Ten Things to Know About the Future of Comics

Posted on November 6, 2010 

Ten Things to Know About the Future of Comics

1. Newspaper comics are dead. I wish it were otherwise, but it’s impossible to get around the fact that no one under a certain age—and that age gets higher all the time—considers newspapers essential daily reading. The strip format will survive online, and maybe in other print media (four-panel comics are currently very popular in Japan, where they typically run in weekly magazines in chunks of six strips at a time), but the classic syndicated newspaper strip has been dying for a long time and I see little hope for resuscitation. Enjoy Richard Thompson’s glorious Cul de Sac, because it’s probably the last great comic strip.

4. The audience is infinitely fragmented. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of teenage comics fans don’t read manga. Or they used to read manga, but they’ve long since moved on to something else. There’s almost nothing that everybody reads. I’ve talked to kids for whom Scott Pilgrim is the modern equivalent of Watchmen—a seminal reshaping of the pop-cult universe they inhabit—and kids who have never heard of it, kids who only read shonen manga and kids who only read shojo manga, kids who are only interested in goth comics or zombie comics or Fables. Open the discussion to webcomics, and the audience fragments all the way down to the tip of the long tail; on the Internet, everyone is famous for fifteen people.

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