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Issue #123: Are Superhero Comics Killing the Industry? | Comic Book Podcast

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Another week, another show, but this time we’re minus one podcaster as Steve steps out. This week’s topic comes from the speech that Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson said at a ComicsPRO meeting upon accepting an award. We discuss what his comments imply, what they mean, our thoughts on them and the reactions from Dark Horse’s Mike Richardson and IDW’s Ted Adams.

In the first half of the show, we talk news in the world like the talks about Wonder Woman’s movie costume, Skottie Young’s Rocket Raccoon, Batman: Arkham Knight, Paul Levitz heading over to Boom Studios and Lena Dunham upcoming Archie mini-series.

And then, because we’re creatures of habit, we discuss our favourite books from the last week. Some of those books include: Royals: Masters of War, The Wake, Mighty Avengers, Lois Lane, Fantastic Four and more.

Annnnnnnnnnd… we say it on the show, but just in case you missed it, the Talking Comics crew on Twitter are:

Bobby: @bobbyshortle
Steve: @dead_anchoress
Stephanie: @hellocookie
And Bob’s email is

FYI: the crew have gone all superhero on the world, thanks to the wonderful Hanie Mohd. Like them? Make sure to follow her and let us know what you think of our new superhero pictures.


The Comic Book Podcast is brought to you by Talking Comics (, a blog dedicated to covering the latest and greatest in comic book releases. The editorial staff is composed of Editor-in-Chief Bobby Shortle (Fanboy Remix, Doctor Whocast), Stephanie Cooke (Misfortune Cookie) and Steve Seigh ( contributor) who weekly dissect the releases and give you, the consumer, a simple Roman yay or nay regarding them. Our Twitter handle is @TalkingComics and you can email us at

One Response

  1. Gary

    I’m shocked. SHOCKED! that the administrative head of Image Comics delivered a speech wherein he clearly stated that Image does it “the right way,” and other publishers don’t. I’m equally stunned that that same Image leader took the opportunity to disparage specific titles from other comic book publishers. A healthy quantity of arrogance must be a requirement to hold any position at Image. This has been the story since Todd McFarlane and the crew walked out of Marvel over 20 years ago.

    I disagree with Stephanie when she asked you guys to ignore
    Eric Stephenson’s criticism of IDW and Dark Horse licensed titles. If you were o ignore them he wouldn’t have said them. He wanted to let everyone know that his company is the best and every other publisher sucks. Such comments do color every positive thing he said.

    I agree that diversity in subject matter is a good thing for American Comics but we have a weekly test as to whether that’s what the majority of the current audience wants. The January 2014 numbers from Diamond state that within the Top 100 books sold for that month seven issues of only six titles are published by Image, two other titles from the My Little Pony franchise come from IDW, an issue of Star Wars and one of Serenity for Dark Horse and Afterlife with Archie from Archie Comics. Every other issue sold that month was published by either DC or Marvel. I know this is one month and doesn’t constitute a trend but what we are talking about is a market share that comprises less than 20% of the overall comic book market.

    Of the Image books, two are The Walking Dead (no surprise there), the others are Deadly Class, East of West, Black Science, Saga and Velvet. Or another way of saying it is you have one book by Robert Kirkman, two by Rick Remender, and one each by Jonathan Hickman, Ed Brubaker and Brian K. Vaughn. Not a shabby crew there but none of them are “all-age” writers so they go after the same 25+ male reader that DC and Marvel does. To criticize those two companies for that and not Image is a double-standard. Also, five of these six writers have had great success writing superhero books for one or both of the BIG TWO. The one exception being Kirkman. Could that be a factor in their success? Isn’t it helpful that more of the comic reading community knows of their work and are more willing to take a chance on a creator-own title? Seems to me that this might actually be working to Image’s advantage. I wonder if their Image books would do as well if these writers hadn’t worked on superhero titles for the BIG TWO?

    As for The Walking Dead, I’ve never read the book. I’m not the person for whom it’s written. I do watch the show and it has not raised my interest in reading the book at all. So I’m an exception to Mr. Stephenson’s rule.

    To say that comic book publishers need to go after the consumers that AREN’T reading their books is simplistic at best. Everyone, from dish soap companies to car manufacturers, wants to go after the portion of the marketing pie they don’t have. The real question is how and in what manner are you going to approach them? It isn’t enough to create the best books by the best creators. No one cares if they don’t know it exists. It requires marketing strategies that include more than just word of mouth endorsements by podcasters, friends and retailers. The number of excellent books that are published every year only to be cancelled because of low sales is something your show has chronicled quite often. Presently, no comic book publisher does print ads (outside of their own books or industry magazines), radio or TV advertising. Marvel and DC, who are owned by major media conglomerates, don’t even promote themselves during their film releases. When some storyline gets picked up by the mainstream media that doesn’t even increase the amount of books sold forever. The only way to grow the audience for comics is to make them good, cheaper and available everywhere in every possible venue as they were in the 1960s and 1970s.

    So, for Mr. Stephenson to act as if he’s King of the World because he’s got less that 10% of the best-selling books in a dwindling market is not really looking at the numbers right. I would think he might have something to say if he were bringing in more younger fans. But to call out other publishers while he’s claiming to give retailers unsolicited advice on success is just more Image arrogance.

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