think it’s information that everyone the makes comic books needs to know. The nice thing is that the folks that emailed me did it because they have a passion for comics and had something to say. They didn’t do it for fame because I didn’t print any names. They didn’t do it for money, because I didn’t give em’ any. This is a good thing.

I hope to make this sorta thing a semi-regular feature for Busted Knuckles. I guess this is as good a place as any for the readers to have their words and thoughts heard. Nobody else is doin’ it.

I wanna thank everybody that sent in emails and posted on various message boards. It really means a lot to me. I hope it means a lot to the rest of the comic book business. It should.

Beau’s Manly Fan Of The Week:

Ya know I’d hate for Busted Knuckles to be all dry and borin’, so I can’t let this week’s episode go by without pastin’ up a new photo sent in by yet another fan of my Wynonna Earp comic book. She mentioned that she would rather me keep her name a secret. It seems she has enough marriage and other proposals comin’ her way. She don’t need any extra. So here’s to makin’ Busted Knuckles a prettier place to be.

Uh…Beau…Would You Care For Some…Chips?

Beau’s Manly Artwork Of The Week:

Here is a wonderful piece of artwork by my good amigo Enrique Villagran. Why? it’s such a shamless piece of self promotion that ya might even recognize that really good lookin’ guy with the ball cap in the art. Ya know how it is, ya gotta have somethin’ for the ladies to look at as well. Enjoy.

Wynonna Earp and Beau Smith by Enrique Villagran

Last Call:

This week was a one topic Busted Knuckles. Hadn’t done that in a while. Felt good. Here real soon I’ll get back to multi-taskin’ and the ever delightful Five Manly Questions. So hang in there.

For those of you that sent in your art for me to critique I am doin’ so. I’m gettin’ through the stack of art and submissions at a pretty good clip. If ya haven’t heard from me yet, hang in there. I’m getting there as fast as I can. For those of you that I have talked to? quit cryin’ and try harder.

On a side note, I’ve really been enjoyin’ the art of Scott Kolins over at Marvel. He is doin’ a great job and I still say he’d be great on a western. Keep it up, Scott.

Speakin’ of Marvel and a Scot. I read the last couple of issues of Spider-Man where Scot Eaton does the art. Would somebody let that race horse loose? Two issues full of talkin’ soap opera heads. Let Eaton draw! Don’t waste his talent with a bunch of Yack? Yack? Yack. That’s what the Lifetime channel is for.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

I hope y’all show up for next week’s Busted Knuckles. It’s always good to have here at the ranch. Bring the cold ones and something for yourself. I’ve got Lee Marvin on the DVD player. Should be a good ol’ time.

Your amigo,

Beau Smith
The Flying Fist Ranch
P.O. Box 706
Ceredo, WV. 25507

Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!

About The Author

Beau Smith

Beau Smith is a writer for Comics Bulletin