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Old 05-01-17, 01:18 AM   #1
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Evolution of the Direct Market

Interesting reading from the founder of Mile High Comics about the real history behind the direct market. Lots of developments from the 1970s I was only vaguely aware of and how Star Wars possibly saved the comic book industry in 1977.

http://www.milehighcomics.com/tales/cbg95.html
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Old 07-26-17, 03:52 PM   #2
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

I'm only partway thru it, but it is fascinating so far. Thanks PS.
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Old 07-26-17, 11:22 PM   #3
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

I feel like I've read part of this before, though that may have just been a different account of the same occurrences. I'm still working my way through but his summary of the letter he wrote Marvel back in '79 struck a chord with me:

Quote:
o paraphrase my basic theme, I asked rhetorically "Why should I commit the rest of my life to working within the comics world if you idiots are rapidly running Marvel into the ground through your remarkably stupid and unprofessional policies?"
And then in the actual letter itself:

Quote:
Another point is that we do not just salvage customers you otherwise would have lost, we also create new ones. At 40 cents and up, comics are no longer able to sell themselves. You have made the product so thin and unattractive with advertising that it takes salesmanship to get them to sell, even to collectors. How much salesmanship do you get in a 7-11? We go out of our way to sell comics, they are our main business. (For example, the Superman the Movie book from DC...I set up a stand in a local theater and sold over 1200). Isn't it about time we got some help and support?
Also the guy was only 24 years old. I'm just getting to the Jim Shooter part but Shooter at the time must have been around 26, having started more than a decade earlier in comics at the tender age of 14.

Excellent analysis of the real cost of focusing on the direct market, and removing the entry point for a lot of potential readers, in this part:
http://www.milehighcomics.com/tales/cbg110.html

Last edited by fujishig; 07-26-17 at 11:47 PM.
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Old 07-27-17, 02:01 PM   #4
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

There were some interesting points raised about the newsstand market that makes sense in retrospect. One reason why Marvel and DC were so quick to abandon newsstand distribution is that it was heavily mobbed up on the East Coast. The increasingly corporate business owners at Marvel and DC in the 1980s got nervous relying on New York mobsters for part of their business.

The owner of Mile High Comics made more news this year when he pulled out of the San Diego Comic Con for the first time in decades. He wrote a letter saying the Con owners have been pushing out comic book dealers over the last few years and it wasn't worth the hassles anymore as a straight comic book retailer.
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Old 07-27-17, 02:16 PM   #5
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

They said the booths were too expensive this year, and they remember that their prices are mile high also and wouldnt make the money back.
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Old 07-27-17, 08:38 PM   #6
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

Still haven't finished, but reading through this really reinforces the idea to me that the print market is outdated. Just the arcane practices of ordering and shipping all these comics, which is still a hassle today and just results in a ton of otherwise worthless paper that sits in long boxes. I realize not everyone is willing to go digital or trade only and that it is still the lifeblood of this industry, and I appreciate a good comic book store and the effort it takes to maintain one, but it just seems insane, especially with cover prices the way they currently are.

One thing that's interesting to me is that the digital distribution model is mainly funneled through one company and in some respects things are the same. I'd like to think of comixology as a benevolent entity that works well with all publishers, but they're run by a big corporation now that also sells physical books as well. I'd be curious to read why the big publishers didn't just pump resources into their own digital stores instead of going third party, though I guess that didn't work out for Dark Horse.
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Old 07-27-17, 09:58 PM   #7
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhantomStranger View Post
The owner of Mile High Comics made more news this year when he pulled out of the San Diego Comic Con for the first time in decades. He wrote a letter saying the Con owners have been pushing out comic book dealers over the last few years and it wasn't worth the hassles anymore as a straight comic book retailer.
I think the biggest thing driving dealers away from conventions is the internet. Between Rozanski's own Mile High Comics website, MyComicShop, Midtown, and eBay, there's no need to go to a convention and dig through longboxes to find stuff you don't have. In the 70s, 80s, and 90s, sure, but now it's just an outdated business model.
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Old 07-27-17, 11:59 PM   #8
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

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Originally Posted by Josh-da-man View Post
I think the biggest thing driving dealers away from conventions is the internet. Between Rozanski's own Mile High Comics website, MyComicShop, Midtown, and eBay, there's no need to go to a convention and dig through longboxes to find stuff you don't have. In the 70s, 80s, and 90s, sure, but now it's just an outdated business model.
Comic book conventions have mostly morphed into everything but comics. The problem with having aa comic book booth at a big con is that most people are spemding mony on celebrity autograpghs and photo ops. People aren't going to these big cons to buy floppies anymore.

