Friday, February 16, 2007

Phil Foglio - Cutting Out The Middleman - or maybe just evolving the medium? has a fascinating report about Phil Foglio and his decision to take Girl Genius to online publication only.
Or rather it's Christopher Butcher of the Beguiling - Canada's best comic shop - talking about the loss of comic sales in his store.

Now, you'd expect a retailer to bemoan the fact that Foglio is depriving him of sales by stopping the comic and putting it out for free online. But Butcher isn't your usual retailer. Butcher is a new breed. And it seems we share the same views on this subject.

Essentially, Butcher and I agree that if Foglio can save himself $20k on comic production yet still put out the collections it's a very good thing for him and comic retailing. We all win. Foglio stays profitable and produces more product, Retailers still sell his collections and fans and customers still get to buy what they want.

The death of the comic as a floppy pamphlet seems not that far away when you hear stories like this. And I don't think that's such a bad thing. I think it's merely the medium evolving into it's proper grown up form. I'm sure comics will be around in some form or other for many years, but the Graphic Novel is fast becoming the dominant form of the medium now and in years to come may well be the only form of the medium.

Certainly when I look at my own reading and buying habits comics really don't come into it at all. I'll always wait for collections before reading something I'm looking forward to and have done for many years. And my years at Nostalgia & Comics only serve to back this idea up. In the last decade we've seen the explosion in Graphic Novels from a small section of the shop to it's current position where Graphic Novels take up far more room than the comics and if we had the space we'd probably devote even more area to them.
In terms of sales, Graphic Novels make up 25% of total volume at the store, a position unthinkable even 5 years ago and a figure that is rising year on year.

So the comic may be dying. And we'll mourn it's passing I'm sure.
But maybe we should also look to the future and see this time as a very important step in the evolution of the medium that will ensure Comics as an artform, as a medium of creativity, will be around for many years to come.

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