The Death of Comic Books

The world is alight with Marvel movies. Every year their box office breaks records. Marvel’s movie department has created a product that dominates the market. However, their comic book departments sales within this time has gone through a catastrophic collapse.

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Marvel was once king of the Comic industry. They had all the best-selling titles and their story first approach resonated with the readers more than any other brand. There was a shift though, with the success of the movies the light of publicity shone on the comics. This made the editors change their strategy from the story first model to an activist’s model.

To facilitate the current climate this activist model had political agendas. The audience who had become accustomed to beautifully written and intricate stories, now were given stories where the agenda was the most important. This agenda took over dialogue and changed characters. The characters that had spent fifty or more years in the spotlight where now cast aside. Of the ten characters who have had marvel solo movies, six where changed irreparably. 

Of all of these changes, very few grew the ire of the fans as much as ‘Thor’. The character had the title of God of Thunder and the name of Thor Odinsson. Something the fans and writers had believed since its first publication in 1966. This all changed though under the writing of Jason Aaron. Thor was unceremoniously stripped of his powers and it was given to his ex-girlfriend. A story arc that would not usually cause problems, However, the fans were told that Thor’s name wasn’t Thor, he was stripped of all identity and it was given to a minor character; all this for the sake trying to appeal to ideologues. The fans who had raised the Marvel character of Thor up to superstardom, where not considered instead bringing in new fans was deemed more important.

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These where six of the highest selling and high-profile characters this company had. All six were either killed off or unceremoniously pushed aside. Instead the books had changed adding characters that fitted with this political agenda. As society changes the audience changes, however, when a media organisation changes with the intention of changing society it becomes little more than propaganda. This was picked up by many of the readers and in their droves they abandoned comic books. 

Marvels pandering to this new possible fanbase, meant that many fans turned to DC comics; ending Marvel’s dominance in comic book sales. The market, however, fell ten percent since 2014. While some fans found new comics when Marvel failed to deliver, on continuing their story first approach and from this many comic book readers lost all interest in comics. 

Marvel is not the first media product to abandon its fanbase. Changing a product in hopes of gaining another fanbase is quite common in the current market. In the last year Star Trek: Discovery was the most recent example. It had changed its formula, in trying to preach a political ideal they alienated a huge section of the fanbase. Many of the fans of Star Trek, turned instead to The Orville, a similar programme that followed the Star Trek model. For Star Trek fans, The Orville became an unofficial Star Trek; while Star Trek discovery was disparagingly called “STD”.

Credit: Netflix

This changing of agenda in order to garner the support of those that will never consume your product, at the expense of existing consumers have not been a financial success. The model that comic book publishers force upon distributors has meant that they bear the brunt for this failed experiment. Every year more and more comic book stores are closing. This is during the same period that superheroes are taking over cinema and becoming cornerstones of our entertainment and culture. These movies are only possible because of the original popularity of the source material; now the comic books that birthed them are dying. 

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