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What The Comics Business Can Teach Music

SAN DIEGO, CA (Hypebot) – Guest Post by Scott Perry of New Music Tipsheet

This summer I spent 24 hours in San Diego soaking up Comic-Con, and if you never saw that infamous episode of Entourage or heard of this event, it is off the freakin' hook. What used to be a gathering for collectors and fans has turned into Hollywood's geek Cannes, as the networks and studios seek approval from this tiny but powerful group of people – buzz for upcoming projects can live or die by Comic-Con.

Why should you care? Well, oddly enough, the comic book industry and the music industry have more in common than you think.

First, fortunes were built on the backs of creators who went largely unrewarded beyond their initial payments in the early days. In fact, the creators of multi-BILLION dollar properties like Superman and Spider-Man have had to sue (and re-sue) for royalties based on revenues derived from their creations.

Also, at one point, you could find comic books in every drug store, corner shop, grocery and department store across the nation. But these days, comic books are mainly sold at independently-owned mom & pop shops since the chains carrying the comic books dropped them in favor of more profitable items.

This growth of the independent comic shop was also coupled with a surge in comic books' brightest stars abandoning their posts at DC & Marvel to go independent — Frank Miller, Todd McFarlane, and numerous others all went on to create highly acclaimed creations that later made millions in merch & movies ( I could totally go deeper on the entire scene, but I figured the Cliff's Notes prove my point just as easily).

Sure, the big two (Marvel & DC) still dominate the hearts & minds of the average consumer, but these days, shops are dotted with thousands of titles from hundreds of small presses. And, just like music, many of these titles are lucky just to break even, especially with a single national distributor that can command SIXTY percent of the wholesale price.

Yep! Just like the music biz, many of these books don't make any money at all in comic book sales. And sadly, comic book creators get even less chicks than the drummer (although for the record, the comic book groupies that are out there are pretty hot). So why do people get into the biz? Well, besides the passion of pursuing their dreams and the gratification of an occasional "thank you" from fans, these artists' creations have the potential to make a TON of cash in merch, licensing, and movie sales! ESPECIALLY now that every agent from CAA and the like use Comic-Con to sniff out new talent and material to re-purpose for TV shows and movies.

You can laugh at the nerds all you want, but you'd be missing the point — between the comics, the toys, the shirts, the plates (yes, plates), the TV show, the movie, and the DVD sales, there are a LOT of dollars to be made in tiny pockets.

So, the question to each of you is, how do you leverage this week's lesson to help your artists make more money with a passionate, yet smaller fan base?