If I want some random cheap comic back issue, i'll get them at a comic convention in the $1 boxes. I won't use the internet and pay $5 shipping on top of the price of the book. If I want some expensive issue (CGC graded), I'd order it online as I know the prices are going to be cheaper for those online than at the cons.

Incidently if you want good deals on books, support your little local comic book shows that are held at teh conference rooms at hotels. Their booth prices are cheaper and they often get collectors that either need money or want to get out of collecting. They'll get booths their and try to unload their books for cheap. I was at one not too long ago and manged to get some near mint 9.2 or better copies of Tower of Shadows #1, G.I. Joe #2, Saga of the Swamp Thing #21, and a few others for $4 each. I got a few for myself and managed to flip some of them for $35-50 each on Ebay.
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Old 07-28-17, 12:05 AM   #9
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

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Originally Posted by PhantomStranger View Post
Interesting reading from the founder of Mile High Comics about the real history behind the direct market. Lots of developments from the 1970s I was only vaguely aware of and how Star Wars possibly saved the comic book industry in 1977.

http://www.milehighcomics.com/tales/cbg95.html

Chuck Rozanski looks like the biggest redneck hippie you could ever meet but the guys quite smart and likely worth many millions of dollars.
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Old 07-28-17, 02:40 PM   #10
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

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Originally Posted by fujishig View Post
Still haven't finished, but reading through this really reinforces the idea to me that the print market is outdated. Just the arcane practices of ordering and shipping all these comics, which is still a hassle today and just results in a ton of otherwise worthless paper that sits in long boxes. I realize not everyone is willing to go digital or trade only and that it is still the lifeblood of this industry, and I appreciate a good comic book store and the effort it takes to maintain one, but it just seems insane, especially with cover prices the way they currently are.

One thing that's interesting to me is that the digital distribution model is mainly funneled through one company and in some respects things are the same. I'd like to think of comixology as a benevolent entity that works well with all publishers, but they're run by a big corporation now that also sells physical books as well. I'd be curious to read why the big publishers didn't just pump resources into their own digital stores instead of going third party, though I guess that didn't work out for Dark Horse.
Comic books are the only print medium actually growing in revenue.
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Old 07-29-17, 08:22 PM   #11
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

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Comic book conventions have mostly morphed into everything but comics. The problem with having aa comic book booth at a big con is that most people are spemding mony on celebrity autograpghs and photo ops. People aren't going to these big cons to buy floppies anymore.

If I want some random cheap comic back issue, i'll get them at a comic convention in the $1 boxes. I won't use the internet and pay $5 shipping on top of the price of the book. If I want some expensive issue (CGC graded), I'd order it online as I know the prices are going to be cheaper for those online than at the cons.

Incidently if you want good deals on books, support your little local comic book shows that are held at teh conference rooms at hotels. Their booth prices are cheaper and they often get collectors that either need money or want to get out of collecting. They'll get booths their and try to unload their books for cheap. I was at one not too long ago and manged to get some near mint 9.2 or better copies of Tower of Shadows #1, G.I. Joe #2, Saga of the Swamp Thing #21, and a few others for $4 each. I got a few for myself and managed to flip some of them for $35-50 each on Ebay.
Sure, some dealers at cons have $1 bins of unbagged, unboarded, and unorganized comics from the bronze age through today. If you want to spend your time hunched over a box flipping through literally of hundreds of issues, then that's fine. For me, I find that to be a complete waste of time.

