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The Comic Book Direct Market Has Outlived Its Usefulness



The Direct Market Needs An Alternative


DC Comics have done a good job at getting the word out about their NEW 52 relaunch and subsequently have gotten more people interested in comic books. Hopefully this can translate not only into long term readers for them, but can increase the general readership across the entire industry.

But there is one hurdle that I think the industry should be poised to overcome. That hurdle, the Direct Market, can often stifle as many sales as it creates.

If you want to buy a comic book right now, you have to go to a comic book shop to find one. This might be fine if you live in a major metropolitan area, but if you’re not, you might have to travel quite a distance to find one. You have to go out of your way with the sole purpose of buying comics. This defeats the idea of casual sales or impulse buys.comicrack50s-754227

When I bought my first comic book, I did so at a small local bookstore. I don’t think the place was bigger than 400 sq. feet. They had their comics up front by the register on wire racks and a spinner rack by the door.  I would sometimes spend a long while looking through them when I went there to buy actual books. The condition didn’t matter to me, I was new to comics – all that mattered was if it looked like I would like it or it had a cool cover.

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Is the DC Universe Relaunch a Success?

Justice League

Justice League #1 was launched at 12:00am on Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 and by the middle of the day, some retailers were announcing that they had sold through on all their ordered copies. According to #comicmarket on Twitter, some larger comics stores were getting calls from other owners asking if they had any extra stock on hand to sell them.


Printers Working Overtime

Justice League #1 2nd printActing quickly on the news of the sellouts of Justice League #1, DC Comics announced that they were going back to press for a second printing. Very shortly after the announcement by Diamond Distribution that they were taking orders for the second printing, Diamond claimed that they had sold out of the second printing. All retail orders were placed on “backorder” status. This fueled speculation that DC had already planned to do a second printing with a finite print run. The demand by retailers, and presumably readers, has forced DC to announce that a third printing is in the works.

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Awesome Indie Comic Book Tattoos

We’ve been showcasing some cool comic book tattoos over the last several months on Comic Book Critic, but they’ve mostly been standard superhero fare. This time we’re featuring more obscure and indie comics tattoos instead.

So, for your viewing pleasure, we’ve put together a gallery of some really cool ones. Enjoy! 

Awesome Indie Comic Book Tattoos 

Adrian Tomine


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Bill Sienkiewicz Cover and Art Gallery

Bill Sienkiewicz - photo by Luigi Novi

Bill Sienkiewicz is one of those artists that polarizes comic book fans – You either love his art or you hate it. Much like Frank Miller, Sienkiewicz’s early artwork was influenced by Neal Adams, but eventually took on a style of it’s own.

His early Moon Knight issues, especially the cover to issue one, show how close his art style compared to Adams. Once established in the industry, Sienkiewicz really let loose on his artwork. Later issues of his run on Moon Knight show glimpses of what he would wind up doing on The New Mutants several years later. In 1984 – 1985, Sienkiewicz’s run on the New Mutants, along with writer Chris Claremont, was not only artistically innovative, it was a seminal moment for the title.

Between 1986 and 1990, Sienkiewicz worked with highly talented writers on a number of projects: Frank Miller on Elektra: Assassin mini-series and Daredevil: Love and War GN, Andrew Helfer on The Shadow, and Alan Moore on Big Numbers and Brought to Light GN among others. Aside from the previous works, He’s also contributed to numerous Marvel and DC books including The Question, Batman, The Fantastic Four, Stray Toasters, and The Black Widow.

Whether you love or hate his art style, Bill Sienkiewicz is certainly an innovator in his field. That’s exactly what comics need from time to time!

Bill Sienkiewicz photo by Luigi Novi





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Cosplay Gone Wrong

Comic Book Critic has shown you some really good cosplay from recent comic conventions, from SDCC to SpringCon to C2E2. We’ve collected the women and babes of cosplay for our loyal readers. But we haven’t put together the bad part of cosplay… until now.

