Thought Balloon: There’s A Hole In The Bucket

Posted: May 13, 2010 by silvertomatoproductions in Comics Editorials, Comics News, Tomato Surprise

Hey, um,  tons of new readers!

Tomato here, with a lot of explaining to do. As promised, today, I’m going to try to explain why our previous blog, The Comic Book Panel, was shut down, explain what this blog is, and try to amend these thought into a bigger point about the comic book industry. Let’s delve into this mess below the cut!

The Comic Book Panel was a flash in the pan. As chance as the fateful night on Crime Alley, or a thunderbolt causing a cop to crash into a cornucopia of chemicals, The Comic Book Panel literally sprang up overnight. The plan was for us all to just hang out and discuss comics, perhaps with a more critical and thoughtful eye. The problem, however, was where we were GETTING the comics, a veritable genie-in-the-bottle stroke of luck. It was a website called HTML Comics, a “library” of hundreds upon hundreds of comics, both classic and current,  available for “free” online. The site had been running sine 2008, despite being approached multiple times by DC and Marvel’s lawyers, no doubt with freshly sharpened machetes and shredded Rhapsody T-shirts. As such, we Comic Book Panelists were as surprised as anyone else when the base of our project fell out from under us without any warning. The site was shut down a few weeks ago, leaving no comics there to read and discuss. We weren’t, however, going to leave this idea dead in the water. Regardless of our current situation, we still loved animation and comics.

So, slowly, we regrouped, we recruited, we revisioned, and we revived. You’re looking at the phoenix of our effort.

But, somehow, there was something that still bugged me about the whole thing, and it wasn’t just the fact that our idea went up in flames. It was the fact that I wasn’t alone. Y’see, there’s a hole in the bucket of the comic industry, and it’s at least 1.6 million people wide. The hole that is comics distribution.

Pop quiz: in order to buy a toaster, where do you go? I’ll accept Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, you name it, but there’s a bigger point to this:  you don’t go to a toaster store in order to buy a toaster. Specific products, such as toasters, and available in general areas, right? Now, look at comics.  I’ve searched desperately in my area to find a comic store, a specialty shop, ANYWHERE that I can buy comics. I wouldn’t have used HTML Comics if I had any luck in that quest. And I know plenty of other people, at least five, with the same tale to tell. There are no comic stores near them, and no digital comics applications for the IPad or IPhone, at least from DC. What are the 1.6 million people without a comic store within spitting distance supposed to do? A rain dance?

DC has said that they’re working on a digital comics app for the IPad. But, they’re losing my money every day that they “work on it.” The point is, there’s a hole in the bucket, with thousands of dollars leaking out, and it sure isn’t getting smaller.



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  1. Sketch says:

    Yes comic book shops can be hard to find. Thankfully many major titles are available on magazine racks and at book stores and unless you’re following comics as they come out getting the graphic novels of several comics is a good way to save money and have a better hard copy of the comics you read. This isn’t always an option but it seems like pretty much everything is getting GN’s these days.

    Even so there are some comics that other than ordering online are nearly impossible to track down even at comic shops and I’m not talking about old rare comics either. I’m talking about new comics from long standing franchises. What’s a guy have to do to find some dang Ninja Turtles these days? And that’s just one example.

    Many would say you ought to just order online anyway and maybe you should but I don’t like to order online when I don’t have to even if it might save me a bit of money. I really prefer to buy in stores.

    The comic industry is in many ways just as mainstream as it ever has been but the comic book itself isn’t nearly as widespread in magazine racks as they used to be. It’s really quite a shame and hopefully that will not always be the case but with digital media on the rise chances are that’s where the big boys are going to focus as opposed to getting more comics in magazine racks and news stands.

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