I wrote a similar column about three years back, but I thought it was worth an update as we near the end of 2018… sort of a “state of the industry” from my perspective before we move into a new year.
First, of course, I need to give my yearly advice to people buying gifts for comics fans, especially late ones (hey, guys, it IS Christmas Eve)! Do NOT try to buy an item you THINK they might want! Chances are, they either have it or don’t want it if they haven’t already bought it. Instead, locate their local comics shop and buy a gift card! They’ll be able to purchase what they want, so they’ll love you for it!
Okay, now we can move on to the topic at hand – This is a great time to be a comics fan! That’s so true on several levels!
As I write this, Aquaman is a big success in box offices around the world. (I know—Really, Aquaman!) There’s also Once Upon a Deadpool taking in fan dollars as well. I don’t know of any official numbers, but 2018 may be the biggest year ever for comics-related movies.
Also, we’re seeing a teaser battle between Marvel and DC continuing in earnest. Captain Marvel trailers are appearing on a regular basis, and fans are swooning just about every time a new one is released! Other Marvel Entertainment movies are coming, including more Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Inhumans, Avengers: Endgame and maybe even another Guardians of the Galaxy.
On the DC side of things, Wonder Woman did extremely well, and there are rumors more featuring that character are on the way. Personally, I’m looking forward to Shazam! in particular. The trailers have me on board and ready!
I could fill this entire column with other comics optioned for films, but let me just mention a few: Heavenly Blues, The Mall, Queen & Country, Wytches, Day Men, Malignant Man, several Mark Millar projects and a personal favorite of mine, Rust.
DC also has a successful line of direct-to-DVD films going, including a follow-up to The Death of Superman.
Turn on the TV many nights and you’ll find comics properties there as well.
DC Universe has been releasing some high-power programming, including Titans and Young Justice. Besides that, DC has Supergirl on Sundays on The CW, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow on Mondays, and The Flash and Black Lightning on Tuesdays. And the recent Elseworlds crossover was pure magic to me! Can’t wait for next year’s Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Marvel has Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returning before long to ABC. We aren’t certain where Daredevil and his fellow Defenders will land, but Netflix has more Punisher and Jessica Jones. And I could never forget The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead on AMC.
In 2019, we’ll likely see Lucifer on Netflix, and hopefully more Krypton on Syfy (I love that show), as well as Letter 44 and Ghost Projekt in the works. And this is only the tip of the iceberg!
I don’t see as many comics-related t-shirts in Walmart or Target these days, which saddens me. Those were often great finds! But we do see DC specials on sale in Walmart, and they seem to be doing well given that they recently released a Halloween and a Christmas edition there.
DC is selling product through their website/store. Marvel’s offerings are in several locations as well as on their website. And you can still find action figures and other toys from both companies in local stores as well, so that hasn’t lessened at all.
You can also buy amazing statues and merchandise through Diamond Select! Some of those things truly amaze me!
While Marvel remains firmly in the top spot, other companies continue to offer more diversity and quality than I can remember enjoying even as a long-time comics fan.
I like to point out that we’re seeing more diversity in lead characters, including women and people of color, than ever before. I think we’re also enjoying a wider variety of storytelling than I’ve noticed previously, including science fiction, horror, adventure, and romance.
It’s a phenomenal time for independent comics, or “Indies,” as well. Many fans with stories to tell are jumping in to write, draw, and distribute their own comics. Personally, I think the industry is better for it!
Digital comics continue to help fans keep up with their collections, but they haven’t replaced paper copies. At least, not yet. I don’t think that will happen anytime soon.
I haven’t heard much about the mail order “crates” that took off a few years back. I suspect that the ones who work best with customers are doing well while others may be falling off. We also saw more comics conventions than ever take place, with nearly every weekend hosting at least one!
This year has been a tumultuous one for the industry, with both of the Big Two companies shaking things up pretty seriously. Now, we have to see what all that means moving forward.
Bi-weekly comics have reduced in number, and rumors continue to abound that we’ll see regular issue prices jump up to $4.99 each on most mainstream comics before long.
Word recently hit that DC is canceling Green Arrow, so we’ll see what that means for their other superheroic titles. I think we’ll likely see more upheaval, with Batman and Spider-Man books continuing to flourish and multiply, with others struggling to gain an audience.
The other comics companies have continued to test the waters with new offerings as well as try to chip away at the superhero market with their new ideas. I continue to wonder if horror and sci-fi will overtake the longjohns comics anytime soon.
Free Comic Book Day continued to grow and represent the industry very well. I just wish Halloween Comic-Fest could reach FCBD levels!
What did you think of 2018? A good year or a bad one for comics? What happened that encourages you about the future of comics? What discouraged you? Be sure to share your thoughts below, and may whatever holidays you celebrate be better than you can imagine!