Friday, March 29, 2002

Join the Comics Club II
Along the same lines of Antony Johnston's recent essay on Ninth Art, Lindsay Duff analyzes some of the comics industry's efforts to attract new readers -- including the upcoming Free Comic Book Day. Lindsay states that instead of trying to lure comic-book newcomers into comic shops -- decidedly unfriendly and arcane places for people not already comfortable in them -- we need to address other aspects of comic retail and fandom. Things like:

  • Educating people about the comics form and subtle variations within genres
  • Redesigning high-profile comics conventions so they're more friendly to newcomers (parallel to the argument about comic shops) so we can take advantage of their place in the public eye
  • Educating people about comics that are actually worth reading, not just the mainstream dreck you can find everywhere
  • Avoiding marketing gimmicks such as variant covers that fuel speculative comics buying patterns and undermine the industry
  • Designing an ongoing, concerted outreach effort, not just offering free comics the day after the Spider-Man movie debuts

    All good points, but I don't think Lindsay goes far enough. We need to stop thinking about bringing people who don't read comic to comics and into comic shops -- and instead think about creating comics that can find a home outside of direct sales outlets. Let's get comics into libraries. Let's get comics into schools. Let's get comics into book stores. This isn't about comic shops. It's about making good comics.
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