By Beau Smith

Where are comics headed?

I’ve been in this business for a little over 17 years on both the creative and business end. I’ve seen a lot of people, trends and comics come and go. You’d think I’d have the answer by now.

But I don’t.

Sure, I can make educated guesses, but then again, even the blind pig finds the acorn on occasion. Experience helps me every day in my job as Vice President of sales and marketing for IDW Publishing. It also helps me with every new script that I write.

But I still don’t have all the answers.

I do have my thoughts on where I think comic books are headed. They may not be perfect, but they are MY thoughts and everyone is entitled to them.

I think that comics are being written for an older audience. I feel that the effort to make comics appeal to a younger reader have been left behind in the dirt. Even so called mainstream comics are a little more adult than the 7 to 12 year old reader should be reading. As long as this is happening there will be no new younger readers to take the place of the older readers that now dominate the buying public of comics today.


Beau LaDuke – Real Man by Flint Henry, © & ? Beau Smith & Tim Truman

I think we’re painting ourselves into a corner with this trend. A corner we may not be able to get out of.

I think comics are enjoying major success in a new relationship with Hollywood. I think with the way the X-Men, Hellboy, and Spider-Man films have been made that comics can finally enjoy be presented as they should be. I think we’ll see more good comic book movies being made. The benchmark has been set. Let’s see more follow and do well.

I think monthly comics sales are strong. True, they don’t enjoy the higher sales that they did 10 years ago during the “false bottom” years. By strong sales I mean that now for every comic that is being bought they are also being read. No longer are they being bought in multiples and all but one being bagged and stored away. The comics that are being bought today are being read and enjoyed by the reader. When you plunk down $3.00 to $4.00 for a comic you damn well oughta read it. I know they are being read.

I think the higher profile on trade paperbacks is a good thing. Trade paperbacks are the ultimate jumping on point for new readers. They are also a great product for publishers to regain readers in one package. Trade paperbacks do not take away from monthly comic book sales. They enhance them. I strongly believe that they are the backbone for stronger monthly sales. When done right they walk hand in hand with the monthly comics and make the industry that much stronger.

I think we need more graphic novels. By that I mean graphic novels, not trade paperbacks. Please don’t get the two mixed up. I think DC Comics is doing a fine job in making graphic novels strong. I believe Marvel Comics isn’t doing enough in this area right now. I think that smaller press like IDW, Top Shelf, PlanetLar and Oni Press are doing a very good job in the graphic novel arena. More power to them! The reading public is primed for more graphic novels. They are starved for more. I hope that we as an industry can give that to them.

I think that Marvel Comics is producing some of the best artwork in mainstream comics. You can pick up just about any of their monthly output and know that you are gonna get some mighty fine art for your money.

I think that DC Comics has proven to have some of the best month-to-month story lines in mainstream comics. There is a lot of hard work being put into this by their line of editors and upper management. The good work shows.

I think there is a lot of really good work being done by the smaller publishers. This is the place where Hollywood has been the busiest with their multiple deals. The smaller press is THE place for creator owned projects to really flourish. Writers and artists are not going to get this chance with Marvel and DC. It’s gonna happen in the league of the smaller publishers.

I think that we have the strongest and smartest line of direct market retailers that we have ever had. Granted, there may not be as many retailers as there was 10 years ago, but the ones we have are in better shape and more fit to sell comics than ever before. In the last 5 years we have grown a smarter retailer that can now join in with the survivors of the last 15 years and really make a go of it. Comic books publishing and distribution has changed. These retailers have changed with it. They have been able to adapt to the curve balls that have been thrown and they have found a way to hit the sweet spot. This takes hardcore day-to-day planning. This takes knowing their customers. This takes knowing their product. It takes knowing their business.

I think that online comic books news sources have over taken the print media. The torch for daily news now lies in the hands of the online news sources. The web has made it impossible for the print media to keep up with those online. I think this is just the start.

Finally, I think I owe everyone of you reading this a big thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and words. You are here by your own free will. For once, I didn’t threaten you into reading this. I appreciate it. Again, this shows the power of the web.

I think I’ve thought enough.

Lookin’ forward to your thoughts.

I ain’t hard to find.

Your amigo,

Beau Smith
The Flying Fist Ranch
P.O. Box 706
Ceredo, WV. 25507
http://www.flyingfistranch.com


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About The Author

Beau Smith

Beau Smith is a writer for Comics Bulletin