I recently read Comic Book Culture - Fanboys and True Believers by Matthew J. Pustz. This book provided a fascinating look into the history, culture and economics of the comic book industry. Among some of the most interesting findings were:
- Comic books are difficult for casual readers to enjoy. The language, diagram flow, and graphics are foreign to uninitiated readers. Each issue of a comic book series presents part of a story that spans many issues. Therefore, unlike baseball where fans can selectively watch games and quickly understand the context of the game, comic book readers operate within impermeable boundaries. Thus, the number of comic book fans is relatively limited but very loyal and enthusiastic. In fact, nearly every reader of comic books is an active participant, not just a consumer.
- Another limiting factor for attracting comic book fans is the subject matter. That, plus the atmosphere of most comic book shops, discourage women. Social attitudes in which comic books are believed to be juvenile is another limitation to the growth in the number of comic book fans.
- Comic book publishers have launched many crossover series which compel readers to buy connecting issues of other series to completely understand the larger story. For instance, during 1997, there were as many as twenty different titles devoted to the X-Men's various permutations and individual members.
- Many comic book speculators buy several copies of the same issue since they do not want to read the issue that they are saving for investment purposes because they believe that reading a comic book even once will depreciate its value.
- Beginning in the 1940s as many as 95% of all American children were reading comics. In 1995, there may have been as many as two million comic book readers in the United States.
These are some of the issues that will be discussed during our panel on the Convergence of Video Games and Comic Books at our Profiting in the Video Game Economy Conference which will take place in NYC on February 16, 2006. More information about this conference is available from Naomi Barazani at 212-952-7400 ext. 126 or email@example.com.