Nigel Mitchell posted a link to this article in The Atlantic that analyzes Marvel Comics' sales slump. Which seems odd since movies like The Avengers, Iron Man, and Captain America: Civil War have generated close to a billion (or more) apiece. Why isn't this translating to comics?
There are a number of reasons for this in the article, many of them self-inflicted.
1. Those Guys On Screen? Yeah, Good Luck Finding Them in Comics. It's admirable in recent years Marvel has made a push for equality in terms of color and gender, but the downside is that the Disney movies are still mostly male whitewashed. If you liked the movie of The Avengers and go to pick up a comic now Captain America is Sam Wilson (and an evil Steve Rogers), Thor is a woman, Iron "Man" is a teenage black girl, and the Hulk is an Asian guy. But there's still Hawkeye and Black Widow...I think. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it creates a disconnect between movies and comics because if you want to follow Tony Stark's adventures in print, there is no more Tony Stark--for now. Kind of limits the cross-marketing potential.
2. Oh and Good Luck Finding Comics In General: When my brother and I were growing up in rural Michigan we could walk down to the corner store and get the latest Transformers or GI JOE comic. (And they had the other big ones too of course.) At grocery stores I would frequently be traumatized by comic book covers that were scary or weird. But now you can't hardly find a comic book anywhere except book stores and specialty comic book stores. And though I'm not a "normal" person I still don't really like comic book stores. It's like if you're not a sports fan and you go to some guy's "man cave" that has tons of memorabilia; you definitely aren't in Kansas anymore. You're entering someone else's clubhouse and it can be easy to feel intimidated. Plus most of them are hole-in-the-wall places that aren't exactly nearby and for introverts there's probably no one there so you're probably going to be accosted by the owner. And you're probably not going to get a hot girl to write her phone number on an X-Men comic like in Free Enterprise. Fortunately there's Comixology and such so you can buy comics online now.
3. Even Online, Bring Money: When I was a kid comics were like 50 cents and then gradually went up to 75 cents and a dollar. In 1938 when Superman debuted for 10 cents you got like 100 pages of comics and print. Now for $3.99 you get 23 pages, probably half of which will be splash pages with one panel on a whole page or across two pages. But the quality of the paper and ink is a lot better. The quality of the drawing itself can be debatable. A lot of newer ones use more of a manga style it seems, which is meh to me but what do I know?
4. Gotta Catch Them All!: Marvel and DC are both guilty of too many crossover events. The latest for Marvel is "Secret Empire" where evil Steve Rogers has taken over America. This is only a few months removed from "Civil War II" which I haven't read yet but then I'm a few events behind. Really you can get like that part of the Bible: And lo Original Sins beget Secret Wars II which beget Civil War II which beget Secret Empire...If you want to really follow each event you have to buy not only the 8 main issues of that series but then the 2-4 spinoff issues for each series. At the same time, each series goes from one arc after another, each probably 5-6 issues so they can put it into a trade paperback later. I've enjoyed Dan Slott's Spider-Man run but it's been going from one arc to another for more than 10 years it seems like. It can be hard then for a casual (and/or poor) fan to get into it.
5. We're Number 1!: Something the article talks about is Marvel's penchant for renumbering its series. They've done that pretty much every year for the last 3-4 years. It gets to be really annoying. If you say, "Hey check out Amazing Spider-Man #1!" someone could say, "Which one: 2013, 2014, 2015, or 2016?" It can be really confusing, especially since with many series the stories aren't necessarily starting over. I mean each Amazing Spider-Man #1 isn't an origin story. So if you're wanting to jump in, where are you supposed to start?
The article talks about writer-creator teams which I don't think is that big of a deal. I suppose it can be jolting, especially if they change too often, but I don't think most people care all that much. Just like people don't care about me talking about this too much. 😋