I’ve been reading a lot about the decline of sales at major shows; Mile High Comics can’t break even at SDCC, now Denise Dorman says her painter husband Dave can’t make enough at a show to buy lunch. I read many posts on twitter saying guys like John Byrne and Marv Wolfman are ignored at shows or have only a fraction of the audiences they once had. Now, the reason for this might seem obvious but it appears it needs to be pointed out to them.
YOU’RE NOT COOL AND YOUNG PEOPLE DON’T LIKE YOU.
There you have it. Cosplay is about youth, beauty, vitality, everything that teenagers value about themselves. It’s a big, flashy, sexy, party and it brings in crowds. Comics are the exact opposite. Comics are old, fragile yet expensive pieces of pop culture that has no real value in today’s digital market. After 30 years, Alan Moore is still the coolest guy in comics! Now that’s just sad. Sure there some hot newcomers out there, guys like Matt Fraction that give off a superstar vibe but for every guy like him there are 30 other very uncool, very out of touch comic creators wondering why the hell no one cares about their work any more. Working on a book from many years ago doesn’t float with the modern industry, yesterday is irrelevant unless created something legendary. If all you did was work for hire, your just some old former employee of a company people only know about from their movies or TV shows.
I am a big fan of Dave Dorman’s work, but what can you say he has done of value? What current hot property is he affiliated with? What has he done lately?
Marvel and DC merchandise is everywhere, and I mean everywhere. You can take a shovel and dig in the middle of nowhere and find something affiliated with the big comic publishers. Nobody needs to go looking for this stuff anymore, no one is going to pay money to find merchandise they can get cheaper at the Disney store. No one is going to pay for a painting of Iron Man from the eighties when they can get the shirts at Hot Topic.
I mean I warned you guys ten years ago comics were dying and now that they are dead, people are blowing air into the mouth hole wondering why its not responding. Comics aren’t needed in a marketplace saturated with cellphone apps and fan-made t-shirts. No one is going to pay 4K for an artist with no buzz when they can find a hot artist from DeviantArt for $500 bucks.
And it’s going to get worse. You guys haven’t even met the New-New (n2) generation. These are the kids who are going to rebel against nostalgia and history. The N2 generation is going to want everything new, new, new and now, now, now. When they take over the market, anything older than 20 years is gone. No more remakes, no more reboots, no more nostalgia.
You’d get a lot more people going to the Sistine Chapel with an Adventure Time mural than two old bearded dudes finger banging. That’s just the way the market is now. It’s been heading in that direction for years; from the decline of the back issue market to the decline of new comic sales, people want a unique and intimate experience, not the same old stuff their Uncle used to buy.
Most of my sales at Fan Expo came from cosplayers and the most interesting experiences I had were because of cosplayers. Cosplayers are hot money, baby, they love what they do and their audience loves them for doing it. I met two people that were the same height and shape, Jim Zub and a Dalek. You know which one took an interest in MY work and what I was into? The robot. The other guy was too busy trying to sell his stuff to people that were trying to figure out who any of us were. People don’t care anymore what your name is or who you work for. They just want to see what you’ve created and if they respond, they’ll embrace it. Few comic creators leave artist alley to go and engage with the shoppers, they are too busy trying to make a buck or hang out with their buddies in the industry to discuss the very people they AREN’T engaging with!
It’s really that simple. The comic industry has spent two decades trying to figure out where it’s audience went and they still aren’t any closer to figure it out because it requires the industry to accept one very big, very nasty pill which is:
PEOPLE DON’T LIKE YOU.
Comics have treated their readers like idiots for so long that the audience just moved on. Even today, we’re still dealing with gimmick covers, staged events and a general sense of boredom throughout the whole industry.