Posted this on a thread which, like many, tended to blame "the Big Two" for their scurrilous promotion of the Superhero Cult, which alone is to blame for dwindling sales of the entire comics-medium:
To the subject of the OP: I'm possibly in the minority here, but I don't think there's an Iceman's chance in Hell that our beloved medium could ever make a return to newstands in the pamphlet format. There might have been some small chance to regain a toehold for serial comics in bookstories, had the Big Two pursued the TPB format for original comics; the equivalent of how the Japanese compile ongoing serials into the *tankobon* format. But they didn't.
I've encountered any number of fan-writers asserting that what killed the rep of comic books with big distributors by the 1970s was the fact that the majors reduced page-count in the 1950s to keep prices low for their juvenile fan-base. The JOURNAL even devoted a whole issue to the topic in the late 90s. By the time the 1970s rolled around, the price-point on comics was no longer competitive. It wasn't even worth it to distributors to bale a few comics in with their usual stuff, because the comics yielded so little profit for the distributors.
Part of what we're dealing with is perception. People expect candy bars to increase in price; if one wants a candy bar, one pays the current price. But outside of hardcore fans, I don't think the average "comic browsers" were willing to pay more for what comics offered. As long as the pamphlet cost under a $1.00, it was still feasible junk-reading. Past that point, most people didn't care for comics enough to pay the going rate. A lof of people who might've once bought comics migrated to videogames, which offered more continuous bangs for the buck.
Yes, it's a dirty shame that comics-fans focused so hugely on the superhero. But without that concentration on one genre that you couldn't get from other media with any consistency, the fandom of the burgeoning DM might have drifted away and found other toys.
And the form of comic books might have fallen into the same disuse as Big Little Books.
Number 1487: Ellery Queen’s chain letter
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