View Full Version : Batman's Comic Tragedy

M. Sean McManus
08-15-2009, 09:29 AM


Batman's Comic Tragedy
Why don't big screen adaptations boost comic book sales?

By Lisa Schmeiser
Posted Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - 2:24pm
For the comics industry to take advantage of this opportunity, publishers and distributors would need to change. Publishers would have to start aggressively plotting tie-in merchandise released right before a movie's opening weekend. Marvel's already doing this: As Dollar Bin comic podcast co-host Adam Daughhetee noted, they released a brand-new monthly series when Iron Man came out, and reissued paperback collections of classic Iron Man comics for those readers who were suddenly in the grip of Tony Stark mania.

But Dark Horse Comics may be the model for the future. The No. 3 publisher behind DC and Marvel has quietly cultivated a three-year production deal with Universal. Its nonsuperhero comics have led to a string of box-office smashes—Hellboy, Sin City, 300. More crucially, Dark Horse is showing that adaptation flows two ways: It holds the rights to spin off comic book adaptations of movies, including Alien, Star Wars, and The Terminator, and it publishes the comics spun off from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena: Warrior Princess. By adapting fan-friendly movie and TV franchises in another visual medium, Dark Horse is treating fandom like a transferable property, not a complex culture replete with rites and Wednesday-afternoon rituals.

This isn't to say that the future of comics rests in someone writing a 60-panel adaptation of The Bachelorette. Comics publishers will continue to produce original work for two reasons. First, because it's what they went into business to do. And second, it's a cheap way to launch a multimillion-dollar movie franchise. Paying a writer, a penciler, a letterer, and a colorist to launch a comic book is comparatively cheap. Continuing to publish the book doesn't cost much more, and the bar for "best-selling" is relatively low: Move 25,000 copies a month and you're in the top 100 best-sellers. And continuing a comic series allows a story line to acquire the depth and richness that informs good movie adaptations. Just ask Marvel: Although its comic sales are down, it recently raised the low end of its full-year earnings forecast. The company now expects to make at least $465 million in overall revenue this year—and for that, you can thank the movies.

Caley Tibbittz
08-15-2009, 11:14 AM
Hellboy is a superhero comic.

08-15-2009, 01:59 PM
Hellboy is a superhero comic.

Of all the things wrong with that article, that's the bone you have to pick?