I've found that if you browse around the organized books at dealer booths, sometimes you can find prices that are the same or a little cheaper than online + shipping. Often times, yes, they are above online prices though. Every time I've looked for specific books, I've found it would be cheaper for me to go on eBay and pay for shipping, or go on MyComicShop and just do one big order.

The only good deals I've seen at cons lately are discount trades. But even with that you're going for old and/or obscure stuff. Newer stuff you can usually snag new at something like InStockTrades for cheap, or certain used bookstores.
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Old 07-30-17, 01:14 AM   #12
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

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Originally Posted by movieguru View Post
If I want some random cheap comic back issue, i'll get them at a comic convention in the $1 boxes. I won't use the internet and pay $5 shipping on top of the price of the book. If I want some expensive issue (CGC graded), I'd order it online as I know the prices are going to be cheaper for those online than at the cons.
I've only been to one comic book convention a few years ago. It was cool. I got bags full of great comics I otherwise never would of heard of.

Many comic shops these days are doing away with long boxes and replace them with shelves of tpb's.
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Old 07-30-17, 09:27 AM   #13
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

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Sure, some dealers at cons have $1 bins of unbagged, unboarded, and unorganized comics from the bronze age through today. If you want to spend your time hunched over a box flipping through literally of hundreds of issues, then that's fine. For me, I find that to be a complete waste of time.

I've found that if you browse around the organized books at dealer booths, sometimes you can find prices that are the same or a little cheaper than online + shipping. Often times, yes, they are above online prices though. Every time I've looked for specific books, I've found it would be cheaper for me to go on eBay and pay for shipping, or go on MyComicShop and just do one big order.

The only good deals I've seen at cons lately are discount trades. But even with that you're going for old and/or obscure stuff. Newer stuff you can usually snag new at something like InStockTrades for cheap, or certain used bookstores.
It really depends what you are looking for. If you care about condition, you don't really want to order online because it is like a box of chocolates unless you get CGC graded stuff. I'll generally look through the $1 boxes just to try to find some gems to flip. It's the thrill of the hunt kind of thing if I have some free time while at the conventions.

I generally got he trade hardcover route on mostly everything. I can usually get the trades for $5-7 at the cons and hardcovers for $15 or less. In the past year or so, I've been getting The Walking Dead trades for $5 each, much cheaper than online. A lot of these books are available at teh local libraries now too, so if it's not something obscure I can get it there just to read.
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Old 07-30-17, 09:34 AM   #14
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

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Originally Posted by brayzie View Post
I've only been to one comic book convention a few years ago. It was cool. I got bags full of great comics I otherwise never would of heard of.

Many comic shops these days are doing away with long boxes and replace them with shelves of tpb's.
I don't think the back issue market is what it was 15-20 years ago. Used to be if you wanted to get a back issue, you would have the choice of going to 1-2 local comicbook shops. Now most consumers are transitioning to trades, so most stores don't want to use the space for tons of long boxes. more often most comic stores have basically trades/hardcovers and toys/figures, with the exception of the new comics. Any unsold excess are put in long bins and uloaded at conventions.

I know my local comic shop still has long boxes but that store has a lot of space in multiple rooms. The long boxes are way in the back down a long halway. Upfront are the trades, new comics and toys.
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Old 07-30-17, 10:41 AM   #15
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

Well, any backissue from what, the past 20 or even 30 years isn't really worth anything with few exceptions. And everything is available digitally or online so you don't even need to track things down to fill gaps, which is what I mainly bought backissues for as a kid.

As far as comics growing in revenue, I kinda feel like a lot of that is just milking the same fan base for more and more. Stuff like variant covers and shipping a ton of titles twice a month, then the endless crossovers, I'm most sure any of that brings new fans in. I think I will always be hooked on comics... my kids, not so much, despite my best efforts.

Of course I'm talking mainly about Marvel/DC here, there are some truly great Image and independent books out there that may indeed be garnering new readers.
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Old 07-30-17, 12:55 PM   #16
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

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Well, any backissue from what, the past 20 or even 30 years isn't really worth anything with few exceptions. And everything is available digitally or online so you don't even need to track things down to fill gaps, which is what I mainly bought backissues for as a kid.

