Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Blind Man and the Elephant

There is a tendency on the Internet, especially the comics-related portion thereof, to take little tidbits of information and draw from that absolutely irrefutable conclusions that have no basis in reality. These conclusions, unfortunately, often wind up getting reinforced on other message boards, become "common wisdom," and help shape buying patterns to the point that they can help make their original premise become true.

I believe that's happening, to some extent, with the meme going around the comics blogosphere that layoffs at Devil's Due and Tokyopop, and the closing of Comics Foundry, are indicators of the recession hitting comics.

Well, yes. To some extent, it's pretty clear that the timing is related somewhat to the recession where the layoffs are concerned. But keep in mind that both Tokyopop and Devil's Due have had more than their share of rough blows this year, from losing prominent licenses to a shrinkage of interest in manga (especially OEL manga), and the recession is, at best, a *contributing* factor. Maybe not even the major contributing factor.

But hey, that's fair enough. What I don't get is all the people pointing to Comics Foundry closing its doors, when Tim Leong couldn't have been clearer about saying in his press release that "It's not about the money." He's just got a full-time job that takes too much time to continue. They're refunding subscribers the remainder of their subscription fees. This is not the mark of a company closing because financial realities of the recession closed them down.

Sure, you can argue that if Comics Foundry were making huge money, Leong would have given up his other job, but I'd say two things:

1) Nobody in comics journalism is ever, ever going to make huge money.

2) His other job involves photography of and interviews with amazingly hot, often famous, no doubt very interesting people. Seriously, no matter how much you love comics, which would you choose?

So all you chicken littles need to chill the fuck out. It's worth keeping an eye on the growth of digital media, the worrying increase in comics prices and the event fatigue that neither of the big two seem to have caught on yet, as well as dozens of other little problems, but... the recession is not the anvil coming down on our heads. It's just another headache to keep track of in the always interesting (in the Chinese curse sense of the word) world of the comics industry.

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