Will Comic Books Survive The Next Great Depression?


Some recent news stories have touted that the comic book industry is thriving, while others have suggested that the comic book industry might be on its last legs. There is no denying that comic book movies ruled the box office this past summer. And based on trailers for The Watchmen and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, comic book movies are likely to dominate the box office again this year. However, is the movie success translating into more comic book sales? While comic book graphic novels are certainly finding success at book stores, there are mixed reports on how regular comic books are faring. With huge retailers like Circuit City falling victim to the current economy, do small independent comic book stores have any chance? While many retail chain stores benefit from branded advertising campaigns, there are very few comic book store chains. Most comic book stores are one or two store businesses run as small mom and pop operations. While some stores are generating decent revenues selling comic books, other stores are kept afloat more by the owners’ passion for comic books than profits. As the unemployment numbers continue to rise, the current recession is a lot closer to turning into another Great Depression than most will admit. If America does fall into a depression, will comic book stores that often struggle during good times continue to exist? And if numerous comic book stores start to fold, then what does that mean for publishers? The possible good news for the comic book industry is that comic books were one of the few industries that thrived during the last Great Depression. When many were struggling to make ends meet, comic books were viewed as a cheap form of entertainment. Reading the adventures of comic book superheroes also helped many escape from the harsh realities of the real world for awhile. However, the bad news for the comic book industry is that comic books aren’t the cheap entertainment that they use to be. During the Great Depression, most comic books sold for as cheap as ten cents. Modern day comic books usually range between three dollars to four dollars an issue. Despite the three thousand percent plus price increase, comparative to movies and other forms of entertainment, comic books are still just as cheap. An even bigger challenge for comic books than change in price might be change in availability. Back during the Great Depression, comic books were readily available at every corner newsstand. In the modern era, most comic books are sold at small specialty shops that usually are not located in high traffic areas of town. In tough times, are people going to spend the gas money necessary to seek out their local comic book stores? Plus, the modern era has another cheap form of entertainment called the Internet that doesn't require driving. There are no clear answers on what tough economic times will mean for the comic book industry. If the economy continues to struggle, then eventually even appearances by President Barack Obama won’t sell comic books. Discuss in the comment section below if you believe the comic book industry will thrive or disappear if the country enters another Great Depression.