As far as comics growing in revenue, I kinda feel like a lot of that is just milking the same fan base for more and more. Stuff like variant covers and shipping a ton of titles twice a month, then the endless crossovers, I'm most sure any of that brings new fans in. I think I will always be hooked on comics... my kids, not so much, despite my best efforts.

Of course I'm talking mainly about Marvel/DC here, there are some truly great Image and independent books out there that may indeed be garnering new readers.
The multiple cover and intentioally making a book rare gets a but overboard nowadays, I don't collect so much anymore so I'll generally just buy what I want to read or display.
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Old 07-30-17, 04:13 PM   #17
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

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Now most consumers are transitioning to trades, so most stores don't want to use the space for tons of long boxes.
Yeah. I'm not a fan of modern trades, especially considering how modern Marvel and DC are written with trades in mind that results in some super decompressed stories.



Quote:
Originally Posted by fujishig View Post
As far as comics growing in revenue, I kinda feel like a lot of that is just milking the same fan base for more and more. Stuff like variant covers and shipping a ton of titles twice a month, then the endless crossovers, I'm most sure any of that brings new fans in. I think I will always be hooked on comics... my kids, not so much, despite my best efforts.
Quote:
Originally Posted by movieguru View Post
The multiple cover and intentioally making a book rare gets a but overboard nowadays, I don't collect so much anymore so I'll generally just buy what I want to read or display.
I used to hate when the normal issue would have a lackluster cover, and the variant (1:50, 1:100 etc) would be awesome. It's like, why not put the eye catching cover on the regular retail edition to get more people to buy it?

Quote:
Of course I'm talking mainly about Marvel/DC here, there are some truly great Image and independent books out there that may indeed be garnering new readers.
I would think it would be hard to attract new readers to Marvel and DC. If sales are going up because of the movies, great. But I would have assumed that since superheroes are so prevalent in so much other media, people would have less incentive to hunt down a comic shop to buy the latest story featuring them.
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Old 07-30-17, 05:16 PM   #18
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

[QUOTE=

Of course I'm talking mainly about Marvel/DC here, there are some truly great Image and independent books out there that may indeed be garnering new readers.[/QUOTE]

i think Image and the independents have the better stories nowadays. Maybe I'm just older and no longer entertained by super hero comics anymore; but it seems the independents are more innovative story wise, while the Big 2 just focus on rehshing th esame storied with slight variations and multi-crossover titles. I don't think the independents cross over with other titles anywhere near the volume of Marvel and DC if at all.
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Old 07-30-17, 07:20 PM   #19
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

Oh yeah, the independents like Image and Dark Horse are crafting stories a thousand times better than the same ole stuff from DC and Marvel. The big two has a core audience that will buy their stuff no matter what, I'm one of them, but I'd be curious to see the numbers outside that core.
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Old 07-30-17, 10:02 PM   #20
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

Oh Image and others are firing on all cylinders, and a major problem with Marvel and DC is that their best creators keep jumping ship to do creator owned stuff once they get their name out there.

I mean if you think about it, writing for the big 2, there are two main avenues. You take on one of the big names, usually because you're a big fan, knowing full well you'll never be able to enact any kind of lasting change on the character because both editorial and the fan base won't let you. At best you can craft a standalone story that endures, but even then you have to navigate through a land mine of crossovers and events that threaten to derail your story. Or you can take a more obscure character, do what you will, but risk early cancellation because the vast majority of the comic audience doesn't care about obscure characters and doesn't believe the book will last six months, so they don't buy it and self fulfill the prophecy.

Or you can say screw it and play in your own little sandbox, creating something like Invincible or East of West. Stuff where there's a singular vision throughout, and if someone wants to pick it up a usually linear way to do so.

