Mike Richardson owns more of a comic book publisher than anyone else, in that he owns Dark Horse Comics. No investors, no shares — he started it, he never sold it. It’s his. As a result, he is also the reason that Portland is such a comics town. He was there first, Oni Press broke out of Dark Horse, and the CBLDF, Image, and IDW followed suit. In that regard, the only figure he could be compared to is Steve Geppi, who owns all of Diamond Comic Distributors — and they both have been doing so for decades.
Basically, Mike Richardson knows. And knows stuff. So, in a Diamond Comics Previewsworld PR interview to promote the upcoming Frank Miller‘s Xerxes comic book, he is asked:
As far as timing is concerned, you’re launching this new Frank Miller project in a little bit of a downturn in sales at comic shops, what kind of sales response are you expecting from this series?
There are many reasons contributing to the lag in sales, it’s nothing new or even recent, comic sales have been declining for years. Despite the current market conditions, I expect the comics to do well, after all, this is Frank Miller. But in the end, the real success will come when the work is collected and the graphic novel is released.
Comic sales have been declining for years. As cold as you can get it, from a man who knows. Diamond Comics reported overall sales drop of 10% for 2017 over 2016, but they tried to spin that as still one of the highest revenue-raising years in the comics direct market. But a lot of that can be seen as reflecting a greater amount of product, a more expensive line of product and publishers playing a Red Queen Race to try to stay in the game, offering discounts, free copies, and pushing the collectible cover market — basically selling more comics and more expensive comics to a smaller audience, year on year. And this is not just a recent thing but a gradual trend.
Bring on the Frank Miller Xerxes…