We scoured Google images to bring you some truly bad cosplayers and costumes. Sometimes it’s the costume, sometimes it’s the cosplayer, oftentimes it’s the magical combination of both that just make you pause and wonder if what you saw was real.


WARNING: Comic Book Critic is not responsible for any traumatic experiences that may arise with the viewing of the following images! 




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DC’s New 52 Ad Campaign – A Squandered Opportunity

‘The New 52' commercial
DC Comics
debuted their 30-second commercial that will be used in movie theaters and on television to promote their DC Universe ‘The New 52’ relaunch in September. As part of the promotion in theaters, DC will offer a “75% special event co-op reimbursement” for retailers who want to advertise their store on an “end card” that includes their logo, address, and a message. The five-week program will run from August 31st to September 30th.

Here is the 30-second trailer:

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Marvel: “The Direct Market is still our #1 source” or is it?

seasononeSpiderManiFanboy recently ran an interview with Tom Brevoort, Executive Editor and Senior Vice President of Publishing, and David Gabriel, Senior Vice President of Sales, about Marvel: Season One; a series of original Graphic Novels that feature The Fantastic Four, Daredevil, The X-Men, and Spider-Man.

The interview included a very interesting answer from David Gabriel:

iF: With the recent demise of Borders, there’s a bit of fear around the book store market. Assuming these books are being positioned outside of the Direct Market, how do you feel about introducing this type of book to the book store market as it exists now?

DG: I understand why you might make that assumption, but I want to be clear that the direct market is still our #1 source for getting this type of material out to all consumers. It’s up to us and our retail partners to work on methods of driving new faces into those stores. This content in every Season One story is what we believe is perfect for bringing new readers into both comics and comic stores.

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Walt Simonson – Cover and Art Gallery

Walt SimonsonWalter Simonson is an iconic artist in the realm of comic books. He has that distinctive style, that once simonson_walt-sigyou see it, you will never forget it. Those of you familiar with Walt will know his unique brontosaurus-like signature that he places on the covers he draws.

Simonson has worked for several publishers including Marvel and DC where he was most famous for his run on Thor, Fantastic Four, and Orion. While his early work in Detective Comics with Archie Goodwin garnered a few awards, his notoriety didn’t take off until his work on Thor in the mid-1980’s. Walt Simonson’s Thor run which was just recently collected in Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus Hardcover is some of the finest storytelling in all of comics. The epic Ragnarok and Surtur War stories, Thor Frog, and Beta Ray Bill; they all stand the test of time!

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Jim Steranko Marvel Covers and Art Gallery

SterankoFeb09ComicConByK72ndstJim Steranko was one of the great comic book “Pop” artists that enjoyed notoriety in the late 1960’s. Although he worked in the industry for a relatively short time, his impact on the style and design at the time was enormous.

Steranko combined both a dynamic and surreal style that was rather unique and instantly identifiable.  His influence can still be seen today in artists like Paul Gulacy and many others.

He is clearly one of the great influencers of modern comics.

Here are just some of the fantastic covers and pages he created during his brief tenure at Marvel Comics. If you know who Steranko is, this will bring back fond memories. To those who have never heard of him, now is the time to discover some of his great work!

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Comic Books – Is Digital the Future of a Niche Market?

New 52

DC Comics’ newest  marketing strategy to energize their sales and possibly make them the top comics publisher not only includes a relaunching of their Universe, but a strong push into digital distribution as well. Their day-and-date publishing – releasing digital copies of print books on the same day of release – is their current foray into digital distribution. While a few other publishers currently do day-and-date digital, their main competitor, Marvel Comics, delays their digital copies by at least 9 months in deference to comic book retailers who had feared that this policy would hurt their print sales. 

With this new tactic, DC hopes to increase their previously waning market share and capture a market that is beginning to grow since the introduction of the iPad and other tablet devices. They are hoping that the convenience of purchasing books digitally at the same time as print releases, will put them at the forefront of the digital market.

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