Thursday, August 5, 2010

Behind The Mask

Are Comics Still A Viable Medium?

The San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) has just wrapped up and as in previous years, most of the buzz generated by Marvel and DC had focused on their gaming, animation and movie news. Whether it was the introduction by Marvel of the cast of the upcoming Avengers movie or the promotion of DC’s upcoming Green Lantern movie or its fantastic trailer for their DC Universe Online game for the PC or PS3, the focus on the surface seemed to be about all things non-comic book related. In an age where print product consumption has steadily been dropping and the shift to games, social media, digital comics, movies and online has been consistently increasing, I wonder if the comic book in its purest, print form will continue to have a voice.

While movies, animation and games certainly dominated the talk at SDCC, according to, Marvel had eighteen separate announcements concerning its comic book products and DC had seventeen. While the number of comics sold is down 2 percent compared to this time last year, their sales volume is up 1 percent compared to the year before, according to the June 2010/2009 stats courtesy of Of course part of that increase in sales volume is due to the fact that comic book prices have also increased over the past year, but to me the difference is relatively negligible and shows that comics are still a vital part of the overall comic media market.

Comic books need to exist whether they are in print or digital form. Not only is it necessary for the exploits of so many great characters to continue, but the writing and artistry in these books serves as the blueprint for their continuing adventures in other media, including movies, animation and games. For example, there probably would not have been a Planet Hulk animated movie without Greg Pak’s epic, fifteen issue masterpiece in the pages of the Incredible Hulk comic book, for example. Hell, there may never have been a Superman, Batman or Spiderman movie made if not for the decades and decades of amazing writing and art that came before it.

There’s no doubt that TV, movies and games generate big bucks for the Marvel’s and DC’s of the world (when done properly). As such, both companies will continue to invest big money to make sure these media properties prosper and continue to prosper.

Comic book fans tend to be a loyal and hardcore lot and also enjoy the feel of a freshly printed comic in their hands. That’s why I think comic book sales have not suffered as drastically as other print products such as magazines and newspapers. As long as comic book prices do not suddenly skyrocket to obscene levels, I think that that loyalty will remain, and overall comic book sales will not drop excessively.

But, I also think that the powers-that-be should understand that in order to continue to thrive, they will always need to have the comic book in some way, shape or form as a foundation. For as long as the comic book remains, other creators, whether they are game designers, directors or animators will have a treasure trove of stories and art to pull from. This will allow them to create their own visions, and at the same time continue and expand the mythos of so many great characters.

- Hamilton Maher

SDCC image courtesy of

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