2017/04/14

Picking Comics' Carcass

Comic book crash

The Zman offers an alternate explanation for the SJW infestation of the comic book industry as described by Jon Del Arroz.
That came to mind reading this Vox Day post on the comic book industry. According to people who read comics and follow the business, it has been overrun by howling at the moon social justice warriors. Comics are no longer about Superman vanquishing the bad guys for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.” Today it is a “half-black, half-Hispanic Spider-Man” lecturing the honkies about their backpack of invisible privilege. Maybe it is more subtle that that, but that seems to be the general direction of the business.
The article VD links to assumes the nose dive in sales is due to the lurch into progressive lunacy by the comic book business. There’s no question that there is little to no market for the social justice warrior stuff. It’s why it always has to be imposed. Still, comic books have been in decline for decades. It is not a dying business, but a dead one. In fact, this SJW phase is what happens to the carcass of an industry or business that has already been pillaged by the money men and grifters of the credit age.
Grifter
What’s happening in the comic book business is emblematic of the credit money age. Into the 1970’s a comic book was cheap entertainment for boys. It encouraged reading and imagination. At the peak, there was something like 15 million comics printed a month. That meant it was an industry of maybe $10 million in annual sales, including revenues related to publishing. By the 70’s they probably made more from licensing than the comics. More kids experienced Superman on TV than through comic books.
By the 70’s it was a mature business with little in the way of growth. Then, clever money men of the credit era decided it was time to bust out the industry and strip away the remaining value. That’s how we got the great comic book bubble. The guy who chronicled this period, the source for the The Weekly Standard article, still has his blog up here. Even if you have no interest in comics, it is an interesting read because it helps explain the phenomenon of social justice warriors in the credit age.
What’s happening in the comic book business is a systematic strip mining of the value created in the golden age of comics. The first stage was to use credit money to blow a massive bubble, drawing in stupid money that the smart money players then ran off with before the bubble burst. That’s the essence of a credit bubble. Credit fuels artificial growth, which attracts real money looking for a quick return. Instead, the sharps take out the real money leaving the credit money behind, which is back by the worthless assets.
There’s another stage though. After the crash, another class of parasites comes in to feed off the carcass. In the case of comic books, there was the old characters developed in the zenith of American culture. In this case, it is the propaganda value of the comic book heroes. Instead of selling cheap fantasy entertainment to boys, they use the super heroes to promote the New Religion. Those social justice warriors now writing for Marvel did not infiltrate the industry. They were recruited.
Read the rest here.

I'm inclined to agree with the Zman's assessment--in large part because we've seen the same pattern play out many times before in other industries. Tor Books isn't primarily in financial decline because SJWs snuck in and drove their customers away. Tor is failing because Amazon disrupted the paper distribution monopoly that is the lifeblood of the big New York publishers.

But the big publishers were all bought out by international conglomerates long ago, so they're shielded from the pressure of having to turn a profit. Since the Big Five publishers' corporate sugar daddies let them pretty much do as they please without consequences, they turn to pumping out propaganda in line with the editors' East Coast bubble sensibilities.

The same cycle is underway in comics, only it's even more conspicuous and further advanced. DC and Marvel are now reduced to publishing comic books only to maintain Time Warner and Disney's film rights to lucrative Golden Age characters. Since the media conglomerates' comic subsidiaries can operate at a loss almost indefinitely, their editors are allowed to get away with murder.

That's one reason why I'm not holding my breath for Marvel to replace their SJW writers with rock-ribbed conservatives who will return Tony Stark to his commie-busting roots. Marvel's editors only need to feign contrition long enough to defuse a potential backlash against Disney. Then it's right back to Trump-bashing and virtue signaling as soon as the public loses interest.

The only way that the comics industry will be rehabilitated from a leftist propaganda organ to a source of fun, pulpy entertainment is if Time Warner and Disney start sufficiently hurting. And even then, Disney in particular seems converged enough to take a financial hit in the service of a pet cause.

Reminder: don't give money to people who hate you.


If you're looking for fun, pulpy entertainment that isn't purpose-built to insult you, my award-winning Soul Cycle series is on sale this month.

@BrianNiemeier

6 comments:

  1. If you haven't read it, the book Comic Wars is fantastic. It chronicles everything Jon talks about here in great detail.

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  2. Brian

    Is the pheomoenon limited to the Anglophone comics? I haven'the noticed this rapaciousness or the credit men milking the franchises. Maybe Asterix but the rest are left alone

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    1. Interesting. You'd know better than me. Perhaps non-English language comics are less converged.

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  3. Good take on the situation. Mine is a little bit sideways:
    http://wastelandandsky.blogspot.ca/2017/04/the-death-and-return-of-comic-books.html

    I don't expect Marvel to recover from this. Even if they do there is a lot of work to rebuild an industry that might already have passed its expiration date.

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