Future of Disney comics in America + more

deanmary deanmary at worldnet.att.net
Thu Jul 29 21:43:30 CEST 2004

    I am not very positive about the longtime future of Disney comics
in the USA, but then again I am not positive about the longtime future
of *any* comics in the USA! :(  It seems to me that comic book
collecting and reading keeps becoming a smaller and smaller niche and
that at some time in the future there will not be enough readers to
keep DC or Marvel in the business, let alone smaller publishers like
Gemstone.  However, I am not giving up hope though.  Chris Hilbig
makes a great point about how comics in the USA have supposedly been
close to dying for *years* now and yet they are still around.  So
going by that comics should have already been gone years ago.  Another
thing that gives me hope is the fact that *I* don't have a good
feeling about the longtime future of comics in the USA.  I am *so*
often wrong about *so* many things that I hope that this is just one
of the many other things I am wrong about! :)

    I also agree with Chris that in the short run at least, what
matters most is the number of issues sold, no matter who or what age
are buying the issues.  To me the short term future of Disney comics
in the USA is in the hands of Gemstone and their expectations and
wants.  From what little I have read, it seems like the 4 monthly
Gemstone titles sell between 5,000 and 6,000 copies a month and that
that has been pretty consistent over the past year or so.  Gary last
year made it sound like Gemstone was happy with the initial numbers.
One question though is will they be happy with those numbers as time
goes by?  Perhaps near the end of the 3 year license Gemstone will be
content with the numbers between 5 and 6 thousand.  I personally very
much hope that that is the case.  However, perhaps they have expected
that circulation numbers would go up through time.  If that is the
case, the numbers that they may have been happy with in the summer of
2003 may be disappointing numbers for 2006.  After all, while it is
obvious that the people at Gemstone have a deep love for Disney
comics, they are as any business is interested in making a profit.

    Having said that, I have this kind of wild idea.  I know two
things about Steve Geppi.  One, he has some money.  Two, he has a long
and deep love for Disney comics.  Perhaps Mr. Geppi is in the unique
position that even if Gemstone comics only break even, that he will
keep the license and keep publishing them simply because he himself
loves them so much?  That of course probably is just an nonsensical
idea from me, but I must admit that I do think that from time to time.

    In the long run, it is important that kids read Disney comics.  I
don't have a very good feeling about this either unfortunately. :(
When Gemstone first announced that they were getting the license for
Disney comics, there was a lot of talk about getting kids to read
Disney comics again, getting the comics in Wal-Mart, Target, etc.  So
far this has not been the case though.  I imagine it is probably a
case of it being a great idea, but something that has been very hard
to accomplish.  Perhaps, Gary can tell us if they still have plans in
the works for getting the comics in Wal-Mart and other similar stores?

    One reason I think it will be hard to get kids to read Disney
comics is that it seems kids "grow up" somuch faster that they used
to. For example, I have read that where as 20 or 30 years ago girls
played with Barbie dolls until the ages of say 10 or 11, that today
girls think they are too old for Barbie dolls after they are 5 or 6
years old!  In that case perhaps it was acceptable in the 1950s for
kids 10 to 12 to read comics about Donald and Mickey, but today kids
that same age would look on reading Disney comics as something for
"babies".  One thing I have noticed watching my 15 year old nephew
grow up is that he *never* wants to do anything that his peers could
interpret as being too childish for a certain age.  Through the years
he has gone through stages where he liked Pokemon, the Rugrats, etc.,
and then of course began to lose interest in them, which is of course
totally normal.  What makes me sad though is that often I think he
gives up on something that he still does like too early, if for no
other reason than perhaps other kids would look down on him for still
liking such things.

    While I am concerned that Uncle Scrooge won the award for "Best
Title for a Younger Audience", I do not think like Don that it is "a
nail in the coffin" for Disney comics in the USA.  What it does strike
me is how ironic that award is and how out of touch the people who
pick the Eisner winners are with Disney comics.  Cord Wiljes wrote
that in regards to Uncle Scrooge winning this award, "Which is rather
peculiar, because the average age of a of a reader of "Uncle Scrooge"
is probably 10-20 years _above_ that of Marvel's "X-Men".  I couldn't
agree more!  I am 37 years old and sometimes I feel like I am one of
the *younger* readers of Disney comics in the USA!.  I am glad to read
in the last few digest that there are at least a few other readers my
age or even younger. :)  I will give you one very small example of why
Uncle Scrooge is *not* just a title for younger readers.  I recently
read a William Van Horn story, "A Dime for Your Thoughts" (US #324).
In this story Magica is dating Uncle Rumpus.  In the story, Scrooge
refers to Magica as being Rumpus's "inamorata".  Is "inamorata" the
kind of word used in a lot of stories for kids?!?  In the context of
the story, I knew what the word meant.  However, I must admit that if
out of the blue I was asked to define that word that I probably would
have had a hard time doing so. That of course is just one example.
Remember that Carl Barks himself never tried to write down to a
child's level.  I remember growing up reading his stories and often
asking my dad or looking up in a dictionary what a particular word
meant.  I think I knew at an earlier age than most what the word
"censored" meant -- it was the word Barks used when he couldn't print
what Donald was saying or thinking! :)

    I will be thrilled if it turns out to be true that the Carl Barks
library will be coming back.  That is the kind of thing I hoped
Gemstone would do earlier on, but better late than never!  Gary, I
like Olivier *plead* for you to tell us any details you can about
this!  If nothing else, can you confirm or deny this story?
Pleeeeeaaaasssseeeeee! (Sounding like Roger Rabbit! :)))

    Thanks to all the people who wrote about whether they want new
stories or prefer more reprints.  If there are others out there who
would like to add their 2 cents to this discussion, please do so!

    And on that note, I will end my 2 cents worth.  I guess with all I
wrote though that it is more like my 25 cents worth... :)

Dean Rekich

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