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San Diego Comic-Con to remain virtual and be reduced to three days

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By Kanishka Singh

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*RIP comic shops**. * The ’Comics’ industry abroad died a slow death. ‘Non-payers’ turned to ‘digital’ alternatives so, pulp & paper comics began to die.  

Monopolized distribution continued their ‘take it leave it’ business model, choking comic sellers into accepting and shelving books that don’t sell. There is a ‘no return policy’ on unsold books.  

This glut occurred because publishers began pushing the trending, political cultures onto established characters and into storylines that don’t sell subscriptions.  This trend has overtaken all entertainment & media. 

Traditional collectors and, (thankfully) ‘speculators’ are mostly gone. Current readers who enjoy the look and feel of books have moved on to ‘crowd-funded, independently published with direct-to-customer distribution‘ comics, benefitting the creators and not the big corporations.

The ‘Manga’ industry thrives in Japan and has continued, growing interest abroad. Although there are many ‘tropes’, there is less ‘neo-political’ agenda or, it’s presented as light-hearted, alternative views of cultural themes.

Still, individual manga artists struggle daily to survive on low pay. The bulk of profit goes only to publishers until a small percentage of creators can find some notoriety and popularity. It may be best for some of these artists to pursue their own fortunes independently before becoming subjected to an ungrateful lifetime of servitude.

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One of these days, I'm going to make it there.

‘Non-payers’ turned to ‘digital’ alternatives so, pulp & paper comics began to die.

Comics/sequential art/graphic novels just don't work well in the online format. Especially on the mobile phone.

This glut occurred because publishers began pushing the trending, political cultures onto established characters and into storylines that don’t sell subscriptions.

Nah, more to do with the endless greed that permeated the genre in the 90s. Where publishers would put out a new title, just so duped collectors could pick up 6 copies and the only difference being the "collectors" cover.

Character reboots were what made comics pick up again after the doldrums of the early 80s. Alan Moore famously changed Swamp Thing from a shambling vegetable horror story of the month, to a gothic tale of corporate greed, elemental eco warriors and battles in the firmament. It also introduced John Constantine, who went on to have his own successful title (Hellblazer) who fought demons, cults and personal ghosts and hung out with new age travellers in his spare time.

Comics have always had politics never lurking far from the surface - fighting fascism in the 40s Captain America series, or lampooning elections in 70s Howard the Duck. And of course, Black Panther and X-Men tackling bigotry.

Robert Crumb, Harvey Pekar and of course, the creators of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers were not adverse to taking the michael out of political landscapes , either. Although they would be seen as boomer icons now and not all the output would sit comfortably with today's outlook.

Dave Sim delved deep into politics but his outlook became more and more right wing. A bit like Frank Miller's output, esp post 9/11.

Comics don't sell as well because they're so darn expensive and as I said, online is not the right place for them.

And some people move on, politically and what they want to consume.

The greatest "political" comic?

Subjective, but I'd say Art Spiegelman's Maus.

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