Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Here are the 10 ways/strategies the comic book industry can use to survive and thrive in a recession/depression:
1. For God's Sake Entertain These People!
In the Great Depression, movie studios thrived, producing entertainment for the masses that made them forget their troubles. A movie ticket is $10+. A comic is less than $4. But you have to entertain these people! You have to create compelling storylines. You can't depend on that same fan base you've been handing lukewarm milk to for the last several years because they're just too blah to change their buying habits. Blah and complacency is out. Your audience: thrill them or lose them.
2. Go Back To The Basics.
Look up Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey. Get down to the basics of what makes a compelling story. Heroes, villains. Protagonists, antagonists. Problem/solution. If you need almost a whole paragraph to explain your story or event, you have screwed up somewhere along the way.
3. They Can't Afford Gigantic Crossovers
They can't. I mean, they did; but now they can't.
4. Lose Your Pride
Whether your pride is not wanting to reach out past your comfort zone in terms of readership, your hatred of digital media, your irrational bias against one thing or another, or whatever -- if it is standing in the way of sales, you are useless. Get over it.
5. Unsure? Make It Digital
If you are unsure about your product -- if you feel it is really iffy -- if you are a small publisher and you are going to risk everything to print just this one fucker -- for God's sake PLEASE put it out digital first. It can be digital with a roll-in hardcopy plan. But make it digital. The direct market won't hate you for it. They hardly got room on their shelves for a lot of that stuff, anyhow.
6. Are You Ballast?
Take a good look at yourself in your job -- especially if you are working for a larger company. Are you expendable? Are there "five" of you? Do you find yourself working on "special projects" that are always put last on the food chain? Do you have no idea on God's green earth why you are at your job, or why they are paying you? Get out on your own terms, and be in a good position to negotiate your next job. Don't just wait for the inevitable. Be proactive.
7. Are Your Comics Ballast?
Take a good look at the comics your company produces. Now, which ones are awesome, and which ones are "filler?" Which ones did you do as a favor for an old buddy which aren't that great but you promised him, and which ones are awesome? I mean, you can do the favor, but make that a one-shot, don't make that a three-issue prestige format. Use your brain. Which comics make you go "wow," and which ones, by your own admission, are "born to die?" You can't afford to put out "born to die" comics. What is it that Obama said? "No more pork barrel." You need to cut your pork.
8. Stop Making Your Heroes Villainous
We don't need heroes that are assholes right now. The assholes are the ones that fucked the audience financially and took away their homes, their jobs, and their X-Mas bonuses. They want real Heroes to help them out of this mess.
9. Have A Hook
If it doesn't have a "hook," don't do it right now.
Examples of hooks:
* awesome artist
* awesome writer
* of superior artistic merit (possible award winner)
10. Stop Writing These Gloom And Doom Articles About How The Comic Book Industry Is Going To Collapse
You're really scaring the shit out of everyone. I mean, you should write them, it is topical. But it's like feeding this already jumpy nervous ready-to-totally-lose-it climate.
I really don't buy the rumors of the comic book industry's bust, especially in a world right now which is *starving* for escapism. But things need to be thought of strategically.