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Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

Old 05-09-10, 11:07 PM
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Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

It seems many people just buy TPB instead of the individual issues. I've wondered if this hurts the continuation of series. A series might be a favorite of many people, but with everyone just waiting for the TPB, the sales figures of the individual issues are going to be low. And just like in TV, a low rated/selling series runs the risk of getting canceled. I know several series that got canceled due to low sales (I have no idea if the series was doing well in TPB).

Anyone else wonder if this happens.
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Old 05-10-10, 03:42 AM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

Yeah, we've talked about this topic before, especially in connection with patronizing an LCS, and compared floppies/TPBs to iTunes/Hulu/broadcast/DVDs etc. One thread was specifically about Brubaker asking people to support the floppies instead of waiting for the trade.

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Old 05-10-10, 03:46 AM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

I hate waiting a month (or months, if you're reading Kevin Smith) to read a story that would otherwise take an hour to read. I'd rather wait for the trade.

Now, Gillen/McKelvie's "Phonogram", I picked up monthly because the back of it was filled with additional notes and commentary that wasn't going to be in the trade.
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Old 05-10-10, 02:24 PM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

For bigger series like Avengers or crossovers like Blackest Night, it probably doesn't matter. They're going to do just fine either way.

Smaller series on the cusp may need those extra sales. Jimmy Palmiotti recently said that a few hundred extra copies can make the difference between a book being profitable or not on his books.
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Old 05-10-10, 02:54 PM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

I think it largely depends on the business model of the publisher, too. For instance, Dark Horse Comics has a longstanding tradition of keeping their TPBs in circulation and really promoting them. Of course, for the longest time, Dark Horse mostly published limited series and not ongoing titles, so TPBs were a pretty easy fit.

TPBs are also easier to get book stores to carry, or at least order, than monthly issues, and I would suspect most of them have a larger print run than the original issues. Since the publishers don't sell ad space for TPBs, they've already had the original material financed with the help of advertisers and are freer to take on the sole burden of publishing the collected edition. DC Comics probably made a lot more money off titles like The Dark Knight Returns, The Death of Superman, Kingdom Come and Watchmen over the years in TPB form than they ever did with the original issues.

The titles that don't sell as well are still probably a good idea for the publisher. They give new readers a chance to explore backstory, and keep the publisher in the sales game. Without TPBs, readers would have to resort to the secondary market to track down older issues; TPBs allow the publisher to still make money off older material.
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Old 05-11-10, 08:30 AM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

Absolutely it benefits them, either way.

Just like when Family Guy and Futurama were brought back after huge DVD sales, monthlies, especially the low-selling ones, benefit tremendously from the TPB format. They reach a wider audience, they're a complete story so a series that's just building steam will gain greater momentum, and considering that tons of people don't have the time to go to a LCS every week and pick up a new book that might be hot and sell out in 24 hours, the TPB format is really the evolution of comics. I picked up Walking Dead #1 on a recommendation, and thought it was boring without setting much up for the rest of the series. I skipped the rest of the issues and then picked up the first two trades, which blew me away. Fantastic book that would have lost its audience were it not for the TPB format.

When you also consider the backissue market - and how inconvenient it is to both readers (who must constantly hunt down backissues and sometimes pay absurd premiums) to retailers (who keep dead inventory around that only loses value), the argument for TPBs just gets stronger. I have series with huge holes in them that i know i'm never going to be able to plug with single issues, because finding them will be a pain in the ass, and it's rare to see the issues you want show up on ebay.

I'm not really a collector, but I like to keep my comics in good condition. The sheer inconvenience of having to dig through all my longboxes and bags and boards has really irked me over time. Another plus for TPBs. That and they can stand up to re-reading. A lot of my old comics have been nearly annihilated even though i read them carefully.
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Old 05-11-10, 10:01 AM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

As only a casual comic reader, there's no reason for me to read single issues. I like the ease of reading a TPB of a complete story that I have an interest in rather then wait month to month.
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Old 05-11-10, 10:17 PM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

If it wasn't for TPB I wouldn't be reading comics. I use to collect comics had about 7,000+. But found I hardly every reread them, it became to much of a pain to dig through boxes pull out issues take out of bag and in 20 mins or so put back and start over. When the price of comics went to I think $2 I quit collecting new single issues. I then switched over to only buying from flea markets and 50 and $1 bids which would have been hurting the comic companies (if you use the same argument as the video game companies) more than now where I get mostly hard covers. If I still collected single issues I would either be going through the Internet or having to drive about 40 mins to get to the local comic shop. I could almost see in the future some titles that would go straight to TPB.

