An aspiring creator sent me this direct message on LinkedIn in the wake of the Marvel SXSW panel:
Q: I just read that DC and Marvel might be shutting down their comic book lines and cease all publications. In your opinion, what does that mean for the indie folks? Is it worth doing comics?
The rumor wasn't surprising. Variations on the same story pop up on the internet from time to time as part of the persistent “comics are doomed” rumor.
The denial from Joe Quesada isn't surprising. Neither is the refusal of some websites to accept that denial. Websites need traffic, after all.
The creator's first question also made sense to me. When Waldenbooks disappeared, authors wonder how the book market would change. The same thing happened to people in the music industry when major record stores like Tower and Virgin shut down.
The analogy between Marvel and independent creators isn’t the same as the relationship of authors and musicians to their former distribution outlets, but the broad idea is similar. Seismic changes in any entertainment industry will have a ripple effect on everyone from the biggest players to the struggling artist.
But it was the second question that threw me off. It’s grounded in the idea that The Big Two are synonymous with the comic book industry. So if one of them (or both of them) stop publishing comics, then independent comics aren’t worth publishing. As if the creativity, inspiration and passion of thousands of creators might become irrelevant if new issues of Spider-Man and X-Men stopped coming out.
Yes, the Big Two account for the vast majority of monthly sales in America. Outside of the comic book business, their characters and stories define what a comic book is. If they stopped publishing, distributors like Diamond and retailers in the direct market would have to rapidly adjust if they were going to survive.
But that has nothing to do with independent comics as a worthwhile endeavor.
This was my response to the young man. Please let me know if you agree:
A: I highly doubt Marvel is shutting down it's publishing business, but if you want to publish your own comics, then it doesn't matter if Marvel shuts down or not.
You'll still have stories to tell. There will still be people who want to read the type of story you're telling. There will still be ways to get your story to your readers and get paid for it.
If Marvel stops publishing, the industry will go through a major change, but you should keep publishing your comics either way.
If you have questions about the business or legal aspects of your comic book publishing and you'd like a free consultation, please contact me and we can set something up that fits in with your schedule.
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