DC and Marvel are not just comic book publishers anymore, having transitioned into feature films, television, cartoons, toys, and more. That's why Iron Man writer Bob Layton feels the comic side of things will eventually be left by the wayside.
Layton also happens to be the co-creator of Scott Lang and Ghost, two characters featured in Marvel Studios' Ant-Man and The Wasp. It's that pivot to movies that
"Yeah, because Marvel now is about the brand, not about the characters anymore," Layton told AIPT!. "Everything’s that Marvel brand, you know? I don’t think it’s the same thing, it’s like artists are taking front and center on a lot of books and it was never that way. I mean, most of the guys who grew up, they only found out I did the book in retrospect — they were just reading it every month because they couldn’t wait for the next issue, and that’s the way it should be — shouldn’t be about us, we shouldn’t overshadow the characters or the story. But they’re at such a point where sales are so low too that anything sells a book. That’s part of the problem to me, being on the inside and having been a businessman in the industry. I saw the writing on the walls — it an unsustainable business model. You can’t keep going on."
Granted, comics have been around for 70 years at this point, but Layton thinks the profit just isn't worth the hassle.
"Sooner or later Marvel or DC, Warner Bros. or Disney will look at the publishing arm as diminishing returns. Both of them have the largest reprint libraries in the world," Layton said. "I mean, think about — when’s the last time you saw a Mickey Mouse comic? Mickey Mouse is the most popular character globally — most known character. They don’t make comics of Mickey Mouse anymore."
"Once you climb the rungs of the ladder and become part of the lexicon, you push the ladder off — you’re on top," Layton said. "All this other stuff, Iron Man sells what, 20,000 copies a month or something? You think they’re even making a profit off that? And the price keeps going up. Now we’re competing with Netflix. When comics hit $7, they’re dead, because it’s just cheaper to get a Netflix subscription and watch all the Marvel stuff in the cinematic universe. So as I said, 10 years ago I saw the writing on the wall. And not that I don’t love comics — I do. I saw as a businessman–having owned two companies — it’s an unsustainable business model. This industry hasn’t changed in 75 years. We’re still putting out this pamphlet that you have to encase in plastic so it doesn’t rot."
It certainly is an interesting theory, but we'd love to hear what you think about it in the comments!