Early on in the days of SKTCHD 1.0, I took a deep dive look into a question that had been vexing me for some time: were there too many comics being published in the direct market? Within that article, I explored the limited data we had available to us at that time – the volume of releases per publisher and overall is only readily available to us going back to July of 2013, and this article published in June of 2015 – and consulted with industry pundits and comic shops to try and answer that question. Eventually, I decided that no, there were not too many comics, and perhaps that very idea was an impossibility.
Here’s where I say something I probably shouldn’t: I was wrong.
In the years since, it has become apparent that the volume of comics being released were problematic, as they can put comic shops in a bind, can make it more difficult for individual titles to survive, 2, and can create diminishing returns on a per title basis. We’ve even seen publishers themselves admit that this had become a problem, as houses like BOOM! Studios and even DC Comics have publicly revealed reductions of their publishing lines.
In the almost four years that have passed, a lot has changed in terms of recognition of the problem, to the point I’d say it’s generally agreed upon that the single issue side of the direct market is overproducing. That idea is set. There are too many comics being produced, and publishers have at least said that they’re adjusting accordingly.
Over that time, though, we’ve also been able to gather a whole lot more data in terms of the volume of comics being produced, who is producing them, and what impact that’s having. And naturally, with more data comes more questions. Those are what I want to address today. Let’s look at some of that data and dig into questions that stem from that core idea of “there are too many comics,” looking at how many comics are actually being produced, how that has shifted, how publishers are reacting, and how that could be impacting the market on a per release basis, all of which are framed against a list of key questions.