"Not with a bang, but a whimper."
I don't know what I'm going to do.
The writing isn't going anywhere. And I'm thinking I never should have tried comics in the first place.
Earlier this year, just before C2E2 I think, a friend of mine who is scary accurate at predicting the comic book industry told me that, in two years, the comic book industry will be gone. I didn't doubt her, she knows her stuff, and any time I've gambled on her brain, I've come out a winner. I had been thinking it would take five years, but she said two. So that became my yardstick. Part of me held out hope that things wouldn't fall apart so fast, but if she said it, I had to believe her.
The tires on the bandwagon have been getting bald, and now we have our first blowout. Hastings is a chain of pop culture stores around the US. And last year, they decided to start carrying comics in their stores. This was done on the theory that people outside of regular comic book readers were discovering the medium thanks to the movies and such, and this would be a great way to make money.
This week, Hastings filed for bankruptcy. They owe Diamond $1.6 mil.
I know she said two years, but it's still kind of surprising when it smacks you in the face like that.
Diamond has been circling bankruptcy several times now. Their fortunes got turned around thanks to sales of The Walking Dead trades to bookstores like Barnes And Noble (which is surprising, given Diamond's business model. Given their policy of charging for damn near anything other than a quick solicitation blurb in Previews, I can't understand how they don't make money hand over fist). And now, Hastings is in jake to them for $1.6. I don't know how or even if Diamond will recover from this.
They won't get any help from Marvel. They are owned by Disney now, and Disney has not been happy with Steve Geppi after he bought Gladstone. No one can really help normally -- book sales are still down from last year. Not only that, but one of the evergreens, Watchmen, is no longer selling like it used to, thanks to the movie. DC's decision to bring back the classic DCU but incorporate Watchmen into it? It has the audience that's already here intrigued, but it's not bringing in anyone new. Meanwhile, Marvel's Secret Wars II killed off a lot of audience habits, and sales of titles like Spider-Man are still at historic lows.
Bottom line: if Diamond does make up the money, it's going to take a long long time. Diamond may try to flex its muscle and try to make publishers print things with higher profit margins like they did around 2008 or 2009. But Marvel and DC didn't go for it then, and seeing Diamond in trouble will make them not go for it now. Remember, they are both part of larger entertainment entitiies, each of which has their own magazine publishing and distribution system. Diamond goes down, they just move over to that. For a while, until the numbers reach a point where it's not worth making the comics. Then they'll shrug, say it's not smart business, and pull the plug.
I thought the trigger would be stores failing, but I thought that would come from fans bailing. It looks like it will come from Diamond failing first.
I've spent 25 years trying to get into the comic book field.
I thiink I've wasted my time.