Thank you all for both having this discussion and then resurrecting it, I missed it the first times around (in both senses). The information here has been amazing. I was "there" (as a retailer) for the whole Heroes World debacle, but was only a reader for all the earlier stuff.
Jim's original question was, "Now, The question is: now that the big publishers have destroyed the comics retailing trade and the newsstand distribution business has withered away, what could be the future means of distributing comics to potential readers. That is, real, solid, printed bundles of paper, rather than virtual Internet comics."
While there has been some wonderful discussion of the history, something desperately needed, there was very little attention paid to Jim's actual question (aside from a bit by Chris J.). There are some very learned & experienced folks on this discussion, including the Jims, Rory, Milton, Gary, and a few others who I cannot recall at 4:30am, and I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
My question, boiled from Jim's is this: What things do you believe need to be done to maintain graphic storytelling as a viable hobby and/or art form?
And here is the point of my reiterating this. Something has obviously got to be done, at least I'm guessing that we all agree on that. It seems obvious to me that doing things the same just ain't working, as is evidenced by the monthly sales graphs in C&GR. It is very hard for me to formulate what I am trying to say here, so bear with me as I wiggle this out of my befuddled skull.
1) Go off the assumption that "Something has to be done."
2) That means that someone, somewhere has to decide what needs to be done, even if that someone is a bunch of different someones all deciding something different.
3) Then someone has to execute it.
So, if an experienced, wise, and knowledgeable group of advisors (such as yourselves, for example) could come to a consensus on what needs to be done to continue the form, then that would give everyone a starting point. As industry professionals and fans, we could take that and work to make it happen.
Okay, that still seems a bit hazy, so let me make an example. Let's say, our theoretical group of advisors agrees that expanding the TPB/GN format would be a "very good thing" (this is *just* an example). Then I, as a show organizer could include retail seminars like "Selling More GNs", or creator/publisher seminars like "Marketing Your OGN" in my shows knowing that these are at least decently likely to be actually helping the business. Or, Johnny the Fan could start shifting his purchases away from the periodicals and more towards the GNs to encourage retailers to order more and publishers to produce more. Or, Jane the retailer could start experimenting more with GNs, knowing that this course of action was recommended by a decent number of intelligent and experienced people.
Of course, I realize that you all in no way want to be "responsible" for deciding what will save the industry, but, for God's sake, SOMEONE has to do it. And, if we added just a few more to the mix (Hibbs & Costa spring to mind) then I really cannot think of a better group to have some idea of what to do. The posts on this discussion show that, if nothing else. And it sure as hell has been shown that the ones making the decisions now don't know what they are doing, so you couldn't do worse than them.
_I_ certainly don't know what would be the best thing to do. And I'm sure there are plenty of other people who are in the same boat I am. We *want* to help, but we are not sure what is the best thing to do. Of course, we all have our own opinions, but a lot of those are born out of ignorance and our own desires. Sure, I'd love to see us go to an anthology magazine and GN format, but is that the best way to go or just the way I like my purchases? To have some leadership from a coalition of experienced professionals would be so helpful. Maybe even put it together in printed form to give it some solidity. A treatise on what any given person could do to help maintain and grow the form given their own position: fan, creator, retailer, publisher, distributor, etc. It would not even have to be very long, just a few key action items for each category to give them some guidance.
I realize that these types of discussions have railed long and hard on these boards and others for quite a while now, but heck, you brought it back up Jim, so don't blame me. But, as far as I know, those old discussions never ended with anything particularly productive, except to give everyone a chance to vent. What I am talking about here is the attempt to actually come up with an Action List. Something real and solid with recommended courses of action.
Okay, enough rambling. Wail away.
Festival Producer - UncommonCon, www.uncommoncon.com
Business Coach - Uncommon Solutions
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