Nov 23rd 2011 By: Caleb Goellner
Mark Millar's earned a reputation as an aggressive self-promoter over the years, often using crass advertising
to sell his projects -- a technique that's paid off in issues sold and titles adapted to feature films and other multimedia. In an interview posted at Comic Book Resources
today, the creator has taken a new, but similarly brazen approach to peddling his work, with a banner that reads "Don't buy digital buy comics! Kick-Ass 2 #5 on sale today only in comic stores."
"I think digital could be a useful tool, but I'm increasingly concerned for friends in retail that they're going to get shafted here," the writer explained. "I really think day and date release is a disastrous idea and makes no economic sense at all to comics as a business. It's potentially ruinous for comic stores, and in the long term it's not going to do publishers any favors either. I see the attraction on a very superficial level. They think they're cutting out the middle men and all the guys taking a piece of their gross, but there's an equivalent number of hidden costs in digital too, and it's short term thinking to obliterate the life-blood of the medium.
Millar goes on to emphasize the importance of traditional retailers in today's market, stating that his passion and loyalty stems, at least in part, out of the money he's made from partnering with them over the years to maximize mutual sales and profits. Essentially, he's supporting traditional retailers by demonizing what some perceive as their competition.
Millar offers an alternative strategy to the current day-and-date digital model, comparing it to film and TV stating:
"A more sensible approach to digital comics, I think, would be the look at the model used for movie distribution for the last decade or so," he said. "The primary phase of selling would be comic stores and theatrical. This is where the bulk of the investment is recouped or maybe even recouped entirely. The secondary phase is DVD or, in comic terms, the collected graphic novel sold in book stores as well as comic stores. These fans aren't as hardcore as the first group, but they're a great place to recoup any money lost in the initial phase. Digital comics are like TV rights to me in that they're the tertiary phase of all this. These are for the most casual, mainstream readers or viewers and much cheaper than the primary or secondary waves. They're a great way of pulling people in for the next product coming out in theatres or in comic stores, but absolutely not the bedrock of your business."
Millar also characterizes digital as a "problem" that marginalizes a direct market he calls creators' "greatest asset for the past thirty or forty years." He goes on to tell CBR that he's not against digital as a concept, however, noting that "It's not really worth a lot of money yet, but it has the potential to be at some point and as a creator it's obviously in my interests to have my work reach as many people as possible."
With DC Comics
, Archie Comics
and others already selling their respective lines of comics in print and digital simultaneously, Marvel and others ramping up to do the same
, and too many independent creators to list functioning on an either completely digital or digital-heavy model, Millar's opinion seems to be in the minority. Provided the increased popularity and profitability
(even if, for some, it's not quite as profitable as print) of digital comics continues, it seems likely that this will remain the case.