Comic Store in Your Future: Who Took Away Our Simpsons?

Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics writes weekly for Bleeding Cool. Find previous columns here.

After all these years, Simpsons Comics is finally ending with issue 245, along with SpongeBob Comics going on “hiatus” after issue 85 comes out.

I was always surprised the two books kept going over the years. Their print runs were low, though they kept on going. The Bongo Comic give away for Free Comic Book Day was always one of the more popular books from the group of freebies, though those freebies never got people to actually buy their books here. Part of the reason I am not a fan of Free Comic Book Day. 

We have one kid who has a pull box with SpongeBob Comics. The Simpsons Comics and SpongeBob were at least for us not something that would sell out the week or even the month it came out, but it would sell out eventually. None of the issues ever went into our back issue bins or needed to be liquidated in our dollar bins. As I have stated before, a kid does not care about if a comic is a first issue or if it is collectable, they just care if it entertains them. 

The comics were the kind that had a high chance that new kids checking out comics would buy or have their parents buy for them. 

As I was typing this up, a kid from out of town came in and bought two Simpsons comics. That is all that she bought and all that she wanted. 

I will be sad when Simpsons ends. The title might not have made the store a ton of money, but it did not lose the store any money either, and it was a good gateway comic for kids. 

IDW’s Sonic the Hedgehog and My Little Pony will hopefully start pulling in more kids into comics. 

I did read that Iceman and Unstoppable Wasp would return as limited series instead of “ongoing” series, which I give two thumbs up for. This may sound harsh but why have them be ongoing when they are just going to be cancelled before hitting issue 12? When the bigger publishers put out comic titles that most of the comic stores in America are going to sell, less than 5 copies of I see that as a waste of time, energy, and money for the average comic store. I understand smaller publishers often have little choice. Bigger publishers I wish would narrow their focus on putting out fewer titles and more on putting out titles that will sell. Keeping the comic market crowded with titles currently is unhealthy for everyone as far as I am concerned.  Let the market recover, and then start putting out more titles. 

But then, after I typed this all up, I read that Unstoppable Wasp is not a limited series. Even though it is stated as a limited series in the October Previews, Marvel now says that it is a mistake. Unstoppable Wasp is supposed to be an ongoing series. Why? So comic stores can on average sell two copies of it nationwide? Then when Unstoppable Wasp is cancelled, again those two customers are disappointed? Just make it a limited series. Who actually believes Unstoppable Wasp will make it into double digits before being cancelled, again?   

DC’s New Age of Heroes is a line running out of steam fast. As a retailer, I question why all the hype was put into the titles — especially the hype for the artists on the books when the artists that started the titles rarely stayed on them.

So many comics, so many relaunches. Marvel used to be the king of relaunches. Now DC seems to be getting the fever. Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps is ending to make way for a new Green Lantern first issue in November.

I remember a time when comic publishers had enough confidence in their books that they did not feel that relaunching and renumbering needed to be done. Such as years ago when Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb took over Batman with issue 608 for their Hush storyline. It sold well and did not need a first issue to launch off of. Now there is no question it would be yet another first issue of Batman. 

The renumbering makes things very complicated for new readers. Even long-time readers at times have trouble remembering what issue from what volume of a character’s title something happened in. New readers trying to get into trade collections by Marvel? Good luck with that. 

Right now things seem so shortsighted and short-term comic wise. Here in store, there are people who are dreading DC’s upcoming Sanctuary due to the reported deaths the comic will have in it making it feel so grim and dark.  I agree with the ones who wonder what happened to the energy and positive feel that was brought to the DC books in the DC Rebirth one shot with the return of Wally West. 

My store is making money. I personally feel that comics should be selling a lot better. There needs to be some hard work put into publishing. Creators that are willing to be on a book for more than a few issues. Editors that can help guide and push a creative team to be better. Do not have books that do not sell returning just because a publisher wants them to. The Inhumans returned so many times now they are being killed in their own limited series. 

So many titles sell so low right now — that worries me.

Simpsons comics last issue

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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