Anyway sorry for veering way off topic. But I do feel like Marvel and DC sometimes treat a lot of their stuff like disposable commodities, stuff to be read once then probably never again. Which is fine when comics were cheap and disposable, but it's almost insane to spend so much money, and then time bagging and boarding and storing, not to mention all the money in printing and shipping and making inventory, for stuff that they just flood the market with to keep the names and IPs out there. Certainly not everything is like this and I'm sure all creators take pride in their work, but it strikes me as similar to making new FF movies.
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Old 07-31-17, 09:42 AM   #21
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

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Oh Image and others are firing on all cylinders, and a major problem with Marvel and DC is that their best creators keep jumping ship to do creator owned stuff once they get their name out there.

I mean if you think about it, writing for the big 2, there are two main avenues. You take on one of the big names, usually because you're a big fan, knowing full well you'll never be able to enact any kind of lasting change on the character because both editorial and the fan base won't let you. At best you can craft a standalone story that endures, but even then you have to navigate through a land mine of crossovers and events that threaten to derail your story. Or you can take a more obscure character, do what you will, but risk early cancellation because the vast majority of the comic audience doesn't care about obscure characters and doesn't believe the book will last six months, so they don't buy it and self fulfill the prophecy.

Or you can say screw it and play in your own little sandbox, creating something like Invincible or East of West. Stuff where there's a singular vision throughout, and if someone wants to pick it up a usually linear way to do so.

.
This is one of the biggest issues is that no matter what change is implemented, it usually goes back to the original status quo after a year or two. Sometimes it may take longer, but it will go back. I'm sure Peter Parker will be broke againat some point and selling photos to the Daily Bugle. The whole Secret Empire storyling isnt really interesting when you know they'll reverse everyting at the end of the storyline.

Marvel and DC can't even create any new characters anymore unless they are an offshoot of their already established characters. Spider Gwen is just an alternate version of Spiderman and Gwen Stacey. X23 is just a clear spinoff from Wolverine. The new Captain Marvel has been around for years as a civilian. Nothing new or unique will come out of their companies
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Old 07-31-17, 04:06 PM   #22
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

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Oh Image and others are firing on all cylinders, and a major problem with Marvel and DC is that their best creators keep jumping ship to do creator owned stuff once they get their name out there.
I like Image Comics overall. For the longest time they had better quality paper, the traditional 22 pages as opposed to 21/20, and were actually cheaper than Marvel and DC.

That said, for me, they never had a series that I'm aware of, that really go me hooked. But I've enjoyed Phonogram and Shinku.

Found this googling Image Comics. Descender sounds interesting.

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/62...all-tastes.htm
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Old 07-31-17, 05:48 PM   #23
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

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I like Image Comics overall. For the longest time they had better quality paper, the traditional 22 pages as opposed to 21/20, and were actually cheaper than Marvel and DC.

That said, for me, they never had a series that I'm aware of, that really go me hooked. But I've enjoyed Phonogram and Shinku.

Found this googling Image Comics. Descender sounds interesting.

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/62...all-tastes.htm
Descender is pretty good, but you haven't been hooked by Saga, Southern Bastards, Powers, Manhattan Projects, Deadly Class, East of West, Fatale, Criminal, Astro City, Chew, Sex Criminals, Paper Girls, Lazarus, Walking Dead, etc etc
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Old 07-31-17, 06:21 PM   #24
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

Walking Dead is probably the most.well known one. I liked what ive read of Clone so far. Theyve definetly come a long way from where they started. They were basically an independent super hero company when they first came on the scene. Theyre much better now. Its hard to keep track of all their "imprint" studios they have.I guess Image is just now a publisher for other independent companies than it is an actual company in the way that Marvel or DC were.
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Old 07-31-17, 10:02 PM   #25
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Re: Evolution of the Direct Market

They had always agreed that Image as a company wouldn't own any of the IPs, everything would be owned by individual creators, which at the time were the founders. Since they all came from a superhero background they all did superhero-ey books. When Kirkman came in with Walking Dead (and Invincible) and did well enough to be elevated to partner, they did a marked shift in what they published, including a shift to feature writers and to diversify their portfolio.

Though Astro City is under the Vertigo banner now since Wildstorm (and Lee) went to DC.

Last edited by fujishig; 08-01-17 at 09:09 AM.
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