Tougher – Better
You are much stronger than you think…

The iPad marks the death of the glossy comic book…

Salinger, photographed (very much against his will) in 1988. (Photo: Paul Adao/INF Photo)

…and that is the best news possible for the comics making professionals of the world – let alone you and I (humble consumers that we are.)

Allow me to briefly sketch out “the plan.”

1) Begin attacking the iPad now.  Consumers and industry pros alike.  Although it’s an Apple device Mr. Jobs has learned a long and painful lesson from Mr. Gates.  His stuff is out there, right now, working and being bought.  Don’t wait for the iPad killers — get on-board — I BEG YOU.

2) Utilize the iPad as a “gateway drug” (and I hate the term but it so readily illustrates the point I must use it) to introduce people to their local shops.  Again, do this early before EVERYTHING is available on the iPad or its clones.  You must then sell them on the experience.  The coolness of digging in bins, the joy of meeting other comics pros, the great classics, etc and on.  If you, as a retailer aren’t taking advantage of “new blood” customers you have my sympathies but not my green.

3) “We’ve got to go back…to the future.” This is possibly the most ambitious step.  I came upon it when reading an article about Salinger’s last book to be published.  Turns out it was never distributed largely due to what seems to be a slow road to final form – but you can read all about that HERE.  Back to our narrative thread, being an author of some repute by this time (wink, wink) it was believed that he would insist on a type of paper used for only the finest grade of work.  The top of the top.  Of course, the man being who he was wanted nothing to do with that and rather insisted on a low and common grade of paper stock, readily available and at the time recyclable.

Imagine if you will a world where paper – actual in your hand paper – comics cost a buck.

Don’t like that new issue of Spiderman?  Pawn that and your Fantastic Four – with the stupid kiss between Reed and Sue ending – for Joey’s Hulk where he smashes the plane with a big torn up piece of concrete!  If you can’t get him to bite on that deal, take it BACK to the shop and put it in their recycling bin which earns you a nickel credit towards your next book or something along those lines.

Also, no one’s saying these things need to be kiddie targeted.  I opened up an old issue of some Howard Chaykin misogyny today, from 1997, and the printing – color – and quality held up fine!  What’s the big deal?  Arguably, traditional print coloring has gotten cheaper and better in the intervening years.

Comics need to get back to what made them a source of joy in our lives.  A CHEAP – DISPOSABLE – ENTERTAINING medium that doesn’t cause hand wringing and missed mortgage payments.  Take the bells and whistles on into the digital age.  PRINT comics will be viable only if those behind them let them be what they are and should be!  Cheaper to buy equals easier to stock.  Easier to stock equals more variety.  More variety equals more opportunity to please every guest.  Going back to “lower quality” cheaper stock equals more printers willing to take a risk!  ON AND ON AND ON.

I apologize for raising my voice just then but it’s an exciting prospect.  Comics need to learn a lesson from the American / Global recession and realize real value and differentiation still sells.  If the majority of print comics have one look and the majority of digital comics have another people begin to understand what they are getting and begin to understand the price structure involved.  Currently we are struggling with the following debate, “Why does this gloosy book cost 3.99 and this one 2.99?”  How about we try this one on instead? “Oh, this is not glossy – but it costs a DOLLAR!”

Get with it and get to it industry!  I only write because I love!

I’ll give you this one for free.

PS – & please do save me the trouble of refuting points about publishing cost.  If people can give me a DAILY paper with roughly 98 pages of comics dimensions for a buck I don’t care how many ads they need to stuff it with.

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