With advertisement, I've seen some of the newer comics and I wonder if they are even getting that much for a full page ad, this could be something they could work on to get more money.
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Old 05-11-10, 11:30 PM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

Would I say that they hurt comic series...yes. Do they hurt the comic business...no.

If a book makes it to a 1st TPB and it sells well, maybe that can keep a book going. But I'm pretty sure that the sales on the single issues is what keeps a book going. Especially with Marvel and DC.
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Old 05-12-10, 12:37 PM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

I can't feel too bad when the publishers push the trades on us. When the trade is released a month after the miniseries concludes, for cheaper than the individual issues and sometimes with bonuses, and when the monthly comic has so little story that the trade reads better anyway, I don't see why I should buy it monthly.

I look at my monthly pile and usually I'm disappointed in at least some of the series due to last minute artist/writer changes, hacked together stories, fill-in issues and nonsensical tie ins to other books (oh goody, I had batgirl on my pull list for the month, and it crossed over with Red Robin, which is no longer available... so glad I have half a story). On the other hand, I can research stories before I buy the trade.
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Old 05-12-10, 01:24 PM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

Originally Posted by Meatwad's Ghost View Post
If it wasn't for TPB I wouldn't be reading comics.
Same here. I know I am not the hardcore collector the comics companies probably prefer BUT in my case if it weren't for TPBs these series would not be getting ANY of my money.
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Old 05-18-10, 11:14 PM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

Like TV shows (I only watch them after they are done and on DVD, this has to do with them ending it without ending it) I only buy the full set or the book if there is one. I really has to do with trying to find them all or waiting for them. I have the time that is not a issue it has to do with the reading the.
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Old 05-19-10, 05:10 AM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

Originally Posted by Meatwad's Ghost View Post
If it wasn't for TPB I wouldn't be reading comics. I use to collect comics had about 7,000+. But found I hardly every reread them, it became to much of a pain to dig through boxes pull out issues take out of bag and in 20 mins or so put back and start over. When the price of comics went to I think $2 I quit collecting new single issues.
I'm the same, although I got out of the game before you did. I started reading comics when the price was around $0.50. And I was a rabid collector, reading 2-3 dozen series and buying tons of back issues. Woke up early in the morning to deliver papers and mowed lawns on weekends just to feed my habit.

When the prices went over $1.00, with some comics going bi-weekly and every hero/group was spun off into multiple series, I gave up. The companies got greedy and drove me away.

These days I only buy TPB. And it's only a few series. Otherwise, the comic companies wouldn't be getting any of my money.
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Old 05-19-10, 05:04 PM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

Originally Posted by resinrats View Post
I've wondered if this hurts the continuation of series.

Anyone else wonder if this happens.
There is no reason to wonder about this. Yes, it is proven, that TPB waiters kill are detrimental to the decline of monthly titles. Many creators have written articles about this including my favorite comic book writer Ed Brubaker numerous times pleading for fans to buy monthly comics. He also wrote a great article on how comic book writers & artists see pretty much zero money from trade sales. Mark Waid, Jason Aaron, Erik Larsen & many many more have all written articles & pieces urging comic book fans to stick with the monthly comics.
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Old 05-20-10, 01:53 AM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

I got into comics via the trades in high school. It was actually Sandman because for AP English we had to write a paper on a piece of 20th century literature that referenced the canon. I had no desire to do a paper on Joyce or Faulkner, so I convinced my teacher that Sandman had its merits as literature. I concentrated on the Haroun al-Rashid and Midsummer's Night Dream stories.

The only way I was able to get those stories was in the trades. They would have been expensive buying the issues, especially #19. I ended up getting the rest as a christmas/birthday gift.

I've only bought Y The Last Man, Runaways, Joss Whedon's run of Astonishing X-Men, and Buffy S8 in monthlies. Ex Machina is another one I only buy in trades because they come out so infrequently. I sold my Y monthlies to pay for the trades, I usually came out ahead. I sold the rest or gave them away. I got Gaiman's Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader, #1 as a Valentine's Day gift last year. I'm glad I kept that because I like the cover art for the issue better than the trade.

I gave up buying Runaways, Astonishing, and Buffy as monthlies. I'd have them pre-ordered at my LCS, but at least one title was always delayed. The delays were what pushed me away from monthlies for all comics. Having to wait because most of the superstar writers and artists couldn't complete their work and caused delays, in some cases, several months did it for me.

I looked at American Vampire and thought about buying the first two issues, but at $4 an issue, it's more economical to wait for the trade. The rising cost and the delays are hurting monthly sales more than anything else.

