Why people should buy the comics they like

by | May 19, 2009 | Commentary | 6 comments

The big news in the comics corner of the Internet today seems to be the cancellation of Captain Britain and MI-13. However, it might seem to be a strange thing for me to blog about (and it wasn’t what I had planned) since it doesn’t relate in any direct way to Daredevil. But it does underscore the importance of fans voting with their wallets to keep the books they like on the shelves. Of course, in this case, there was a lot of fan support for the book. Critics kept praising it, and I’ve never seen anyone speak badly of it, but for some reason the book failed to translate apparent quality into hard sales.

Daredevil sells more than twice as many copies as Captain Britain did, but in one sense they do have something in common. I know that not everyone has loved Brubaker’s time at the helm, but it’s obvious that the book hasn’t been selling as well as the critical acclaim would suggest. Why is this? Why do stories like Secret Invasion, with all their problems, do so much better than stories most critics would regard as better crafted and more innovative?

I obviously don’t have the answer, but it does show that we can’t take good stories for granted. In short, if you like something, buy it. And tell your friends about it. It may not be enough, but it’s a good start. It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, fans of Captain Britain can do to bring the book back from the dead in some form. I’ve only recently been in a position to try out new books on a whim, and never got the chance to check out Captain Britain, but I’m as curious as ever to at least give the trades a try. If there’s quality to be had, I’m game.


  1. euthanatos

    I think for people in places with easy access to comics, like the U.S., Canada and the U.K, there is absolutely no reason not to buy the comics they like. They aren’t expensive and are a lot better to read on paper than on a computer screen. I don’t think anyone would argue with that. The problem lies with people that are outside those countries, frequently getting comics at a much more expensive price, and with limited options. However, I’m pretty sure comics companies do NOT take non-English speaking countries into account, precisely because revenue from those places are so low. Which is a shame, really.

  2. Riff

    Interesting thoughts. I felt compelled to make my own comment on my blog 🙂

    Cheers for now

  3. Ryan K Lindsay

    I think the disparity is between what is bought, and in what numbers, what is said by critics and then what is said by fanboys.

    Fanboys are always vocal, but the loud mouthpiece of internet fanboydom does not represent all fanboys. Then we have the critics who usually have taste, but they rarely sway a majority into buying. And finally, you have the sales numbers each month.

    Now, just because a loud minority of Fanboys hate the cross overs doesn’t mean they don’t sell well. They sell well because they usually involve a lot of characters and so a broader range of buyers is lured in. The critics will say their piece, but like critics with anything, most people still want to know for themselves. You could have told me the Wolverine flick left a dish water taste in your mouth and I still would have had to go and find out.

    What it comes down to is, many comic buyer are a little worried to try something new. They don’t like to step outside their boundaries, but then they also stick with the one character that they like and then piss and moan when the writing goes bad, or they’re in a terrible cross over. Buyers should speak with their wallets, but they rarely do. They speak with their collections, and too many buyers want uninterrupted runs.

    The critics can say whatever they like about Brubaker’s run on DD, in the end in won’t sway many to buy or not. Fanboys make up their own mind, they just need to start thinking about why they make their choices.

    It’s sad, but it is also not everybody. There are a few people out there4 fighting the good fight.

  4. Christine

    @euthanatos: I’m aware of the problems that people outside the US have with having access to comics since I live in Sweden myself. It was only recently that I found a comic book store no less than three blocks away from work where I could order comics and get them delivered the day after they hit the stands in the US (and on rare occasions, the same day or even the day before). I still can’t go anywhere and actually browse current issues though as my store, for obvious business reasons, only orders extra copies of the very highest selling US comics. Everything else has to be pre-ordered. In the past, I’ve had to subscribe directly from Marvel for my Daredevil needs and that took an extra three weeks usually. As a general rule, I’m a big believer in funding and in other ways supporting stuff I like and want to see more of. When it comes to Daredevil, I think I pay about three times for everything since I want the single issues, the trades AND anything else in collected form. Between that and this blog, I don’t think I would ever let the book tank without a serious fight.

    @Riff: LOL I’m not sure I managed to post anything terribly interesting, but I was surprisingly saddened by this news and wanted to write at least something about it.

    @Ryan: I think you’re right. What worries me about this generally would be the case where the powers that be at Marvel (or whatever other entertainment powerhouse you could think of) would decide that something I like, i.e. Daredevil, needs to change in a direction that would make it more palatable to the apparent majority of readers who are clearly after something else entirely. I understand that books need to make a profit, but I would hate to see only the comics versions of Britney Spears on the shelves. The industry needs cool little underground punk bands as well.

  5. lilacsigil

    I don’t live in the US, nor do I live near a comic store, and I still buy the comics I like. Captain Britain and MI:13 was one of the remaining three Marvel titles.

    Unfortunately, the comics market as a show is shrinking and shrinking, because major comics are trying to sell those big fanboy titles – and almost nothing else. Initiatives like Zuda are terrific, but the self-referential nature of superheroes comics is bringing a slow death.

  6. Robert

    As someone brought up in the UK, I followed Captain Britain from the early(ish) Alan Moore tales back in the 80s and, on this basis, picked up Paul Cornell’s title, reading the first seven issues. I have to say that I didn’t really enjoy it.

    There were some nice ideas about magic and also it was neat that they brought in British PM Gordon Brown and really tried to connect the heroes to the political set up. And they actually introduced a very interesting muslim character. But I found it very slight in terms of reading, which is one of my bugbears about a lot of modern comic books – that they take less than 10 minutes to read. I seriously struggle to enjoy something as disposal as this.

    Cornell’s a good writer – he wrote one of the better Doctor Who episodes in season three of the new run – but I’m actually not surprised this has been cancelled. I am slightly surprised that the critics thought it was good, for what it’s worth. And I would also argue that Secret Invasion, for all its cynicism in terms of tie-ins etc., was a more enjoyable and intriguing read than this title. Though that of course is just my personal opinion.


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