January 24, 2010

Marvel Snapshot: Longevity of Comics

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another edition of Marvel Snapshot. This week I’ll be discussing the longevity of comic books. I’ve heard lots of peoples opinions about this very subject and of course have my own, so let’s get down to business.

First, in my opinion, with Marvel just being bought for $4 billion I don’t think they’re going anywhere anytime soon. I understand it was more of a move to own characters with proven big movie money, but I also know the comics part is making some money as well, and that’s what fuels the movies so they go hand in hand. I have heard some chatter that monthly titles will eventually give way to trades and digital, but I think that’s pretty far off yet. I know Joe Quesada gets a lot of flack, but I honestly think he’s doing better than his predecessor so I’ll cut him some slack.

So what do you think of the Disney buyout? Most people I heard from were crying the blues thinking that comics would stop printing the next day or something crazy. I also heard people saying that Disney would water down the comics themselves to a more youth friendly format. I honestly can’t see that happening. Maybe the MAX line would disappear, but that would be my only guess if something was to go for those purposes. DC being bought by Warner pretty much gives me the same impression. The books themselves will continue to print provided they make money. Paul Levitz is also doing a good job, and the outlook is pretty promising with the success of Blackest Night and the Green Lantern titles.

What about Indies? I think that these buyouts are bad for the little guys like Dark Horse, Top Cow, and Image. I think at this point all that they can hope is for Marvel or DC to buy them out, or at least pick up some of the rights to the better known characters. I mean, Star Wars, Conan, and other fairly well known franchises could be doing more volume if they were backed by one of the big two for sure. Quite a few of the comic book peeps I talk to love some of the current stuff on the Indy scene. I know Top Cow has a few impressive titles, and also Th3rd World Studios with their critically acclaimed The Stuff of Legend.

My worst fear is that Marvel and DC will get so big that these small companies won’t be able to churn out the diamonds in the rough that they currently produce. That will be a sad day indeed for comics. For me though, the downfall has already started and the digital age is probably not too far over the horizon. I just hope it comes and flops so books will need to be printed once more. I wonder if you can plug in Marvel or DC into and get an expected date of death? (lol)

Well, that’s it for now, but I really hope everyone leaves some feedback on this subject. I know there are more theories and opinions out there, so fire away with the comments!

Billy Dunleavy



  1. Kristin

    Well, Dark Horse doesn’t own Star Wars. Whoever owns Star Wars is allowing Dark Horse to publish comics based in the universe. I imagine Conan, Mass Effect, and other similar titles are the same. They’re licensing the intellectual property rights or something.

    And Dark Horse is hardly a “little guy” these days. Certainly no one matches Marvel or DC. And Dark Horse is independently owned. But they also have the backing of Twentieth Century Fox. They even have their own independent film company. They’re certainly the largest independent comic book publisher. They’re not going anywhere.

    And the idea that Disney would “water down” Marvel or whatever is absurd. Disney is an ENORMOUS company, and they own a lot of things. Including ESPN, Miramax, nearly half of Lifetime (which includes A&E, the History Channel, and Biography)…. I’m sure they have some say in what Marvel can ultimately do, but not enough to have the sort of effect that people were fearing.

  2. billy

    @Kris-I didn’t state that Dark Horse owned Star Wars, just that they are putting out the books and that if Marvel or DC were, that the numbers would be even better. I think it’s well known that Disney is huge but they are also more of a clean image company as well, so to think that they might pull the reigns in on certain titles or content is far from “absurd”. They own it, therefore they could stop production tomorrow if they saw fit on any title.

  3. billy

    @Kris-Oh and Dark Horse is a very tiny pimple on the face of the big two. That’s like comparing Ant-Man to Galactus. Are they biggest little fish, yes, but that honor they can have I’m sure as far as Marel and DC are concerned.

  4. Marie

    Personally, I hope the day of all digital never comes. It’s just not the same as having the book in you hand.

  5. Ryan Munley

    Hey Billy,

    Nice article! I don’t think people should worry about the Disney buyout at all. For quite some time Disney owned Mirimax when they were putting out Pulp Fiction and Kevin Smith movie, so as long as Marvel is making money they won’t screw with the comics.

  6. Disney would be nuts to dabble into the comic aspect of things in a negative way (ie. cutting MAX titles, etc). It’s all about making money and Marvel, even without Disney’s support, makes money!! I was just at Disney Land today and kept wondering when the Pixar superhero ride is going to appear… *sigh*

    Comics are still going to be printed. This business survives on the collector’s mentality and that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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  8. InfiniteSpeech

    I totally agree with you Marie! There’s nothin’ like kickin’ back on the couch with a stack of good comics to read on a lazy afternoon!

  9. Matt

    I don’t see Disney having any involvement in the Marvel day to day. I definitely see them utilizing the characters for promotions and using them to theme up the parks and rides.

    I also still see comics being printed for some time to come but I do not fear the digital media. When ever Apple gets around to unveiling the iPad, people will be buying them and they will make a great format to view digital comics on. Likewise at the latest Consumer Electronics show several companies are all producing eReaders and going to color on Kindel and others.

    I would like to see Marvel and DC if they are going to release Print and Digital copies of monthly books that it works alot like Blue Rays and the Digital Copy. In that you buy the physical Blue Ray and they include the ability to download a digital copy for short period of time.

    I like buying monthly books and I don’t care to buy trades and hardbacks of books I already own. But I would love a digital copy of my books so I can read them anywhere and anytime.

  10. billy

    @Ryan-Thanks for the kind words!
    @Andy-I’m waiting for Marvel World: The Theme Park, to open anyday. lol
    @Matt-Thanks for the response! I definitely agree about the utilization of the characters for movies, theme parks, etc.

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