I know not buying the monthlies hurts the LCS, but I would go in to see what trades they had. Usually, they had the best retail selection of trades that I could only find in larger Borders or Barnes and Noble stores. This was back in 2006/7, but that's even more common now with Borders drastically reducing the amount of space given towards graphic novels. It was easy in 2007 to take advantage of Borders B4G1 free graphic/manga promo. Now it's impossible unless you're a huge manga fan, which I am not.
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Old 05-20-10, 01:20 PM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

While I'd like to say my monthly comic buy list is shrinking (I still manage to buy about 20 monthly titles, but would like to cut it to 15 titles), for some reason, I find TPBs daunting in terms of trying to keep up with which TPB covers which run of issues (for long-running titles, not the self-contained titles that only have 1-80 issues at best in their total run). I find it easier to just buy individual issues, and later on search for individual issues at comic shows (always enjoyed the hunt for certain issues), typically in the $1 bins. But I'm not opposed to paying $5/TPB at the comic shows, but I have a weird hang-up paying 80% of cover price for TPBs (I have a 20% discount at my LCS). So, for now, I still support the comic industry that supports the creators with my monthly comic purchases.
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Old 05-20-10, 01:46 PM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

For me, the major reason I quit buying monthlies was pricing.

When I was a kid, I could see one movie for the price of 10 comic books. Now, for the price of one movie I can only get two or three comics.

Sure, maybe it's not the comic industry's fault that paper costs or whatever has caused this inequity in inflation, but for this consumer, the end result is that comics just aren't worth it anymore.
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Old 05-20-10, 02:57 PM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

I've long been a follower of monthly comics, but once prices got above $2 per issue, I began cutting back and, now that $3.99 is becoming the norm, I'm going to be scaling back immensely. I still will buy some first issues to get a feel for titles, but I'm more likely to finish reading them in trade than to buy the individual issues. Yes, in that respect, trades hurt the monthly business, but I firmly believe the cost of the monthly comic book is the biggest detriment to their sales, not readers waiting for the collection.
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Old 05-20-10, 09:35 PM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

I try to avoid the $3.99 titles, though I'll make an exception here or there (mainly on shorter mini-series), and will then pick up the $3.99 titles in the $1 bins later.
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Old 05-21-10, 12:38 AM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

I'm almost all trades but I have tried to keep up with a few monthlies in the last few years:

Infinite Crisis: misplaced an issue and couldn't keep reading and bought the trade anyway

Mike Grell's new Warlord series (I gave up on the non-Grell after one issue a few years earlier): I think I read about 8 issues

Rotten Comics: Have picked up about six issues--I haven't finished the first, I'm not sure where the rest are, and the trade is coming in the summer

Archie wedding: Actually read all six issues! Then got the TPB and will go to that if I ever want to reread the story. I have no idea why this is the only one I finished--maybe because it was only six.

Last edited by davidh777; 05-21-10 at 12:40 AM.
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Old 05-21-10, 07:07 PM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

Originally Posted by Sessa17 View Post
There is no reason to wonder about this. Yes, it is proven, that TPB waiters kill are detrimental to the decline of monthly titles. Many creators have written articles about this including my favorite comic book writer Ed Brubaker numerous times pleading for fans to buy monthly comics. He also wrote a great article on how comic book writers & artists see pretty much zero money from trade sales. Mark Waid, Jason Aaron, Erik Larsen & many many more have all written articles & pieces urging comic book fans to stick with the monthly comics.
I refuse to be guilted out by creators for buying their work in trade form. For older collections, I can understand, but shouldn't they be pricing trade collections into their contracts?

Delays, price, format, availability, etc. are all reasons why collecting monthly comics are a pain. I have no problem with Brubaker and co. putting extras into the issues that are not in the collections... and even Marvel recently has been pricing the trades higher than the individual issues. But the problem is that instead of prompting me to track down the issues, it usually prompts me to pass on the series altogether.
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Old 05-23-10, 03:59 AM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

Sorta wonder why comic book industry types don't try and go right to tpb and skip the monthly format. I suppose the answer to that is selling ads and promoting other titles... but since the comic book business has been failing the last 15 years you'd think they'd try a reworked approach beside "hologram covers" and keeping licenses active so you can make a movie later.

Honestly it might be a good idea to go digital or publish like more traditional novels. I dunno... anyone her come up with an idea they've had to help the industry?
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Old 05-23-10, 08:03 AM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

Originally Posted by Navinabob View Post
Sorta wonder why comic book industry types don't try and go right to tpb and skip the monthly format.
The floppies still do a really good job building word of mouth (sometimes I'll wait for the trade because people will tell me a few issues in that the series is really good...no advance word of mouth, the less likely I might be to bite), and they're still a separate revenue path, kind of like theatrical release and DVD. You want to make as much money as you can on either one, sure, but if you're in the black on floppies/theatrical, then the TPB/DVD is straight-up profit. That helps lessen the risk, really. If everything were all TPB-size and a publisher had to commit to that many pages having to be put together, I think there'd be less incentive to really experiment.

