A world without Marvel or DC Comics. It’s something many of us can’t imagine. But it’s something that might possibly become a reality sooner rather than later.
In August the comic book industry posted the worst sales numbers in the history of the medium. Many books like X-men and Spider-Man which posted 500,000 sales in the late 1980s are now barely selling 50,000 units. Many iconic characters like Superman who sold five to six million comics in the 1950s are barely selling 40,000 comics.
Worse, comic shops aren’t ordering comics. Due to the poor sales of shoehorned SJW “diversity” characters and events like Secret Empire at Marvel, and the seven-year long debacle at DC’s rebooted New52, Convergence, and Rebirth, many comic shop owners aren’t ordering as many titles as they used to. And due to the fact that comics are non-returnable, comic shop owners are stuck with so many unsold back issues that some shops are being forced to close.
Are these the last days of Comic books at the Big Two? It’s looking like it.
While there are many comic fans out there, they don’t see a reason to buy comic books. Thanks to two decades of mismanagement at Marvel and DC’s editorial departments, both Marvel and DC have struggled to pull a profit since the 1990s collapse. After two decades of trying to bring readers back to the medium with numerous failed campaigns like revamps and reboots there comes a point where a business like Marvel and DC just can’t afford to keep producing a product that customers aren’t buying.
The parent companies of DC and Marvel, Warner Brothers and Disney may make billions of dollars off licensing and merchandising the catalog of popular superhero characters. However, the median age for a comic book reader is 40 years old. At that median age, corporations discontinue products. Why? Because there’s no place for the customer to go but the grave.
And looking at the sales of print comics in August 2017, the audience for print comics has one foot on a banana peel and the other in a casket. With the comic book industry unable to find a way to sell comics to younger readers, it’s looking more and more like we’re going to be living in a world without Marvel Comics or DC Comics sooner rather than later.
It’s hard to imagine a world without the superheroes generations grew up with. But we’re getting there.
I grew up with Marvel and DC comic books. They were how I learned to read when I was 4. And they got me through a lot of hard times in Junior High, High School, and College. I used to look forward to buying them on Fridays in High school from a newsstand in Times Square and Wednesdays on Fordham Road in The Bronx when I was in college. It saddens me to think of a world without Marvel and DC comic books. They were the place so many kids like myself who felt out of place with the rest of the world could find someone we could look up to. And someplace where we felt like we belonged.
Yeah, it was an imaginary place. But that escape from the harsh reality of broken homes, poverty, crime, and drugs helped many kids like myself get through a rough day and gave them friends who could help them get through the hard times. For some, they gave them something to aspire to when they grew up.
Yeah, there are a bunch of superhero movies out there today. But what happens when the Superhero movie craze is over? As publishers, Marvel and DC aren’t in a place to sustain comics anymore. Nor are any of the indies. The generation after this could be the first in a century to grow up without comic books. And their world will be a sadder place without them.