[Groop]'nother question for M.E.

RABuswell@dstsystems.com RABuswell@dstsystems.com
Wed, 4 Oct 2000 16:08:49 -0500


I have been rebuilding my collection of Warren magazines, and it's
interesting that in the early to mid-70's Joe Brancatelli had a column that
foretold the decline of comics.  He blamed not only the rising cost of
paper, but also the saturation of the market, which put too many comics on
the market that competed with their own brands.

For example - (at the time) three flavors of Spiderman from Marvel.  Each
comic costs X amount to produce, but it does not produce Y amount in sales.
Expenses were 3X, while income was only 1.5Y due to diminishing returns.
To cover the cost of these additional comics, the price must rise to pay
for production of so many titles.  I don't have the article in front of me
to quote it accurately, so I won't even try.

I go to comic stores now, and there are so many to choose from, it's hard
to decide what I should spend my hard-earned dollars on.  I stopped buying
Spiderman (my favorite super-hero type character) because I couldn't decide
on which version of Spiderman I should follow, and the cross-posting of
characters from one series to another was just too overwhelming and

I have to be much more discriminating in my comic purchases, and I have
ceased to be much of a collector because of the enormous expense and
diluted choices.  Groo has always been on my high priority "must-buy" list,
partly because it has always been consistent in its quality, and because it
has not spawned spin-offs which become damned difficult to keep track of.

My solution to the unemployed comic creators - don't cater to the
collectibles crowd.  Use the cheapest, shoddiest newsprint you can find.
Get advertisers of junk toys back in the magazines to help with production
costs.  Focus on creating a few quality-content comics and give them
maximum exposure on the dealer racks, rather than crowding them out with
too many titles and spin-off series.

If you provide a quality product, the people will buy.  If you mass-market
that quality, you can lower the individual cost of each comic, and increase
the profits.  Henry Ford knew that as well.

I didn't always agree with Joe Brancatelli's articles, but I saw the logic
in what he was saying, and with 20-20 hindsight, I can see that he was
right, at least in part.  On an interesting note, in that same article he
mentioned you, Mark, in quite glowing terms.  You were slated to be
editor-in-chief for a job that apparently fell through.  Brancatelli was
pretty sparing with his praise, and it was fun to see that he used praise
on one of my favorite people.

Anyway, I'll go back to lurking on the Groop now.
Richard Buswell

Mark Evanier <mark@evanier.com> on 10/04/2000 03:19:50 PM
What that meant was that many folks in the comic book business are
starving these days.  All the companies are either downsizing or going
out of business and there is massive unemployment.  You'd be amazed
how many talented folks have called me recently, asking if I knew of
any work.  Inkers have it worst of all because their skills are less
easily transferred to other fields.