I know I'm just stating the obvious here, but the three things that really need to happen:

* Lower prices
* Increase distribution
* Make comics appealing to kids / casual readers again

Gotta be all three to do the job. I remember walking into my favorite comic store back in 1989 or 1990, I think it was, when I started to notice books first creeping up to $1.25, and thinking that I'd never pay that much for a comic. Twenty years later, I'm routinely paying more than three times that. I just don't know how you're going to latch onto new readers when your product costs four bucks and takes ten minutes to read.
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Old 05-23-10, 09:23 PM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

Originally Posted by Adam Tyner View Post
they're still a separate revenue path, kind of like theatrical release and DVD.

I know I'm just stating the obvious here, but the three things that really need to happen:

* Lower prices
* Increase distribution
* Make comics appealing to kids / casual readers again
Good points.

Individual issues have ads that help offset some costs.

I can't see comics ever going super low again. I do think they could get them down to $2 an issue for major companies (DC/Marvel) It might mean going with less quality paper than the glossy stuff they use now. Maybe have a few more pages of ads also.

I think the most important thing they could do is get comics distributed more to regular stores again so casual fans actually see them & can buy them. Not everyone knows about comic stores or wants to deal with driving to them. Especially for kids who have to rely on parents to take them places. I know as a kid I couldn't get my parents to drive way out of their way to the comic store. I'd get there MAYBE once every three months.

I know people hate Walmart but getting comics stocked there (and Target) would be a big boost to availibility. Again, probably only Marvel/DC would get stocked the most.

Comic characters are everywhere on other products so I don't doubt that kids would be willing to start reading them if they could find the comics & they are cheap enough they could afford them or parents willing to buy them ($4 an issue will get a lot of parents to say no)

Some other things are: cut down on so many cross-over stories. Leave multi-part stories in their own titles. More individual issue stories. No reason Batman can't fight Riddler in one issue & finish it in the same issue. Have a different release schedule for retail stores compared to comic shops. Maybe release issues twice a month instead of weekly. Kids especially might not be able to get to the store every week. Letting issues be on the shelves 2 weeks will increase the chance of them finding it. I'm sure some people might give up on a series if they start missing issues.
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Old 05-23-10, 09:38 PM
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Re: Does TPB-only people hurt comic series?

resinrats touched on several things that interested me, but in the interest of brevity I'm only going to respond to two of them:

Originally Posted by resinrats View Post
I think the most important thing they could do is get comics distributed more to regular stores again so casual fans actually see them & can buy them. Not everyone knows about comic stores or wants to deal with driving to them. Especially for kids who have to rely on parents to take them places. I know as a kid I couldn't get my parents to drive way out of their way to the comic store. I'd get there MAYBE once every three months.
I grew up in a small town in Kentucky about half an hour from Louisville. My mom was one of the few that I knew of growing up who was actually willing to make the drive to Louisville; many of our neighbors regarded our little town as big enough for their needs. I got a lot of my comics growing up at pharmacies, gas stations and groceries. I can still recall vividly selecting Detective Comics #603 from a spinning metal tower of comics at a Convenient gas station back in 1989. It was my first Batman comic purchase. Had it not been for those kinds of places, I would likely never have even known where to tell my mom to take me to search for comic books.

Comic characters are everywhere on other products so I don't doubt that kids would be willing to start reading them if they could find the comics & they are cheap enough they could afford them or parents willing to buy them ($4 an issue will get a lot of parents to say no)
My sister-in-law has done a poor job promoting an interest in reading with my nephew, and he regards anything that requires him to read or think in any capacity as some kind of cruel academic overreach into his personal time. I thought I'd introduce him to comic books a few Christmases ago, and I tracked down a pair of Justice League Unlimited and Teen Titans Go! issues because they were the most recent issues, and they were Christmas themed. I knew he watched the animated series, so I thought a self-contained Christmas story would be perfect for introducing him to comics.

I put them in bags and boards and wrapped them in a box. When he opened the box and saw it was something to read, it was the same face he would have made if I'd wrapped a box of moldy broccoli. He very quickly insisted that I keep the issues at our place for safekeeping, and never even took them out of their bags. I couldn't force the kid to read them.

I'd like to think he's an aberration, but it seems he's more representative of his generation than I would like to have believed. It's hard for my generation--raised on comics and action figures--to understand how today's kids can entirely dismiss the format out of hand. If we can't get a kid who's already watching Teen Titans to read a comic book, what chance do we have of ever getting them to develop critical thinking skills? I hate to veer into Otter territory, but I think there's a convergence of the issue at hand with larger implications about today's youth and where we are as a society.
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