Comicon and the Power of Comic Books in Business

fuelingWhen I was a kid, my parents and teachers all said that comic books would rot my mind and turn me into an anti-social maniac. Luckily, they were right. When my mother threw out my collection of MAD Magazines, I was traumatized, so when I was hired as the art director for MAD, the first thing I did was call my mother to tell her I had the key to the storage room and could replace every deliciously wicked copy of MAD she threw out. In fact, since MAD was a title owned by DC Comics, I was also able to replace every copy of Superman that had been tossed in the garbage so cruelly. Let’s face it; comics are a shared experience of children, teenagers and adults (no longer just those living in their parents’ basement) throughout the world. You can’t go wrong with a superhero on the cover of your publication, adorning a coffee mug, sitting on the front of a T-shirt or affixed to a pair of sexy thong underwear. They even make those for women!

With the end of the San Diego Comicon, still warm after 72 hours, any plans you might have to attend the 2014 Comicon is about 48 hours too late. Yes, comics are big business!

Up in the Sky… It’s Gajillionaireman!

There has always been a notion that comic books and comic art are winners for products and, of course, a huge income potential. The big comic book companies are owned by huge corporations and the licensing of heroes to movies and merchandise are used to float less successful subsidiaries of these corporations… usually the comic publishing departments themselves. As with the passage included in the following infographic, it takes years for even multiple titles of comic books to equal the weekend box office receipts of just one successful superhero movie. Just look at some of these surprising figures:

Courtesy of: Online Finance News by Financesonline.com

How Comics Destroy Lives

The stigma of being seen in a comic book store has long since faded away, despite how it’s shown on the Big Bang Theory.

A comic book fan CAN actually meet girls at stores across the globe and live happily ever after… as long as she doesn’t mix her comics in with his, but these are not huge problems in the steamy, dirty world of comic books. Unfortunately, we all see Stan Lee and his success as he appears in each and every Marvel Entertainment film… and the Jay and Silent Bob films as well. In light of that exposure, there were a lot of bodies left lying in the gutter by the industry.

Superman creators, Joe Shuster and Jerry Seigel, were kids when they created the iconic American superhero, and while some claim the money they were paid back in the 1930s was a hefty sum by today’s standards, most fans are outraged by the inequity of reward suffered by them in later life. There have been multiple lawsuits, calls for Warner Bros. (owners of DC Comics) to make at least an effort to give something to the two men’s families for the creation (to Warner’s credit, they did make a small payment to each man after the first Superman movie in 1975 and it is rumored, that over $4 million has been paid to their families since then).

Shuster and Seigel were no more unfortunate victims than any other creator in comic books. Like the early musicians of Motown and young hip-hop groups, there were deals given to wide-eyed young people who had two choices — take the deal as is or forget it. What would you do? Had only the families found boxes of that first Superman issue in the belongings of Joe and Jerry, perhaps the sale of one or two would have set them all up for life. I guess the creative pair never bothered to save a few published issues… or their mothers threw them away.

When we see Stan Lee, we should also see Jack Kirby by his side, but the late Kirby, whose art was one-of-a-kind and years ahead of anyone else in the comic industry, is known only to those who have seen his work. As with the Superman creators, and countless other artists and writers over the decades, Kirby was in love with his job, but resentful of the pay and treatment he received from Marvel Comics. Eventually, after dozens of years with Marvel, he left the company… and long-time collaborator Stan Lee, and moved to DC Comics. While his creations there were also incredible and ahead of his time, Jack never received the notice or financial return many say he deserved. Stan Lee, if asked about Kirby, will speak politely about his old partner and quickly change the subject. Comics, being such a big business, can be brutal at times. Perhaps it needs a superhero to save those unfortunate victims of corporate greed?

More great articles on comic books on the GL Blog…
Comic Book Confidential: Suggestive and Steamy (NSFW)
Comic Book Ads of the Past… Selling Crap!

Featured image ©GL Stock Images

Speider Schneider

Speider Schneider is a former member of The Usual Gang of Idiots at MAD Magazine and has designed products for Disney/Pixar, Warner Bros., Harley-Davidson, ESPN, Mattel, DC and Marvel Comics, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon among other notable companies. Speider is a former member of the board for the Graphic Artists Guild, co-chair of the GAG Professional Practices Committee and a former board member of the Society of Illustrators. Follow him on Twitter @speider

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